Thursday, November 15, 2018

Rob Alexander’s Long Road Coming Home


From the melodies created by the timber of his voice making contact with the glistening notes of a piano or guitar to the organic tonality of his compositions themselves, adult contemporary artist Rob Alexander’s music is all about harmony. In the fourth single and title track from his album Long Road Coming Home, audiences are treated to an intimately crafted exhibition of Alexander’s knack for harmony in high definition audio that is cushioned by a lush production that doesn’t smother any of the singer’s rich textures in unnecessary frills. Unlike many other pop songs released in 2018, “Long Road Coming Home” isn’t a ballad that focuses on where we’re going, but rather where we’ve been. Contemplative and personal, this track strikes me as one cultivated in the emotions of its composer and not the commercial side of his medium.

Rob Alexander’s latest single is stylishly produced with a colorful polish that allows it to blend in well with contemporary pop music, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it doesn’t stand out in a lineup. Alexander’s vocal performance is driven by the heartfelt prose in the words of the song, which at times feel more like an internal monologue than they do lyrics. It’s almost as if we’re seeing things from his point of view, watching a black and white reel of his experiences and are inevitably led to agree with him that it is indeed “a long way down this rocky road.” As tough as the journey he describes may be, the comforting sway of his voice reminds us that he’s going to be right there by our side from beginning to end.

There’s a cosmopolitan, streamlined feel to the mix of “Long Road Coming Home” that makes it feel much more relevant and modern than it would if it had received less elaborate treatment behind the soundboard. There’s never any doubt that Alexander’s gilded vocal track is the star of the show, but the mix doesn’t sacrifice the contributions of the additional instrumentation to give his singing the spotlight. I like the evenness of the bass and the middle; too often pop singers favor more of a scooped EQ when they record soft rock and end up cheapening their sound as a result, but that isn’t the case with this song.

He’s proven himself to be a great singer and songwriter, and in “Long Road Coming Home” Rob Alexander adds another splash of character to his evolving musical persona, which has been quite fascinating to watch develop. It may not be the most exciting breakout song of 2018, but it’s unquestionably a true original from an authentically gifted performer who is picking up quite a positive reputation in his local Floridian scene and nationally as well. If you enjoy smooth vocal music that is accompanied by easy listening instrumentals that put more emphasis on tone than they do on vibrato and sheer volume, I’d recommend checking out this track and the record it takes its name from the next time you’re in the market for new music.


Anthony Silver

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 -

Monday, November 5, 2018

Abby Zotz – The Honey Has Arrived


The title Local Honey implies a level of personal engagement the album’s eleven songs deliver. Abby Zotz’s first solo album comes after a two decade long career journey from playing as part of a traditional music duo with former collaborator Bryan Williston and playing a key role in an assortment of other folk music themed outfits. Local Honey has a much more expansive range than we experience with her earlier work, however, as Zotz is making a clear effort to incorporate a variety of sounds into her musical presentation. It makes it a much richer ride from the first and never missteps. The core foundation of these songs is, invariably, acoustic guitar, but she’s joined by some great musicians to make this a memorable roll on a song to song basis.

“Stability” has an enjoyable sweep with a steady drumming pulse soon pushing it along, but never pressuring listener in an intensely physical way. If she’s going to rely on this sort of style for her album, you can rest assured from the first that she’s mastered the form while still bringing her own stamp to it and the convincing muscle behind the performance never over-exerts its presence. She doesn’t rely on that style alone but “Big Hope”, the album’s second tune, underlines it. Organ makes it only appearance on Local Honey and the lead electric guitar work coming into play as the song progresses gives sharp teeth to an already impressively strong experience. “Peace Sweet Peace” goes in a very different direction from the album’s first two songs and the near-acapella build of the song with its minimal musical backing still invokes a strong gospel and blues flavor. It has a little jazzy bounce too that makes it all the more irresistible. Make no mistake; this may initially sound like a throwaway, but it’s one of the best songs on Local Honey.

The later three some of “Pirouette”, “Good Bones”, and “Be Here Now” is the peak of the album for me, but I’m much more of a dyed in the wool folky than most. These are the finest lyrics on the release and spotlight the superb talents Zotz has in that area to complement her musical skills. These songs are obviously the product of a life intensely lived, but Zotz transforms it into something uniquely her own that’s accessible to all. “Good Bones” probably has the strongest positive vibe while the first and last songs cut deeper with the mix of direct language and poetic flourishes in the lyrical content. They never waste a single syllable and that same focus on the writing that defines the music makes these songs especially strong.

“Sea Change” is a remarkable but low key achievement thanks to its ability to reframe familiar lyrical and musical themes in a creative musical environment. There’s an interesting island feel to the song, or the suggestion of it, and that feature alone is enough to distinguish the song from the other material. “You’ll Never Know” has a wistful sadness tied up in its arrangement, but it’s never hamfisted and has underrated charm. It’s a perfect easy going way to wrap the release up lyrically, vocally, and musically and has an entertaining flair unlike anything preceding it. It’s a spot on ending for Local Honey, one of the best first efforts in recent memory.


Brian Weeks

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Del Suelo releases The Musician’s Compass: a 12 Step Programme

Del Suelo releases The Musician’s Compass: a 12 Step Programme


The Musician’s Compass: a 12 Step Programme is, if nothing else, bold and brave even if it isn’t your musical cup of tea. All but the harshest, most unreasoning critic must concede Del Suelo, a nom de plume for Canadian songwriter and guitarist Erik Mehlsen, has ambition to burn and a willingness to take chances few of his contemporaries would dare try. The dozen songs on his second album with this project constitute a concept release chronicling the life of a musician on tour over the course of 24 hours, from the end of one show into the next day, and Mehlsen’s skill invoking character brings his protagonist Devon to life within a musical framework. He’s likewise set this narrative down in novel format, released along with the album, and this broad based artistry is like few working today. Fortunately for us, he finds his mark
“Second Encore”, “Pack Rats”, “A Lust Supreme”, alongside two later songs “Enter the Tempel” and “Caress of Steel Wheels”, are among the smoothest guitar driven soul and light funk compositions you’ll hear in recent memory, but he brings a surfeit of six string supported rock muscle to the party as well. During songs like the first two, Mehlsen’s guitar work is often mind-blowing and never comes close to any of the same masturbatory excesses we might hear from his lessers on the instrument. “Pack Rats”, especially, sparks to fiery life thanks to the song’s instrumental interplay and Mehlsen proves time and again how he’s a musician who feeds off other musical voices. The choruses for each of the aforementioned cuts are simply stellar and put one of his songwriting strengths front and center for listeners; one might expect such a high flown conceptual work to be less accessible, but Mehlsen’s songwriting makes every effort to draw listeners in and keep them with the album until the end.

Some of the riskier highlights of the album come with the songs “Nightstream”, “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” and the album’s opus, a nearly seven minute long “Darn that Dream/Stairway to Eleven”. The smirking reference in the last title there, alluding to both an iconic hard rock song and the movie Spinal Tap, is all the more coy considering there’s none of that customary musical bluster to be heard in either part of the latter tune. “Nightstream” is one of most artful moments on The Musician’s Compass: a 12 Step Programme and carries itself with an understated elegance. “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” has faded elegiac regret stamped on each section of the song and Mehlsen’s vocal performance is oddly, but pleasingly, reminiscent of David Gilmour’s singing. The chiming guitars give way to some rousing lead work late in the tune and the instrumental breaks take some interesting turns without ever losing the plot.

Del Suelo’s second studio album establishes this project as one of most compelling acts working on the indie scene today and it’s truly tantalizing to imagine how Erik Mehlsen might, eventually, follow up a release like The Musician’s Compass: a 12 Step Programme.


Scottie Carlito

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Conceptz “Splash” feat. Bennie Blanco

Conceptz “Splash” feat. Bennie Blanco


The clock strikes midnight, and Conceptz wants to know where you’re at. In this life, only a couple of things are certain; we’re all going to die someday, we’ve all got to eat, and we’re all compelled to be drawn towards each other in the most primal ways possible. Conceptz is confident that sexual sparks can be ignited if you open yourself up to the idea, and “Splash” saturates us in an aphrodisiac that is one part mammoth bassline and another part cocky self-awareness. It doesn’t matter if we used to be together and it didn’t work out. We made a connection and it fizzled? It’s back on tonight. We’re going for a dip in the ocean of sensuous sonic grooves that Conceptz is unleashing at us with ease.

“Splash” isn’t as vulgar as some of you might infer by its humorously literal title, instead letting us paint our own imagery of two becoming one inside our own dirty minds, although it should be said that Conceptz gives us a healthy nudge in the right direction from the jump. The backing track sparkles and drones on in the foreground, powerless to dull the sharp rhymes that Conceptz and Benny Blanco are trading back and forth. There’s nothing to stop the anticipation from building to a fever pitch and finally releasing in an elegantly appointed chorus that fades in and out of the ethers like steam rising from hot springs in the dead of winter. Does Conceptz realize the imaginative supremacy they wield? My guess is yes, considering how relaxed and composed they remain in the grit and grind of “Splash.”

The music starts to blend into the lyrics towards the latter half of this song, and if you’re not moving to the churning descent of its patterned beat by this point, I seriously have to question whether or not you have a pulse. “Splash” is as intoxicating as a designer drug and has a high that lasts ten times as long, demanding repeated listens from even the most hardcore of anti-rap music fan. We’re spellbound by the glittering tones and melodies lingering in the rearview mirror as we blaze through verse after verse, and trying to resist the glamour of “Splash” soon becomes understandably pointless.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of hip-hop. I like a lot of classic rap ala late 80’s political hip-hop and early 90’s G-funk, but most of the output from 21st century rappers usually leaves a lot to be desired for my personal pedigree of taste. 

Conceptz has made me reconsider whether or not its modern hip-hop that I dislike or just the artists that major labels have chosen to highlight above all others. If a song like “Splash” can stay on permanent rotation in my head for well over a week after first listening to it preparation for writing this review, then maybe there’s a chance that my perception has been askew this entire time. Whatever the case may be, anyone who digs hardcore beat should do themselves a favor and check out Conceptz at the soonest opportunity made available to them. “Splash” is the best rap song I’ve heard in a long time, and my money says that it’s probably better than anything most of you have listened to this year.


Scottie Carlito

Thursday, September 6, 2018

AV Super Sunshine - Time Bomb

AV Super Sunshine - Time Bomb


Dubbed as “New American Rock”, the latest single from Wisconsin’s AV Super Sunshine “Time Bomb” makes that case without ever sounding too ambitious or hyped too hard. Instead, the two mixes coming with this release, a club and radio DJ version respectively, each offer something unique for both casual listeners and more serious music fans. It’s frequently said there is something for everyone when you read music reviews and sometimes it’s true, but rarely is it more substantiated than it is in the hands of AV Super Sunshine than we’ve heard from similar acts. The club mix of “Time Bomb” is full of fury and energy, but there’s more musical strength we hear in this song than we might expect. It begins with a blast of synthesizer gradually intensifying until it erupts into a full on reflection of Michael Bradford’s contributions to the song. This famous DJ and producer has worked with AV Super Sunshine before and discerning listeners will hear why; the two artists possess a clear chemistry perks you up from the first.

The more customary elements of a track are subverted to the electronic instrumentation, but never so much so that they come off as afterthoughts. AV’s lead vocal comes roaring out of the thick, yet bright, mix with assertiveness that commands your attention and the song’s backing vocals merge with the primary vocal in a raucous mashup that will get listeners involved. Other instruments are all but hidden, but they come through at important moments – both melody and guitar make their presence felt in flashes and those points in this five minute+ song tie the track to a needed musical foundation that keeps this mix from being just a ferocious electronic driven number.

The radio DJ mix of the song is bare bones, but equally effective in its own way. It has a lot more focus placed on the lead and backing vocals than we ever hear in the club mix, but it works especially well when placed in a clearer musical landscape like it is here. The synthesizers, of course, do have a strong presence in this version, but the guitar, piano, and drums gives the song a more natural feel than we ever hear in the earlier take on the song. It is, also, much shorter and features the sane fixed gaze on its musical goals. This is, nominally, more closer to the aforementioned label of “New American Rock”, but it still has a lot of the same daring we hear with the earlier mix. AV Super Sunshine’s “Time Bomb” definitely blows up in a big way during both versions and ranks as the best single yet from this exponentially improving rock/EDM master It’s one of the best songs in this style that’s been released in recent years and opens the door to an even more brilliant future

Michael Crowder

Monday, August 27, 2018

Crack of Dawn – Spotlight

Crack of Dawn – Spotlight

When Crack of Dawn released their debut album back in 1976, they weren’t just cutting another slab of funky vinyl meant to get people shaking to a disco beat. They were essentially creating the foundation of the modern Canadian R&B scene, and today their influence can still be felt from one corner of the country to the next. After an extended hiatus away from the recording industry, the legends of northern funk – guitarists Carl and Rupert Harvey, vocalist Michael Dunston, Bela Hajmann on keys, trumpeter Alexis Baro, trombonist Trevor Darley, sax man Alvin Jones, bassist Charles Sinclair and, of course, drummer Carl Otway – have reunited with only one intention; reigniting the rhythm for a new generation. In their brand new album Spotlight, fans of all ages will discover that Crack of Dawn hasn’t surrendered an ounce of their unparalleled talent in the years that have passed, but in fact they’ve got even better with time. This collection of songs are a fantastic addition to the storied history of both a band and a scene that have never received the attention that they truly deserved.

Opening the album with the song “Crack of Dawn” quickly seems like a no-brainer and they’ve crafted a song worthy of bearing the band’s name. One of the best parts of this song, for me, is how adeptly they straddle the line between tasteful, artistic restraint and conveying joyful energy you hear in every bar of the song. Michael Dunston, the band’s singer, sounds freed in particularly and unleashes a performance potentially capable of waking coma patients. The opener has a stronger R&B influence than the two numbers that follow – both “Somebody’s Watching” and “Booby Ruby” are dyed in the wool funk gems, though the former softens the approach more than the latter. “Booby Ruby” is an unabashed romp and Charles Sinclair’s bass pumps in a masterful way throughout the song, yet never gets self-indulgent or overzealous. “Keep the Faith” flirts with some of the weaker influences in the band’s wheelhouse, gospel, but never comes across as religious. Instead, the songwriting uses the musical and lyrical language of the style for a soulful R&B tune that gives Dunston ample room to explore his talents.

“Ol’ Skool” has a cool, relaxed R&B slant and a nice melody largely carried by the keyboards, but Michael Dunston gives listeners another empathic vocal certainly showing his mastery of singing R&B material. The funk influences we hear in earlier songs like “Booby Ruby” are scarcely in evidence on “Ol’ Skool” and the band shows themselves to be every bit as skilled with R&B trappings. I find “Seasons’ Change” to be the album’s best song, a note perfect realization of the band’s R&B sound with meaningful lyrical content Dunston gets across with feeling. The luxurious unfolding of the song is never rushed and has quite an effect on listeners. Crack of Dawn closes the album with “Changes”, a lively R&B tune with an understated funk sound and complimentary backing vocals. Carl Harvey’s salvos of fiery lead guitar put a bold exclamation point on the song and it makes for a potent closer. Crack of Dawn’s Spotlight knocks it out of the park and seems certain to win over a new generation of fans for the band.

Brian Deppert

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Lauria releases “Losing Me” single

Lauria releases “Losing Me” single

Montreal based Florie-Laure “Lauria” Zadigue DubĂ© is a bit of a mystery with only one single out, but “Losing Me” is quite the substantial number, but that’s only tipping the iceberg. She has a voice that sings like an angel and only so many are coming along that it’s a stand out track which puts you in touch with her soul, and that’s only part of what makes this single cook. It sizzles to the brim and shows why the art of studio performance is so important to the longevity of a song, especially in the Pop world where everything comes in to go out. And Lauria has the power to stay and go a long way. 

The memories of growing up watching local artists in her uncle’s Montreal studio and singing in the church choir since an early age are two things that led to this single, as well as playing briefly in a band with her cousin, not to mention her uncle now being her manager. The rest is unknown until more about Lauria and more content comes out. It’s a non-genre attitude she has and that’s where the song might fall but it’s still rooted in Pop and anything slow-danceable for the masses to which it is clearly aimed. 

Being that it’s a vocally driven song, Lauria stands out the most throughout the entire track, but there’s more to meats the ear going on behind her with a beautiful string arrangement. The lyrics deal with being hurt and not forgiving someone who’s gone so far, they’re going to lose her love. She even goes out of her way to be mildly explicit to get the point of the words across. It’s very easy to lose yourself in the melody as well as her voice and the track itself as the total package that it is. The rest is hard to detail without hearing it for yourself, but it’s suggested to do so at first chance. 

It’s not every day something this good comes along, so it’s helping 2018 look better as the less than spectacular year it has been so far on music on my radar, so much that I am glad I heard “Losing Me.” And with Lauria coming on so strong already it’s worth anticipating what comes next for her. It’s a good question but for now this single is showing where the heart is, and she’s got all the time in the world from here but hopefully not too long before we hear more from her. Make no mistake, Lauria is already star in her own way. 

In closing, this is not only a fine debut single for Lauria, it’s a superior production and her songwriting is premiere in todays musical landscape where more-often than not electronics and other frills keep the soul out of Pop music. It’s also one of the best single releases of 2018 by all standards by an unknown artist with all the potential in the world to reach the most appreciative ears with an honestly great song that competes without even having to.


Randy Jones