Doc Jazz feat. Toy Matthews – It Takes Love

With his own particular brand of smooth R&B with a splash of soul, Doc Jazz teams up with Toy Matthews to bring us ‘It Takes Love’. Laid back with an effortless cool, it’s a track that welcomes you into its warm embrace and offers the opportunity to stop for a while and be gently serenaded. Just like that feeling you get when you get home to a place of warmth after a long day out in the cold, Doc Jazz keeps it as chilled out as possible. It’s not a song that is in a hurry, but one that takes its time and allows for the chance to pause for a moment and consider all that has gone on in the day, and then to appreciate the finer things in life that we don’t always notice in the midst of the mad rush of the day to day. Add to it all some real classic throwback tones that will bring up all kinds of musical memories, and you’ll find that what you’ve been given is a kind of comfort blanket made for music. Sometimes we don’t need music to break new ground or force us to be challenged – sometimes we just need a song to be sung to us that leaves us with the sense that maybe everything is all going to be alright.

Sordid Party Time – Uprising Now!

Brutal and blistering, Sordid Party Time’s Uprising Now! offers a modern metal sound that will shake you to your core. With its growling, screeching guitars and darkly guttural vocals, the six tracks on offer rattle along at an insane pace with insistence and creativity. Opening with ‘Fun Game’ the band’s sound firmly establishes itself from the start and does a sterling job of sorting the wheat from the chaff. Pretenders beware, this is not for those of a nervous disposition or anyone who merely dabbles with metal. As a result, the first track acts as a signpost – abandon hope all ye who enter here! ‘Motivation Of The Blind’ continues with the same pace, this time with spikier guitars that threaten to burst the listener’s eardrums. Meanwhile, the thundering drums drag the track along like a wild animal with its newly captured prey, as though returning to its terrifying lair to satisfy its thirst for blood. There are also moments of alternative tones that appear, such as the glacial wash of the guitar notes on ‘Freak Show’ and mathy rhythm of ‘Spiral’. Make no mistake, this will be a real treat for those who like their metal with an experimental twist and love a strong, doomy vocal.

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SaeMonae – Interview

Seattle based Hip Hop artist SaeMonae produces her own brand of rhythms and rhymes as a way of connecting with the listener, covering a range of issues from personal experience and wider social concerns. We ran a few questions her way to dig a bit deeper and find out a bit more about what makes her tick and influences her flow.

Crossradar: How did you get started in music, and what drives you to continue?

SaeMonae: The dream of a career in music took form for me in 3rd grade. In my elementary years, I would pretend to be my favourite artist at the time. Artist like Snoop Dogg, Andre 3000, and Da Brat. Back then, my bedroom was Madison Square Garden and I was performing for a sold out crowd every night. I believe this helped me realise that I too, could make great music. Envisioning myself on a stage at an early age helped me get to where I am at now. It was like I was auditioning for the future, so when the actual time came, I was a natural. After that, I began to manifest my own ideas about what it meant to be a superstar and what kinds of things superstars do.

Listening to music is one of the most intimate experiences one can have. It’s like being able to sit with and talk to your favourite people in the world. You feel high, loved, and unstoppable when surrounded by the creativity of these people much like you do when surrounded by family, friends, and loved ones. I feel unstoppable when I’m surrounded by music. What keeps me inspired is the search to create my own sound that makes my own hairs stand up! I am constantly searching for new ways to express myself through lyrics. It’s interesting to try to find new ways to sing about a universal topic. Like singing about love. How can I write about love in a way that has not been talked about before? Music is entertainment, but it’s also a learning tool. So I look for subjects that are uncommon in conversation and try to include them in my music. When I would listen to artist like 2pac and Outkast, I would read their lyrics and then go look up what they were talking about. I strive to write lyrics that make my listeners do the same. One of the songs I released last year, “#SayHerName”, was that for me. It was my introduction to the national rap scene so it was important for me that I led with a message. I feel extremely blessed that a protest song about police brutality against black women was able to chart in the Top 10 independently. There aren’t many artists that can say that.

CR: Are there any interesting facts about you that hardly anyone else knows?

SM: I still have an imaginary friend, but much like friendships between actual people, we don’t talk very often. I mainly call on this friend when I need reassurance on something someone may have said to me or when I need advice. Or if I’m feeling down and sad and no one else is around, this friend manages to come through with positive words. I’ll sometimes talk to them out loud while I’m getting dressed, asking what should I wear. By this time in our conversations, I’m dancing in the mirror and have gone through about 3 outfits! It’s sad that kids are told to grow up and act their age because most imaginary friends die in the process. My imaginary friend evolved with me and pays me visits from time to time.

CR: What has been your biggest challenge…and how did you overcome it?

SM: The biggest challenges that I’ve had to face so far, have been learning to write what I want to say and not what I think others want to hear. And also learning how to balance my creative space with the business side of music. In regards to writing lyrics that are true to myself, when I started listening to Kendrick Lamar, I began to let my hair down (literally and figuratively) in my writing process. My lyrics became more personal because I wanted to write about what I knew best, which is SaeMonae! I related to a lot of things Kendrick was saying in his songs. For example, not being one for the corruption in the street but unable to escape it either. Or being seen as an average person, despite my dreams being bigger than my local community. I remember while I was in high school, a friend at the time asked me to sell some weed for them. I turned the offer down because I was concerned about the consequence. But I was also concerned about the impact it would have on my community. What if I got caught? Who was I going to sell to? That was around the time I began really focusing on developing myself as an artist. So I began writing my feelings down, writing poetry and lyrics, and recognising that despite some of the current popular music, my music needed to reflect my values and my experiences for it to be authentic and true to who I am.

It wasn’t until my second year at Washington State that I met ASHES the CHOSEN, a Seattle Hip Hop artist, and began to learn about the music industry from real experiences. Before meeting him, the only knowledge I had on the music industry had came from XXL, The Source magazines and YouTube. I also did not know anyone directly in the music industry, just people who had home studios and was doing what I was doing; watching YouTube tutorials. Once I started working with ASHES the CHOSEN and Shirin E., head of operations at SmG Music, I got a face to face experience of proper etiquette in recording studios. I began learning how to organise my writing. I also learned about the various song structures, like 12 bar blues and AABA. These were structures that I had heard before I just was unaware of their names. As of right now I am a part time student and part time artist, so I have had to create a schedule that allows me to be a student half of the day and an artist the rest.

CR: Who are your heroes? Why do they rock your world?

SM: My grandmother is my first and biggest heroine! She’s helped me develop many skills that have allowed me to create the world I want to live in. She had me meditating before I knew what mediation was. We would create vision boards together to help me gain clarity of my goals and my purpose. She gave me the kind of education that couldn’t be learned from a book. Back then I thought she was crazy for all this, but I’ve since recognized the wisdom in her approach. Biggest thing of all though is she has made me feel loved, always.

CR: What do you have coming up next?

SM: I will be releasing my debut EP, Dirty PolitiKKKs,a project that I have been working on throughout my years at Washington State. I can’t wait to release this project because not only have I been waiting for this moment to share my story with the world, but also because this is music the world needs. I believe it’s going to make people want to dance but also make people think about the conditions of the world.

In May, I will be graduating from Washington State University with my Bachelors degree. Post graduation, I don’t have many concrete plans, but I would like to move to L.A. I have always wanted to live in California somewhere, be surrounded by the sun all the time. Washington experiences all the different seasons, so I am tired of the snow and rain. I’m looking forward to relaxing and not having to wake up to go to class!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaeMonae
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SAEMONAE
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/saemonae/

Satellite Gods – Marker 7-58

Brendan McMahon’s Satellite Gods drop 13 new tracks in the form of new album Marker 7-58. It’s a solid rocker, with McMahon’s voice holding a strong command of his soaring melodies. Kicking off with ‘Falling To Earth’, we are immediately hit with a strong beat that pulls in the listener and stirs things up by blending together a powerful guitar part and vocal harmonies that create a positive feel, singing out “I feel so free”. The defiantly upbeat tone continues with ‘1 Through 8’, its gospel tinged voices mixed with spiralling organ notes create a classic rock sound that is as spiritual as it is grittily human. That organ turns out to be one of the key characteristics of the album, with its tone filled with character, as it joins in with the lead vocals to bring a perfectly complementary sound. In particular, it stands up and demands to be noticed on ‘The Truth’, winding its swirling sounds all around underneath the rest of the song’s instrumentation. There are moments of calm and introspection here too, with ‘Invisible’ offering a more stripped back sound that allows a darker tone to come forward. Chorus laden guitar notes shimmer on top of a bass line that locks into the track’s rhythm to establish a firm sense of self certainty. The softer moments are also the ones where Brendan McMahon’s own sensitivity comes to the forefront, with the album’s closing track ‘Walk’ delicately delivering a peaceful piano part forming the backdrop for some stunning vocals backed up with spine tingling harmonies. This is rock for sure, but it’s all heart too.

Katy Perry – Chained To The Rhythm

katy-perry-chained-rhythm-cover-1486583208-413x413Katy Perry’s much awaited new track was first released to the public via the enigmatic campaign of public mirror balls which people could plug their headphones in to listen. It’s now available for wider public consumption, so how is it? First of all, let’s just resign ourselves to the reality that it’s going to be another one of those songs on heavy rotation everywhere, and no matter what, it’s hooks will get themselves into you, like it or not. Unfortunately that’s part of the problem. There isn’t really a hook apart from some of Perry’s vocal repetitions that wander dangerously close to the kind of territory that Sia has already established firm ownership of. Of course, having waited so long for a new Katy Perry hit, chances are that this may well be a way of waking us up once again to her unstoppable pop juggernaut before she unleashes the full album and a torrent of absolute bangers. Perhaps in choosing ‘Chained To The Rhythm’ as the lead single, its been part of a decision to play it safe and not peak too soon. Let’s be fair, this is a pop track that you can dance to. It certainly provides that service. But a classic pop tune it ain’t, sadly. Perry’s returning familiar vocals are very welcome, but it would be nice to see something that takes the outrageous joy of ‘Roar’ and the brooding sass of ‘Dark Horse’ and takes us into some really exciting, new pop territory.

Float Like A Buffalo – Enjoy The Ride

Float Like A Buffalo - Enjoy The RidePacked with great tones and attention grabbing hooks, Float Like A Buffalo’s Enjoy The Ride is a collection of sassy, atmospheric songs with a bluesy twist. The alternative rockers from Denver take cues from a number of influences – think Jack White and Foo Fighters – and deliver their own unique sound with a self assured confidence. ‘Whiskey Dreams’ opens with a held back and restrained attitude, before the band’s full arsenal is unleashed with exploding guitars and multiple vocals which weave together to create a big, bold sound. ‘Enjoy The Ride’ takes a familiar approach, taking a song structure that makes for an easy entry, with bluesy tones and a slight country vibe running through it, while ‘This Moment’ makes good use of spiky guitars and a rumbling bass that holds the song’s component parts together like a thick glue. Then we have ‘Dr’s Orders’, with its opening “Woah woah woah” gang vocals which crates a real sense of a band that is working closely together to define their sound. Curiously, it’s on ‘Smile For The Cameras’ that Float Like A Buffalo takes a slightly different turn, shifting towards more of a funk style, and further showing the band’s ability to embrace a diversity in tone and delivery. These boys got character!

Steve Mahabir – Angel In Parkdale

Steve Mahabir’s Angel In Parkdale is something of a sprawling epic. With 16 tracks, it might at first appear cumbersome and unwieldy, but Mahabir’s delivery and construction leads the listener with ease through his songs. Opening with ‘Last Night I Had A Dream’, there is immediately a progressive feel which begins with a dark tone that unfolds to eventually release an electric, spluttering guitar part that stands out as if it is its own character in its own right. The blend of tones and styles is strong, with ‘Believe What You Want’ starting with distant, bell like chimes and a yearning voice, before giving way to a traditional country number. With its laid back lap steel notes and easy going guitar strums, it’s a calming song with a lullaby feel that then goes on to unload some arrestingly overdriven guitars and a gorgeous swirling organ. Things are taken up a notch on ‘Change Your Mind’, taking those familiar country tropes and really stirring them up to create a frenzy of excitement, while ‘Riding Cowboy’ puts some quirky percussion to good use underneath fun, parping brass that creates an off kilter feel that is exciting and atmospheric. The characteristic brass notes continue to ring out on ‘Watch Your Mouth’ acting as a confirming response to the track’s refrain. As an album, Angel In Parkdale manages to carefully balance a traditional country vibe with a huge, blustering rock sound. As a result, a particularly distinctive tone is created for Steve Mahabir’s own unique voice to run riot in like a huge sonic playground. ‘Can’t Stop’ shows this with clarity, as the guitars screech and squeal alongside the repeated mantra of “Leave me along”, while ‘Wild Woman’ really is a wild track with a deep bass rumble, wailing guitar notes and a classic rock organ that acts as a glue to keep everything from coming unstuck. Certainly, there is a consistency that runs through the album. While there are plenty of familiar codes and styles that will be immediately recognisable to any music lover, there is a playful experimental attitude which lifts up the record and allows itself to be scrutinised under the light without coming out for the worse. To be sure, the scraping bleep of ‘Hope I.C.U.’ succeeds in creating a sense of those medical machines that bark out their unrelenting tones, always sitting somewhere between hope and despair when the final outcome of life remains to be decided. It’s on the album’s closing track, ‘Exit To The Stars’, where all those sounds we have met along the way are all brought together for one last hurrah, with a rich piano layer running underneath like a river of notes leading the listener towards the inevitable conclusion that lies ahead. When it all eventually comes to an end, there’s the remaining feeling that Steve Mahabir has certainly set out to achieve something reasonably ambitious, and it’s fair to say that he just might have pulled it off.

Tim Houlihan – Another Orion

From the opening bars of ‘I Get Lonesome, Too’, the first track on Tim Houlihan‘s Another Orion, there is a deep drawing from the well of country and Americana. That familiar melancholy that we are all used to within the genre is right here, and it is delivered in spades. Add to that Tim Houlihan’s rich and creamy vocals that blend with Patty Lacey’s divine harmonies, and you’ve got all the ingredients for some classic country sounds that will draw out a sense of sadness and at the same time gently wrap you in a blanket of comfort. Another Orion doesn’t simply spend time licking its proverbial wounds though, because there are plenty of upbeat hooks to be found here too. Certainly, on ‘Send Me Back To You’ there is a huge portion of cheery Americana that rocks and rolls with bluesy glee and ‘Going To The Country’ delivers the kind of toe tapping rhythm that will get the most stubborn of folks struggling not to move their bodies a little. While Tim Houlihan consistently sticks to all the familiar methods you might expect within the country/Americana genre, his ability to draw from other styles is what gives the record its own special flavour and distinct sound. ‘Beneath The Surface Of The Well’ brings in a jangly guitar tone that’s as much the Byrds as it is early R.E.M. As a result, there’s going to be something here for many music fans to discover and enjoy.

Suicidal Tendencies – World Gone Mad

Suicidal_Tendencies_-_World_Gone_MadCalifornian thrash crossovers Suicidal Tendencies’ TWELFTH album is a testament to their prolific output. Formed in 1980 and having gone through a number of hiatuses, World Gone Mad shows that there is still plenty left in the band to keep on delivering more of their own brand of alternative punk. Opening track ‘Clap Like Ozzy’ leaves no chance of being eased in gently – guitars rattle and scream, drums thunder with abandon, while Mike Muir’s vocal moves back and forth between a more classic G&R tone and the more modern stylings of Avenged Sevenfold. All the relevant parts are there, from booming drums to spiky guitar shreds to get any punk fan’s heart pumping a little faster. Suicidal Tendencies have stuck to the formula – while there’s not much here in terms of really pushing the envelope, that’s not really what this kind of band is going to be about. Rather, it’s more a case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There are moments of cheeky fun, like the opening monologue on ‘The New Degeneration’ which quotes the hilarious words of Socrates, “Children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders…” Although brief, it is a moment that works well to flag up the attitude of punkish rebellion that runs through the veins of not only this record, but the band itself. It’s certainly a genre piece, and one that is going to hold real appeal to the right audience, although it might not quite be something that will garner any new fans right now. That said, for those who have been faithful followers over the years, it’s sure to be a brutal, thrashy treat for the ears. So if you’re hungry right now for a big slice of thrash/punk, put this on for a spin and let the high energy riffs carry you away.

Charles Luck & Tino Red – Limitless: Lost In Space

Charles Luck is back. As expected, there’s more of that cosmically inspired hip hop unique to the brand. Just as Bowie once asked if there is life on Mars, we are catapulted into deep space and invited to take a look at the Earth from afar. There are reflections on the planet’s growing population, with an underlying question – where are we all headed? So often humans can feel alone in a crowd, just one of many on a rock hurtling through space, and the track certainly manages to harness that sense of existential loneliness. Musically there are nods to that classic song of sadness, Mad World, that was so expertly made use of in the similarly philosophical Donnie Darko. And yet, this isn’t a song to drag you down or get you overly sad, as there is another tone that runs through it which offers a sense of hope and expectation. While we all might be individuals looking for meaning, in reality we are all in this together. We’re all lost in space. But in the end we are all headed somewhere, we all have a destiny, it’s just that the chances are it just might take a lifetime to really get to the point where we find out what it’s all about.