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.

HyperGear – Buzz

Music is a thing of beauty. Making expressions available through music is awesome. And preserving that certain raw feeling to your sound is what makes the new track of Milan based HyperGear outstanding.

The synth rock trio states that “Hypergear stands for the overwhelming and unstoppable development of techonology, way too fast for the human being to handle it” which is one of the points of chosing their band name a couple of years ago. Taking a closer look at tracks like today’s pick “Buzz”, but also on faster paced tracks like “I Am The Dead“, I’m feeling their intention. The distorted guitars alongside sometimes desperate sung vocals, and with added piano tracks and kind of outer-space synth effects, they are using electro elements with handmade analogue instruments, making the human/electro struggle feelable.
The mix of “Buzz” isn’t that great, but that is not intended anyway, I think. The raw cut and somewhat harsh recording underlines the seriousness and authenticity of the band’s sound. I guess having a clean mix without the multi-mic recording of the drums for instance would have taken away a ton of credibility of the track. I know, nowadays everybody is expecting a super clean compressed mix with the lastest plugins and brick wall limiting, but listen closely to this arrangement, guys. This mixing work alongside an very unconventional approach to the audience (for example, it stated “don’t listen to this band. you’ve been warned!” in the email sent to us) helps building a specific signature sound and unique look-and-feel. I wonder what those guys do live on stage to keep being unique.

To add things up, although the alternative rock sound of HyperGear might not fit in everybody’s music taste, it’s handmade, it’s unique, and done with passion and the courage to step outta line once in a while, be it with raw mixes, not very harmonic harmonies or sometimes even crazy chiptune ideas or something. Make sure to check out those other tracks available on Soundcloud, you’ll get my point very quickly.

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.

Cooler – Metal Moths

This alternative rock track made me feel good. Today I learned there still are these old-school bands which make that retro style songs happen we used to dance to. In an industry where there’s more and more electronic and synthetic influence, there still are those who just pick up their instruments and play, those who just switch on their microphones and sing. Thank you, Cooler.

These days, it’s hard to pick a track of the day to write about. I have to admit, there are several submissions that are rejected simply because there’s so much new material flooding our submissions email. That being said, submissions that are most likely to be featured on our blog are those which are unique in any way, be it with a creative introduction, a signature sound – or in this case, if the song triggers an emotion within one of our writers. And that’s where “Metal Moths” comes into play. Listening to the first seconds made me travel back into the past. Not that many years, but enough to feel what I felt back in the days several years ago when I went to those gigs in the old theater down the road, always having a good time with listening and dancing to good, old honest handmade music.
The four members of Buffalo based band Cooler – Alley, Nathan, Nick and Adam, somehow manage to deliver a ton of honesty with this track. Don’t ask me how they did it, but this is labeled as no-strings-attached for me. They each doing their part to make the track work out the way it should – part alternative, part retro, part melancholic, part vintage. They even have what I like to call the “sing-along element” merged into almost any song of their previously released EP “Phantom Fuzz”. Don’t believe me? Check out “Stimulus”, for example. If you’re not going “ooooh oohhh” along with the song, there’s clearly something wrong with you.
Speaking of mixing and mastering, there’s nothing to complain about. It’s done a bit edgy, but perfect for this genre and grungy feeling the band wants to submit.

I know it’s a lot of work to get heard out there, but Cooler without a doubt is going in the right direction with live gigs and up-to-date recordings. Only negative thing to mention would be that they sometimes sound very much like another artist with their music. (I won’t say which band. Golden rule of kms.) This sometimes leads to this “hey, sounds like…” statement instead of the desired “hey, this one’s from Cooler!” Once they found this last piece of the puzzle, their unique groundbreaking signature sound which cannot be mistaken for someone else’s – there’s absolutely no way of stopping them.

Uma & The Wandering Stars – I Don’t Know

A remarkable voice. Haunting melodies. A huge load of emotion connected to all of it. Uma Starets, who teamed up with Diego Perez Guillermo, Itamar Starets and Pav Stanev to form the band known as “Uma & The Wandering Stars”, recently released the first track from their upcoming EP “Trapped”.

“I Don’t Know” is a perfect mixture of alternative rock and emotion. Uma Starets managed to add this blend of desperation and fragility with her beautiful voice, and the rest of the guys are adding the exact amount of pressure with distorted guitar tracks which seem to play and sort of experiment with the vocals from time to time, a driving bass line, and thoughtful added drumlines. (Being a drummer myself, I know how easy it is to get taken away by a song, overdoing several parts in the process, and making the song too “grunge” as a result. Didn’t happen here at all.)
The catchy vocals walking a line between “I’m lost” and “you’re going down” which in my opinion is the secret ingredient to make this track raise eyebrows everywhere.
The overall mix between the instruments and the vocals is done solid. Maybe the layered guitar tracks sometimes are mixed too close together (during chorus parts they’re sort of “melting” together, taking away eq bandwidth from the vocals), but then again, looking at it from an artistical point of view, that could be a wanted effect, helping to build the drive and emotion.

When it’s done with passion and sense of detail, you just gotta love music like this. And what Uma & The Wandering Stars are bringing to the table is exactly that: a great authentic alternative rock track. One thing’s for sure: these guys have everything it takes to go out there and blow away the audiences. I’m very curious about the other tracks we’ll find on “Trapped”. Watch out, indie rock world. This outstanding band means serious competition.

Another Language – Soul Doctor

I hope you guys out there are ready to get movin’, because here’s something to make you move big time. And we’re not just talking head-nodding. Serious grooving is what “Soul Doctor” is about.

Those five guys from the Brisbane based band “Another Language” almost brought me to break the kms musicblog “do-not-compare-to-other-musicians”-rule. I will still follow that rule (after all, I was the one setting it up in the first place), but listening to the funky guitar licks with that special drive added to it, this took me back a couple of years, when I just got my driver’s license, and was driving for hours just to enjoy the ride and listen to music like this. In the words of the band, they do “lyrical literature delivered with a funk’n’roll mentality.” Jep, that hits it right on the spot.
The track itself is played very lightweight and smooth, with a usual band setting. I have to emphasize the work of the guitar and bass player. They really earned their money with their playing skills. The way how they play is vital for the overall feeling of the track. That extra portion of funk always makes you feel like putting on sunglasses and a big smile. Because the drums manage to lay out a wave on which the guitar and bass are riding on like surfers, there’s this constant drive throughout the song. Only negative point to mention would be the final mix which seems a bit too low in the eq band, at least that’s how I hear it. But this doesn’t take anything away from the overall feeling, it jut might not sound great on all devices.

With songs like “Soul Doctor” it doesn’t surprise that Another Language is playing live on a regular basis, and they are about to release their EP named “Shoulder to the Sun” in late January. They did a great job in giving away this funky groove off the EP in advance, cause this is a great teaser. Well played, guys. In more than one way.

Harlea – Miss Me

I swear, there are nights when I go to the bar, order a drink, the door opens, that special girl enters the room, boom! everything goes slow-motion – and I hear exactly this tune in my head when this happens.

The new track “Miss Me” is an alternative rock track that needs a strong female singer to stand above the pretty loud music level. With London based singer Harlea the song just got that. I have the impression that this girl can sing even stronger and louder if she has to, and somehow she manages to show that in her song. As if she would say “do you think this is all I have in store for you?” I love it. With those slightly distorted vocals there’s this constant sassy impression transmitted as well.
The music is mixed solidly, often times I got the impression that there would be a mash-up of tracks due to the use of too much compression, but this seems to be a combination of my not-so-good headphones and the usage of distortion/granular effect on several music and vocal tracks. The mixture of the vocals and the guitar/bass combination goes along just great and gives the track that desired rock feeling.

I was able to find only this single track of Harlea on her available internet resources. That’s really bad, I would have loved to hear her sing several tracks in several genres just to see what she’s got to offer vocally. I’m sure she can sing soft as a pillow as well as hard like a brick wall. Right now we audiophiles just have one song to judge. Based on this song, I’d say that one thing’s for sure: there’s a spotlight pinned on Harlea, and she’s serious about rising above the competition out there.

Stonefeather – Castle (feat. Carmen and Camille)

What a sound. Handmade music. You just gotta love it.

This track took me back a couple of decades. The guys of Stonefeather are about classic rock, if not psychedelic rock or beyond. Sometimes alternative rock. Damn, it’s hard to put into one single genre. I heard another track of them before called “Electrify” which is all about this classic rock feeling you won’t hear from today’s chart musicians out there. (by the way, why is that?) That got me curious about what they are capable of, and so I listened to one of their newer tracks called “Castle” where they recreated exactly the essence of what they are about as a band.
Playing drums in a krautrock band I know a thing or two about this specific sound they are creating. The setting with bands like Stonefeather is quite basic, you have all the instruments you would expect in a band, but then there’s that… special ingredient. In the case of those guys it’s not one but many ingredients that make the sound recognizable as a “Stonefeather original”. Taking a closer look on “Castle”, I like that room reverb put into the vocal tracks, as well as the vintage feeling of the overall mix. But if you have a closer listen to the break half way through the song (which I’d like to call “Stonefeatherlude”) where you got this scenario of guitar layers alongside the haunting vocals of Carmen and Camille with minimal percussion effects, you can feel what I meant when saying that creating a signature sound is crucial to the effect a band has on the listener. I just love the mixture feel between “session” and “ready song” delivered with this track. This song could easily have gone on for like twenty minutes (like several bands in the past did), but even with 5:30 minutes those guys are making their point of what they are about.

For this track, they teamed up with the L.A. based twins Carmen and Camille who brought in their outstanding voices to give the track this haunting, desperate, nothing to loose attitude. They fit in there as if they were playing with the band all the time although they are doing other projects on their own. When two projects/bands melt like this when you just feel this certain connection between the musicians – from that point on they could as well do a track where they read a telephone book to you, all of what they do would just work out great. That’s mutual understanding. Girls and guys, it doesn’t get any better if you’re into that kind of sound.

Tiny Dinosaurs – Sit and Stare

If you ever wondered how it sounds when someone sings with all of her heart – here’s your chance to have a listen. But be warned, this one may hit you with emotion big time.

She just takes her time to deliver the message. L.A. based singer/songwriter Julie Jay isn’t in any rush to get her music to you. Listening to one of the tracks of her new EP “Awake”, I practically got smashed in the face with a truckload of melancholy. With “Sit and Stare” there’s a retro-like synth added with drums, bass and guitar to set the stage for the soft, almost dreamy sung vocals of Jay. Those are only backed by additional vocal tracks in the chorus, so there’s nothing that adds any hectic or fast element to the song. There’s nothing bad to say about the mixing work at all, the track has that vintage feeling it surely was intended to have, and the instrumental and melodic tracks aren’t fighting with the vocals over dominance. But, all technicalities aside, the track’s magic is happening with the voice of Jay. The lyrics are sung very thoughtful and reflective, and sometimes they have even sort of a hypnotic effect on you as a listener.
The signature sound comes from the singer not singing everything right on spot. Kind of a brave move in today’s music environment where everyone tends to pitch correct the crap out of any vocals – and this brave move works out perfectly for her songs. To point out a negative thing in this song, it would be the synth line playing almost throughout the whole song, in my opinion it’s mixed a bit too creaky, therefore this sounds a bit too… “8bit Nintendo” for me. But hey, that’s just my own taste.

Overall, I  was stunned how minimalistic someone can transmit her feelings with just the above described elements. There’s a lot of thought in this track, this shows not only in the way it was sung, but also with the music video on Youtube that Jay created. You’ll find single details within the song, it’s lyrics and music, that are there for you to find, not just placed obvisouly for anyone to see or hear. And that, my friends, is what great music is all about.

Bryde – Honey

Handmade music with that extra little portion of sassiness in the vocals. That’s the kind of music Bryde does. It’s everything there needs to be.

London based singer/songwriter Sarah Howells, better known as Bryde, has an unique sound. Searching the net, I read about Bryde being compared to more than a dozen similar artists in total. As I always do, I refuse to compare her to anyone or any band. The whole point of any musician out there is not to copy what is already there but to create a signature sound for themselves. I haven’t met one single artist who was happy with just being compared to anyone else. I know this comparison is used to get you people out there a feeling of how the artist sounds. Well… how about LISTENING to the songs for a change? How about judging for yourself? Sorry for ranting, guys…one of these days. Every artist puts a lot of work into his or her songs, and I feel it’s mere downgrade of any musician if you try to sell them on a sound of somebody else.
Okay, back to talking about the song of Bryde, shall we? 🙂
Backed by a distorted guitar, a bass and vintage drums, Howells just lets her voice go where it wants to. I especially love that tonal effect she adds at the end sometimes where the voice just lifts off to the upward scale, providing that special little naughty something. It just shows she feels the music, and she knows how to get her message to the audience. To add up, the vocals are mixed slightly distorted. Many many things can go wrong when doing so, but in the case of “Honey” everything checks out just great. Overall, the song delivers with that vintage “small bar feeling” attached to it, and that’s exactly how it is supposed to be. Closing my eyes, I can almost see her performing while just listening to this track over my headphones. So, the guys behind the mixers deserve a big shout out as well – Bill Ryder-Jones, Chris Taylor and Donal Whelan really engineered this track to an outstanding level of unique presence.

Bryde is quite busy. Going through her work on the available internet resources, I found she’s performing live on a regular basis in the UK (and outside as well), doing collaboration work with others, recording new tracks on a regular basis, doing video and many other things. So I guess it’s just in her blood to create, and I’m glad she’s creating new and exciting music for all of us out there.