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singles/eps - may 2016


Night Marcher – ‘Scars’

Rob Reinfurt of the band The Weekenders is the man behind the psychedelic rock and soul solo project Night Marcher. While he didn’t go it totally alone and had the support of various guest artists, the concept of Night Marcher and new album Modern Maze is all Reinfurt. Modern Maze is set for imminent release and meanwhile two singles have dropped; the haunting and introspective ‘Mistakes’ and the more laid-back and sonically light ‘Scars’.

‘Scars’ is still of the contemplative variety as it ambles along with a lackadaisical drum beat, winding strings, the gleam of acoustic guitar strum, and Reinfurt’s subdued vocal delivery. The low-key arrangement belies that fact that Reinfurt has some emotionally tough and poignant lyrics to sing. On the chorus of ‘Scars’ he ruefully acknowledges his past and trying to own it, admitting he was part of the “Angsty street kids / playin’ all our dirty tricks / We never meant to do you harm / but in the end there’s scars.”

It’s a difficult and revealing confession for someone who was self-destructive in the past, but has changed his ways and his outlook. Like the ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors that his project is named after, Reinfurt continues to march on, resurrecting his past in song form and learning from his ‘Scars’ and ‘Mistakes’.

Jen Dan

School ’94 – ‘Common Sense’

Gothenburg, Sweden is a cool hotbed of musical talent these days, especially of the electronic pop bent, and 4-piece School ’94 fits hand in glove with the hyped electro-pop aesthetic. Lead single ‘Common Sense’ comes off of the band’s sophomore EP, Bound, which is out June 10th on Luxury Records.

‘Common Sense’ harks back to two heady musical eras; the New Wave 80s and the indie-pop 90s and adds a heaping dollop of modern dream-pop to the mix. The bass line groove tugs like an eddying ocean wave while gleaming, chiming notes and shaken percussion flow through the track. Lead singer Alice Botéus sings in a ripe tone, with a tug in her throat amid the effervescent sonics that “Common sense will come back again.” Her aching vocals expressively arch over the sweetly tinseled instrumentation, guiding ‘Common Sense’ through the past and into the present – and hopefully toward a better future.

Jen Dan

Totemic – “Falling”

Toronto, Canada native Doug Penny, who records under the name Totemic, is a producer, DJ, and violinist who specializes in the drum & bass style of electronic music. Penny is an established live performer who incorporates live violin lines into the electronic composition. His upcoming EP, Falling, drops May 17th on Street Ritual in the U.S. and Rogue LTD. in the U.K.

The lead single “Falling” has arrived to whet the appetite for the EP and it’s the funkiest one on the record, spiraling out with exclamatory reverberations, skittering percussion, and rapid beats. Relaxed, slower piano notes join the fast action, contrasting noticeably against the speedy vibe. The pace rises and falls throughout the tune, sometimes with just the piano notes and buzzing synths apparent in the mix, and at other times buoyed by the hyper-shaken percussion and bright, echoed electronic blips. The result is fresh and complex, and engagingly lively – a definite heart-pumper for most of the track!

Jen Dan

Fred Colombo – “Night Falls On The Kingdom Of You And Me”

French/Italian musician Fred Colombo has explored many different musical genres so far in his career, from progressive metal to rock and pop, and most recently he’s ventured into electronic, ambient, and soundtrack territory with his latest EP titled The Road.

The 5 songs on The Road balance between Euro-electro-pop and cinematic symphonics with the EP’s haunting last track having the most weight and poignancy. The lengthy title “Night Falls On The Kingdom Of You And Me” is actually an apt description for the vespertine atmosphere that hangs over the tune. Pulled, deep-tone symphonic strings, wordless vocal sighs, and the sound of winding wind hover in the air as delicate, but emotive piano notes form the core of the piece. The instrumental’s trajectory steadily builds in intensity, with the piano notes becoming more pronounced and the tick-tock of a trip-hop beat emerging. The mournful strings droop and sweep along with the airy vocals until finally all the filmic sounds fade away…

Jen Dan

Post Death Soundtrack – “You Can’t Go Back”

Canadian progressive rock/industrial trio Post Death Soundtrack melds bits of psych-rock and trip-hop into its prog-rock style, creating a moodily pensive blend of flowing to noisy sonics on its upcoming album The Unlearning Curve. Kenneth Buck, Steve Moore, and Jon Ireson use ominous to subdued electronics, industrial percussion, and Buck and Moore’s dual vocals to create a brooding, tense, and thoughtful atmosphere on The Unlearning Curve, which is due on May 27th.

One of two available singles, the lead “You Can’t Go Back” showcases the richly textured, trippily reflective side of the band as it pushes through to the other side with mellow psych-guitar lines, sustained synth washes, pulled symphonic strings, and a smacked drum beat. The singer intones regretfully the bleak lyrics, “You can never go back / once you cross over / …The system is out of order.” Calm synth lines float over the unmoored ambience as the two singers loop through their phrases, with one declaring, “You’ve erased the pain.” and the other stating, “Don’t be afraid.” The band’s name, subject matter, and some of its sonics may be unsettling, but the overall effect of “You Can’t Go Back” is mesmerizing.

Jen Dan

The Cheek Of Her – “9 Lives”

Saucily-monikered London native Helen Dooley has carved out an interesting niche for herself as The Cheek Of Her. Her material is in the tradition of the bold, singer-songwriter style of Amanda Palmer and Polly Jean Harvey, with Dooley relying on her brightly vibrant, sassy vocals and insightful, vivid lyrics to carry her through bad and uncertain times. Dooley deals with real-life issues, whether it be broken relationships or questioning self-image.

Dooley just released her Black Heart Mantra EP on May 2nd and its chock full of tell-it-like-it-is wisdom in piano-driven, confessional songstress form. Her vocals are placed front and center on “9 Lives” and are bolstered by added back-up vocal phrases that shine as dramatically as the main vocal line. The staccato, sing-talking verses are all about Dooley and her words as she dips and rises with a sharply British enunciation, stating, “How does it feel / when you’ve got a raw deal / and around you there is laughter?”

She’s quick with the solution, proclaiming unequivocally, “Hold your head high / Kiss your pride goodbye…” Contemplative, but expressive piano notes, a dynamically tripping beat, cymbal shimmer, and pulled strings swing out on the ripe chorus as Dooley confides in a quite confident tone, “It ain’t easy bein’ real these days.” The Cheek Of Her, however, keeps it assuredly real and Dooley’s perceptive lyrics and strong vocals make a big statement.

Jen Dan

Charlie Haley – Today EP

Illinois native Charlie Haley has music flowing through his veins ever since he was a child, but didn’t know exactly how he wanted to channel his gift until a few years ago. He had always performed live, but never set his then-pop and R&B music down on recordings. This all changed after a stint in California where he converted to Christianity and finally realized he naturally gravitated to Christian music.

Haley released his debut album, Soul Searching, in 2013 and he’s back with a rock and power pop-oriented EP titled Today, which is due out May 27th. This upcoming EP reflects upon the near-death experience Haley had, along with his band members, in 2015 when driving their tour van. While driving at high speed, the cruise control shaft got stuck and the brakes froze, but luckily Haley was able to shift into neutral, pull the key out, and slow the van down. It was a turning point for Haley that shaped the material on Today, where he dwells on the transience of life and the idea of being true to yourself.

Haley’s message is not specifically Christian, but is general advice on how to live life in a positive and meaningful way. He relays his realistic to uplifting viewpoint via rock and power pop song structures. The title track pulses with a subdued, cycling guitar line, tambourine shake, and a lively drum tattoo. Haley sings lightly, “It’s time for a change.” and, “It’s time for some faith.” as the guitar riffs swell sweetly and the drum beat picks up the pace. Alternative rock number “Don’t Change” flows with a darker bass line run and controlled guitar riffs. Haley emotes in a hushed tone that, “People try to pull you down.”, but then exclaims with purpose, “Don’t change the way you are.” amid the emphatic drum beat and cymbal shimmer.

The 1980s-era power pop of “You Know It’s True” aims upwards with its bright synths press, grinding distorted guitar lines, insistent drum hits, and added backing vocals. Haley sings plaintively, “You have to decide which path to choose / …Question is, what are you going to do…” The contemplative EP-ender “Bad Things Happen to Good People” has Haley ruminating about a “…crazy world where nothing makes sense.” As the guitar line smolders and the piano notes ring out against the steady drum beat, Haley declares, “The only thing that matters is / what you do when you fall.”

Jen Dan

Christian & The 2120s – “Move On”

Swedish blues rock/garage-rock band Christian & The 2120s was formed by Christian Smedström in 2008 and he soon joined forces with producer Kristoffer Ragnstam to release the debut album Nolo Contendere. Several cuts from the album made it onto big-time TV shows (Sons Of Anarchy, Shameless, CSI: Miami, and many more) and movies like Puncture and The Heat.

Christian & The 2120s latest album, Moments, was released in mid-March and features Smedström on vocals and guitar, Ragnstam on drums and vocals, and Krister Selander on bass and vocals. John Thomas (Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band) guests on keyboards for 5 tracks and Swedish Grammy nominee Klas-Henrik Hörngren also plays the keyboards on select songs.

A highlight of the album is the driving retro-rocker “Move On”. It grooves with a simmering sway of cymbal scintillation and swishing drum beat. The distorted guitars grind with a smoky, emphatic push as Smedström sings sharply, “You should have known better / that time heals nothin’ / It just fades away.” The clink of shaken tambourine, wide swaths of guitar burn, echoed backing vocals, and trembling piano notes round out the vibrant, classic rock sound.

Jen Dan