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.

The City – Stronger

I guess the main words that describe best what Amoria & Jok’a’Face aka “The City” created here is “uplifting”. And “innovative”. And “surprising”.

The duo from Paris is going from “minimalistic” to “full range” with their new track “Stronger”. What starts with a carefully distorted synth and soft vocals builds quickly into a full-range bigbeat track. While picking up drive and speed on the way to their lift-off, the track all of a sudden breaks into a quite minimalistic but effective beat segment. I have to say I didn’t hear such a transition in a long time – and I’m loving it. The french producers experiment with less-is-more variations, easily merging them into more melodic parts which are supported by those nice female vocals. And boy, this isn’t easy at all. In fact, there are more ways to screw up such a track construct than there are to succeed with it. In this case, they did it like it was the easiest thing to do.
And bam – all of a sudden there’s this drum/percussion set, mixed up with several vocal chops which serve the male vocals perfectly. As if they would underline the difference between those soft female vocals and crisp male vocal parts.
Once again, this song isn’t that easy to categorize… sure there are pop elements used, but there’s something new added. This bouncy feeling alongside the main parts. How about naming it the “bounce pop” category for now? (Okay, not good, I get it. But hey, it’s late already.) You get the point, mixing up vocals with those electronic elements plus adding this unique percussion makes this track really grooveable. “Stronger” by all means isn’t the usual everyday 120 bpm track you forget as soon as you heard it.

Listening to some of the other tracks of The City, I realized that these unique synth lines alongside huge drum/percussion settings is what’s recognized as their signature sound. It’s even getting somewhat 8bit-style sometimes, but always topped with those great vocals. I don’t see anything stopping Amoria & Jok’a’Face of getting their music on floors out there.

Amparo – The Orchid Glacier

When ambient meets drive. Feeling like kite surfing on the calmest waves you ever saw. Or paragliding on a warm, sunny day. Although it’s relaxing, there’s this state of alertness coming along. If you ever felt this, you know exactly what “The Orchid Glacier” is all about.

So, I know this producer lives somewhere in Arizona. I know it’s a woman. I know she’s very creative not just in music but with words as well as photography. She likes thinking out of the box (for example, her EP “Cloud Wrangler” was available as a limited edition on a cassette. Yes. A CASSETTE. What a beautiful mind.) And that’s about where my knowledge about Amparo ends. People who know me know that I really like to do my homework regarding reviews, but this is it, I didn’t find any other information with the time available tonight. That’s either because I’m sleep deprived like hell, or because Amparo didn’t want to share more of her private life. So let’s concentrate on her music, shall we?
“The Orchid Glacier” is a track that is build on several synth layers which are connected like single threads of a cobweb. Somehow Amparo managed to not just smash up all of the synth tracks to a thick layer, but to let them interact with that certain fragile, icy feeling attached. There are accents happening that are part tubular bell style, part percussion, alongside a drum pattern which lets the song pick up speed while progressing. Several reverb/hall effects and some haunting arpeggiated melodies are keeping the track interesting every second. There’s a lot of detail happening within these five minutes of sound. Sometimes one base tone is getting a bit too dominant because your ears get used to this specific tone, but there’s never a fight between layers happening.

So, there you have it. The perfect hybrid of chillout and wake up. A synergy of melody, effects and percussion. This one needs to be placed in another genre than the available usual ones. I’ll name it… “Ampient”. If you like this track, I recommend checking out her other available songs off her EP “Cloud Wrangler” released by svnset waves.

Reyna – Kill Me

Although the title of the song doesn’t point to this, I think the new song from Wisconsin based band Reyna is a lightweight, lean alternative pop track to enjoy. As if they wanted to tell you “hey, it’s not that bad, right?”

The two sisters Hannah and Victoriah aka Reyna did a great job in delivering feelings there. I really love the fact that you don’t even need to understand the lyrics to get the drift of melancholy which leads to somewhere you don’t know yet. Call it whatever you want, end of the tunnel, light after dark, turning point – these women managed to deliver this feeling through their music. And they made it sound like it was easy to do.
Beautifully produced, the track invites you for more with a held back defensive synth line and a vocal track which is reverbed in an outstanding manner. Backed by a pop beat/percussion, the song evolves into an uplifting tune that sticks to your brain instantly. The vocals are sung with the right amount of fragility, yet there’s always that constant feeling of power behind the whole song setting. Most of the things fall perfectly in line with this song. To name a negative aspect, I get the impression that sometimes the percussion is “flooding” the vocals, fighting over dominance for a second or two with the vocals – but then again, that could also be my studio monitors. I’m pretty sure there’s nothing wrong with the final mix over headphones or proper speakers.

Watch out, world. Here you have two musicians that proved with one single song that they exactly know how to make you feel the music, not just how to listen to it. When talking to a coworker here at kms about that song, she said something like “boy, that tune really makes me sad.” while I had that above mentioned “hey, after the rain there’s sunshine again” feeling. See? Those girls even managed to split feelings with “Kill Me”. That certain friction of feelings is quite rare these days, and I can’t wait for Reyna to unload more of it with new songs.

North Downs – Nothin’

Feels like dreaming about something. With the newest sound of North Downs, you are taken on a trip, as if you were still sleeping, but grooving to the music of your own mind.

There’s a certain vintage feeling coming along this track. The combination of a sub bass along distortion effects of the vocal tracks, brass-like instruments, and those old school recorded guitar phrases helping the track to evolve into something you don’t hear every day. Also, there’s a vinyl crackle sound effect used, giving the track additional old-school feel. Overall, the intended effect on “Nothin'” really was made with very much sense for detail. For me, this dreamy feeling with a bit of unrest works out perfectly. There’s an outstanding balance between “comfort zone” and “what-the-hell”. I’m looking for that sometimes, it’s not your happy synth pop, nore is it your melancholic slow rock, but a mixture of elements from the both of the genres. In todays mostly black and white/yes or no musical landscape it’s refreshing when a group like North Downs tries to bend the rules and steps over boundaries in the process. We need those pioneers who do that to explore new genres and refreshing tunes for our ears.
Too bad that the first shot on the world out there is a cover of a song but not their own work…I’d be very interested in what those guys can do with original ideas they develop. But I’m sure of the fact that if they continue with this kind of outstandingly moody music, they will make a name for themselves very quickly, creating their own signature sound in the process. I’m eagerly waiting for the next track.

Junior Empire – Danger

There are many elements of past and present within the newest track of Junior Empire. I don’t really know if I should call it “retro” or “progressive”. Maybe I should go with “retressive” as a genre.

A calm and steady synth line in addition with a basic disco beat builds the foundation of a solid almost-disco track which has those classic dancefloor elements in it. But the guys of Junior Empire weren’t finished with that concept at all, they added a slight distorted vocal track to the mix which fits perfectly into the whole mix. Although the vocals are mixed quite flat within the high eq band, this is the “secret ingredient” which adds that signature sound to “Danger”, the newest track of London based Junior Empire.
Being backed with several higher octave vocals during the chorus – some of you will recognize the disco typical style – there’s something additional to find, like that reverbed piano melody or the time-shifted vocals during the break… while the producers knew just where to put the exact amount of effects like reverb or delay, the singer knew how to emphasize on the lyrics.
I like this feeling that comes along “Danger”. It’s like walking through empty streets at 3 am in the morning. (besides, now you know what I’ll be listening to next time I’m walking home in the morning.) The song keeps you going with a slight extra of rush, tiny enough to be felt. If you weren’t moving at all before listening to the track, now you do.

Those five guys of Junior Empire aren’t newbies at the scene. They already released several other tracks which were trending on several platforms. Listening to the other tracks available on their soundcloud account, it comes to mind that the connection between past and present (speaking music-wise) always is there. You’ll often find that very intriguing mix of “hey, I  heard that before” and “wow. I never thought that this would go THAT well together”. With the actual track “Danger” they continue to deliver that solid concept – and as a result, a really smooth… retressive track.

Nadia – Spoiled Latina

“Life is short, you should spoil yourself.” Today we get spoiled with one of the newer tracks of talented and beautiful singer/songwriter Nadia.

First thing that came up when I heard this song was “man, I bet she can be sooo nice and sooo mean at the same time!” What’s the most impressive factor with “Spoiled Latina” in my opinion is the way in which Nadia shows herself to the world out there. This song reflects several parts of her personality, be it that sassy part, that emotive part or that “hey, don’t you dare messing with me” part, all is packed into one track here. And all is done with only certain expressions of her voice.
The new track of Houston native Nadia Ramirez-Meyers has a huge load of drive. The balanced mixture of latin samples alongside those almost dubstep-like elements and the vocal tracks is working out great, it takes skills (and some courage) to mix and master such a project. But the studio work has been done rock solid, there aren’t any flaws in the mix. Maybe it could’ve been a bit “fatter” on the low eq band, but then again, that’s what ALL producers do nowadays, so nevermind. I like it when tracks have that recognizable factor. (you know, that “hey, sounds like xxxxx did that track!” feel.)

I’m guessing that Nadia isn’t spoiled at all. She works hard for where she’s heading to, and her singing/rap skills and looks are a perfect business card for this young artist to make a name for herself out there. Which she already did. Teaming up with Steve O Valdez was a great move, with his help Nadia got her EP “Ride or Die” produced this year. You’ll find practically all of what is the essence of Nadia on this EP. I’d love to see her performing live somewhere. I guess she can get everybody moving with a sound like this.

Coastlwolf – Obsession

Today I learned something about obsession, about drops and breaks and how important fresh ideas within music are. And about how much I like great male vocals.

Okay, I admit it: I love those smooth vocals of Coastlwolf. A girl just listens up when someone with this voice starts to sing. But the vocals weren’t the first thing that raised my interest in one of the newest tracks of Long Island based artist Justin Morrell, better known as Coastlwolf. There’s a very intelligent use of breaks, stops, and stoppage effects happening in the song. It seems that the artist doesn’t like linear patterns or progressions that much. So he just folds his ideas around hotspots of his sound. Okay, that is quite hard to describe, but listening to the sound you’ll know what I mean.
This is another one of these tracks that won’t fit into a certain category or genre unless you create a new one. So I’ll go with “wolfpop” with this one. You can find electro and pop elements in it, but there’s that pressurized element in it as well, making the sound of Coastlwolf unique and memorable. Plus, these sudden breaks sometimes make you feel like “hey, what just happened?”, and this is something you won’t hear very often nowadays. A brave and risky step to take with producing music, in the case of Coastlwolf it works out just perfect.
It’s hard to say something about the mixing work because there are several things that either went wrong with the final mix or they were supposed to sound that way. Since the producer used that much unusual elements within his production, I will go with option two, assuming that everything sounds like it is supposed to sound. Sometimes it’s not that easy to adapt to what your ears are not used to receive, it takes time. In the words of Morrell, the sound is designed to make you set your play mode to repeat. That’s exactly what you should do.

Noize Method – Matter & Insanity (Original Mix)

You better get your seatbelts on. This ride is going to get fast, and it won’t stop for nobody, believe me.

Wow, this one surprised me. It has been a long time since I heard a track that delivers such fast and strict tempo without limits or boundaries, although there are changes happening all over the track.
After the usual kind of mystical intro with all those little effects and typical elements happening you are introduced by the straight bass and beat foundation. I especially like those breaks where the complete flow of the track is interrupted by silence or added up effects. This doesn’t hurt the track a bit but keeps your ears interested in what’s next. The basic beat keeps you moving constantly is driven even more by those metallic textures and vocal one-shots added on the way to the build-ups. The variety of things happening within those eight minutes really drives you off of your chair. Definetly to mention is that metallic textured sound that fits perfectly into the whole idea of the track. The french DJ/producer even manages to easily switch between different rhythm patterns without going too far away from the main theme.

It’s like the man behind “Noize Method” has a set of tools which all do exactly what he wants without him putting any effort in it. I didn’t find any flaw in the overall mix and placement of effects, one-shots or synth lines. Okay, maybe there was a harshly mixed track of those vocal tracks there, but it’s nothing that draws any points from the overall result.
No wonder that there’s a waiting line to have him booked for the next event. Noize Method delivers solid, genre-true music that makes people move. Imagining him sending waves through a dancefloor full of people gives me goosebumps.

CAPPA – Nirvana

A track to lean back, best enjoyed with headphones and closed eyes. A synth that rolls like waves on a shore, and a voice that feels like the breeze coming from the ocean. That’d be my most accurate description of the track “Nirvana” from Cappa.

Taken from her previously released “Queen of Hearts” EP, this track of young singer Carla Cappa is a perfect example of how to melt smooth singing with electro elements in a way that hadn’t been done a million times before.
Being introduced to the unconventional drum and percussion setting which seems harsh first but fits perfectly into the vocal and synth combination that is added, this track builds around the sung melody. Backed by a bass synth and several synth melodies, the stage is set for Cappa to shine with her singing, and oh boy, she can sing. Hearing her voice, it feels like sliding down an ice slide, but without the freezing cold. Her voice is warm, smooth and flawless. Of course, I do want to mention the outstanding mixing work done with her vocals, flawless as well in any way you look at (better: hear) it. These days no track with vocals really goes without doubling and/or adding effects every now and then, and from one-shots to reverbed snippets, you’ll find everything in place here. The track shows that it underwent a lot of work regarding producing.

Seems like the beautiful singer from Nashville has already reached many of her goals – her gig schedule is stacked until the end of the year, she does tracks and video clips, sells her own merchandise (and I’m pretty sure she’s even into modeling, I know with her looks I WOULD be!), and I guess there isn’t much she hasn’t done by now…so I wasn’t too sure about writing about her track first. But we’re not only promoting newcomers on kms musicblog, we’re also trying to pitch great music towards your speakers. And “Nirvana” as well as the other available tracks of Carla Cappa fall into the category of “great music”. Have a listen and agree with me instantly, folks.