Gina Brooklyn – Her Self-Titled Debut

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 afternoon’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Gina Brooklyn, a sixteen year old singer songwriter and multi-instrumentalist hailing from Akron, Ohio. The young musician has just recently put out a new studio endeavor, her eponymous six track debut EP. The short of collection of songs is a wonderfully fascinating listen, well worth exploring in great depth. Thus, let’s go ahead and do just that!

Out of the gate, Brooklyn is reminiscent of, perhaps, Lorde. She has a very similar soft-spoken croon and her voice is remarkably elegant, aged well beyond her years. ‘Faceless,’ the introduction to the young songwriter on the record, is a punchy synthesizer-infused pop song with an especially fantastic beat. The nuances to Brooklyn’s vocal performance on ‘Faceless’ are breathtaking. Her voice is delicate, yet poised and powerful when necessary.

The haunting ‘Supposed to Be’ is a surprising piece of music, essentially resolving an existential crisis in less than three minutes. The revelations of self-identity are, again, far beyond Brooklyn’s years. These are the kind of musings often at play in one’s adulthood, not when they’re turning sixteen. The emotional maturity exhibited on this record is incredibly impressive. (It also helps the piano composition on ‘Supposed to Be’ is gorgeous, too.)

The punchy, acoustic-led ‘Follow Me’ is a nice shift of pace from the two more melancholy pieces of music that precede it, offering insight into a side of Brooklyn’s songwriting and performance that borders on anthemic and infectious. The production is spectacularly good, effortlessly melding synthesizers, acoustic guitar, and more into a splendidly unique sonic landscape for Brooklyn to occupy.

Continuing to surprise the listener, ‘My One and Only’ is a drop dead beautiful tune, one that, again, offers insight into life and love in a way one wouldn’t expect from someone who just turned old enough to drive. Not to dwell on Brooklyn’s age, but it’s remarkable she can pen a love ballad about a lifelong relationship as lovely as this. One can’t help but ponder how Brooklyn would fare in other genres, too, as her voice and execution are masterful.

As the album winds down, it provides two rather excellent closers. The first, ‘Do You Know,’ is a profound track that’s not only written fantastically well, but performed in a fashion that draws Brooklyn into soul-esque territory. ‘Beauty All Around’ then closes the album with another attention capturing piano ballad that features her briefly harmonizing with herself to wonderful effect.

Gina Brooklyn is an immensely impressive and fascinating talent well worth keeping close tabs on. Her eponymous debut is arguably stronger than some releases from seasoned veterans in the industry thrice her age. She also clearly has the talent to expand beyond singer songwriter and pop musings, too, and one would hope with a long career ahead, she’ll experiment in many directions.

Press Release – Tondi – April 23, 2017



Tondi Releases Compelling Debut Hip Hop Single, ‘Put Em Up’

This month, the rising independent hip hop artist Tondi released his debut studio endeavor, a powerhouse single entitled ‘Put Em Up.’ The track introduced the performer to the national music scene, landing him praise and a #17 slot on the Billboard Hot Singles chart upon release. ‘Put Em Up’ is now available to stream and download on all major digital music platforms.

Hailing from Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, Tondi relocated to New Jersey when he was eighteen. When living in the United States, he discovered his passion for music and set to pursuing his dream of a career in the industry. He soon started writing and recording, a process that culminated into the creation of ‘Put Em Up.’ Sharply produced and delivered with fiery intensity, the new track is a remarkable first entry into a growing artist’s repertoire.

Influenced by the likes of LL Cool J, Heavy D, and Outkast, Tondi’s unique brand of hip hop is entirely unto itself. His sound is raw and authentic, yet elegantly produced and envisioned. Fans can connect with him on his official social media and purchase ‘Put Em Up’ on iTunes and all other major platforms. Tondi is working on a new EP as well, set to debut later this year.

Press Release – Malvin Éka – April 23, 2017



Malvin Éka Prepares Release of Debut Single, ‘Battle of My Own’

On Saturday, May 6, Muhamad Alfin Eka Rohadi will release his debut endeavor as an independent music artist under the stage moniker of Malvin Éka. Entitled ‘Battle of My Own,’ the dynamic new track offers a remarkably insight into Éka’s prowess as a budding songwriter and producer. His sound, which at its core is R&B and soul, is also heavily influenced by pop music, as is the case with this fascinating new single.

Citing influences the likes of Beyonce, Whitney Houston, and Christina Aguilera, Éka has a penchant for strong vocalists that have an ability to inspire their audiences and enter their lives in a special way. While infectiously catchy and pop-infused, ‘Battle of My Own’ has a very deep and personal message: perseverance. “That person is all alone and fighting,” Éka describes of a character that has no support around them, struggling to fight for their dream. “Believe for what it’s worth, that person will win.”

Working by day as an IT developer, Éka recently discovered his love of music and began to hone his craft in classes for songwriting, music theory, vocals, and the like. The music is a vehicle for his emotions: his struggles, his triumphs, and everything in between. In writing about these experiences, Éka opens the door and invites his fans into his life to connect with him and relate to his songs.

Though Éka is from Indonesia, his music is performed in the English language. ‘Battle of My Own’ will be available on all major music streaming and download platforms on May 6. Following that, Éka plans to release his full length debut album, ‘OBSESSION.’ Fans can keep up to date by connecting with Éka’s official website and social media. |

Twitter & Instagram: @ItsMalvinEka

Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders – ‘No One Knows Me’

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, we’ve explored the music of Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders several times now. The Australian rock group is a highly eclectic one. Their sound often jam-packs several other genres influences into itself and it always creates an atmosphere that’s truly unique to the band. For the last few months, they’ve been releasing tidbits of ‘Greenbah,’ their next studio album. They’ve now offered up a third glimpse into it, a single entitled ‘No One Knows Me.’ (‘Blood and Bones’ and ‘Only One’ preceded it.) Let’s delve into it!

Stylistically, ‘No One Knows Me’ aligns closer to ‘Blood and Bones’ than it does ‘Only One.’ It’s almost lo-fi in its production, burying the lead vocals underneath crunchy electric guitars and pounding percussion. I’ve previously noted that Roberts and his Rough Riders often are heavily reminiscent of Americana themes. Again, that’s the case here, with ‘No One Knows Me’ sounding very much in the vein of classic American southern rock. (Think Allman Brothers and the like.)

Unlike either of the two tracks that have previously been released off ‘Greenbah,’ ‘No One Knows Me’ feels like it may act as an interlude between songs on the full album. The single is less than two minutes long. It’s punchy, entertaining, and smartly written, but it does feel like it’s acting as a bridge between two fuller entities. The highlight of ‘Greenbah’ tracks is usually the vocal performance, and while it’s still strong here, the fiery stand-out of the single is the electric guitar performance that slips in and out of the entire track.

As a result of its length, ‘No One Knows Me’ is a song you’ll spin a dozen times over without realizing you ever did. It fits in perfectly with the rest of its ‘Greenbah’ counterparts, and in actuality, I’m even more excited to see where it is placed in the sequencing of the album. Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders remain a captivating rock act in the indie scene producing consistently excellent music. ‘No One Knows Me’ is no exception.

Thrill Theory – ‘Remedia Amoris’

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 afternoon’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Thrill Theory, an alternative outfit from Austin, Texas that specializes in what they call ‘hardcore-pop.’ The group cites influences the likes of Third Eye Blind, the Foo Fighters, R.E.M, and more, and their new four track EP ‘Remedia Amoris’ is a fascinating excursion into their unique sound. Let’s explore the tunes and determine if they’re worth giving a listen when they drop soon!

Thrill Theory does indeed have a curiously different sound than most of their independent alternative rock counterparts. The hooks on the tracks are especially infectious, perhaps alluding to the “pop” elements of the band’s sound. The sound also feels abundantly classic. The opening track on ‘Remedia Amoris,’ a tune called ‘4000 Reasons,’ could absolutely be a classic rock track from the 1970s. That’s not to say the song isn’t contemporary, however, because this kind of rock and roll can defy each era in its own right.

‘4000 Reasons’ also exhibits the band’s strong production, a constant throughout the EP and a very welcome quality amidst a sea of music across my desk that doesn’t exude such strong prowess in the studio. ‘Atlanta’ brings Thrill Theory’s sound into different territory, though, with a much more introspective, soft-rock-esque sound. There are tinges of a Foo Fighters influence scattered throughout, I’d argue, and it’s actually a song that’s a tad folksy, too.

Another intriguing element of Thrill Theory’s music is that they seem to switch off lead vocal roles. The vocalist behind ‘Atlanta’ is different than the one helming ‘Red Light.’ That said, they’re both equally enjoyable – perfectly suitable for their respective sounds. Of the four songs, ‘Red Light’ is likely the most anthemic. It’s the kind of rock tune that’ll be most at home blasted out of a car stereo on a warm summer night with the windows down in a few months.

The finale of the EP, ‘Parkside,’ is doused in reverb and intensity, even layering itself with splendid vocal harmonies at several points. The searing electric guitar solo is absolutely spectacular, too, and the lyricism on ‘Parkside’ is some of the album’s most memorable. “Tell me if your heart’s still bleeding, for I’ll breathe in all your feelings,” the lead vocalist croons.

This is a fantastic EP that’s remarkably well produced and engineered. That wouldn’t take Thrill Theory far, though, if they weren’t a wonderfully enjoyable alternative rock outfit to boot. ‘Remedia Amoris’ will be very well worth a listen upon its release. Connect with the band below to keep updated on the release date and other news!

Press Release – LexC – April 20, 2017



LexC Re-Releases Dynamic Studio Endeavor, ‘Crazy Time’

LexC, the versatile singer, songwriter, and audio engineer, has re-released one of her most compelling studio efforts, a single entitled ‘Crazy Time.’ Originally debuted last year in 2016, the beautifully executed track boasts production by DG Beats. The song combines an array of sonic influences to culminate into a sound that’s wholly unique unto LexC. Soul, R&B, pop, singer-songwriting, and more are all present in spades.

A lifelong musical talent, LexC was born Aldith Monique-Alexis Cleary in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She has roots throughout the world, however, as a result of her parents’ military service in her formative years. “When I was younger, I used to hate moving around and having to switch schools,” the twenty-three year old performer muses. “But now I look back and see that now I have friends and family all over the country.”

By age three, LexC was performing and within five years she would pick up the pen to write her own music. Throughout her childhood, teenage years, and early adulthood, LexC has remained passionate about her craft, continually expanding her prowess as a creative talent. Last summer, she graduated from The Art Institute of Atlanta with a Bachelor’s degree in Audio Production.

With credits alongside the likes of Ma$e, Columbus Short, and J. Holiday, LexC’s career has already reached impressive heights with a trajectory rising ever-upward. Fans can connect with LexC on her official website and social networking to keep updated on new releases, live events, and more!

On May 18, LexC will host a release party for ‘Crazy Time.’ The single is now available on all major digital music platforms for stream and download. | | Instagram & Twitter: @LexCAtl

Suburban Vermin – ‘The Awakening’ & ‘Issue #0’

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 edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Suburban Vermin, an indie punk rock act from Seattle celebrating their tenth year together. On May 4, famously known as ‘Star Wars Day,’ the group will be releasing a single entitled ‘The Awakening.’ Then two days later on May 6, Suburban Vermin will debut ‘Issue #0’ of their ‘TV Head Nation’ series of releases. The latter release will include an accompanying comic book as well. Let’s delve into the two releases and see if they’re worth picking up!

There’s something particularly lovely about combining punk music with one’s love for ‘Star Wars.’ ‘The Awakening’ chronologs the experience of going to a fancy movie theater to see ‘The Force Awakens,’ the seventh film in the franchise that was released to global fanfare in 2015. In a way, though, the song isn’t really about a galaxy far, far away. “Like BB-8, I won’t be around forever,” the lead vocalist declares in a song that also explores other themes of potential internal strife.

The first entry in ‘TV Head Nation’ includes two songs: ‘Bleed For Me’ and ‘Lola.’ Essentially, the series will follow the misdeeds of King TV Head, an elected leader of the United States that rules with a totalitarian iron first. It’s a concept album about a more drastic version of Donald Trump, which is a fascinating way to protest the new leader of the free world. The first comic issue is frightening, too, with King TV Head attacking those that don’t align with his specific “family values.”

‘Bleed For Me’ seems to be a critique on Trump supporters in a way. The now-president asked his supporters to put quite a bit of faith in him – faith that may end up being misplaced. The lead vocalist on ‘Bleed For Me’ isn’t quite as strong or impactful as the vocalist that took the reins on ‘The Awakening,’ but it’s a powerful, punchy political statement worth listening to. I’ll be curious to see how much farther they take their comedic, but dire analysis of Trump in the coming issues of the series.

It’s not often there’s a love ballad amidst a collection of politically charged protest tunes. That’s the case, however, with ‘Lola,’ which is arguably the best track of the three showcased in this review. It’s especially well written, infectiously catchy, and best digested with its accompanying comic book. It’s also superbly produced, which is immensely refreshing considering the mass amounts of poorly produced punk that come across my desk on a daily basis.

‘The Awakening’ will be a fantastic single to pick up this ‘Star Wars Day’ on May 4. Furthermore,  the first entry of four in the ‘TV Head Nation’ series is very much worth your time, especially for ‘Lola.’ Give those songs a listen on May 6 and connect with the band below.

Press Release – MACHINEFIEND – April 19, 2017



MACHINEFIEND Releases New Single On ALTOSPIN Records

On May 5, the independent electronic artist MACHINEFIEND will release his latest studio effort, a compelling double single entitled ‘Bottom of the World.’ The opposite side of the hauntingly beautiful jaunt through atmospheric musings is ‘Pieces,’ an equally fascinating endeavor. Released on ALTOSPIN Records, the single also includes a remix of its title track by Lefrank, another artist on the label.

Based in Toronto, MACHINEFIEND is the artistic moniker of Matt Scholey, a songwriter and producer critically lauded for his stunningly executed compositions that incorporate various electronic influences. “The chorus is built around repetition, and it, in combination with the jumping synth notes, is practically hypnotic,” the Canadian music publication Silent Shout raved in their glowing review of a recent MACHINEFIEND release.

Fans of alternative electronic music, techno, and deep tech will find the music of MACHINEFIEND endlessly enthralling. Songs like ‘Bottom of the World’ exhibit an artist expanding his catalog through wonderfully new and creative avenues. Produced by Boris Segal, these dynamic two new singles and remix represent an especially strong new entry in the growing and ever-increasingly impressive ALTOSPIN repertoire.

Fans can connect with MACHINEFIEND on his official website and social media below. ‘Bottom of the World’ will be available via ALTOSPIN Records on May 5.





Press Release – So Suede – April 17, 2017



So Suede Releases Dynamic New Studio Endeavor, ‘Blessed’

On April 13, the powerhouse independent hip hop artist So Suede released his compelling new studio effort, a single entitled ‘Blessed.’ The assertive but intensely edgy track is a remarkably well produced journey through So Suede’s unique sound and prowess as a performer and songwriter. The song is available now to stream and download on all major digital music platforms.

Elegantly combining influence from the likes of Devin the Dude, Andre 3000, Gucci Mane, and many more, So Suede’s music draws upon the artist’s roots to form a wholly authentic and original sound. Hailing from Lake Charles, Louisiana, So Suede has become a dominant and versatile force in the southwest Louisiana music scene. From opening for national acts to starting his own lifestyle brand, We Business Minds, So Suede has not only become an impressive musician, but a multifaceted businessman.

Raised in a musical household, the art form was always an integral part of So Suede’s life growing up. He was inspired by several genres in his youth, and could easily pick up tunes by ear. Now in his adulthood, the performer uses his music to further his life goals, which he has brought together under the umbrella of “#ImInTuneHowBoutU.” The hashtag and mantra represent always being aware of the next step to be taken in life.

Fans can connect with So Suede on his social networking to keep updated on new releases, events, and more!

Carmen Lundy – ‘Code Noir’

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 shine our gaze on Carmen Lundy, a veteran independent artist with well over a dozen records under her belt. She has been lauded by a bevy of publications including The New York Times, Downbeat, and The Washington Post, and her acting career has gone Off-Broadway taking lead roles in several notable productions. This last February, she released a new album entitled ‘Code Noir.’ Let’s explore it and see if it’s worth delving deep into.

‘Code Noir’ is a very soft-spoken record. Even from the opening notes of ‘Another Chance,’ Lundy croons in a surprisingly deep, bellowing voice that seamlessly wanders about a sparse jazz soundscape. This is dark, evening club jazz – the kind of music you’d find in a dimly lit piano bar in the late hours of the evening. ‘Another Chance’ is a compelling introductory number as well, I’d argue, because it’s somewhat less digestible than the track that follows it.

At no point on these songs does the band overpower Lundy. They clearly made a point to do that; the music accents her, not the other way around. The sophisticated jazz club sound is well arranged and prepared, with soft percussion bantering back and forth on the cymbals as the piano, guitar, and bass leads trade off sly, barely noticeable, but lovely riffs. Lundy even scats at one point on ‘Live Out Loud,’ another surprising revelation. Her sound, while deeply rooted in its inspirations, still sounds very contemporary.

The album does take a fascinating turn on its third track, however, with ‘Black and Blues’ taking an abrupt jump into scat-filled political intensity. It’s a scathing condemnation of the socio-political nature of the United States and its inability to clamp down on unnecessary police brutality. (Particularly toward communities of color.) It may very well be the album’s best song, especially in regard to the eclectic instrumental performance on behalf of the band. It’s borderline avant-garde.

‘Whatever it Takes’ is very reminiscent of Little Milton’s ‘We’re Gonna’ Make It,’ offering a reassuring helping hand toward a lover or friend experiencing similar hardship. It could be a love ballad, a statement of resilience in the face of social or personal strife, or just about anything else. The nylon string classical guitar performance on ‘Whatever it Takes’ is fantastic, too, offering a nice sonic contrast to the songs preceding it.

‘Afterglow,’ another love tune, has a wonderfully experimental jazz beat that keeps the listener on their toes throughout. It’s Lundy’s most vigorous outing of scat, and she shines powerfully on ‘Afterglow’ with one of her strongest performances on ‘Code Noir.’ In some ways, ‘Second Sight’ is a perfect spiritual companion to follow ‘Afterglow,’ too. It’s another soundscape of unconventional tempo and beat set to a smartly-penned love song.

While entirely pleasant, ‘The Island, The Sea and You’ is likely a track that could have been left on the cutting room floor of ‘Code Noir.’ Songs like ‘Live Out Out,’ ‘Black and Blues,’ and ‘Afterglow’ all have a compelling edge to them, whereas ‘The Island, The Sea and You’ can’t help but feel somewhat mundane and aimless in contrast. If you’re out for a slow dance at your beachfront resort on holiday, it’s not a bad song to accompany the evening, but it’s not a defining moment of the collection by any stretch.

There’s an emotional shift on ‘I Keep Falling,’ a song that houses some beautiful poetry that borders on melancholy at times. It’s a song that does a splendid job giving Lundy room to experiment with long-form lyricism, even if that does result in the track ending up being somewhat long-winded. The incredibly suave, stunningly written ‘I Got Your Number’ draws the listener right back in, though, making one of the more memorable statements of the latter half of ‘Code Noir.’

As the album begins to wind down, ‘You Came Into My Life’ offers some further nuance into the themes of love and relationships that Lundy explores in great depth the majority of the album. ‘Have a Little Faith’ is one of the most terrific emotional journeys on ‘Code Noir,’ particularly in the infectious choruses. The finale, ‘Kumbaya,’ digs its heels deep into African American roots influence, bordering on gospel in a gorgeous fashion. It’s a brilliant ending to the album that gives a glimpse into the lineage of music that lead to Lundy crafting her own original sound.

There are moments on ‘Code Noir’ that the collection runs longer than it needs to. This probably could have been tighter as eight or nine songs rather than twelve. With that said, the songs are by and large very, very good. Lundy hits the ball out of the park amidst a sea of other indie jazz acts that don’t come close to her level of prowess. ‘Code Noir’ is a beautiful experience every jazz fan should spend some time with this year.