Sunday, June 28, 2020

Hannah Yohance - "Quarantine Love"

This is the type of song that you want to put on when you go out for a drive at midnight to go nowhere. Drop the top, let the air flow and just release. Heartbreak songs are great to cruise to, and I love the groove on this track. I just want to sit back and relax and not feel alone. Who hasn't had a crappy relationship go bad? 

The production on this track is up there and I think that this could be a hit if no where else on college radio. This song just slides out of my speakers, and sounds so very good. Why am I not hearing this on the radio? Hannah does an excellent job of creating a mood and delivering vocally as usual. 

One complaint, the auto-tune. It's done well but I think that Hannah is a good enough artist to have mixed it up a bit here. I would have liked to hear him double up the lyric time in the verses or maybe at least during a middle section of sorts, but this is an artistic call. Who am I to say? The track is good, you should listen to it, nuff said. Hannah delivers once again with a passionate and authentic track. Why are you not listening right now? I honestly don't know but it's artists like Hannah that help with the crap life doles out.

Written by Michael

Hannah Yohance online:


Sunday, March 22, 2020

On the Brink: "She's All I Need"

Opening with sweet and gentle notes off an acoustic guitar On the Brink's Jeremiah Brinkley not, so much pulls you into his world, but pleasantly invites you. "She's All I Need" is the latest release from this artist which shows off the art of pouring ones soul into a song. As the full number kicks in, a portrait of a beautiful woman is described and put to music. The tender feelings for a beautiful woman shine from this number with great passion. If I were to guess how she looked by judging this number. I would say that she is sweet by the way he sings, beautiful by the way he plays the guitar, powerful with the presence of the bass guitar and poignant by how the percussion is approached. 

Touches like the hints of organ that shine through are nice ear-candy for this track. It would have been easy to throw in some electric lead workings but the organ gives that heartfelt touch that lets you know this is a woman that is special. The guitar work is solid and to be honest I think that this song is  true enough that it could have been kept at just that, a voice and a guitar. Case in point, at 2:48 where the band cuts back and Jeremiah goes solo. The full arrangement adds more power however and it works just as well. The outro guitar lead does the song justice but I would have liked to hear it go on for another measure or two. 

Percussion on the track lays down a solid beat for the rest of the band to play off of. The touch has the right amount of finesse. When adding drums to such a delicate track it can often overpower and distort a song. I think that a good balance has been found here. Bass guitar on the track is a monster. It comes in very powerfully adding a real strength to the song. I'm on the fence though, in regards to it's placement in the mix. I like the bass' place, but at the same time I think it takes over the song a bit much. The playing is on point. Nowhere is the bass noodling more than it should. It holds the low-end well and fills out the song, but part of me feels that it is just too prominent in the mix. 

Jeremiah's singing is done well. He shows a lot of talent and promise. Part of me wonders though if he lacks some certainty, or was rushed in the studio. Much of it he is on point, but there are flints here and there were he could have done better. The track sounds as though it was done with one vocal track. I may be wrong on this, if there were backing vocals it would have helped the number if they were raised up a bit in the mix. The rest of the song is so concrete and especially with the bass so prominent in the mix it makes his voice sound a bit "lonely" at times.

What do I know? I'm just guy listening, not the artist with the vision. This is a great song and you should give it a listen. If you like Country, Southern Rock or Classic Rock you'd probably like this song. And even if you are into Pop you'd probably like "She's All I Need" as well. Do yourself a favor. Check out this song and sit back. Close your eyes and think of the woman of your dreams or dream of becoming one. 

Michael Smith



Mafia Hill: China Girl

Turn on the radio or scan Youtube and you will come across an uncountable sea of "safe" artists that pretend to be edgy. Recently I was sent a track from the band Mafia Hill. "China Girl" has a reckless garage band vibe that just throws everything out there and doesn't really care what you think about it. I myself like the idea of Garage Rock because it has the attitude of Punk Rock but you don't get weighed down by the socio/political ethos that Punk so often brandishes. 

That said this is a straight up rocker. The guitar work done on the track has a nice gritty tone that will wake you up and get you out of bed. The right hand work has a sloppy technique yet it stays in the groove. It's the fun type of electric guitar playing that doesn't really care about the rules. Around the three minute mark the guitar lays back to break up the vibe. A crescendo of notes that peak into a guitar solo do well to help move the song up a notch.

The bass guitar on this track is present, but isn't really given the head room to breath. That said, you can tell that this is a guitar song. Probably based on artistic preferences but I would have liked the bass guitar more prevalent in the mix. It does well, it holds down the low end and fills out the sound scape but I wish that the vibe and attention to detail used on the guitar would have been applied here as well. 

Percussion on the cut I will presume is programmed. Essentially it is a loop that continues through the duration of the song. Personally I love guitar fills, but in a sense it is like a throw back to early rock 'n roll where the drums weren't allowed much room for blossoming. They fit well in the mix and keep time well, almost too well for garage rock. Sometimes attitude gets in the way of proper time keeping and adds to the flavor in result. I would have liked to hear more flash on the drums. 

As far as vocals are concerned. Garry has the attitude to match the guitar work. The production is low-fi in nature and that fits with the song's garage rock appeal. The overdubs are minimal but help with dynamics of the performance. I like the rough-neck approach to the love of a beautiful woman. Which he calls his "China Girl".

If you are looking for a song to crank while out on the open road this is your cut. I could totally see myself road raging to this track with the pedal to the metal. I recommend this song to those that like Rock, Garage Rock, Indie and Alternative.

Check out the video:


Michael Smith

The Raft: "Xanadu"

Tucked away, hidden somewhere near Liverpool comes an artist that has sent me a very beautiful song that makes my heart swell. Listening to this track will make you want to curl up on your couch with your special someone and forget about looking at the time. The mix and arrangement has a throwback appeal but at the same time is still fresh and very relevant. Xanadu, is my new favorite pop track of the week and says something, because there is so much Pop music out there that sometimes I find myself nearly stubbing my toe, falling over and breaking my neck.

The song opens with a simple percussion loop that makes me want to stand open my hands, raise them to the sky and begin dancing. Guitar notes dance through the air around me and sound cold as ice, so clear and concise, yet at the same time are so warm and welcoming to the ear. Sounds that are layered are varied in texture creating a rich sound scape that invites you on a journey through your mind as well through artist's. 

Vocals sound as if they are rolling out of Phil's mouth with pure emotion. It seems as though they are just flowing telepathically out of his mind without a breath spent. They sound smooth as silk dancing in the breeze of a warm spring day. The guitar solo that comes in around the 2:55 mark takes the tale further down the road. There was no need for a whirlwind of notes but ones tastefully played that appear as an open hand welcoming you along the journey. 

The chorus will have you singing along no matter what your ability to sing is. As it bounces through my mind I find a peace and still have a longing that is not satisfied but only by the continuation of this song. While "Xanadu" comes in at an epic 6:55 in length it by no means wears out its welcome. Rounding out the cut is a female vocal that is just as smooth as the rest of the song, and as it fades out I find my wondering what to do next besides hit play again. 

I recommend this song to those that like Pop, Electronic, Alternative and Indie styles of music. It was truly another beautiful experience from Phil Wilson. It's worth a spin or twenty.

Michael Smith

Check out the album:


Sunday, March 15, 2020

Great Band With a Rap/Rock Vibe

Sometimes you come across a song that embodies the spirit of rock 'n roll. It's the type of music that is not "safe" and it's not something that you wouldn't play in front of your Mom. Nude Eagle has hit the raunchy-groove oriented rap/rock bulls eye. I never know what I am going to hear when I hit play and after the first eleven seconds my face began to smile. I will guarantee that this is not a song or band that everyone will like, but that's not what rock 'n roll is supposed to be, at least in my opinion. I had some idea that I was going to be in for a treat when I get a song from a band called "Nude Eagle". 

Both Sides of Your Mouth starts off with a blues guitar intro that may make you think your in for a simple laid back blues cigarettes and whiskey type of song. But just when you settle in the guitar's gain cranks and the boys from N.E. throw down their groove. This song has plenty of swing and I mean that in a way that will make your naughty girlfriend jump on top of a table and start dancing in a way good girls don't if you know what I mean.

I love the guitar tone. It weaves through the song and holds a grind a funk type of groove that makes you want to move your feet and bang your head. The guitar solo that kicks in 2:55 has elements of hair metal and blues with a twist that is all its own. I found myself wanting to play air guitar and then just go grab mind. On display is a tone and playing that will remind you about how fun and dangerous guitar playing can be.

The bass guitar was probably my most favorite element. It just makes this song bounce. Instead of a low, dull tone that plows through a song the bass guitar here weaves around brings this song to life. The playing and tone had the appropriate amount of flash and fun without taking over the song. 

The percussion on this track was done well also. I liked the groove and the drummer stayed in the pocket. Again just like the guitar and bass work the drums held there ground with the right amount of spice and flair. I liked some of the action on the high hat and how it countered the snare/kick action. There is true talent in this band and it shows by volumes.

The vocals on this cut made me pause. I loved the vocalist's tone. He has that back alley deep tone delivery that made you want to look around to see if you were bout to get caught hooking up with a fix, but wait this is a song. He sounds authentic, reserved but still pulls off the bad-ass vibe. The only complaint that I had was that I personally felt the vocals were a bit buried in the mix. But what do I know? You can hear him. I just think that with the quick delivery of some of the stanzas it would have helped the song to have him up in the mix a bit.

End line, do yourself a favor, get some great speakers and crank this song. Don't have good speakers? Okay, crank it anyway. Just check your attitude and presumptions at the door and have a fun time with this song.

Michael Smith

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Ignitemares: Letters to Lauras

There's nothing so nice as a song that bleeds emotion. Unfortunately that usually means an artist has gone through a great deal. On display here, is an artist as long through as long through personal turmoil and decided to share the world. That alone is very brave, to do so on a stage in front of other people is even more daring. The Ignitemares pride themselves as a three piece pop punk band that hales from South Wales which writes in a view of classic pop punk with a weird side and prone to having a serious slant. That said I would say the achieve what the aspire to be... or not to be. 

"Letters to Lauras" wastes no time coming out of the gate with
distorted guitars, a thick bass guitar and behemoth drumming. Sticking to a Pop Punk approach vocally Keyleigh Morgan sings melodically and thankfully clearly. Nothing is more trying than a vocalist singing clean but sounds as if there are marbles in their mouth. Kayleigh approaches the mic and belts out the song well, but I have be honest. I think she's holding back. There are a few moments in this song where she lets go. Like around the 2:24 mark, she lets out a belting scream that is just for the song. However given the lyrical content I think that the song would have favored better if she would have let go a bit more in this song. Letting go doesn't mean that you have to scream nonstop till your vocal chords fall out but for some reason I feel she's holding back and not letting all her passion out vocally. 

The guitars preformed are done very well. I like the tone for the most part and it fits the sound and dynamic of the band. However around the 1:20 mark there is a shift in tone that is a bit more gritty. I thought that this shift was awesome but would have liked to hear it though out the entire track. The guitar tones seem safe and too ordinary for the genre. These are personal preferences and there is nothing wrong with the tone and approach but again it makes the song a bit "safe" or reserved and that flys a bit in the face of what is to be "punk" if there is such a thing. 

The bass guitar is nestled in the mix in an okay place, but here to I think that this band would benefit from boosting the midrange frequencies and letting the low note pop a bit more into the mix. The playing is good and seems right in the pocket. If you've got great players let it fly. If people don't like it there are plenty of other safe rock bands out there they can listen to. The drums stay on track and are preformed well. The dynamics of the song are allowed to swing without things getting out of control. Again though as I listen to the song I almost wonder if the mixing engineer or producer was playing it too safe. There's talent here on display. The frequencies just aren't getting out and the mix is holding this band back. 

Over all, this is a band to watch if their arc continues on the same trajectory and continues to rise. The only place this band has to go is but up unless they self implode or fall to cliche' self-destructiveness. So do yourself a favor, listen to this band, crank it up, go to a show and cheer them on. I gotta believe that they are something to behold live. There's just too much guts on display to conceive that they are shy and afraid to let it rip.

Michael Smith

Fireglow: "Modern Life"

Take a trip to the other side of the world in your mind and on your calendar and you will find without a doubt the happiest dark song you will ever come across. Based out of Sydney, Australia comes a band that is full of fun for the whole family. Maybe though, you don't want the kiddos to listen to hard to the music. "Modern Life" is a happy-go-lucky song that starts of singing about the oily water with bricks and glass. It's the kind of song that draws the listener in, gets bobbing their head and then... "WHAT!"

All that said I really like the song. It has an upbeat groove and style that is indicative of what you might hear during the montage of a Brady Bunch episode. The sing song nature as well as the infectious groove will have you humming this in your head well after the song is over. I really like the percussion work on this track. It holds the groove well and has a number of tasteful fills that give the song the right balance and spice that it needs. The band overall has the 60s - 70s retro music style down cold. I can't think of anyone off the top of my head that nails it so well. The guitar work at hand  has that indelible clean tone that makes you want to put on your favorite sneakers and smile while skipping in the grocery store. I even found myself wanting to air guitar a few times while listening. The bass guitar is in the pocket (though I would have liked it a bit more prominent in places). The tone is spot on with a bounce and growl that makes you want to shake your hips and howl at the moon.
Keyboard work it on spot as well. With a groovy organ tone you want to look for your bell bottoms and put on some rose colored sunglasses. Piano sounds cascade in the right places make you want to drop the top and sing along at the top of your lungs. What I find most delicious and prominent in this song is the vocal harmonies dominating in the chorus. That's the million dollar hook that propels this song into short term memory replay part of your brain. The vocal textures are fun and bounce through the ears that make it nearly impossible to frown despite the gloomy lyrical subject. Mix and production are really pretty good. This isn't some group of hacks in their garage recording with their thumbs with everything cranked to 11. 

If you're in the mood for something different, like retro-rock or want something that will put an extra kick in your step then check out Fireglow and their track "Modern Life". Just make sure that you aren't in a room with low ceilings you may find yourself bopping your head and getting a concussion. Other side affects include: swaying hips, an unending smile and a fear of postmodern industrialism. 

Michael Smith