“Down in a Minute,” the second track on Chicago-based Soulnoise’s debut EP Future plays almost like a recap of what’s brought the city to the musical mainstream over the last few years. There are sharp bars, a soulful sax solo, and rich, complex guitar that add flavor to the song’s killer hook and pristine drums.
On Future, the group succeed in blending their vast influences into a project that is easy to connect with emotionally and still feels distinct. So many artists nowadays blend genres that trying to distill too many into a single project can leave a group without a country so to speak, but the rock edge and consistently stellar guitar helps ground Soulnoise.
“Take Me Over” is a powerful tell-all that focuses as much on battling substance abuse as it does one’s own anxieties and inner demons. The trap-tinged drums create a grittiness that’s well-suited for the varied talents of both MC Jamal Gaines and singer Jonah McGowan.
All in all, Future is focused and purposeful, a strong mission statement from a group with real talent and serious aspirations.
With intricate guitar and pounding drums, the debut single from Soulnoise is a genre-blending trip. Comprised of Jonah McGowan, Lucas Messore, and Jamal Gaines, the trio linked up in Chicago (Gaines’ hometown, Messore is from Miami and McGowan from London), and their music has the combination of soulful introspection and rap edge that has helped the city’s music scene reach the national conversation over the past few years. “Hold Me Down” is an inspiring anthem, and a showcase of the group’s unique hybrid sound that is clearly a product of the members’ far-flung origins. Part story of adversity, part inspiring underdog triumph, McGowan and Gaines take turns trading tales over searing guitar from Messore and Jon Perkins.
Even the story of how “Hold Me Down” came together is one of serious dedication. “We basically could only record in the studio when it wasn’t booked with clients. which meant that we had to record like through the night and late as fuck on random days,” McGowan explained. “So we were all like taking the El late night to get to the studio, it was a hustle for sure.”
The track is the first off their Future EP, which drops August 22nd. If the single is any indication, expect more genre-defying, fist-pumping tunes from Soulnoise.
The Internet just got their first Grammy nomination and are still flying on the high of a successful album, so it’s no surprise that another artist would want to take on one of their beautiful creations. A new act, Heirsound, have decided to put their own touch on The Internet track “Just Sayin” and it’s quite the display of what the band is capable of. Although they don’t stray too far from the original, they still manage to provide their own sound in the process. They give the r&b, funky tune a little taste of alternative-rock and it shows in all the right ways. Listen to the Heirsound’s impressive cover of “Just Sayin” below.
Lissie has been known for performing some of the best cover songs (see her famous cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” and Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home”), her alternative-folk sound, and her raw artistry. Lissie seems to have all the elements of a true artist and she’s nowhere near stopping. She’s had two successful full length albums and the third, My Wild West, is coming out in Feburary. “Don’t You Give Up On Me” is the first single off of the record and it’s the perfect display of Lissie’s style. It’s filled with emotion, intensity, and of course, is laced with the sounds of folk, rock, and pop. Lissie knows how to stay within the sounds that fans grew to love, but also break the barriers to give listeners something new. Listen to the wonderful new tune “Don’t You Give Up On Me” below.
With an edgy, hip-hop informed sound, Foreign Air is crafting dark rock music very much in the mold of Glass Animals or The Neighbourhood. The duo hail from North Carolina and D.C., but their music has a moody, ethereal, placeless feeling.
“Free Animal” is the group’s first release, and it has generated tremendous buzz behind buzzy, ominous guitar, frenzied electronic drums and some woozy sample chopping. The single is bluesy and hypnotic, featuring an impressive array of vocals from singer Jesse Clasen, including a haunting falsetto second verse.
Foreign Air’s debut EP is slated to drop in February 2016, and if the rest of the tracks are as tight as “Free Animal” you can expect these guys to be all over next summer’s festival circuit.
JAKL may not ring any bells yet, but he’s making sure people don’t forget him with a strong debut. “The Jackal” is the first time that we get a taste of who JAKL may be as an artist and it’s quite a good impression. The track is intense, emotional, and dark, but also exposes an addictive sound that will get listeners hooked. It’s a mixture of pop, a bit alternative, and an overall beautiful piece of work. Listen to the inspirational sounds of the new London artist JAKL below.
Back in February I presented you with the easily lovable “Running It”, by the up and coming Australian group Diafrix. This time, it’s another fun & catchy track with “Easy Come, Easy Go” representing the third single on the upcoming debut album Pocket Full of Dreams, due out September 28th. To say this record could be a sleeper of 2012 is a giant understatement. Really enjoying everything I’ve heard from the group, as the combo of hip/hop & pop continues to click. Check out “Easy Come, Easy Go,” below and be sure to support Pocket Full of Dreams once released.
Canadian hip/hop STAND UP!
Talented musicians have continued to ooze out of the northern nation and bless us with some terrific music over the years. Artists such as Classified, k-os, K’naan, and hell, even Drake have made a significant imprint on the music scene through their undeniable talent and continued hard work.
The Lytics may represent a new wave of Canadian music with their new and catchy debut single “Stay Calm.” This managed to catch my attention because of its unique and organic alterna-pop sound coupled with a strong old school hip hop vibe. The group’s sophomore album, They Told Me, is scheduled to drop October 16th, and should be an intriguing listen. Snag this great track below to get your fix before the album is released.
Alright I’ll be honest here. The only reason I’m posting this is because I want to hear everyone’s opinion on it. So after reading this and giving it a listen, feel free to drop a comment and tell us how you feel. CuDi announced awhile ago that he was done with rapping and moving into a more rockish type genre. Well, he wasn’t kidding. Cudder revealed his latest song last night on his twitter. At first listen, I was kinda thinking where the hell did Cudder go? You can tell from his second album, MOTM2, that he was taking a different direction in his music and it was a good direction! But this song? I’m not to sure. In his defense, I will always support him as we are both from Cleveland and Cudder is one of my favorite artists.
KiD CuDi – Perfect Is The Word
Recently I’ve been posting statuses on the Sunset in the Rearview Facebook Page that I call “Straight Talk.” I want this blog to be a true representation of me and who I am, so I’m going to start writing Straight Talk Sundays so that you guys can know what’s on my mind or what I feel like talking about. Total transparency.
Do you ever get in those moods or conversations where you start pondering life…wondering what it really is, how we got here…what came first, the chicken or the egg…and what happens after we’re gone? Part of me absolutely loathes these thoughts; after all, why should we waste our time wondering? I tell myself that my motto is to ‘live in the moment,’ but if that’s what I spend my time thinking about, I’m certainly breaking my own rule. At the same time, though, I love these thoughts or conversations because you can really get wrapped up in them. It’s philosophy, really; you never know the right answer for sure, but it’s trippy and fun to think about and reason with certain thoughts or ideas.
Well, when it comes down to it all, I’ve learned one thing about life: it is short. This is one of the hardest things to ever learn or wrap your head around, because you typically only come to realize this after losing somebody special.
As you may know if you’ve been reading Sunset long enough, I lost my Dad this past year. My Dad was one of my very best friends, my mentor, my guiding light, and my inspiration in nearly everything I did. At the snap of a finger, I felt as though I lost all of that. It was a slap in the face and I thought that I would never be able to smile again.
Well, guess what? I did smile. I picked my chin up because I knew that’s what my Dad would want. He was always smiling, and I know that somewhere he’s still smiling today. Same goes for anybody you ever lost. I guarantee you that they would want you to be smiling. It’s not always up to us to decide when we leave this place, but what we can control is what we leave behind and how we spent our time here. My Dad left a lot behind for me; he really paved the way for me and all of my sisters. Now it’s in my hands to follow his path and also to make sure that I’m happy while doing so.
It’s hard for me to write all of this, you know. I don’t know the majority of you who are reading this. (Hi, my name is Lydia. What’s your name?) Most of you didn’t know my Dad. Why should I share my feelings with you? Will it offend my family that I’m talking about something so personal on such a public space? Well, that’s the thing that I’ve had to come to terms with. This is my life, and as I said, I’m in control of how I live it. It’s on me to ensure that I’m happy while I’m here. Holding everything in about my Dad wasn’t the path I chose to take. I love to talk about him, and I know, being the person who he was, that he wouldn’t want me to keep anything in or keep secrets from anybody. So, hey, you; nice to meet you. Welcome to my mind (be careful, it’s a mess in there sometimes).
What does this have to do with music? Very little, actually. But here’s what I can tell you. It sure does relate to Sunset in the Rearview as a blog. This thing takes up 90% of my free time. Meh, make that 95%. It’s hard work updating it so frequently and maintaining all of the managerial and logistical stuff behind it. I like to think of it as a child of mine, in a way, something that I don’t often like to leave on its own. But through the trials and tribulations I’ve seen in the past 7 months, I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to put things aside and enjoy the natural world that existed far before the Internet ever did. Step away from your gadgets and enjoy human interaction. Let music be your soundtrack, if you wish; that’s what I do. But free your hands, free your mind, and live a little. Remember: life is short; live it with a smile.
You came to take us, all things go, all things go. To recreate us, all things grow, all things grow.
What’s Left: 301 Days. 76 Bands.
Band #24: Brett Harris
When/Where: October 31st, Slim’s Downtown Distillery, Raleigh, NC
Expectations: I have known Brett Harris for a few years now. We have played many shows together, and he has even backed me in Luego, both live and in studio. He is an adept songster, and has pipes one can only wish for. His April 2010 high fidelity release, Man of Few Words, has garnered critical online acclaim in Paste Magazine among other publications, and rightfully so. Every song on the album is classic pop full of classic hooks. I haven’t seen Harris in months, so I look forward to see his progress.
Concert: Brett Harris opened MarkXtravaganza: a 5-band birthday party for local bassist/bartender Mark Connor and all bands he plays in. Those bands included Brett Harris, Luego, The Spring Collection, The Tomahawks, and Bright Young Things. A small group of friends and fans gathered to witness the debauchery. The show commenced with Brett leading his 5-piece band through 8 tunes, heavy on Man of Few Words material. The set pulsated with tight arrangemebts, perfect pitch singing, and lip-curling guitar solos played by self-assured, bearded dudes more interested in the 60s than today.
Keyboardist Charles “The Cleav” Cleaver, pulling triple duty that night, played around the songs with his piano fills—he didn’t get in the way of the songs, he only enhanced them. Guitarist Cameron Lee – pulling quadruple duty that night – was fresh, skilled, and tasty, even skronky. His playing style ranged from Nashville country bumpkin to poppy John Mayer to swaggering Ronnie Wood.
The best part of the set came on the second to last song, when the band unleashed a spirited cover of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London.” While you may not recognize the name of the song by it’s title, I guarantee you’ve heard this song. Where Brett Harris’s set was conventional, predictable and straightforward, “Werewolves” was loose, fun and off-kilter, drawing the biggest crowd response. Brett finished the set with a soulful new take on one of his older songs. He left the stage humbly and politely, professionally and indifferently. He didn’t need to say anything more. His syrupy croon did the talking. But this gig wasn’t about proving anything, it was really just a long party.
Brett Harris lies atop a growing crop of finely tuned, incestuous, hook-laden bands taking over the local music scene. Even if his talents may go unrecognized, he carries with him a quiet determination to succeed. If he continues writing songs like his first album, he will soon be rewarded for his efforts.
Concert Afterglow: After seeing all 5 sets, Brett’s set was in fact the best, tightest, most exciting, despite its conventionalism. Who needs shock value when you have hooks like this?
Recommendation: In the least, you must check out Brett’s radio-ready debut full-lenth album in Man of Few Words. You can download it for zero dollars plus your email address at http://brettharris.bandcamp.com.
Song: “I Found Out” – Brett Harris