Resilient – ‘Imagining Things’

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 morning’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be shining our gaze onto Resilient, an indie rock outfit from Philadelphia with a new EP dropping today. Entitled ‘Imagining Things,’ the endeavor is seven songs of self-described “fizzrock.” The collection was produced independently by the band in a small rehearsal space with no outside funding or label. Is the record any good? Let’s find out.

It’s always nice to see a good rock act fronted by a woman. Lead vocalist and guitarist Erin Fox commands a wonderful presence over her sound, and the opening of the album, ‘Devil’s in the Details,’ is a superb excursion through that. The hard-hitting track is doused in alternative rock and pop influence, and Fox’s personality infuses it with an infectiously unforgettable atmosphere.

‘Imagining Things’ has a very organic feel to it, which works for it and against it simultaneously. The DIY production shows on songs like ‘No Show’ where Fox’s voice distorts when she digs her feet into a note. At times, the heavy dose of reverb on every piece of instrumentation is excessive, too. That said, it does give it a very ‘live’ sound. There is an authenticity to the rawness of the sound.

Buckminster Kellorgg, the lead guitarist, boasts his prowess on every track. Tracks like the titular tune are reminiscent of outfits like The Cranberries, though I’d argue ‘Imagining Things,’ the song, is one of the weaker points of the album. Its sound clusters very quickly, and the song gets lost in its own experimentation.

‘Not Gonna Be’ offers a more cohesive execution, and starts to really flesh out the sonic quality of the album. For an album recorded with the bare essentials, tracks like ‘Not Gonna Be’ are quite bombastic. There’s a lot going on in the sound, which was a bit much on ‘Imagining Things,’ but rather complimentary on ‘Not Gonna Be.’

‘I’m Onto You,’ especially in contrast to some of its predecessors, is a laser-honed execution. This is one hell of a track, with remarkably interesting instrumentation akin to a modern Mini Mansions sound or the like. There’s an eerie, even cinematic atmosphere to this production, and goodness, it works for it.

‘For Nothing’ is a fuzzy, garagey jaunt through distortion and emotion. Again, Kellorgg acts as a huge catalyst for propelling the sound forward, which Fox then seizes with elegant intensity. The percussion, performed by Katie, Fox’s sister, is worth shouting out, too. Especially on the finale, ‘Worth the Fall,’ Katie shines as a passionate drummer. (Something that comes through in the recordings.)

There isn’t anything to not dig about ‘Imagining Things.’ It has its productional potholes, sure, but they’re paired with a musical kinship and eclecticism that more than repairs those minor damages. There are a few points on the album where the band’s enthusiasm probably gets ahead of them, too, and the sound gets a bit hard to contain. But… it’s great all the same. I’d *love* to see Resilient in the hands of a good producer in-studio. At the very least, this EP is a compelling argument for that happening in the future.

Brian Willoughby – ‘Not Holding On’

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 evening’s Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be shining our gaze onto Brian Willoughby, an independent singer songwriter in North Carolina who’s just dropped a fresh new single. The man has been a player in the indie scene for seven years now, but he’s currently only got one piece of music available publicly: ‘Not Holding On.’ The track’s available for stream and download on Band Camp. First, though, let’s touch on the song and see if it’s worth heading over there to get it…

Willoughby decided to upload this new tune with the lyrics right in the sidebar of the Band Camp page. So, before even listening, I dug into his words. The song doesn’t cover any new subject matter, but it’s definitely not a stereotypical ballad or the like, either. Willoughby had a significant other that he had a rocky road with – they’d break up, then they’d come back to him and he’d get back with them. Now, he seems pretty done with that.

Thus, the lyricism isn’t particularly strong, though it isn’t weak, either. “Feels like I’m losing my mind in emotional war,” is a killer lyric, however, and the emotion of the song more than compensates any weak points in the lyrical structure. Musically, it’s pop rock with a ‘singer songwriter’ edge. I like that Willoughby elects to go electric in his sound; it separates him from the rest of the acoustic-donning songwriters in his field.

There’s a terrific, though short little guitar solo in the mid-section of the song. Willoughby scorches through it, and it’s one of the finer moments of his performance. One of his claims to fame is a crowd-pleasing live rendition of Hendrix’s ‘Star Spangled Banner.’ That means the guitar is a huge facet of his musical persona. He needs to apply it more. It’s great in ‘Not Holding On,’ but feels restrained.

‘Not Holding On’ is a lovely track. It’s catchy, very well produced and performed, and hints at incredible instrumental prowess that remains untapped. Willoughby should strive to let his instrumental explorations explode in future endeavors – he’s clearly got the talent to do so. He also seems to be on a brand new journey, hence the new Sound Cloud and media presence. In that regard, ‘Not Holding On’ is an excellent way to kick that journey off.

http://www.brianwilloughby.net/music 

ReverbNation: https://www.reverbnation.com/brianwilloughby

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brianwilloughbymusic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brianwilloughby

Press Release – JJ Savina – April 27, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE – APRIL 27, 2016

JJ SAVINA RELEASES NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR ‘7:00 AM’

Julia Savina, known under the recording moniker of JJ Savina, is an EDM producer, DJ, and remixer at Famous Records / Fontana. Her debut EP, ‘7:00 AM,’ is now available on all digital music platforms. The release is also accompanied by the stunning, award winning music video for the track, which can be viewed below:

The new music video was directed by Igor Fain in London, a lauded photographer and director. Since its release, it’s enjoyed significant success, clocking in nearly 100,000 spins on YouTube, winning a bronze medal at the Global Music Awards, and finding itself featured on national television in the US.

The beautifully shot video is an excursion through JJ Savina’s immensely compelling sonic palette. Created in Logic Pro, ‘7:00 AM’ is a triumph of independent EDM composition and production. Its video accentuates its elegance by harnessing the imagery of a modern day Cinderella, who is waiting and catering a rather mundane event.

“[The song] is about people who wake up every day at seven o’clock and have to go to work,” says Savina when musing about her new creation. “It’s about their struggle in everyday life, their place in society, and their hope for the future.”

Originally hailing from Narva, Estonia, Savina has become quite the international success in the last several years. Fans can follow her endeavors on social media, all of which can be found below. Watch ‘7:00 AM’ now and pick up the single on iTunes!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XNPDyuoLJaE

https://www.facebook.com/Julia.Savina.EDM/

https://soundcloud.com/julia-savina-1

https://www.reverbnation.com/juliasavina

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/jj-savina/id957498403

Icielani – Press Release – April 26, 2016

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE – APRIL 26, 2016

ICIELANI RELEASES BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO FOR UPCOMING SINGLE

Icielani, a multi-talented recording artist from Canada, has released a behind the scenes video that offers a look into her upcoming single, ‘No More Tears.’ The full track is slated for release on May 11. Fans can see the video on YouTube now for a deeper look into the creative and production processes behind the song and forthcoming single.

The new behind the scenes video offers insight into how Icielani came about penning her new tune. “We’ve all had our share of relationships,” says Icielani. “That’s why the song is called ‘No More Tears.’ I’ve had nights where I’ve cried all night. You’re not alone; we’re all going through the same thing.”

The video also shows behind the scenes of the actual production of the ‘No More Tears’ music video. The exciting new release also employs the talents of some remarkable dancers. The track is an eclectic mix of Icielani’s talent for penning and performing dance, R&B, and urban pop.

‘No More Tears’ is also the first look into Icielani’s upcoming endeavor, ‘Dreams Are Reality.’ The album boasts upbeat, fierce, and romantic songs stunningly organized into one of the finer upcoming independent musical excursions. It isn’t, however, the artist’s first foray into music. Icielani studied the arts at university, made an appearance at TEMFEST in 2010, and has worked as the lead singer of the Lent Gospel Acclamation choir.

  Dancers working together on the production of 'No More Tears'
Dancers working together on the production of ‘No More Tears’

Fans can watch the new video below on YouTube and connect with Icielani on social media and her website. ‘No More Tears’ is due out May 11!

Video: https://youtu.be/bKOlzqvVnsg

www.icielani.com

https://www.facebook.com/icielani

https://twitter.com/icielani

https://www.instagram.com/icielani/

Dylan – Press Release – April 22, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE – APRIL 22, 2016

LONDON ARTIST DYLAN RELEASES DEBUT SINGLE AHEAD OF NEW EP

Dylan, a fresh new artist in the London independent scene, has released her debut single, an explosive endeavor entitled ‘Stab.’ Dylan Dwyer originally hails from Australia, where she was a Top 30 finalist on Australian Idol. The pop-oriented singer songwriter’s new song is the first proper insight into her upcoming indie EP, ‘Metaphors.’

  Click on through to watch the official video for 'Stab'
Click on through to watch the official video for ‘Stab’

‘Stab’ is a phenomenal excursion into the 24-year-old talent’s potential in the music industry. The dynamic track harnesses Dylan’s prowess not only a pop songwriter, but as a pop musician. Her unique brand of electro-pop infuses her powerful personality with a tactful, intense studio production. ‘Stab’ is an infectiously catchy jaunt through a classic inspiration: a relationship gone awry due to deception.

Dylan’s eclectic style derives influence from the likes of Jamie Woon, Eliot Summer, and 21 Pilots – all of which culminates into a compelling new take on dark, ambient, and meaningful pop music. Dylan has worked with reputable producers such as Latchmere, Mandy Kane, and Alex Gettinby to record ‘Metaphors’, which is due out June 2016.

‘Stab’ is accompanied by an elegantly shot music video directed and edited by Luis Hindman. Fans can keep up to date with Dylan’s upcoming release by following her on Facebook and subscribing on YouTube. ‘Stab’ can be found for purchase on iTunes below and is available on streaming catalogs such as Spotify.

Facebook.com/Dylan-154657224589858

Youtu.be/TJ-MC1Yfb2o

iTunes.Apple.com/us/album/stab-single/id1071763856

Open.Spotify.com/track/4k72CvkU3YvqYucaWhySEL

Pia Dean – ‘Gone’ feat. Scarlet Cox – EDM 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.

In this edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be delving into Pia Dean, a UK based songwriter and producer who strives to “create partnerships between words and music.” Dean works with an array of guest vocalists in an endeavor to give each track a remarkably unique identity. One of her more recent singles, ‘Gone,’ puts vocalist Scarlet Cox into the limelight.

‘Gone’ has undergone an EDM remix by the producer LaMo, which is what we’re tackling in particular here on the Spotlight today. In order to properly explore the remix, however, it is important to gain some context by tuning into the original song. ‘Gone’ is a pretty gorgeous tune, and it’s very soft spoken. Cox occupies its landscape beautifully and subtly. EDM, of course, is usually anything but subtle. That’s not a bad thing, though. The remix takes the song to a new place because of that.

‘Gone’ in its original form is a lovely ballad of sorts. As an EDM production, it boasts an atmosphere that would be perfect for the party or the dance floor. LaMo has done a fine job remixing it, and Cox’s presence is still paramount to the success of the track. At times, the EDM mix does feel a bit formulaic in its rise and fall. That said, it’s not an overbearing remix, either, which means it accentuates its original subject matter quite nicely.

LaMo has produced a new version of ‘Gone’ that infuses a much more upbeat style into it without compromising its passion or infectious pop nature. It’s also not overproduced, which a lot of EDM tends to be. Instead, LaMo leaves Cox’s original vocals at the forefront of the effort, building simplistic EDM beats around her instead of drowning her out.

If you’re a fan of EDM, ‘Gone’ will most certainly suit you in its new remix. If you’re not a fan of EDM, the style on this remix is particularly subtle, and you may still find it enjoyable. Finally, if you enjoyed ‘Gone’ when it was released, this new extension of its personality is very much worth checking out. Spin the song below or watch the video above. 

https://soundcloud.com/pia-dean/gone-feat-scarlet-cox-lamo-edm-remix

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRcd99VPqmI

https://soundcloud.com/pia-dean

https://twitter.com/piadean1

https://www.facebook.com/piadeanmusichttps://www.youtube.com/user/piadean100

Exclusive Interview – Ignacio Zas

The following is an Independent Spotlight exclusive interview with Ignacio Zas, the guitarist of the rock band Space Lemon, which is based in Los Angeles.

Ignacio – You’re currently the lead guitarist of Space Lemon, a Los Angeles based alternative rock outfit. Your band’s inception can trace its roots to a Queens of the Stone Age concert. What kind of alternative rock beyond that influences your music?

I would say our core influences are the rock bands from the 90s. Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, STP and so on. There’s something about that sound and that really raw, in your face element those bands have that really got to us. Not to say that we only enjoy their heavy side, because we love all of their material. We also derive influences from different musicians and bands that we might not all like in the same way.

One of the unique aspects of Space Lemon is its diversity. You’re Uruguayan, the drummer is Mexican, the bass player is Brazilian and the lead singer is Italian. How does this diversity within your collaboration affect it?

Since we all grew up listening to a lot of the same bands from different parts of the world, the different nationalities don’t get in the way of the creative process. But in a way, we’ll sometimes play or write something that without wanting to, is somehow linked to the music from our home countries. Inevitably there’s going to be an aspect of our culture that’s going to bleed into what we do creatively, which might not even be really notorious, but is still there. It is really a unique experience to work with people from all over the world though. Sometimes I realize how crazy it is that people from completely different countries were somehow meant to find each other in Los Angeles and felt compelled to make music together. I’m extremely lucky to have found the people I now call my bandmates.

As a guitarist, who in particular do you derive inspiration from? Do you have American influences and home country influences? 

I have a lot of artists I derive inspiration from in different ways. Some are guitar players and some are not. I would say my all time favorite is David Gilmour. He gets to me in a way not many guitar players do. I recently got into Derek Trucks, and was fortunate to see him play live a bunch of times, and I must say he has the power to convey feeling like no other guitar player can. I’ve also been a huge fan of John Frusciante for a really long time.

I would say I’m more driven towards guitarists that play with more feeling than chops. There’s also other musicians who are not necessarily guitar players that have a very deep impact in the way I make and perceive music. I’ve been devouring every Nine Inch Nails record. Trent Reznor has a brilliant way of composing and arranging songs that is totally amazing. It changed the way I view songwriting. So yes, you could say I have quite a lot of American influences. There’s also musicians in Uruguay that inspire me. Carlos Quintana, who taught me a lot of what I know today, was a huge influence on me. He made me discover a lot of music that was strange and unknown to me. He’s played with most major musicians in Uruguay and I advise anyone that wants to know how Uruguayan music sounds like to go check him out.

You moved to the United States three years ago. How has that shift affected you as a musician? How has it changed your craft, if at all?

It affected me tremendously. Firstly, I came in contact with so many musicians that are incredible. They made me realize a lot of flaws in my guitar playing, and it forced me to get better. I also had to start playing different genres and developed my sound in a way I couldn’t have if I was still in Uruguay. So I would say it really changed my craft, making me a more well rounded and appreciative musician. In a way, I learned how to really listen, that oddly enough, is the best peace of advice I got from anyone. Learn to listen and react to what you’re listening to accordingly. It’s also worth mentioning that when I moved to the States it forced me to change very much as a person; it was a huge slap in the face that was the death of my innocence. Hollywood and L.A really test you as a person. There’s lot’s of bull***t but there’s also amazing people and amazing experiences to be had.

Has the Californian music scene been impactful to you? How does it compare to Uruguay?

Yes, it has. There’s a LOT going on. Many bands playing every night. It’s a little overwhelming but it’s good to be submerged in a place where there’s so much to listen to. I don’t like all of them of course, but there’s also many great bands and musicians going around. Really pushes us as a band to get better. Uruguay has a music scene that doesn’t produce that much variety, unfortunately. There might have been changes since I left, but during my time there I found it a little dull.

Space Lemon only has one guitarist, meaning you control the rhythm and lead performances in unison. How have you adapted your playing style to be an effective part of the band?

Well, that kind of playing has always come naturally to me. That big chunky guitar riff driven music was something I’ve always loved. But I also love when guitar is less predominant and becomes more of a coloration. I think guitarists like Tom Morello are amazing at mixing both approaches. He’ll play the most insane riff and then alternate to the simplest most laid back rhythm in the same song, creating a contrast that gives the songs a unique vibe.

One of the most important parts of being a rock guitarist is continuing to evolve. You don’t want to become stagnant in your stylistic decisions or rely on the same devices continually. How have you changed as musician throughout the band’s run?

I would say I’ve changed to a more relaxed approach in a way. There’s still intense riffs, but there’s so many things that can be done, and sometimes leaving space or barely playing something is ten times more effective than maintaining the same line. I’m always looking for new music to listen to, with musicians or songwriters that have different ways of approaching the same kind of song or style. That has driven me to make my guitar playing evolve, not only with what I play and how I play it, but also how I sound. We still sound like Space Lemon, I just think we’ve all matured more and our songwriting is taking a turn that we’re really excited about.

Where do you see yourself as a musician in the next several years? Is Space Lemon an endeavor you see a long term future with?

I have a lot of interests as a musician and as a creative person in general. Space Lemon is definitely something I see going on for a long time. I’m fascinated with how bands shift, mature, evolve and I really thrive when I see that happening to us. So I want to stick with it, and see how far we can push the envelope with this. It’s just something that excites me, and keeps me alive. I love songs, and I can’t wait for the moment where I can surprise myself doing something that I thought I was incapable of.

Do you have any intention to do solo work or session work as a guitarist outside of Space Lemon?

Yes, I  do. I don’t see myself as the sort of singer songwriter type, so it would definitely not be that. I enjoy doing session work because it drives me to play differently than I normally would, so it keeps me “fresh” in a way. I’m about to start working on a soundtrack which is something I had been wanting to do for a while. I must admit I would really like to get into producing. I love creating music but there’s also something quite fascinating about the role of a producer. People like Alain Johannes, Josh Homme, Trent Reznor and David Bowie really inspired me to look into this other side of music that I had never really payed that much attention to.

Finally, we always ask the same question of each artist we interview on the Spotlight to close out the interview. You’re a musical creator, but it’s always compelling to see where you stand as a consumer. If we were to take your iTunes or Spotify and shuffle it, what five songs might play?

Pet – A Perfect Circle

Piggy – Nine inch Nails

Misfit Love – Queens of the Stone Age

Red Eyes and Tears – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Searching With My Good Eye Closed – Soundgarden

http://www.spacelemonmusic.com/

Simply Mary – ‘Freedom Bound’

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.

Here on the Independent Spotlight, the most rewarding part of my work is not only showcasing and delving into the music of a variety of independent acts, but also looking deep into the people that comprise the music exhibited here. There are times when the artist is entirely separated from the person. Then, there are times when the two are interwoven so passionately that they’re one and the same. That’s the case with Simply Mary, the endeavor of a woman who has struggled to free herself of domestic violence.

Her new album is ‘Freedom Bound,’ a collection of songs dedicated to the survivors of domestic violence. She had to flee her offender several times as they continued to violate a protection order, and the songs on the record are the “ups and downs of having to adjust to her new life.” It’s one hell of a powerful endeavor with a mission larger than itself. Let’s explore it.

‘Wait and See’ opens up the album in a flurry of intensity, as Simply Mary directs her fury toward her transgressor. “Karma’s a bitch,” she croons, as she lets them know that she’ll be breaking them one day just like they did her. The style of the music is eclectic, combining several influences. There’s a pop rock aura to it, complete with the “ooh’s” and “bop bop’s.” There’s a clever Nashville-style guitar riff underlying it all, though, and a raw harmonica seeps from under the seams of the sound.

Off the bat, the empowering aspect of Simply Mary’s music is very clear. ‘Wait and See’ is probably a song many victims of domestic abuse would like to relate to – it offers up a light at the end of the tunnel. Simply Mary has been through it, and that’s important to remember when moving through ‘Freedom Bound.’ That said, many songs explore the true hardship in the midst of the relationship, such as ‘Mirror,’ a song about how her significant other reflected what they wanted from life onto Simply Mary, even though she wasn’t what they wanted her to be.

‘Army of One’ is an intriguing track, too, because Simply Mary infuses a Latin style percussion section in with powerhouse performance. The musicians she’s surrounded with on the album are absolutely incredible, and continue to craft landscapes for her to occupy that are nothing short of spectacular throughout the whole album.

“Baby, I was born to love and you were born to sin,” Simply Mary sings on one of the finest tracks of the whole album – the searing ‘Trouble.’ Her presence is incredible, and goodness, the electric guitar performance is remarkable. As much as I do love those types of excursions on ‘Freedom Bound,’ though, I think the pivotal moments are when Simply Mary breaks down into simplistic instrumentation to open up emotionally, as is the case on ‘Lie to Me.’

“I’m dancing in fire, fire that used to be us.”

Simply Mary’s ‘Lie to Me’

‘By Satan’s Hand’ toys with soft rock and the continuing presence of that terrific lead guitar to significant effect, though I think the song is eclipsed by ‘Always Be Mom.’ I wish Simply Mary’s vocals were mixed louder on the track; she does get overwhelmed by the intensity of the composition. The lyrical content is superb, harnessing the persona of a loving mother in a really unique way. You don’t hear that a lot in music, and it extends into Simply Mary’s palette of refreshingly frank subject matter.

‘Do You Like Me’ has a sense of innocence to it, as if it was written in the early stages of the relationship the album centralizes around. It concretes the pain of the content, I think, because it’s a loving song – Simply Mary clearly cared about this person in a way they clearly didn’t deserve. One could argue the album is a concept record, even though it is based within the harsh reality of her experience. She’s trying to cover all of the ground of the experiences.

‘God Only Knows’ is a haunting jaunt through Simply Mary’s psyche during her experience. (Nope, it’s not a Beach Boys cover, though she’d probably nail that song.) There’s something interesting to be said about the way she formatted the album. It doesn’t seem to be chronological, but rather, jumps around to half a dozen different mindsets and emotions. I imagine Simply Mary dealt with a lot of internal turmoil during this era of her life – perhaps this organization reflects that.

‘If I’m With You’ continues to explore that, essentially coming to the realization that Simply Mary can never truly be herself as long as she is tethered to her unhealthy relationship. As the album wraps up, the titular song offers one of the more empowering efforts on the album record. Out of the last several pieces of the puzzle, the most beautiful one is the finale – ‘Even After My Song.’ It’s the perfect closer, creating a stunning sense of resolution.

‘Freedom Bound’ is a beautiful album. Typically, longer records like this don’t fare too well in the indie community. This, however, is so chock-full of talent, passion, and emotion, that it remains a compelling effort from beginning to end. It’s very much worth digging into in its entirety.

https://play.spotify.com/album/6nEHvs0xXK5cEfgBXcva4Q

www.simplymarymusic.com

www.facebook.com/mysimplymary

www.twitter.com/mysimplymary

www.soundcloud.com/simplymary

www.youtube.com/simplymary

https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/simply-mary/id773531172

missingno. – Their New Songs

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.

Last December, I was pretty complimentary of BK, an upcoming hip hop artist who had released a single entitled ‘Indulge.’ Since then, the Ontario-based artist has banded together with several friends to create Missingno, (stylized “missingno.”) a hip-hop group that has recently debuted a playlist of fan favorites. Let’s explore five of their new tunes and see how they stack up against other indie hip hop.

 The outfit's upcoming work...
The outfit’s upcoming work…

As I mentioned when I reviewed BK’s solo work, the indie hip hop scene is an inundated one – much more so than any other genre right now. This results in a tidal wave of mediocrity that’s always hounding the gates of the Independent Spotlight. BK defied that norm with his solo work, and Missingno defies it together as a collective. Their production and lyrical prowess make bold statements toward their potential future success as a collaboration.

‘Viruses’ opens up their new debut of songs with a sharply produced endeavor. BK, Prophet, and Rey Chavo are in fine form, bouncing off one another with a production by Samuel Truth that highlights them particularly well. I adore the opening of the song. It explodes in a cacophony of atmospheric hip hop intensity.

‘MEDUSA’ boasts an equally excellent production by Truth, perhaps even eclipsing its predecessor. The beats elegantly clash traditional hip hop stylings and electronic influence. The lyricism pokes fun at the tropes of contemporary hip hop, all while tactfully making especially fantastic references to ‘Star Wars’ and the like.

‘Level 99’ is a stark contrast the previous tracks, likely due to the production shifting from Truth to DRO. The song has some of the most interesting instrumentation I’ve heard in the scene this year – the beats are unlike anything I’ve heard in awhile. The best part of Missingno’s banter is that they don’t take themselves so seriously, too. Hell, they even reference the ‘It’s Over 9000!’ meme in this tune.

BK and Rey Chavo join each other for a hip hop duet of sorts, one based primarily in the production of Brasstracks’ and his synthesized brass section. The shifting productional role actually suits Missingno, creating a constant sense of eclecticism as you progress through their music. ‘No Awards’ is a bit tonally reminiscent of Chance the Rapper’s career defining record from last year, ‘SURF.’

All three men band together for the finale of this playlist, ‘Desert Eagle,’ with production by MISOGI. It’s a perfect finale, one infused with passionate delivery and eerie, organ-based composition. Missingno is planning their first full pursuit, called ‘Project M,’ which is pictured above. Keep tabs on them for that – good things are coming from these guys.

https://soundcloud.com/missingnonoise/sets/oldies

http://missingno.ca

http://twitter.com/missingnonoise

The Last Wordbenders – ‘I Need an Adult’

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 music of The Last Wordbenders, an outfit considered to be “nerdcore hip hop.” Their new tune is ‘I Need an Adult.’ For the purposes of this review, we’re going to be delving into both the song and its official music video. Thus, let’s start with the tune.

The first few times I spun ‘I Need an Adult,’ I didn’t watch the video. I queued it up in our studio on professional monitors and let it spin. Right off the bat, I have to laud the group’s production. It masterfully melds pretty intense beats with synthesizers that sound like they’re straight out of a Sega Genesis. That’ll probably be a compliment to them, considering 90s video games were probably a notable part of their lives.

That may be the most important thing about ‘I Need an Adult.’ It really doesn’t take itself overly seriously. Nerdcore hip hop is a niche I’ve run into a few times here on the Spotlight. It’s joyfully fun, actively switching out the stereotypes of popular contemporary hip hop and replacing them with anime and Reddit references. (This song title is taken from a meme, after all.)

‘I Need an Adult’ shoots across the bow at a variety of things: the current presidential race, greedy government in places like Flint, Michigan, political correctness, and much more. There’s a recurring musing of self-independence flaunted throughout – I love their blatant enthusiasm and intense delivery.

The official music video was filmed and edited by A.D. Weighs, an artist that also appears as a guest for the third verse. Put quite simply, Weighs has created one of the finest indie music videos I’ve ever seen. I’m typically bogged down in mediocre crap. ‘I Need an Adult’ is very sharply edited and designed.

Everything from the themes of the occult to the excellent backdrops and special effect keying is very well done in the video. I love how Weighs toyed with keying himself in all over the screen like a hip hop infused ghost. It’s a terrific video.

‘I Need an Adult’ is a perfect excursion through nerdcore hip hop. The well-produced track is executed in a fantastic way and Weighs’ creative direction both in his verse and the accompany video was invaluable.

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