Maini Sorri – ‘Lost Love’ (The Dance Remix)

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

Previously in the Independent Spotlight, I tackled Maini Sorri’s ‘Lost Love.’ That track had all of the proper pieces of a song with wonderful pop-sensibility and delivery. Now, we’re going to be delving into the dance remix of the new tune. (Click here to go read that first review – I’d certainly encourage reading that first to get my take on the original version of ‘Lost Love.’ Plus, that article covers all of the relevant info on Sorri that gives context to her music. I won’t cover that ground twice since I know readers have likely already been introduced!)

This new dance remix, though very similar to the original piece, does have some creative nuances that take it in an interesting direction. We’re actually getting a bit of an exclusive look of the track; Sorri won’t be releasing it until June 15. The track does exactly what it should do very, very well: provide a danceable take on the new single.

I’m a strong believer in the remix when utilized properly. The only remix that I want to hear is one that has its own creative license of the original track. Stay too close to the original tune and you lose the whole reason you’re remixing it. Deviate too far, you lose the song entirely. The remixed version of ‘Lost Love’ elegantly walks this line. It has all of the elements of a fantastic dance mix straight out of the late 80s and its dramatically different instrumentation keeps it consistently interesting.

I dig the dance version of ‘Lost Love’ and highly suggest checking it out when it comes around on June 15. Originally, I had a bit of trouble understanding the English vocals on ‘Lost Love.’ That concern still stands, obviously, since the vocals remain untouched on this rendition. It’s a small grievance amidst an overall intriguing pop effort, however, and I like where the dance remix takes this song.

TENGGER CAVALRY – Press Release – June 5, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE – JUNE 5, 2015

Mongolian folk metal outfit, TENGGER CAVALRY, Releases Fifth Album

The sound of Mongolian folk metal outfit, TENGGER CAVALRY, has been described as ‘exhilaratingly unique,’ a sound that ‘infuses heavy metal with traditional Mongolian folk and primal Shamanistic musical tradition. ‘Blood Sacrifice Shaman’ marks the fifth official release from the band, though it’s a completely re-recorded tracklist of the original Chinese limited release in 2010.

The music is designed to reflect the philosophy and atmosphere of ancient Mongolian shamanism. Shamanism is the earliest form of religion in human history, a practice that exalts natural forces. The new release attempts to cover profound ground by relating itself to one of the most primal forms of sacrifice and tradition. An eclectic collection of diverse and remarkably compelling instruments provide authentic and intriguing soundscapes quite unlike any other act from the region, or anywhere else in the world, for that matter.

Those looking to support TENGGER CAVALRY can do so on their label’s website, Metal Hell Records. The label offers the release in a variety of formats, including a CD with a lengthy booklet and two bonus tracks. In more recent news, one of the band’s songs was even utilized in a popular smartphone game. This fifth endeavor from the award-winning group exhibits the massive distance the project has traversed since Nature Ganganbaigal began it as a solo effort six years ago.

For more information on TENGGER CAVALRY, their new record, or to buy it, check out the links below.

http://holdtightpr.com/news/article/mongolian-folk-metal-tengger-cavalry-announce-new-album

https://soundcloud.com/metalhellrecords/sets/blood-sacrifice-shaman

http://metalhellrecs.com/store/products/tengger-cavalry-blood-sacrifice-shaman-cd/

Maini Sorri – ‘Lost Love’

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this review, I’m going to be delving into the music of the Swedish-Finnish singer songwriter, Maini Sorri. Unlike many independent musicians, Sorri has an immensely impressive portfolio of previous work with nineteen CD’s, an active YouTube channel, live performances on stage, the radio, and television, and acclaimed remixes and compositions. She’s also collaborated with a number of artists, had her music chart, and she’s professionally trained, rocking a college degree in the arts as well. Needless to say, her resume speaks for itself. Her new song, ‘Lost Love,’ drops on June 15. Let’s check it out.

‘Love Lost’ hits you like a tidal-wave of sound. It houses elements of rock, pop, and techno, yet feels rather original in its delivery and performance. I’d argue it’s an arena rocker, it would be remarkably suited for a huge rock concert. It’s cinematic and epic.

The sound of ‘Lost Love’ seems to build around Sorri in a unique fashion; she remains unphased by the cataclysmic instrumentation building around her and this creates a presence and aura that demands attention. It’s a bit reminiscent of Mannheim Steamroller’s style.

I love how intricate every piece of the production is as well, and this is elegantly portrayed in the instrumental version of the track that acts as the B-side. While removing Sorri from the equation removes much of the umph from the track, it’s certainly compelling to hear the instrumentation by itself.

I can attest to this record’s fantastic production and superb delivery on behalf of Sorri and it’s certainly one of the more interesting independent foreign pieces I’ve tackled this year. (Foreign to me, anyway.) Check it out, especially if you’re from her region. It’s a fun tune worth your time.

The Jukebox Spotlight – At The Dakota

On May 25, the third episode of the Jukebox podcast aired. The show is now available on this website, iTunes, Tune In Radio, PocketCasts, Sticher, and every other major podcasting platform. Each month, the show highlights the strongest independent music possible.

When tuning into this episode of the Jukebox, listeners will hear ‘Stumptail,’ an upcoming track from At the Dakota, a rising Australian indie pop band. The track is an exclusive first look for Jukebox listeners since the song will be available June 11 and the subsequent album on July 23. (On all major digital retailers, iTunes, Google, streaming services, etc.)

The four-track EP is seeking to expand At the Dakota’s audience. In particular, the band wants to introduce themselves to American audiences. They’re touring their own country in October, but hoping to move onto the United States in the future. Hence, US listeners can exclusively receive a free download of the new single by following the band on Twitter or liking them on Facebook.

The five-piece outfit embodies the Jukebox promise to the fullest. This indie group is producing exceptional quality music and we fully expect the rest of the EP to be equally as outstanding. Upon the broadcast of the show, At the Dakota was one of the most well-received acts on the show. Here at the Jukebox, we’re hoping to be one of the catalysts to get these guys heard stateside. So, if you’re a US listener, go snap up that free download! It’s a track very much worth adding to your summer playlists this season.

You can find At the Dakota on Facebook below and you can stream the Jukebox on any podcasting platform, or at the second link provided.

https://www.facebook.com/atthedakotaband

http://thejukebox.podbean.com/e/episode-3-may-2015/

The Jukebox Spotlight – reGo

On May 25, the third episode of the Jukebox podcast aired. The show is now available on this website, iTunes, Tune In Radio, PocketCasts, Sticher, and every other major podcasting platform. Each month, the show highlights the strongest independent music possible.

When tuning in to the Jukebox, listeners will be able to hear ‘Eco Ugly,’ a poignant new track from reGo, an up and coming hip hop artist on a mission. The song is from ‘The Eco Project,’ a seven song EP that reGo put out for Earth Day, 2015. The album focuses on a clear and important message: we need to change our ways and learn to live a cruelty-free lifestyle.

reGo discusses some of the harsh truths about our society, relaying powerful information on how his audience can make a measurable difference in their lives to positively impact the planet. It’s a political message that anyone can get behind: the respectful treatment of our beautiful planet. Both adults and younger generations can benefit from reGo’s message, which is exactly what we chose to feature him on the Jukebox.

The Jukebox strives not only to feature artists who embody our pledge to play nothing less than exceptional, but also to feature artists who are passionate about their music and pursuits. reGo is the gleaming modern example of a musician with a positive vision for others and our world: that’s something worth its weight in gold and it is our pleasure to feature him on the show.

You can purchase ‘Eco Ugly’ and ‘The Eco Project’ at the link below. You can also stream the Jukebox below at the second link. 

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/rego6

http://thejukebox.podbean.com/e/episode-3-may-2015/

The RA-6600 – A Unique Piano / Percussion Duo

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be delving into The RA-6600, a unique duo between Daniel Olivas and Mark Medley. There is a particularly interesting dichotomy between the two performers since they’ve elected a piano and percussion combination for their act, something that isn’t typically done. Hey, that’s what we said in 1999 when we first say the White Stripes, though. I’m open to a revamping of the duo-concept!

The duo explains their act as ‘lo-fi pop bursts,’ something akin to early, accessible pop back in the heyday of two and a half minute, wham, bam, thank you, ma’am pop songs. The two veteran performers met in the Nashville music scene five years ago, and the group has been propelling forward ever since. Their namesake is that of a high wattage 1970s eight-track stereo, something they feel common ties to. Let’s listen in on some of their songs.

True to their endeavor, the five track offering the duo put out this year clocks in at less than twelve minutes. Right off of the bat, there’s something both positive and negative about the sound. Sound wise, the production is lacking. It isn’t EQ’d properly and as a result, I had to crank my studio monitors to hear it at a decent volume. The lead vocals also get buried in a muddied production and the piano gets distorted and lost in translation at times. Instrumentally, though, the combination of the two instruments is every bit as unique as I thought it would be. ‘Pretty Face’ is probably one of the more catchy and well-written songs in the collection to exhibit that.

The soulful ‘Before You Leave Her’ is one of the best songs as well, a song where the two seem to be in sync perfectly. The album gets off to a bit of a rough start: ‘Robert Wagner’s Lawyer’ feels a bit disconjointed and hectic. ‘Before You Leave Her’ cleans up the band’s act immensely and provides a stark contrast to the first two tracks. ‘Nonversation’ is also quite a good track, one that gets the vocal mix out of the instrumentation much better. ‘Partiac’ sounds compelling, but the live production quality is so shot I can’t discern what’s going on in it.

The RA-6600 have a lot of potential. This potential is somewhat wasted in a very poor production. There isn’t one element of their mix that sounds the way it should: it’s way too soft, distorted, discombulated, and mastered awkwardly, if at all. I am complimentary, however, of their idea, and their delivery. There is something worthwhile buried underneath that production, they just need a better studio job to unearth it.

The Kris Barras Band – Their Debut Album

Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.

In this edition of the Independent Spotlight, I’m going to be digging deep into the music of Kris Barras, a rising independent blues rocker. His live act typically consists of covers of the blues greats: BB King, Eric Clapton, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and so on. His new self-titled debut harkens inspiration from the great songwriters and performers he continually pays homage to in his sets. There’s a contemporary element of it, however, that’s fresh and entirely unique to Barras. Let’s check out his eight song endeavor into fully original music.

Right off of the bat, ‘Never Too Late’ bombards you with the full power of this fantastic trio. Barras’ garage rock riffing and growly, dusty vocal performance is reminiscent of classic blues rock. I’d align his take on blues rock with that of Stevie Ray Vaughan or Kenny Wayne Shepherd. It’s no-nonsense rock: a driving lead guitar paired elegantly with thundering percussion manifests itself into some of the more impressive instrumentation I’ve heard in a very long time. Barras’ soloing technique is equally impressive, and I really dig that he doesn’t wank on the guitar unnecessarily. Every note he performs feels calculated, yet raw and untethered. Nothing is out of place.

It’s certainly worth noting that Barras’ brand of blues jam is similar to Texan blues with hints of British Invasion blues. It doesn’t venture into delta, nor does it feel much like midwestern Chicago blues. (Though that gets toyed with later.) The beauty of blues, though, is that there are so many different subsets of the genre. The space that Barras does occupy, he occupies masterfully.

As much as I dig rollicking numbers like ‘Never Too Late’ and ‘In Too Deep,’ the soulfulness of ‘Watching Over Me’ takes the cake on the first half of Barras’ debut. The performances on this track make the sky cry; cascading distortion and searing guitar fiddling are matched perfectly with heavy soakings of reverb and ambience.

The production of this debut is something special, too. Whenever I review music for the Independent Spotlight, I always pull up each artist’s songs on professional monitors in my studio. ‘Kris Barras Band’ bleeds epicness in its perfect production. They’ve managed to polish the record enough to give it a shiny coat of paint, but still keep it gritty and garagey.

‘Rise’ is another highlight from the album. It did house one of my only disappointments on the record, however, since a crackly delta blues acoustic slide guitar introduced the romping track. This fooled me, because I thought I was in for an acoustic ride. There isn’t a song on this debut that isn’t fantastic, but I would have loved to see Barras experiment further with the acoustic guitar. That may be something to consider for his sophomore effort.

‘It Is What It Is’ is a wonderful ballad, one that plays a bit like Bryan Adams getting lost on an island with tactful blues ensemble. As aforementioned, Barras does toy with midwestern blues on ‘I Don’t Want The Blues.’ This track feels like something straight out of the Windy City. (Believe me, I know. Our studio is smack-dab in the middle of that blues-hub. This is the kind of song I hear when I stop in Buddy Guy’s.) The album closes on ‘Crank Up,’ a very contemporary blues song with some retro influence that serves it well.

I absolutely love Kris Barras’ debut record. It’s intelligently performed and composed, remarkably well recorded, and a complete triumph of independent blues. He’s an English artist, but he needs to get stateside stat! Cities like Chicago and New York would eat up an act like this. I’ll even go as far to argue that Barras’ act is the finest indie blues rock act I’ve seen thus far this year. He’s smart to have setlists riddled with covers, but he should slowly start seeping more and more of his original content into them. I’d be just as content listening to any of this as I would be an excellent cover. Keep it up, Kris. You’ve got a good thing going and I’ll be first in line for your first show in Chicago.