Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Andy Michaels releases “Darling it Hurts” (single)


Two people stand atop a mountain, their hands joining as they look upon the peaks and valleys set out before them. We suddenly cut to another scene, this one set at a dinner table, as the pair exchange vacant stares and sip from large wine glasses. The scene shifts again to an open-air venue, but much of the same sentiments from the previous sit-down have carried over to this one. Andy Michaels is crooning in the background, his voice accompanied by a beautiful string melody, as tears are shed and headaches find little comfort on screen in this video for the all-new single “Darling It Hurts,” and though we are not in the physical presence of its two characters, their emotion is tangible to us nevertheless.


“Darling It Hurts” boasts one of the more spellbinding videos I’ve seen from an independent artist this March, but its real allure is the music it delivers to us, packaged in a light pop polish but left relatively unchanged from the form we find it in on the critically-acclaimed Incendiary Heart, Michaels’ latest album. The first half of the song is dominated by Andy Michaels and the strings that shelter every emotional statement he makes, but as we get deeper into the track, another voice decides to join him in what will become, at least in my opinion, one of the best duets you’re going to hear this spring. Their connection is as intimate as the players on screen, and they convey the mood of the unraveling imagery perfectly.

I wouldn’t change a thing about the production style Michaels decided to go with in the video for “Darling It Hurts,” and frankly, the same goes for Incendiary Hearts as well. All of his music is defined by its intricate detail, but in this latest release, I get the feeling that he wanted the simplicity of his songwriting to steal the show away from any of the minute elements that make-up the melody here. He’s got a lot of talent, and given how short his time in the spotlight has been, he’s truly come a long way (especially when comparing his development with that of his mainstream competitors) both in the studio and as a composer.


Though it’s marred in melancholy and occasionally difficult for the recently brokenhearted to digest, pop and adult contemporary fans would be crazy to pass up the new music video for Andy Michaels’ amazing “Darling It Hurts” single. Melodically, I’m not sure if he’s ever sounded quite as on-point as he does in this latest release, and if there’s any chance he makes it over to the States to carry out a proper tour in support of Incendiary Heart’s release, I definitely plan on being there to see what he can do in person. Michaels seems determined to climb through the underground ranks this year, and as far as I’m concerned, he’s earned a place on my personal ‘Artists You Have to Hear to Believe’ list without any need for reanalysis.

Joshua Beach

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Little King releases Occam’s Foil (EP)


Occam’s Foil from Southeastern based power trio Little King is your antidote to the bland paint by numbers rock prevalent in a moribund genre and has a level of ambition surprising for an EP release. The short form release is often an early teaser for full album releases to come but this five song collection is obviously a complete work built with a certain amount of thematic scaffolding yet is never outright conceptual. 

The band, led by singer/songwriter and guitar Ryan Rosoff, is a mainstay of the El Paso music scene since the late 20 th century and has seen members come and go, but Rosoff sounds like he has discovered the ideal configuration for taking the band into the future. Drummer Eddy Garcia is a longtime collaborator and Delaware friend Manny Tejeda completes the trio on bass. It is easy to imagine, listening to this release, the sort of power they pack in a live setting. The production is crisp and balanced between the three, but Rosoff obviously leads the way in some respects. They take some genuine musical chances over the course of these five songs further distinguishing them from their peers and contemporaries that are far from mere window dressing. 


“Hate Counter” sets a tone. This all out blast of musical wrath against building a wall between the United States and Mexico and putting children in jail cells has an almost bulldozer effect at first with Rosoff’s juggernaut riffing, but the band soon takes listeners through a variety of hairpin musical curves with breathtaking skill. This is no ordinary rock band. Rosoff’s vocal embodies all of the visceral anger thinking individuals feel at the song’s subject matter without ever succumbing to histrionics. 

They take a chance with the track “The Skin That I’m In” inviting violinist Christina Hernandez to contribute to the performance and her classical chops isn’t just meaningless tinsel added to the performance. Instead, she adds another layer to an already fine arrangement further demonstrating the band’s unusual compositional approach and Rosoff’s songwriting skill. Alternating between light and shade is something they do exceptionally well. 


“The Foil” will impress many, though some many find its finger pointing at society a little predictable. The musical identity of the song, nevertheless, has immense creativity and the arrangement will never cease to surprise you. Despite the finger pointing, it is Rosoff’s best moment on the EP as a lyricist as he throws in a number of devastating lines cutting through the arrangement and capturing listeners’ attention. If the EP has a title track, this is it. “Nerve 8” is another instance showing the band is at home on the stairway of surprise as they conclude the EP with a hard hitting instrumental track. Like the opener “Hate Counter”, “Nerve 8” twists and turns through a number of ear and eye popping changes without ever hitting a single clich├ęd note. 

Little King’s Occam’s Foil covers a tremendous amount of musical territory over the course of five songs and reveals this band is cut from a different cloth than most.

Joshua Beach

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Interview: Alonzo



Hey Alonzo! Thank you for your time today! Fill us in and tell us what 2020 has been like for you this far! 

Hey! Thank you!

There’s this old saying called the 5 p’s it says that “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Presentation” I live by this. 2020 so far has been a lot of preparation for me. I have been nonstop in the gym preparing my body and in the recording studio finishing my music. We’re really trying to finish my project by March so we have been working nonstop to meet this deadline. 


Can you recall the moment when you knew you wanted to be a musician? What do you think motivated you day in and day out to continue on the path? 

Really good question, I honestly can’t remember an exact moment that I decided I wanted to be a musician I feel like it was always a part of me. I remember vividly the moment I decided I wanted to dance and entertain. It was that moment I won my first talent show in 7th Grade that I often speak about. I’d say it was definitely before that. I had already been singing in my grandfather’s recording studio. I honestly feel like it’s something that I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember which is why I can’t remember an exact moment. My biggest motivation has just been to take care of my mother. I watched that woman work her ass off to raise my brother and I. When I want to give up she’s literally the only person I need to think of and I’m ready to keep fighting. 

How do you think your hometown has influenced the kind of music that you make? If not, why is that?

Well I definitely grew up in church so a lot of my soulful choices come from my gospel roots. I also grew up around a lot of R & B so singing with emotion comes easy to me as well. The thing is I really love Rock & Pop music so that’s the type of music I sing. We call my personal music genre Rock Pop Soul. 

Growing up, how important was music in your life? It can be a tough road, have your family and friends been supportive of this career choice? 

Music was always important to me. My mom always played music while cleaning and driving and I really loved it. My grandfather had his recording studio and my uncle played a few instruments and sang as well. They were definitely my biggest supporters when they started to notice that I had taken after them and began to develop talents too. Other family and friend’s kind of took longer to support because they had seen me having so much success as a dancer. They weren’t sure if I could have the same success as a singer. Either way the people who really love me supported me no matter what I decided to do. Today I believe everyone is on the same page and has actually begun to believe that I can do this. 

What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music in your career? Have you had an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?

Omg so many surprises. It’s funny because from the outside looking in it really looks like this glamourous thing. I think the biggest surprise is coming to reality the true amount of hard work that goes into having a career in music. I heard over the years that “The Music Business was the toughest business”. I can honestly confirm right now that this is true. Rejection was a huge challenge for me before, as I grow I am learning that rejection will ALWAYS be a part of this journey. Some will love me and some wont. That’s just the reality and I’m okay with that. There are people out here that HATE Barack Obama. No idea how any human being can hate that man but it just speaks to my point. Everyone can’t be loved by everyone. I accept the facts. 

Let’s talk about the new music you are going to be putting out. What has been your inspiration for new material? How involved are you in what you put out? 

Yes! I’m very involved. I have a small management team and a few friends that I always seek guidance from but overall its always my decision on the official next move. My recent inspirations have had a lot to do with encouraging myself, pushing myself to greater heights and reminding myself that I am enough and that I’ve had enough with holding myself back. I truly believe that this project will be the start of some real momentum in my career. This moment is long overdue and I feel in my heart that its coming. 

You have shared the stage with many incredible performers so I am curious which one really stands out the most to you? Who have you learned the most form? 

Wow! Amazing question I’ve never been asked this before. As of today, I’d definitely say “Tarralyn Ramsey” she’s really popular in the gospel world. Working with her was to this date one of the most magical jobs I’ve ever had. Just watching her sing in rehearsal brought me to tears daily and it really helped me begin to understand the true power that a REAL SINGER can possess. 

Share with us where we can find you on social media and any shows coming up! 

As of this interview I don’t have any shows scheduled but I everyone PLEASE follow me on Instagram @StoryOfAlonzo! 


Also feel free to subscribe to my mailing list at IAmAlonzo.com

End of Interview

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Interview: Joey Stuckey



Hello Joey! Thank you for your time! We would love for you to share with readers who may not know a little about your story of where you started and where you are now.

Thanks for having me!

I started my musical journey when I was around 17 years old with guitar lessons and haven’t looked back.

I got started in what I would call the recording sciences when I was around 13 years old and started getting paid to record people and work in sound by the time I was 15 years old.

Music has always been an important part of the Stuckey household with both my parents being music fans, but I never really considered having a career in music as a child as I was focused on survival as I am a brain tumor survivor.

The brain tumor took my sight, sense of smell and also left me with a host of other health challenges, like no adrenal function.

Despite these challenges I have been able to do all the things I have wanted to do with my life and career. 

I realized at an early age that music was a beautiful force for positive change and that I would tell my story of overcoming adversity through that vehicle! 

Over the years, I have done many exciting things and you ain’t seen nothing yet! 

We just finished a great show at the famous Whisky A Go Go and played some great GRAMMY parties in LA and I am about to expand my studio space by around 9,000 square feet.

For someone just getting into the music business – what is your best one line advice?

Don’t give up.

Trust yourself, but be willing to entertain other people’s ideas and opinions.

Work hard.

In your opinion do you feel like an aspiring musician needs to be in LA to “make it”?

You don’t have to live there, but you do need to visit LOL. Of course where you should be depends upon a number of factors including where your fans, or potential fans, are and other things you will need to make your music/brand work. But you will have to go to LA and NYC and Nashville at some point!

Okay so your live show looks like such a good time from the snippets we have seen on IG – tell us what we can expect when we come out to see you.

It is about 30% comedy and 70% music—and all heart! 

We promise to make you think but also to make you groove, and we most certainly will entertain!

We love meeting new people and love shaking hands and kissing babies, so come out to a show and we’ll be glad to meet you and spend some time with you!

Do you have a song that you play every time you do a live show no matter what, if so why that song?

We most always do “Take A Walk In The Shadows” which was one of the first songs I ever wrote. It is a great opener with high energy. We also almost always play another original called “Truth Is A Misty Mountain” because it is a band and fan favorite. And we mostly close with the Allman Brothers’ “Whippin’  Post” for the same reason—and our version is cookin’!

If you could be remembered by only one song, which one are you picking?

Oh man I don’t know. My answer will most likely change depending upon the mood I am in LOL, but I think my song “Aint It Good To Be In Love”, co-written by my dear friend Charlie Hoskyns, is a good one that folks really have responded to. It is also dear to me because Charlie passed away in 2017 and I like to think I am keeping his musical legacy alive!

Tell us where we can catch more of you online and listed to your music!




Booking: Bsquaredmgmt.com
Press:  Bsquaredmgmt@gmail.com

End of Interview

Darren Michael Boyd’s smashing instrumental debut, Lifting the Curse



Like divine drums ushering us into another dimension typically inaccessible by mere mortals, the brutality of “Little Toad” is inescapable from the moment we press the play button on the track, which together with eight other opulent guitar-driven gems comprises the whole of Darren Michael Boyd’s smashing instrumental debut, Lifting the Curse

Sizzling leads assault us just shy of ninety seconds into this song, but much like the melodic thrust of strings that we find in the album’s title cut (which immediately follows it in the tracklist), the complexities of the play are only as powerful as the harmonies that they conjure up virtually on the spot. Songs like “Was it something I said?” and “Tails & Entrails” employ entirely different methods of seducing listeners into a world of infinite sonic possibilities, but through the dynamic craftsmanship of Boyd’s arrangements, they share a continuity that isn’t often found in albums of this particular variety. Darren Michael Boyd has made an instrumental LP that isn’t just a sexy offering to his fellow axe-wielders; truth be told, this record makes sense to anyone who loves an impressively fluid approach to songwriting.


Lifting the Curse opens up with the demonic string melody of “Circle of Sixes,” which, coming in at slightly under four minutes in total makes it one of the longer tunes on the LP, but it by no means feels like a bloated exercise in self-indulgence on the part of Darren Michael Boyd. One of the coolest things about this record is the fact that, while most of the tracks sound metal-inspired, there’s such a diversity to the construction of each composition that it never feels like we’re listening to one consistent formula being reapplied and modified for tempo and tonality over and over again. The blustery fuzz of a rock n’ roll swaying “This song won’t get played on the radio” is as fresh as the heavy metal thunder of “Music in the Murder House,” and although I wouldn’t necessarily say that every song here will be a homerun with the post-metal crowd, there’s enough of a surrealism bend to atmospheric ballads like “Notational Witchery” to satisfy spillover fans of Southern Lord artists.


From the eruptive, chest-beating hard rock of “The Earth is B flat” to the decadence of the progressive closing title track, Darren Michael Boyd’s Lifting the Curse is a charming instrumental album that demands a reaction out of anyone who gives it a spin, and while I wouldn’t say that it features an artist fully exploiting his capabilities in the studio for everything they’re worth, it offers us a sneak preview into what could absolutely become one of the more interesting underground heavy rock follows of the 2020s. 

Boyd demonstrates a rare talent that few of his contemporaries have been as bold as to boast in their own work in recent times, and if you’re as big a fan of guitar worship as I am, it’s about as solid a listen as you can expect to hear out of a non-mainstream LP this February.

Joshua Beach

Monday, October 21, 2019

Jay Elle releases new EP Ease Up



Some artists spend a lifetime searching for their signature sound, pining after an elusive multidimensional element in their style that is capable of encapsulating all of their emotions into a singular strand of harmony; but for singer/songwriter Jay Elle, he’s reached this apex in the new EP Ease Up, which is out now everywhere that fine indie music is sold. 

For lack of a better phrase, he’s on fire in Ease Up – in “Sickly Sweet,” he gives us a deluge of poetic melodies that, while being totally different in design from those in “Never Dreamed (I Could Be the One),” are tethered to the same soulful source of creativity. He’s emotional in “By the Blade,” self-assured in “Needs Fixing,” carefree in “Take a Holiday” and as swaggering as a popstar in “Ease Up (Into Love),” and for all of the would-be doubters that might question how so much diversity could be stuffed into an extended play, there’s a progressive twist to the fluidity of the tracklist that keeps us on the edge of our seats from start to finish. Jay Elle is a humble, honest troubadour of the old school in his new record, but his execution style is unabashedly rooted in contemporary pop aesthetics.


This EP has a very exploratory vibe in that none of its tracks feel deliberately rehearsed or tightly arranged for commercial airplay. Evidence of Elle’s increasingly experimental tendencies can be heard in the rather grainy “By the Blade,” the synthesized harmony of “Never Dreamed (I Could Be the One)” (which sounds drastically better with the assistance of Brent Kolatalo) and the blushing bass tones of the Ease Up’s title track, but these songs don’t make “Take a Holiday” and “Sickly Sweet” sound saccharinely traditional.

As I mentioned, there’s a progressiveness to this material that ensures the audience’s attention right out of the gate, and as we move from one hurricane of harmonies into another, there’s no abrasiveness in the shift between songs at all whatsoever. Elle has been working hard at refining his sound to be as streamlined as possible, and the fruits of his labor are on full display for all of the world to enjoy in this amazingly sharp and urbane extended play.


Take one part James Taylor, another part Morrison Kincaid, throw in a little bit of melodic modernity into the pot and you’ll come up with a splendidly delicious dish that resembles something like Jay Elle in this current phase of his career. Fans of old fashioned folk/rock have a lot to be excited about in Ease Up, and although I wouldn’t say that it’s the only record making a big splash this September, it’s the only EP that I would describe as soft enough for folkies while being pretty enough for the pop crowd. I’ve been listening to Jay Elle for a little while now, and though I came into this review of Ease Up with a lot of near-impossible expectations, I’m very happy to say that he met most – if not all – of them without having to exert an excessive amount of energy in the studio. 

He’s got the talent to take this sound into the primetime limelight, and a record like this will go a long way towards getting him there.

Joshua Beach

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Ooberfuse releases “Call My Name” (remixes)



With a pulsation similar to the elevated heartbeat that most of us experience upon seeing someone that we’ll have a passionate romance with, we find the understated bassline’s groove in Patrik Kambo’s remix of “Call My Name,” the new song and music video from Britain’s ooberfuse. Kambo makes the bass as much of a star in this track as the vibrant lead vocal from singer Cherrie Anderson is, and when we compare their textural similarities to one another, the only thing to distinguish the two of them is the lyrical emissions that Anderson shares with us one poetic verse at a time. If “Call My Name” were a meat and potatoes pop song, you would never know it, and that’s because these five mixes allow for it to evolve into something much more commanding than a simple Top 40 teen beat could ever be.


Hal St John’s mix of “Call My Name” was, like Kambo’s, designed for mainstream radio airplay, but where Kambo leaves the central synth melodies alone in his edit, St John scraps them altogether, filling their spots with an effervescent string arrangement that arguably holds the song together much better than the synthesized parts do. This mix favors the vocal and the instrumentation equally, with the rigidity of the drum track melting away under the pure heat of the groove and tonality of the guitars. There isn’t another version of “Call My Name” that is quite as captivating as this one is, though some – like the “Push The Frequency Festival Mix” – are definitely in the same ballpark of provocativeness.

“Push The Frequency Festival Mix” borrows a few of the string parts that we hear in Hal St John’s mix and fuses them into the spastic percussive components with virtually zero elegance, creating a gritty noise between the two that singer Cherrie Anderson essentially incorporates into her seductive vocal harmony. Though I find the smorgasbord of color to be incredibly beautiful, this track will likely be viewed as the most overwhelming for casual listeners if for no other reason than its magnificently multilayered mix. The same can be said for the low-end assault that “The Noise” edit can be described as, but not in the case of Paul Kennedy’s remix (also found in the music video for “Call My Name”), which I consider to be the most efficiently structured track here
.

Kennedy’s use of sharp white noise as a backdrop for the cathartic verses that Anderson vaults in our direction was probably the most brilliant move made in the creation of this EP, but I have a feeling that listeners are going to walk away with plenty of their own opinions in regards to the aesthetics of Call My NameOoberfuse give us a lot to think about in this sixteen-minute opus, and for containing less than half a dozen tracks, that’s something that even their tougher American critics would have to concede as being exceptional. Having spent a great deal of time reviewing music in this genre, I can confidently say that there really haven’t been any electronica records released in 2019 that can compete with the enduring musical depth that we find in these five tracks.

Joshua Beach