Vin Ryan – ‘Childhood Dream’

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 Vin Ryan, an LA-based pop and electronic artist who has recently released two EP’s, one in each of the genres he occupies. ‘BLUE,’ his new collection of electronic music, is accented rather intriguingly by ‘WHITE,’ an excursion through his musings as a pop singer songwriter. Both records are available now on major digital music platforms, but let’s spend some time digging into ‘Childhood Dream,’ a single off ‘BLUE,’ to see if the full EP is worth including in one’s collection of indie music.

Ryan has previously described ‘Childhood Dream’ as having a “James Blake kind of aesthetic,” which is actually a fairly apt parallel to make. The song is doused in reverb and soul influence with Ryan softly crooning, sometimes entering delicate falsettos, in very melancholy fashion. Even though Ryan has segmented his “electronic” music off into ‘BLUE,’ ‘Childhood Dream’ still has hints of pop influence scattered throughout. Ryan’s suave vocal performance is emotive and compelling, especially considering his impressive range as he effortlessly maneuvers through various octaves.

The most dynamic and noteworthy aspects of ‘BLUE,’ however, are rooted in its production. While the sparse lyricism and smooth vocals are tactfully executed, they wouldn’t stand nearly as tall without such an excellent composition backing them. ‘Childhood Dream’ is lathered in waterfalls of ethereal, stunning synthesizers. They’re never overbearing, but rather, entirely complementary of Ryan’s presence in the center of the sound. Every element of the song embraces brevity, which makes it more poignant, one might argue. Even the beat is simplistic, but wonderfully executed in a very soul-esque style.

‘Childhood Dream’ is indicative of ‘BLUE’ being an electronic album worth picking up for fans of both pop and contemporary soul music. Ryan has nicely etched out a place for himself in the middle of all three genres, and as such, his music isn’t quite like anything you’d hear in any of them right now. I’d love to see some further depth to his lyricism, but that’s something that will continue to grow as he does. Frankly, ‘Childhood Dream’ may even be better in its lyrical ambiguity. It’s mysterious, smooth listening that is well worth your time. Check out Vin Ryan below.






Press Release – Rommel Tha Youngsta – June 23, 2017



ICESQUAD’s Rommel Tha Youngsta Releases Dynamic New Single

Miami, FL – Rommel Tha Youngsta, best known for his contributions as a member of the rap group ICESQUAD, has released his debut solo endeavor. Entitled ‘They Don’t,’ the performer’s eclectic first single is chock-full of insightful social commentary, compelling production, and memorable rhymes and musings. The track is available now on all major digital download and streaming platforms.

In Hot 97’s ‘Who’s Next’ column, Rommel Tha Youngsta was lauded as “the new voice of this generation,” one that “brings a fresh new sound to hip hop where fire lyrics and hot beats collide.” Adversity that Rommel faced in his childhood has continued to fuel his desire to be an advocate for lost youth. The performer prides himself in being an inspiration to young adults looking to pursue a healthy, non-traditional path through life.

Rommel Tha Youngsta’s versatile songwriting and performance has made him one of the stand-out talents in ICESQUAD. His collaboration with the group will continue as well, with the collective set to release a hot new single this summer. ‘They Don’t’ is also slated to appear on the ‘Time 2 Grind Vol. 4 Mixtape,’ a collection hosted by Redman due out shortly.

‘They Don’t’ is out now on Ice Squad Entertainment. Listeners can connect with Rommel Tha Youngsta below on his relevant social media and the label’s official website. Furthermore, press and venues can contact  his publicist for potential bookings, interviews, and more.

Twitter & Instagram: @Rommel_TY

Publicist: Laurrell Battiste | | 786-475-7035

Barrett Staples – ‘That Yonder’

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 Barrett Staples, an artist who draws influence from jazz, soul and R&B. While he’s been working to make a career as an entrepreneur focusing on the future of technology and sustainability, he’s been releasing music, too. ‘That Yonder,’ his sophomore EP, is available now. Is the Seattle-based musician’s newest effort worth picking up? Let’s delve into and find out.

Staples’ brand of indie music is indeed doused heavily in jazz, soul, and R&B. He doesn’t cite hip hop, though, which is odd, because his sound is ultimately rooted in it. The opening to ‘That Yonder,’ a tune entitled ‘Nova,’ is a hip hop song in the vein of Frank Ocean. It’s atmospheric, highly suave, and tinged in dream pop musings. Staples is entirely natural and swift-footed in his execution, making the tactful lyrical content of ‘Nova’ entirely enthralling to dig into.

‘Spindrift,’ as some critics would state, is a particularly “chill” track. It’s the kind of tune one could spin in the backdrop effortlessly and melt into their own mind’s eye. The production is especially beautiful, complementing Staples without ostentatiously falling off the deep-end as much indie hip hop production has a tendency to do. “It ain’t about what it takes, you just can’t let it break you down,” Staples sings of life in the infectiously memorable hooks.

Staples begins to show his chops on ‘Right Way,’ a track that’s masterfully executed with razor sharp lyricism and vocal delivery. The performer’s delivery is reminiscent of, perhaps, Big Sean. This is then further enhanced by the surreal ‘All Right,’ the song that closes out the EP. It’s the most soul-heavy track of the bunch, and Staples’ somber, introspective lyricism is, in truth, as haunting as it is beautiful. (Oh, and don’t even get me started on that cello in the middle of the song: it’s jaw-droppingly stunning.)

‘That Yonder’ is a superb record, especially considering its the second EP release from a performer who isn’t even pursuing music full time. It’s well worth a listen; support and connect with Barrett Staples below.

Twitter & Instagram: @BarrettStaples


Rizo – His Three Dynamic New Singles

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 Rizo, an independent artist that makes up half of the Dreamcatchers duo. Hailing from Ohio, the musician now lives in Nashville and has been releasing music via Soundcloud at a rather prolific rate. In the last few months, Rizo has released a number of tracks, including ‘Too Much Booty,’ ‘Gold Dust,’ and ‘Good Thing.’ Are the tunes worth adding to your own playlist? Let’s dig into them and find out!

All three of these new singles from Rizo can easily be classified into the dance and EDM genres, boasting bombastic production, danceable, funky beats and infectious samples. ‘Too Much Booty’ is a rather fascinating excursion through this; it’s a highly repetitive sample, but one can’t help but dig it. The song has an ability to naturally get one moving. It reminds me, both in lyrical and instrumental style, of New Orleans bounce music. It may prove annoying to listen to for extended periods of time, but in its brief four minutes, ‘Too Much Booty’ offers just the right amount of intensity to be enjoyable.

‘Gold Dust,’ a song with production credited to the Dreamcatchers, has a very different aura than ‘Too Much Booty.’ For one, it’s a funkified pop track with a full lead vocal section. Fully equip with surprisingly tactful autotune and hip hop verses, ‘Gold Dust’ feels like the creative child of Kanye West being melded with Motown. The funky bass riffs and sly electric guitar make ‘Gold Dust’ absolutely enthralling, a dance track that culminates a myriad of genre influences together to great effect.

Rizo has also recently released a recut of his song ‘Good Thing’ and it’s in the camp of ‘Gold Dust,’ infusing a pop atmosphere with electronica and funk stylings. I love the inclusion of an acoustic percussion section, especially in the opening notes of the track. It gives ‘Good Thing’ a much more organic sound, which can always be a potential pratfall for pop singles. The track also boasts the best instrumental solo of the three songs – that searing electric guitar section is splendid.

These are three very good songs indicative of a recording artist and producer that’s worth keeping close tabs on as he continues to rapidly grow his catalog. Keep up to date with Rizo below.

Nick Driver – ‘The Drunken Buddhist’

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 Nick Driver, an independent singer songwriter hailing from North Carolina who has recently released his latest studio endeavor, a record entitled ‘The Drunken Buddhist.’ Having previously scored himself a highly coveted John Lennon International Songwriting Award, Driver sets the bar quite high for his efforts, and fortunately, this new collection of songs reaches it with ease.

The introduction to ‘The Drunken Buddhist’ sets the tone beautifully for the record, with the album’s other two collaborators, the bassist and the engineer, disowning themselves from the effort while an announcer muses about the difficulties of obtaining prescription drugs. It prepares the listener for the most rambling, bizarre journey through cocky lyricism and punchy, infectiously ridiculous hooks.

‘I’m Gonna Party’ pokes fun at stereotypical pop tunes, gloating about getting “white boy wasted” and hammering drugs and booze until the sun comes up. “It’s gonna be a great day when Chick-fil-A doesn’t hate on the gays,” Driver sings. “If you don’t like this song, then you’re a devil worshiping racist.” Driver leans into the insanity of his blunt lyrical style, and it’s simply splendid.

‘Little Bitches’ fires shots across the bow at guys who blast Taylor Swift in their Prius, watch Lifetime movies, and covet ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.’ This is coupled with bubblegum pop style production, which of course, just furthers the joke even further. ‘The Not So Noble Truths Voicemails Interlude’ then follows, a bunch of disjointed, but hilarious voicemails strung together in an incoherent mess.

‘The Devil May Care,’ surprisingly, is a thoughtful, melancholy exploration of Driver’s internal strife in the wake of failed relationships. It’s a poignant track which gives the album quite a bit of depth when placed right next to tunes like ‘Little Bitches’ and ‘I’m Gonna Party.’ That sincerity is short-lived, however, because ‘Don’t Spit In My Food’ follows, a brilliant disaster where Driver tries to make a Tinder date a housewife of sorts after he’s been catfished.

The folk-inspired ‘Checking My Phone’ is a fantastic break-up tune, one that’s lovely in its frank realism. Break-up songs have a tendency to meander and dramatize reality. That’s not the case here, and I adore that. For some reason, a Hindi-inspired Bhava interlude then follows. So, yeah. There’s that.

The final song ‘The World Could Use a Little More Love,’ is a hand-holding anthem of world peace. Yes, it’s a bit cliche, but it’s also a cliche that John Lennon championed, and Driver did win his award. So, one can ignore the tropes and enjoy ‘The World Could Use a Little More Love’ for what it is: a catchy, surprisingly beautiful finale to a superb album.

I simply love ‘The Drunken Buddhist.’ One could argue the title breaks the album down perfectly: some of the songs are more “buddhist,” like ‘This World Could Use a Little More Love’ and ‘The Devil May Care,’ and other songs are more drunken, ‘I’m Gonna Party,’ ‘Don’t Spit In My Food,’ to name a few. It’s an intelligently penned, terrifically performed record very much worth one’s time.

Mac Jeff – ‘Hella Popular’ (Ft. Husalah, The Jacka, & L-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 afternoon’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Mac Jeff, an eclectic hip hop artist with a new single out entitled ‘Hella Popular.’ The explosive new tune features Husalah, The Jacka, and L-Love, too, all of which are fellow Bay Area rappers. It’s available now digitally on all download and streaming platforms via CD Baby distribution. Is it a tune that’s worth your time, though? Let’s dig into it and find out!

‘Hella Popular’ is an intriguing track because while it doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table of indie hip hop, it is a rather joyfully ridiculous romp through over-the-top lyricism and classic production. The instrumentation and beats in ‘Hella Popular’ sound like they’re right out of 1992, and I mean that in a most complimentary way. There’s an aura surrounding this single that’s akin to the classic era of hip hop, especially with its lyric-heavy presentation that doesn’t leave much room for any ostentatious over-production.

The four rappers trade off verses gleefully, musing about how they’re the life of the party and leaving with the hottest woman on the dance floor. The lyricism is… vivid, to say the least, highlighting a “foxy” woman that’s leaving the party on the songwriter’s arm, much to the dismay of everyone they’re leaving behind. Is it a bit cheesy? Yeah, it is. It is, however, wonderfully invested in its own intensity. The four rappers sell ‘Hella Popular’ grandly, and it’s the kind of hip hop track one can’t help but spin over and over again.

Mac Jeff takes his verse toward the end of the track, something that’s somewhat nontraditional for the main artist on a song. He’s the strongest performance of the four, though, and that offers a perfect finale to the track. “This bad chick is who I’m-a-leave with; best believe I’m leaving this evening with this young heathen,” he raps in the closing verse of ‘Hella Popular.’

There’s something that’s purely infectious about ‘Hella Popular.’ It leans into the tropes that could act as potential pratfalls, and as a result, the song is one that you’ll find pleasantly exciting if you’re a fan of retro-tinged hip hop. Give the song a spin below and connect with Mac Jeff on Twitter.

Press Release – The Pretty Fingers – June 10, 2017



The Pretty Fingers To Release Explosive New Single On June 20

On Tuesday, June 20, the rising independent alternative rock outfit known as The Pretty Fingers will unveil their latest sonic creation, a bombastic, exciting new single entitled ‘Real Thing.’ The fiery, distortion-infused jaunt through punk influence is quite unlike anything else in the trio’s catalog, thus charting new territory for the ever-evolving band.

Formed in 2011, The Pretty Fingers have been making notable waves in the Brisbane music scene for years. They’ve garnered local and international airplay, growing a diverse fanbase spread around the globe. Harnessing the spirit and intensity of Australian pub rock bands and British alt-rock, The Pretty Fingers have crafted an entirely unique space unto themselves in the indie community.

‘Real Thing’ was recorded at Airlock Studios in Samford, Queensland with the band’s producer, Konstantin Kersting. On June 20, The Pretty Fingers will release an accompanying music video for the single, too, a psychedelic, visually compelling journey through the crazed, but brilliant musical musings of the group.

This release follows in the footsteps of ‘Just Say Go,’ The Pretty Fingers’ wildly successful single released back in February. As always, long-time fans of the band will notice their increasingly experimental nature, continually striving toward new and fascinating sonic landscapes from single to single.

‘Real Thing’ is due out June 20 on all major digital music platforms and Bandcamp. The Pretty Fingers’ official music video for the track will be available to view that day as well.

Static Choke – ‘Low Resolution Solution’

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 Static Choke, a dynamic trio from the suburbs of Chicago that has finally released their debut EP after trying to form the band for nearly a decade. Entitled ‘Low Resolution Solution,’ the punchy, relatively short EP is a fascinating listen, potentially providing the groundwork for a punk outfit that the indie music community very much needs. Let’s dig into it.

Static Choke open up their freshman EP with ‘Big Bang Pimp,’ a fiery, explosive excursion through distortion and lead vocals that border into realms of metal. Lead vocalist Greg Grunder has a set of pipes that tear down the walls of pretension often surrounding indie punk acts. His aggression feels authentic and honest – not manufactured. When one listens closely to the track, it’s also easy to hear that Grunder is matched by equally passionate performers. Vince Baugh, the drummer, is thunderous, and Pat O’Brien, the bassist, is very versatile in such a quick-moving soundscape.

While ‘Big Bang Pimp’ had musings akin to, perhaps, the Pixies, ‘Phil’ has stronger parallels to Nirvana and the grunge movement. The flat, droning vocal choruses are right off the cutting room floor of ‘In Utero.’ Static Choke don’t directly cite grunge as an influence or classification of their own music, but there’s definitely a line being walked between grunge and punk on ‘Phil.’ Similar to its predecessor, the song is less than two minutes, too. I adore that. Static Choke is making quick, wham, bam, thank you, ma’am rock and roll. There needs to be more of this. 

‘Embalmer’ is the perfect finale to this short, but terrifically exciting set of tunes. Grunder, who also serves as the trio’s guitarist, is in his finest form on the track. This is a hard-hitting, macabre punk rock track that’s completely chock-full of intensity. I love the banter between the screamed and sung vocals as well. ‘Embalmer’ feels like the most enthusiastic song on the EP; it’s a perfect closer.

The reason that the indie punk community needs act like Static Choke is because it’s a scene that’s very often inundated by pretentious bands lost in the image of appearing to be ‘punk.’ While that’s nothing particularly new, it does create a space where critics like myself get a dozen absolutely awful punk acts across our desks each month. Static Choke breaks down those barriers: these are simple, intense, and enjoyable punk songs that don’t try to be more than they are. These songs are a raucous, but they’re a raucous that would be a hell of a good time to see live. Give the songs a spin; they’re worth your time.

Press Release – ALTOSPIN / Ambrela – June 9, 2017



New ALTOSPIN Artist, Ambrela, To Release Neo Trance Single

On Saturday, July 1, ALTOSPIN Records will unveil ‘Round Wishes,’ the label’s first release of music from their newly signed artist Ambrela. The complex, enthralling new double single beautifully melds neo trance and melodic techno stylings together into a marvelously memorable sound completely unique to the Russian electronic musician.

Ambrela is the artistic moniker of Ilia Svirukov, an artist hailing from Samara, a Russian city on the eastern bank of the Volga River. Since he began the Ambrela project in 2011, Svirukov has gained an international following. His mantra is to not limit oneself and to show people the world around them in different shades and colors.

The ALTOSPIN release will feature two singles, ‘Around Wishes’ and ‘Signals.’ The former is an atmospheric, futuristic exploration of electronic themes, while the latter is a gorgeously beautiful journey through reverb-soaked synthesizers and unforgettable instrumental hooks. This, of course, makes Ambrela a perfect fit in the ALTOSPIN family.

In 2015, Los Angeles’ KX 93.5 raved about Ambrela’s sound, saying “when it comes to melodic techno from the amazingly talented Russian recording artist Ambrela, you will absolutely feel his heart and soul in every arrangement of the timbres.”

Fans can connect with Ambrela and ALTOSPIN Records online below to stay best updated on upcoming releases, events, and more!

Soundcloud: | Facebook:

Twitter: | PromoDJ:

Beatport:  | |

Press Release – Da Twin Prince – June 9, 2017



Da Twin Prince Releases Dynamic New Endeavor, ‘Taste Your Love’

The rising independent artist Da Twin Prince has released his latest studio effort, a suave new single entitled ‘Taste Your Love.’ The slickly produced song comes on the heels of ‘StudioSexOnTheWeekend,’ the performer’s last mixtape. Available now to stream and download on all major digital music platforms, the track elegantly infuses Afro beats, hip hop, and R&B into one cohesive, compelling new sonic experience.

There’s a highly danceable vibe to ‘Taste Your Love,’ something that is complemented beautifully by the diverse influences that culminate into its soundscape. The single comes from the perspective of a man pursuing a woman with only the desire to have a taste of what she has to offer him. He isn’t chasing all of her love, but rather, gain her attention for a perfect night.

A Brooklyn, New York native, Da Twin Prince has become a staple of his local independent music scene. Since the age of five, music has been an integral part of his life. Now, as a writer, producer, and performer, Da Twin Prince has sold out his own shows at venues the likes of Blackthorn 51, The Delancey, Webster Hall, and elsewhere. He’s also been featured at Jay Z’s 40/40 club and on the Bronx morning show, ‘Open.’

‘Taste Your Love’ is available to stream and download now. Connect with Da Twin Prince on his official social media to stay updated on new releases, events, and more!



Instagram & Twitter: @DaTwinPrince