Thursday, November 15, 2018

Davie Simmons feat. Andy Camp and Esa Lehti - Angel Lover Music



Davie Simmons feat. Andy Camp and Esa Lehti - Angel Lover Music 


Remember the first time that you fell in love? The quickening of your pulse, your heart flutters, and the calm you can't explain? The uncertainty of it all - will it last? Will it leave? Can you even trust that it's real? You don't even know it yet but your heart has already listened to “Angel Music Lover”, apparently. 
“Angel Music Lover “ is a timeless piece of incandescent music, a blend of too many genres to even try to explain to you, the listener, because it was meant for the ears and not for my words. You will have to stop reading, start caring, definitely start feeling, and let the rhythm take you away. But while we wait for your obvious decision in this Information Age to make the leap to Act 1 of the greatest story never told, how about a little background on the musical you won't be able to stop telling your friends about? Unless, of course, you're ready to just play the song and let the sounds take you away.
Once upon a time two kids had a dream to make it big in music, we've all been there. Who among us hasn't either been in a band during high school or pretended it one day out back in the parking lot with our friends’ music blaring? David Simmons and Andy Camp didn't just think it though, they tried to live it. The dream died, lost to the moment, forgotten about, and put away. Thankfully, however, anything written and not destroyed is never truly gone and recently old friends reunited, a former collaborator guitarist named Esa Lehti hopped on board, and a goldmine of Sixties poetry finally left the station. What we all received was a screenplay likely worth its weight in gold - Finding David. A tale of love lasting forever and the anxiety felt that it won't. Just like the fear of shooting for the sky and knowing you might come back down. 
The best way to introduce a musical is to let a promo video out into the world and that's exactly what the writers have done. “Angel Music Lover” hits on the notes of the power of love - asking if a flame can really burn blue for twenty years. None ever has for me, but the hope still lives. Love however resists the temptations of ego and regret and maybe, just maybe, any love is a worthwhile enough effort to expend the energy trying to get to that place of forever. We'll leave that up to the listener. The singers aren't even sure if you love them or the music. Simply let the melody tell the story while the words set the scene. A love that never stops, only slows to a trickle, but still continues to grow. Who wouldn't spend twenty years to understand something that true and real? And what person doesn't want to be loved that deeply that someone believes they're an impossible task? Feel all, let the regrets be taken away, and prepare for a musical like you've never heard before with David Simmons’ Finding David.

Joshua Beach

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Rob Alexander - “Long Road Coming Home” (single)


A percussive synth harmony seeps into the air like a thick fog, and before we know it we’re surrounded by providential sounds that are larger than life yet delivered unto us subtly. A palm muted guitar is barely audible but ominously wanders the outskirts of the synth, which is slowly getting bigger as we drift towards Rob Alexander’s exuberant vocal. His latest single “Long Road Coming Home” starts off patiently, but it doesn’t take very long for it to come undone from the gravity of Alexander’s rousing musicianship. “I find a gift to give you every day, and never look back at the years in between” he serenades, each word dripping with a honey-like melodicism that is instantly recognizable as unique and exclusive to his brand of adult contemporary pop alone.

With a kick of the drums, Alexander plainly informs us that though this road of life that we’re all traveling together is tough as nails and never getting any shorter than it is today, we’re going to have to press on if we have any hope of realizing who we really are when we’re at our most exposed. Home is where the heart is, and he’s willing to take us there if it means we all get a little closer together in the end. His voice echoes off of the percussion and melodies that are swirling relentlessly in the foreground, and it’s all too easy for us to get hypnotized by the harmony that is being conjured in the beautiful chaos that we’re witnessing firsthand.

Everything almost comes apart as we shift into the next stanza, but Alexander makes sure to reel us in from the fire before we get burned by the flames. Every note in “Long Road Coming Home” has its place, and even when the song starts to rock in the second chorus nothing ever escapes from where it was intended to sit. Rob Alexander is a very meticulous composer, and so far I haven’t found any of his music to be shapeless or off the wall in the least. As much as people say that today’s pop music fan demands elaborate songwriting that incorporates as many savage accents and twisted overdubs as possible, there’s something really satisfying about listening to a song like this one, which relies only on its self-conscious lyrics and literate textures to make fans fall in love with its grandeur.

“Long Road Coming Home” concludes in operatic fashion, fading into the ethers in a tizzy of bluesy guitar, symphonic synths and closing lyrics sung to us in a half-whisper. Devoid of the malevolent self-centeredness of the average pop single and packed with powerful melodies, ornate verses and a playful harmony that demands a reaction out of anyone within earshot, the fourth single from Rob Alexander’s debut album of the same name is yet another graceful effort from the Florida-based singer/songwriter, who is turning out to be one of 2018’s hidden treasures. Music enthusiasts who crave the soft rocking sway of traditional piano pop with the edge of modern adult contemporary would do well to give this song a spin.

I-TUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/long-road-coming-home/1348846070

Joshua Beach


The music of Rob Alexander has been heard all over the world due to the promotional services offered by Danie Cortese Entertainment & Publicity. Learn more here - http://www.daniecorteseent.com/

Monday, October 29, 2018

Abby Zotz - Local Honey




This generous, sunlit record left me feeling like a plant that had been watered. Abby Zotz’s Local Honey is a lot of things, but among those is an ideal listening experience for those times when misfortune seems to be bearing down from every side and heartache is a daily reality. It will pick you up out of the mire. It isn’t filled with cuddly sentiments or soft-pedaled clich├ęs and tropes, but the cumulative effect of this collection is to state, once more, that life has its difficulties, its ups and down, and it behooves us to bear them with whatever grace we can muster and turn our eyes towards moving on. The production for this album brings out every thread of color into sharp relief without every belaboring one aspect over another – balance is an obvious watchword and it pays off with a fully realized solo debut.

A strong sense of inspiration fills many of the songs and influences their energy. “Stability” is one such song and the album’s first. It kicks off Local Honey with some hard won, but enormously affectation sentiments gaining a lot from Zotz’s upper register emotion. She embodies the song’s emotional peaks with such detailed, measured simplicity that it cuts right through your defenses and draws blood. You have to know what instability is before you can write about recognizing some stabilizing force in your own life. The perhaps unexpected sound of an organ opens “Big Hope” and the song embraces a full band arrangement from the first. The spring in this song’s step gets a lot of its air time from the organ, a constant underlying presence in the song, and some electric guitar puts added teeth in the song.


Gospel is the guiding influence behind “Peace Sweet Peace”, but there’s no denying it has a jazzy tilt on it that may play unexpected for some. The spartan, well spaced arrangement gives Zotz ample room to work her magic. She captures our attention with a smokier vocal tone than previous songs, playing to the song’s bluesy roots, and the obvious dexterity of her voice is a marvel to me. The gently undulating pastoral sweep of “Good Bones” has an underrated commercial edge – this song wouldn’t be at all out of place on either retro or modern country radio. The vocals are exquisitely arranged.

“Be Here Now” is an ode of a sort to mindfulness and rates, in my mind, as one of the album’s best lyrics. Zotz has an unerring instinct for characterization coming through these words and the inevitable pay off with many of the verses has just the right amount of symmetry and unity. The song’s bridge and instrumental breaks neatly dovetail into the song as well. There’s a bubbling rhythm bringing “Sea Change” to life and Zotz’s voice has a spectral, almost ghostly aura. The same ghostliness runs though “All Through the Night” with an added dash of stately lyricism and vocal harmonies. “You’ll Never Know” ends Local Honey with another echo of jazz influences coming through the tune and the good natured gaze she casts vocally over the song’s bittersweet lyric makes it all the more appealing. Abby Zotz’s first appearance as a solo recording artist is the peak of her musical journey so far and stands to propel her art in a whole new direction.


Joshua Beach

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Blackmail Seduction - The Blackmail Seduction II




The Blackmail Seduction began their musical journey in Minneapolis, Minnesota and has since relocated to the Los Angeles area, but there’s a surprising amount of heartland influences making their way into band’s songwriting. The band’s second self-titled album, The Blackmail Seduction II, has an interesting mix of sounds and textures while maintaining its focus on well constructed tracks with a sharp lyrical bent. Lead vocalist Jess McClellan’s songwriting for The Blackmail Seduction has a strong autobiographical suggestiveness, but it’s well rounded enough to encompass an universality possessing across the board appeal. It’s quite a feat to balance clearly personal songwriting with mass market punch, but The Blackmail Seduction hits its mark with style time after time on this release.

“Dead Girl” builds to a steady boil, but The Blackmail Seduction keeps a firm grip on the reins throughout the song and never overplay. Newcomers to the band’s sound and songwriting will note how, despite McClellan’s songwriting dominance over the band’s material, they never fail to play as a cohesive unit. Newcomers will also gravitate towards McClellan’s emotionally powerful voice. Despite the emotiveness of his singing, he has an edgy rock tone in his voice that helps give it the right amount of attitude. “Tell the World” takes that to the next level with a forceful rock sound quite unlike anything else on The Blackmail Seduction II. Troy Hardy and McClellan’s guitar playing comes together better on this song, arguably, than anywhere else on the release and even unveil a double guitar attack different than anything else on the release.

“She’s Leaving Home” has a much more pensive demeanor than the preceding song and brings new sounds into the band’s identity, but the most striking aspect of the song for me comes across in the stately pace set rock in the song. There’s ample melodicism as well and the backing vocals during the song are critical to the song’s success. “Visiting Hours” shows us another turn in the band’s musical personality and has a more muted air than any of the aforementioned songs including “She’s Leaving Home”. I’m especially impressed by McClellan’s singing during this song – one can easily assume this song is ripped from the pages of his autobiography, but it isn’t difficult to relate to this song. He really lays it on the line with this track and it’s an invigorating listening experience.

The Blackmail Seduction has an uphill climb in the modern musical landscape, but I remain a believer that sincerity can still carry the day for listeners. You can’t help but respond to their obvious investment in these songs and there’s never any sense of the music or sentiments feeling forced. Instead, The Blackmail Seduction II hums from the first and doesn’t have a single apparent lull. It’s a more than worthy successor to the band’s debut and sets them on a course for even greater success in the future. Jess McClellan and his cohorts are poised for great things on the back of genuine talent.

Joshua Beach

Monday, October 8, 2018

Del Suelo - The Musician’s Compass: A 12 Step Programme




Del Suelo’s inspired musicality will hook you in from the first. The Musician’s Compass: a 12 Step Programme opens with the tune “Second Encore” and Suelo, a stage name for Erik Mehlsen, introduces the story of a traveling band’s day with intelligence and accessibility. The songwriting isn’t above embracing an array of influences but, rather than attempting to ape them, Mehlsen’s playing excellence infuses them with a distinctive melodic touch and wrings further changes to familiar sounds and themes. “Pack Rats” is a single release from The Musician’s Compass: a 12 Step Programme and a fun music video accompanies it, but it’s glossy and skillfully presented window dressing for one of the leading musical performances found on this studio album. Mehlsen boasts chops galore, obviously, but any technique he draws on informs, rather than interferes, with his ability to connect with listeners.

There’s a certain wry appraisal of character reflected in how Mehlsen cops so many twists on popular song and album titles for tracks on this album. The punk nod of “Berlin Calling” promises something Clash-like and Mehlsen delivers, in his own idiosyncratic fashion, while also advancing the album’s narrative. It would likely prove an interesting experience to read the accompanying novel of the same title, likewise written by Mehlsen, while listening to the album, but there’s no question the songwriting accomplishes much. “A Lust Supreme” expands further on this feeling and sweeps listeners up into its late night metropolitan swirl. Another standout chorus is the key hook for “A Lust Supreme” and creative keyboard work flashing like quicksilver over the drumming keeps things moving at a satisfying, measured rate.

“Nightstream” is, at first, a study in sonic contrast as its opening wash of white noise, akin to a raucous crowd, transforms into the album’s most meditative, pensive moment. There is a palpable pastoral shading coloring “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?”and the consistency of Mehlsen’s approach to the vocals begins to pay off huge by this juncture as it continues strengthening an unified sound few artists of any stature can claim. Mehlsen, track after track, inhabits these songs with a rare combination of melodic presence and emotional rigor – he doesn’t spare anything plumbing the depths of “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” and the post production effects applied to his voice only enrich the overall effect.

Those melodic talents continue shining through on “Caress of Steel Wheels”. It’s a smart, well-written tune with another of The Musician’s Compass’ first rate choruses. He really throws himself into this one and reaches soulful peaks that make this one of the album’s best tunes. I can’t really say enough about the drumming for this release – the production never fails surrounding each beat with clarity and snap that sets a sharp tone for the song. The habit of five star choruses continues with “Enter the Tempel” and it’s one of a handful of moments on this sophomore release when Mehlsen’s singing is so good and evocative you forget he’s so young comparatively young and such a virtuoso musician as well. It’s likely a seldom discussed facet of his skill set, but the vocal performances on The Musician’s Compass: a 12 Step Programme is nothing short of breathtaking.  The album peaks in a breathtaking way with the extended tune “Darn that Dream/Stairway to Eleven”, a song that gives us a sense of his main character’s regret without ever belaboring the despair. There’s nuance and depth in everything Del Suelo does on this release; it’s really nothing less than a modern classic.


Joshua Beach

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Wave 21




Wave 21 delivers direct, well played and melodically strong music appealing to a wider audience than purists. Their style is described as country rock, but it is limiting as a label. Wave 21’s songwriting from sisters Mary Lynn and Emmy Lou Doroschuk definitely touches on country and faint rock influences, but there’s an undeniable intelligent pop sophistication with their songs unlike much of what we hear from this style today. The sisters are the talented offspring of  Men Without Hats’ producer and guitarist Stefan Doroschuk and their talents on display are the results of working at their craft since an early age. Their father joins them in Wave 21 as a bassist and violin player while, as well, playing the role of producer for this superb sounding release. This Montreal based band, however, isn’t just a way for the Doroschuk’s to get their music out there – Wave 21 plays like a full fledged outfit and never disappoints.

There’s definitely a rock influence in the band’s music, even if we don’t hear it often, and the reverberating drums leading us into the first song “Ya Ya Ya” soon settles sonically and establishes a lean, surging groove. The refrain of the song title reflects the joy at the heart of this performance better than any of the lyrics, but those are nonetheless quite fine for what the song requires. Mary Lynn Doroschuk’s voice immediately captures your ear and, despite the obviously fine quality of her voice, she never “over sings” or attempts to dominate the track. Instead, Doroschuk shapes her voice to each of the album’s ten songs and it makes these tracks immeasurably stronger efforts. The lead guitar has a delicious twang without ever sounding over-exaggerated, but acoustic guitar lays down a consistent groove across the entirety of the song.

“Love Shouldn’t Make Me Cry” has a great sound, the instruments seeming to entwine rather than sounding like your typically structured performance, and there are some moments really standing out in the arrangement. The rhythm section contributions are the most important thing in bring this song off with Stefan Doroschuk’s bass playing bringing some intensely creative fills into the performance. You can’t help but admire how they put this one together. “The Fun Times” is another achievement on the album. The band proves they aren’t above confounding a listener’s expectations and add a song to the album notable for a number of reasons, its hard-earned wisdom simply put among them.

The final high point for me is the song “Catch Me”. This is a country influenced gem with a decided pop sensibility, particularly in how well the Doroschuk sisters refurbish the theme with their own spin on the tradition, and it sounds like the best chorus to me on an album full of them. Wave 21 are going to gain considerable notice thanks to the quality of this album and sound well on their way to long, respected careers. The ten songs on this debut are full of lessons you cannot teach.


Joshua Beach

Thursday, September 6, 2018

AV Super Sunshine’s “Time Bomb”



AV Super Sunshine’s “Time Bomb”


The two mixes of AV Super Sunshine’s “Time Bomb”, the club and radio DJ version respectively, offers a powerful example of how an ace collaborator can shape material in a compelling way. Famous DJ and producer Michael Bradford transforms the already fine track into something entirely new, a forceful and dynamically structured EDM masterpiece with accompanying regular instruments like guitar and piano humanizing, in a sense, the musical attack. It runs five plus minutes in length and it’s just this range helping to make it one of the more impressive club aimed released in recent memory. It isn’t difficult to imagine a building teeming with sweating bodies exhausting themselves to the lengthy groove Bradford establishes with this mix thanks to a monumental sound system and the inherent talent going into this release.

AV Super Sunshine is based out of the state of Wisconsin, but the music has universal vintage. AV has a number of well-received and popular releases to its credit and much of the responsible for its reception can be laid at the feet of the idiosyncratic, yet recognizable, swirl of electronic musical elements and more commonplace instruments like guitar and piano. Piano doesn’t play nearly as much of a role in the club  mix as it does the version intended for radio, but AV and Bradford nonetheless find a place for this sound in the aforementioned take on the song, albeit in radically different fashion than before.  Guitar, however, plays a key role in making this club version fly for listeners and adds aesthetic value as it varies up the music’s sound without ever moving it away from its intended target.

The presence of melody in the club mix is a nice touch, but it might be lost on an ocean of writhing bodies. Appreciated from the hearing point of one’s own living room, however, it raises the musical stakes for the song in a meaningful way – meaning it engages the imagination more than an already creative tune might have missed out on. The synthesizers and pre-programmed drums lead the way, however, from the dense flair of sound opening the song through an ear-popping array of changes scarcely allowing the listener time to keep it up. It’s a dazzling display of talent, however, and worth every second.

The radio mix is positively demure in comparison. Make no mistake, however, AV Super Sunshine achieves notable results with this version – there’s definitely a strong electronic instrument presence in this song, but there’s much more outright musicality in a traditional sense. We hear the lead vocals coming through better than the club mix ever allows and the highlighted backing vocals sync up quite nicely with the main voice. The piano mentioned earlier, as well, has a more prominent role than before and, while it is a distinctly different offering than the earlier cut, many of the same      qualities distinguishing Bradford’s club mix are fully evident in this performance. “Time Bomb”, both the club and radio version, are superb, substantive entertainment from an artist only continuing to grow in talent and stature.


Joshua Beach