‘Round 2’ – Itch 

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Itch are an exquisite band hailing from Serbia. Formed in 2010, their latest album ‘Round 2’ is simply divine. This wonderful album encapsulates their love of different genres of music and unites them in in one perfectly formed piece of work.

The opening track ‘Prison Disco’ has a funk style opening with high hats filled with top and a funky bass line to catch your ear. The electric guitars shine throughout. The lead vocals and harmonies are lush and exuberant in their tone and delivery. This song is most definitely music with a message. There is a heavy political message running through it but paired with a catchy melody which all makes for a stand out opening.

Our other favourite tracks are; ‘Yura’, the genre feels like Ska when the vocals kick in and the musicianship is top notch. You can feel from first listen that the band members know each other inside out. Their parts weave in and out of each other like a dance and make for compelling listening. The bass particularly shines on this song. It is not only an accompaniment but it adds another dimension and keeps drawing your ears back to it. 

‘Despotic’ remind us of Frank Zappa with its unusual semitone opening. The vocals are very unique too, doing a question and answer session with themselves through the verse and the instrumental feels Asian in influence. There is Spanish counting in there and the slap bass adds star quality to an already elevated song. 

‘Rere’ has the most gorgeous harmonies to open with and it really lets the vocal performances shine. The final track ‘The Sun Will Rise’ feels Russian with the rolling, marching snare. There are so many elements to be heard and they work together in a culmination of musical brilliance. There is also a special vocal part where whispers are heard but they have been mixed in separate speakers and make you feel included, being swept up in the magic.

We have been trying to decide what our favourite thing about ‘Round 2’ is and we have concluded: the unexpected genre changes. Normally, you hear different genres on a record being introduced from song to song. Itch are very different. They cleverly and seamlessly glide from one genre to another within the space of a verse, chorus and instrumental and it really works! You never know what is going to come next and this makes for an exciting and exhilarating listen. This technique which they have perfected is used on a number of the tracks but it never feels old as the genres are always different. 

Trust us when we say, listen to this album! It will feed your soul more in its 33 minutes than anything else and will leaving you feeling fulfilled all day long!

Reviewed by FVReviews July 2018

http://itch-band.com

https://www.facebook.com/theitchmusic

https://www.instagram.com/itchband/

https://twitter.com/ItchBand

‘Along the Road’ – Dirk Schwenk & The Truth 

dschwenkHailing from Annapolis, Dirk Schwenk & The Truth are a phenomenal band specialising in the rock/alt-country/roots genres. Their latest release ‘Along the Road’ was released on 15th June 2018 and we believe it is an instant classic. 

Having a sound which is chilled and hard hitting all at once, this EP is very special indeed. The opening track, ‘Table Set for Two’ begins with two guitars, accompanied by drums, playing different melodies and complimenting each other completely. The lyrics are heartfelt and relatable. This song really introduces the listener to what a magnificent songwriter Schwenk is. He has the great ability to make the listener see everything he sees, to hear what he hears and feel what he feels. This is not a given with songwriters however, Schwenk executes his skill to perfection.

‘The River’ comes next and has a gorgeous slide guitar in the opening. The kick drum is present and constant throughout and provides the heartbeat to the song. There are added additions of a tambourine and harmonies galore. Later, during the instrumental the slide guitar is an absolute masterclass of how to add intensity and emotion to a song with an instrument. World class.

‘I am Graced’ sees the addition of a mandolin in the opening. There is also an piano to be heard for the first time which add a different texture to what we have previously heard. Schwenk’s vocals shine in this song, they are rich, warm and effortless. Always emitting emotion in their delivery, this love song hits the mark on so many different levels. 

Next we hear, ‘Along the Road She Comes’ which showcases Schwenk’s songwriting ability again. There is a major ascending chord progression in the verse which changes to a staccato rhythm with minor chord changes in the chorus. This is great juxtaposition and provides interest and intrigue. 

The final track is called, ‘Flag on the Hill’. It is a strong, patriotic and heavily political song. It is very different to what we have heard previously. The marching snare echoes the military feel and the ‘Stand Up and be Counted’ messaged also reiterates this. The harmonies and slide guitar give the track further substance and fabric.

Appearing on the EP we hear; Dirk – vocals & guitar, Chris – guitar and vocals, Kevin – bass & vocals, Mike – drums and vocals and Joe – guitar. This group of musicians really understand their craft and have produced an all round superb EP.

The EP has something for everyone, it is heartfelt, political and catchy all at once so check it out today!

Reviewed by FVReviews July 2018

https://www.dirkschwenk.com/

https://twitter.com/DirkSchwenk

https://www.facebook.com/dirkandthetruth/

https://soundcloud.com/dirkschwenkmusic

‘Along the Road’ – Dirk Schwenk & The Truth 

dschwenk

Hailing from Annapolis, Dirk Schwenk & The Truth are a phenomenal band specialising in the rock/alt-country/roots genres. Their latest release ‘Along the Road’ was released on 15th June 2018 and we believe it is an instant classic. 

Having a sound which is chilled and hard hitting all at once, this EP is very special indeed. The opening track, ‘Table Set for Two’ begins with two guitars, accompanied by drums, playing different melodies and complimenting each other completely. The lyrics are heartfelt and relatable. This song really introduces the listener to what a magnificent songwriter Schwenk is. He has the great ability to make the listener see everything he sees, to hear what he hears and feel what he feels. This is not a given with songwriters however, Schwenk executes his skill to perfection.

‘The River’ comes next and has a gorgeous slide guitar in the opening. The kick drum is present and constant throughout and provides the heartbeat to the song. There are added additions of a tambourine and harmonies galore. Later, during the instrumental the slide guitar is an absolute masterclass of how to add intensity and emotion to a song with an instrument. World class.

‘I am Graced’ sees the addition of a mandolin in the opening. There is also an piano to be heard for the first time which add a different texture to what we have previously heard. Schwenk’s vocals shine in this song, they are rich, warm and effortless. Always emitting emotion in their delivery, this love song hits the mark on so many different levels. 

Next we hear, ‘Along the Road She Comes’ which showcases Schwenk’s songwriting ability again. There is a major ascending chord progression in the verse which changes to a staccato rhythm with minor chord changes in the chorus. This is great juxtaposition and provides interest and intrigue. 

The final track is called, ‘Flag on the Hill’. It is a strong, patriotic and heavily political song. It is very different to what we have heard previously. The marching snare echoes the military feel and the ‘Stand Up and be Counted’ messaged also reiterates this. The harmonies and slide guitar give the track further substance and fabric.

Appearing on the EP we hear; Dirk – vocals & guitar, Chris – guitar and vocals, Kevin – bass & vocals, Mike – drums and vocals and Joe – guitar. This group of musicians really understand their craft and have produced an all round superb EP.

The EP has something for everyone, it is heartfelt, political and catchy all at once so check it out today!

Reviewed by FVReviews July 2018

https://www.dirkschwenk.com/

https://twitter.com/DirkSchwenk

https://www.facebook.com/dirkandthetruth/

https://soundcloud.com/dirkschwenkmusic

The Mezcaltones – ‘The Mezcaltones Second’

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The Mezcaltones describe themselves as “Tex Max Tarantino Rock” and we whole heartedly agree. The Sydney based band have released their album ‘The Mezcaltones Second’ and it is simply wonderful.

The opening track is an instrumental song with nods to the ‘Rawhide’ theme. It is fun and sets the scene for what is to come. ‘I Know my Rider’ is the second and a standout song. The vocals feel rocky and the backing vocals produce layers of enjoyment and interest. There is also an addition of a tambourine here, adding a toe tapping quality.

‘Humble Pride’ is yet another stand out track. We hear a Hank Marvin style guitar producing warm and catchy riffs. The bass and drums are true partners in crime on this song. You can hear them feeding off one another, driving each other along and providing the backbone for the rest of the magical instrumentation. ‘Short Change Hero’ has gorgeous harmonies at the beginning and the female vocals really shine through. The male vocals remind us of Nick Cave – never a bad thing! We also loved the closing track ‘Let love Reign’ for the drums and the use of the toms producing a backbone rhythm in an interesting way.

Throughout the bass, drums and guitars drive the songs along. The guitars offer separate parts always complimenting each other and the solos are divine. The vocals are full of character, both lead and backing and the composition and arrangements of the songs are beatific. Finally, the mix, production and mastering is brilliant. We felt the overall sound is full, spacious and ticks all of the tones you would want to hear. 

The Mezcaltones are comprised of; Col Porter, Neralyn Porter, Dan Mauger, Luke Orhan, Shane Craney and Melinda Nassif and each band member are excellent musicians in their own right. They are very tight when playing together and you can feel the positives vibes between the players. Their musicianship is an extremely high standard and this is what makes the Mezcaltones stand out from the crowd. 

The overall feel of the album is fun and upbeat. During our research we visited The Mezcaltones’ website and saw a video of the track ‘Humble Pride’, it is fun and upbeat to match the music but also carries a deeper message showing another side to this versatile band. We do not wish to carry spoilers so, to see what we mean please check out the video yourselves, it is well worth doing!

Their Facebook states their influences to be ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Once Upon A Time in Mexico’, and ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’. The Tarantino feel can be heard on ‘The Mezcaltones Second’. It can also be seen in the brilliant album artwork which accompanies the release. 

One thing is for sure, The Mezcaltones are an extremely exciting band. Check out this wonderful album today!

Reviewed by FVReviews July 2018

https://open.spotify.com/album/66C638IQRfUiu5w4OExTEp

https://the-mezcaltones.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TheMezcaltones/

‘Bail It’ – Ejima 

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‘Bail It’ is the brand new single from the brilliant twin duo, Ejima. Originally from Edenton, North Carolina and currently living in Los Angeles, Ejima fuse R&B with pop and have created a wonderfully catchy and mesmerising track which has all the ingredients to be a big hit for summer 2018. 

The track is heavily catchy with tantalising hooks and from the get go. The listener is drawn into it’s hypnotising qualities and unforgettable melodies. The vocal performance from the two female singers and later the introduction of a male rapper, are the main stand out elements of ‘Bail It’. The 3 separate vocal performances weave in and out of each other, always complimenting one another and enhancing the layers of depth. 

Lyrically, ‘Bail It’ is extremely relatable on many different levels and ages across the spectrum. It has an appeal for everyone. The line which particularly stood out; “I am not guilty and everyone makes mistakes” has an appeal for all. It certainly did in our office. We believe ‘Bail It’ is a metaphor for heartbreak and loss. The sung parts, harmonies and spoken word all create depth and a constantly changing and interesting textural sonic scape. The lyrics resonate and are deep at the same time as being catchy R&B Pop. This is very difficult to do but Ejima deliver it to perfection. 

The mix, production and mastering on the single are of an extremely high quality. The layers of vocals have been blended superbly. There is use of an extremely long delay on the verse vocals which facilitates words to fade away gently into the distance. This creates a wide perception of space and depth, each element owning its own territory. The use delay and compression are used in perfect measure too. 

There is also a video which has been released in support of the single and it compliments the song divinely. You see the women dressed in orange jumpsuits throughout and is  thoroughly enjoyable piece of work. 

Our favourite thing about Ejima? They are reinventing and innovating a preloved genre for the 10’s. We hear influences from The Jacksons and also the 90’s band TLC but they are just that, influences. They are formidable artists in their own right and when their song comes on, you will know instantaneously it is them. 

‘Ejima’ comes from the Nigerian word for twins and these pair are most definitely a duo to watch out for. With a groove as smooth as silk and voices adaptable to any style, we can not wait to hear what comes next from these brilliant artists!

Reviewed by FVReviews July 2018

www.facebook.com/Ejimanc

www.twitter.com/Ejimanc

http://www.instagram.com/Ejimanc

‘Colours of Hate (No More)’ – Buddhi de Mal 

CD_Cover_Front.jpgBuddhi de Mal is an exquisite singer/songwriter originally born and raised in Sri Lanka and currently living in Los Angeles. His latest release ‘Colours of Hate (No More)’ is a wonderful introduction to his political and unifying single. 

The track starts with sparse instrumentation and slowly builds. There is a guitar strumming chords on 2 and 4 of the beat, then the vocals, drums and bass kick in. The rhythm nods very much towards a reggae beat with a chilled, relaxed tempo and welcoming mid tones. 

The chorus is catchy and each time it reappears there is a added element. This all builds character and textures. Before the second verse there is a female vocal to be heard which is a great introduction to a new dimension. The harmonica addition is another unexpected but enhancing element. We loved the guitar break, there are two solos one after another, the first is a rich tone filled subdued offering and the second is a extravaganza of a squealing stadium solo. The song is thought provoking and serious. However, there is a really nice part in the accompanying video, juxtaposed to the serious nature of the track the first solo guitar is playing then the second guitarist scoots him out of the way and plays his solo. This addition of humour shows layers of thought and detail which has gone into making such a competent piece of work.

Buddhi de Mal’s vocals are a major positive selling point to this single. His roots shine through in his very present Sri Lanken accent. This adds charms and depth to his writing and makes ‘Colours of Hate (No More)’ stand out from the pack. His tone is simply delicious and it will have you coming back for a listen time and time again. 

With times, attitudes and the political landscape as it is, ‘Colours of Hate (No More)’ is a breath of hope and a change of the tide. The outro lyrics hold a powerful message of new way forward; “No more colours, No more winners, No more sinners, No more killers”.  They creep up on you and will have you singing along in no time. Music like this can influence attitudes and make social changes.

The artwork which accompanies the single is stunning, as is each element which is related to the project. The video is of an excellent quality and expresses and highlights the brilliant musicianship that we hear. There is very apparent message of equality, regardless of race, sexuality or age. ‘Colours of Hate (No More)’ was recorded at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood and it includes participation from students and teachers from all colours and races. The folks who worked on the stunning project are as follows: Producer – Zoe Pelloux, Director & Cinematographer – Benjamin Gabriel Schultz, Editor – Alexander Rodriguez-Hernandez, Album Artwork – Natalie Soysa, Audio Mix & Master – Rob Harkness.

There is also a really interesting and detailed documentary which tells Buddhi De Mel’s story. It’s a fascinating watch and we fully recommend it. It explains why he writes from such a political standpoint after his upbringing in Sri Lanka in times of Civil war and unrest. 

To watch, follow the link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddUMviELdlQ&t=1s

Reviewed by FVReviews June 2018

https://www.buddhidemal.com/

https://open.spotify.com/artist/55NASZnQotEilLB7yA7qVj

https://www.facebook.com/bdemal

https://www.youtube.com/user/DeTheMal

‘Evicted’ – Cameron Stephens 

IMG_3458Cameron Stephens is a Lo Fi artist from Sacramento in the United States. His latest EP ‘The Venust Odyssey of the Wayfayer Epimetheus and his Larghetto Songs’ has been released in June 2018 and we are reviewing the third and final track, ‘Evicted’.

The beginning of the track very much sets the tone for the song to come. It is a relatively short song, just 2 minutes 28 seconds in length but in that time it feeds the soul and ticks all the ‘brilliant song’ boxes!

It begins with the sound of a record player complete with its inviting hiss, which is a lovely vintage touch. It lets the listener know that they are in for a thoroughly charming, warm and welcoming song. The gentle crackles with the never ending cycle of sound really sets the scene and lets you know you are in for a winner from the beginning. 

This is followed by a gorgeous piano being played to perfection. The bass and drums kick in with Stephen’s warm, rich and soulful vocals. Also, there are sweet and laid back backing vocals which appear later, adding a whole new layer to be digested. The main vocals and the backing vocals work together in beautiful harmony. They are truly effortless and blissful in their delivery. 

‘Evicted’ feels like an old standard which has been reinvented for 2018 by Stephens. He has made the song feel extremely current. His lyrics are incredibly relatable and will appeal to a wide variety of listeners, young and old alike. It is catchy in nature and will have you reaching for the repeat button over and over again this summer. 

We adored the mix and the production of ‘Evicted’, there is just enough compression and reverb to make the track feel smooth and complete. The drums have a wonderful quality to them, the snare is snappy and the kick is phat and active. Stephens voice is major selling point and the addition of the backing vocals enhance and intensity an already magical track.  

There is no denying the sheer talent Stephens’ has and this is demonstrated time and time again on this EP. His piano playing, vocals, composition and arrangements all work together harmoniously creating a rich tapestry of audio pleasure for the listener to indulge in. 

The artwork which accompanies ‘The Venust Odyssey of the Wayfayer Epimetheus and his Larghetto Songs’ suits it perfectly. It is simple yet striking and to the point. We must say that the EP as a whole is just brilliant, tender and relatable. ‘Evicted’ is the icing on the cake. We can not recommend this EP enough. So do yourself a favour and check out this exciting artist today, you will not be disappointed!

Reviewed by FVReviews June 2018