Charles Luck ft. Tino Red – ‘Don’t Give A Shit’

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, Charles Luck and his Black Astronaut collective are one of, if not the, most common recurring feature. This, of course, is because Luck isn’t just incredibly prolific – he’s also very versatile. His music spans a slew of genres, always boasts terrific production, and his lyricism delves into a bevy of compelling themes. Every so often, however, Luck lets loose with Black Astronaut artists to record songs like ‘Don’t Give A Shit,’ his latest single featuring Tino Red.

‘Don’t Give A Shit’ is one of Luck’s most carefree lyrical efforts to date. His songwriting on the track is exceptionally witty as Red muses about a squirrel that bit him, his burnt toast, a relationship in ruins, amongst many other rather bizarre items. There’s something so freeing about the track: Luck is shamelessly self-deprecating in his songwriting and Red’s delivery exudes the perfect amount of apathy necessary to make ‘Don’t Give A Shit’ immensely amusing.

Musically, ‘Don’t Give A Shit’ is a bit unique in the grand scope of the Black Astronaut catalog. It’s as well executed as Luck’s music always tends to be, but the genre influences tie more heavily into pop, and perhaps to a degree, ska. There’s a heavy dose of ska inspiration soaked into ‘Don’t Give A Shit,’ making it reminiscent of acts like Sublime, back in the heyday of radio hits like ‘What I Got.’ The fantastic instrumentation complements this style with a brilliantly fun percussion section paired with a brass section and ska-style electric guitar.

There’s really no reason anyone should be offended by ‘Don’t Give A Shit.’ It’s Tino Red and Charles Luck having a good time together, and I’d go as far to argue that they do some of their finest, most personable work when they’re doing just that. It’s not profound like some of Luck’s songwriting, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s a well-executed anthem about not giving a shit, and hey, that kind of music is necessary sometimes. Give the song a spin below; it’s well worth your time.

https://soundcloud.com/blackastronautx/charles-luck-ft-tino-red-dont-give-a-shit

A.J. Harrison – ‘One Voice In Two-Part Harmony’

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 A.J. Harrison, a veteran singer songwriter that has worked as a professional musician for nearly five decades. He has penned over 400 songs throughout his career, and more recently, became a published author with his well-received novel, ‘My Life He Did Touch: An Unlikely Friendship That Caught the Eyes of the World.’ In this Spotlight entry, we focus ourselves on ‘One Voice In Two-Part Harmony,’ an album Harrison released in 1999. Is the eighteen-year-old deep cut worth adding to your indie music collection? Let’s find out.

A.J. Harrison performs on a twelve string Ovation, his primary instrument aside from the occasional exploration into MIDI instruments. The latter is in full abundance on ‘One Voice In Two-Part Harmony,’ something exhibited immediately on ‘Long Distance Love Affair,’ the album’s opening tune. It’s doused in bubbly, bright synthesizers and drum-machine beats. Aside from Harrison’s vocals, which true to the album’s name, are in a two-part harmony, the song is populated primarily with what sounds like MIDI production. The intense nature of the synthesizers is becoming of Harrison, though, and makes ‘Long Distance Love Affair’ a bit infectious in its own way.

‘The Missing Piece To The Puzzle Of My Life’ suffers from some mixing issues; the two vocal sections aren’t mixed high enough, so they’re often drowned out by the reverberated synthesizer composition. That aside, however, it’s a lovable pop rock ballad with a memorable chorus. The album gets progressively stronger, however, with ‘For You And Me’ following, a track with ‘Pet Sounds’-like harmonies that showcase the range of Harrison’s vocals. They’re not traditionally exceptional, no, but they do feel genuine and authentic, which is ultimately far more important.

There are tinges of Everly Brothers influence at play, too, I’d argue, with songs like ‘The Other Man’ sounding like they’re right off one of the brotherly duo’s early records. Sonic lineage from the likes of Del Shannon, Simon and Garfunkel, and Frankie Valli is traceable in this sound as well, especially when Harrison harmonizes with himself in low and high keys for long “woah” sections like in ‘The Other Man.’ The song is snappy and catchy, a style that Harrison leans into heavily on the majority of songs on this album. Again, this draws influence straight from early rock and roll wham, bam, thank you, ma’am songwriting that doesn’t get weighed down in ostentation.

The cinematic ‘Dead End’ is likely the effort’s most complex piece, at least, instrumentally. Clocking in as the album’s longest song, ‘Dead End’ hones in on Harrison’s style of harmonies and synthesizers to create something particularly compelling. There are moments of pure beauty during the instrumental sections of the track, and that’s an interesting detour after several much shorter, more poppy endeavors. ‘When I See’ is similarly fascinating in this department, even having bouts of flute-like instrumentation that makes the song an intriguing listen.

‘I Love You’ is another bright ballad, similar to songs like ‘The Missing Piece To The Puzzle Of My Life’ and ‘For You And Me.’ For this reason, the album might have been tighter with it left on the cutting room floor; it doesn’t introduce any new thematic or instrumental themes. With that said, it’s still a enjoyable little tune. In contrast, ‘Unenhanced Relationship’ is probably the heaviest lyrical effort in the collection, delving deep into parental strife and leaving on a cautionary note pleading for listeners to avoid it in their own lives.

The naval-gazing ‘I’ve Tried’ is one of the album’s better tracks, offering one of Harrison’s most impressive vocal harmonies on the album. It’s another track that sounds a whole lot like it was written while listening to early Simon and Garfunkel. (I highly suspect the duo is an entity Harrison has derived influence from; the inspiration is just so obvious.) The album ends on one of its finest notes, too, with ‘It’s Just Not There,’ a fantastic departure from love ballads that instead favors the idea of breaking a relationship apart because the spark isn’t there.

‘One Voice In Two-Part Harmony’ is a lovely little record. Even if the synthesized soundscapes cause the record to sound a bit dated, it’s still chock-full of memorable hooks and harmonies. Harrison has lived and breathed his music and that authenticity is very noticeable, which of course, is a very high compliment.

http://www.ajharrisonmusic.com

https://www.facebook.com/ajharrison.music.books

Jesse Morgan – ‘Give Me Faith’

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 Jesse Morgan, a West African contemporary Christian performer that now works and resides in California. His latest studio endeavor is ‘Give Me Faith,’ featuring guest artist Israel Houghton, and it follows on the heels of his successful last release, ‘Here We Stand.’ For fans of both independent music and the contemporary Christian community, is Morgan’s new single worth picking up? Let’s delve into it and find out.

To put it bluntly, I don’t receive contemporary gospel/Christian music across my desk often, and when I do, it’s usually generic, cookie-cutter praise music that sounds like every other popular song spinning on K-Love. The community has created a very specific, incredibly recognizable sound that its own artists struggle to break away from. That is the key component of Morgan’s music worth lauding: he sounds like he’s crafting his own style by utilizing his faith as an authentic device for inspiration. That’s what makes him excellent.

‘Here We Stand,’ his last single, was a rather good praise piece that incorporated a beautiful choral section and dynamic lead vocals. Morgan draws upon traditional gospel influence at times, offering call and response relationships between him and his musical counterparts in his songs. This is continued heavily in ‘Give Me Faith,’ his new single, which is essentially preached, rather than sung.

The best Christian music performers are also excellent pastors because they’re masters of not only the spoken word, but effortlessly intertwining it with bouts of bombastic vocals. ‘Give Me Faith’ has a polished atmosphere to it, but ultimately the track and Morgan’s dynamic with Houghton and the choir is very reminiscent of black Baptist gospel music here in the US. One can imagine him being overtaken by the holy spirit in a small church with a fervent congregation, preaching the word of the Lord through intense music. Houghton’s brief appearance on the tune is powerful, too, offering a perfect bouncing board for Morgan’s impressively well-rounded vocal explorations.

When listening to ‘Give Me Faith,’ one can’t help feel like Morgan has lived and breathed the intense faith exhibited in the track. The track feels remarkably genuine, chock-full of both musical prowess and exuberant joy. This is no K-Love single – no Chris Tomlin single – this is quality, contemporary gospel music the way it’s supposed to be done.

http://www.realjessemorgan.com

https://open.spotify.com/album/4fANQ5NBfioeCFQHrIPgwS

Fiberoptic, Pastor C, and Charles Luck – ‘The Stairway’

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 return our gaze once again to songwriter Charles Luck and his collective of talented artists over at Black Astronaut. For nearly two years now, Luck’s releases have been recurring features here on the Spotlight, best recognizable for their razor sharp lyricism, fantastic use of samples, and a rotating cast of great featured artists. Today, we look at ‘The Stairway,’ a Luck-penned song performed by Fiberoptic and Pastor C.

Luck, ever the fascinating songwriter, wrote ‘The Stairway’ after receiving a poem from a suicidal girl at a Waffle House early in the morning last year. The track explores the idea of climbing up or down the ‘stairway to heaven,’ and what doing so means for someone. One’s actions lead to their judgement at the end of the path, the song argues, and only they can take control of that. Oddly enough, the sample at play here isn’t ‘Stairway to Heaven,’ but rather, ‘Dream On.’ Yes, Black Astronaut has made the only cool sampling of Aerosmith under the sun. It’s a beautifully executed sample that fits the song perfectly.

For a song inspired by a suicidal girl’s poetry, ‘The Stairway’ is centralized largely around self-empowerment. While the subject of the tune sometimes feels invisible to others, their presence empowers those around them. One must wonder what kind of poem the girl wrote, and whether or not ‘The Stairway’ is Luck’s response to it and its author. It’s a song that stares self-doubt in the face and punches back. There’s a fire to ‘The Stairway’ that’s invigorating. 

Fiberoptic and Pastor C give masterful performances on the track and the whole production is superb, too. The ‘Dream On’ sample is focused entirely around the memorable Aerosmith guitar riff, which works well for the tune. Ultimately, that sample helps round out the song into a classic Black Astronaut track. Thoughtful, provocative lyricism and recognizable samples reimagined in exciting new ways are both hallmarks of the collective’s work, and they’re both here in spades.

‘The Stairway’ is well worth a listen; tune into it below on SoundCloud. Charles Luck and his Black Astronaut collective have another excellent addition to their catalog worth writing home about.

https://soundcloud.com/blackastronautx/charles-luck-ft-pastor-c-the-stairway

Twitter.com/BlackAstronautX

Facebook.com/LuckOnMars

Instagram.com/LuckOnMars

The Lovepools – ‘Animal Instinct’

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 The Lovepools, a Californian outfit that draws influence from the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, and more. Their sound, which was concreted with 2016’s ‘Safety In My Loveseat,’ evokes Britpop stylings that have now been meshed together with “a brash American sexuality” on their latest EP. Entitled ‘Animal Instinct,’ the new record houses three tunes. Let’s explore them and see if they’re worth adding to one’s independent music collection!

The title track of the ‘Animal Instinct’ EP is indeed brashly sexual, but in a particularly lovable way. It’s chock-full of cheeky, zoo-themed imagery and innuendo. The punchy, infectious atmosphere of ‘Animal Instinct’ sounds like, perhaps, Mini Mansions or The Kooks. The aforementioned Oasis influence is abundantly obvious, and the suave nature of the Arctic Monkeys is present, too. (Though The Lovepools take themselves less seriously than Alex Turner and company have a tendency to do these days, which is very welcome.) The synthesized brass sections are brilliant, too, pairing perfectly with the thudding piano and organ.

‘I Might Jump Off The Deep End If You’re Mine’ offers up some of The Lovepools’ finest instrumental banter, boasting thunderous percussion and terrific electric guitar banter. The quick-paced riffs may remind listeners of acts like The Hives, and one can imagine The Lovepools putting on one hell of a live performance if their enthusiasm and charisma translates to the stage.

‘I Should Be Fallin’ In Love With You,’ the closing of the EP, is a bit of a mixed bag. It has the obligatory acoustic ballad style, which all rock EP’s seem to have at some point, and it lacks some of the charm of its predecessors. The introspective lyricism, while sometimes lovely, is overshadowed by predictable composition. The chorus “oh’s,” for example, are a hallmark of pop rock today, and it’s entirely unnecessary. It makes The Lovepools sound less like a quality rock act, which I’d argue they are, and more like a cheap version of Of Monsters and Men.

The first two tracks of ‘Animal Instinct’ are superb explorations of a quirky, instantly lovable indie rock outfit that aligns well with their counterparts in the American and British music scenes. The sharp lyrical and instrumental exhibitions are well worth a listen, and indicative of The Lovepools continuing to be an act worth keeping close tabs on. The final track of the EP is a bit lackluster in contrast, but nevertheless may prove fruitful for sing-along show finales when the crowd all pull out their smartphone flashlights.

Give the band a spin below.

https://soundcloud.com/thelovepools/sets/animal-instinct-ep
http://www.thelovepools.com

Instagram: @TheLovepools

 

Press Release – Fennario’s Wolf – July 15, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE – JULY 15, 2017

Fennario’s Wolf To Perform Free Concert At City Dock On July 27

On Thursday, July 27, the well-respected independent bluegrass outfit, Fennario’s Wolf, will perform a free concert at the City Dock in Annapolis, Maryland. The show, which kicks off at 6:30 pm, is the first of a series of performances Fennario’s Wolf has slated this summer influenced by bluegrass legends, The Del McCoury band. The group will be joined by Dave Brumberg of The Brummy Brothers on upright bass.

Fennario’s Wolf will be streaming their performance live on their official Facebook page the night of the concert, and furthermore, the show will be recorded and released at a later date. The band’s collaboration with Brumberg is part of a long lineage of special guest artists at live shows. The partnership arose from Edwin Lightner, Fennario’s Wolf’s vocalist, mandolin, and guitar player, meeting and working with Brumberg at the Delfest Academy. Lightner and Brumberg have previously performed together in a Delfest Academy outfit, Tiger Lightning Machete.

“Our goal is to take American traditional music and make it our own,” Lightner says of the band, which is partly why Fennario’s Wolf always has a special guest performer from a different musical background at each show. “Playing traditional and composed songs adding a guest from a folk, rock, or jazz music background ensures an extraordinary sound.”

Thus, despite being firmly rooted in bluegrass and Americana themes, Fennario’s Wolf is at its strongest when exploring how those roots interact with other sonic musings. From folk to jazz, Fennario’s Wolf unites a bevy of traditional and contemporary stylings together to energize listeners with a unique music experience like no other. Matthew Henry, the band’s previous lead guitar, has moved to banjo for this new series of shows.

As a mandolinist, Lightner has found significant acclaim throughout his career. He has previously played second mandolin in the Baltimore Mandolin Orchestra, and in 2007, he was a finalist in the CMSA Classical Mandolin Competition. The Jukebox Podcast, a show often lauded as one of the most popular programs highlighting independent music in the podcasting community, chose Fennario’s Wolf’s ‘Catch The Spirit’ as their theme song in 2016, continually showcasing the band in each new episode.

The performance at City Dock, Annapolis is hosted by the City of Annapolis as part of their Thursday Night with the Stars concert series. The free show begins at 6:30 pm and is set to end at 8:00 pm. Fans can connect with Fennario’s Wolf on their official website and social media listed below, and the show will be live streamed on Facebook for those who cannot attend!

fennarioswolf.com
https://www.facebook.com/fennarioswolf
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEvH9pELHjLTymmXMmO6b9A

Brice Sedgwick – ‘Pacifico’

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.

It’s not often a debut like ‘Pacifico,’ the first release from the alternative pop artist Brice Sedgwick, comes across my desk. The nine track endeavor isn’t just a polished sonic excursion through some fascinating themes, but rather, a solo artist’s surprisingly cohesive journey through combining a bevy of unlikely genre influences. While ‘Pacifico’ is “pop” in its core, it’s doused in alternative and psychedelic rock, hip hop, industrial, and so much more.

‘Tortoiseshell Sky’ sets the bar particularly high at the beginning of the collection, showcasing Sedgwick’s production style in grand form. Ethereal synthesizers and string sections rise and fall as Sedgwick croons lead vocals through a beautifully programmed auto-tune. The track reminds me of Kanye West, at least, in the sense that Sedgwick has used auto-tune stunningly. It can be utilized as a creative tool and instrument when implemented as such, versus a crutch. It’s a perfect tool used properly here.

The following track, ‘Midnight In Echo,’ has more jam-packed into its space than its predecessor, a weight that is carries very well. An electric guitar banters in the backdrop as Sedgwick provides an equally strong vocal performance in the second track, but this time, without auto-tune accents. The track is more pop-oriented, perhaps reminiscent of The Wombats or the like.

Of course, it’s very much worth noting that Sedgwick wrote, performed, and produced the entirety of ‘Pacifico’ in three different cities across the world. It’s a truly solo effort. This becomes increasingly impressive as the album continues, offering insights into Sedgwick’s incredibly broad range. If ‘Midnight In Echo’ may sound like its off the cutting room floor of a Wombats session, the melancholy, haunting, piano-led ‘Robyn On The Couch’ sounds like it’s off a Francis and the Lights record.

‘Pacifico’ is a record best listened to with quality headphones or monitors, something that’s most obvious on ‘Saturnalia,’ a gorgeous soundscape chock-full of intricacy that bolts in and out of both sides of the stereo mix. It’s short and sweet, but lovely – even if it is loudly mastered. ‘Saturnalia’ will require the listener to pull their speakers to half the volume they may have been at when listening to ‘Robyn On The Couch.’

With romance at the thematic forefront of ‘Pacifico,’ ‘Oh, Starry Night’ is one of the more sublime pieces of music that gives Sedgwick space to work through the emotions of a tragic relationship. He seems deeply in love with the person ‘Oh, Starry Night’ is penned to, but there was a rift in the relationship, a poisonous death knell, that Sedgwick hints at throughout.

The jangly, borderline bluegrass-pop style ‘Mandy Moore’ may steal the show on ‘Pacifico,’ however, giving Sedgwick’s album some much needed levity. There hasn’t been a mandolin riff this infectious since Rod Stewart’s ‘Maggie May’ or Paul McCartney’s ‘Dance Tonight.’ On the opposite end, ‘Fresh Cut Grass’ is a compelling naval-gazing experience set to a sparse, but effective electric guitar without any percussion.

‘Next Round of Rum,’ a demo that was never supposed to make the record, is an interesting amalgamation of synthesized and traditional instruments in a bubbly, pop-heavy jam. It doesn’t have the weight of its predecessors, but it’s a fun ride accented by very thick synth pads. The finale of the album, ‘Holding On At The Start Of Summer,’ is a superb closer, too, a lengthy track that perfectly complements the opener, ‘Tortoiseshell Sky.’ (It has a fantastic hip hop verse, too.)

‘Pacifico’ is a beautiful record through and through. It’s remarkably rare to see an independent artist with this cohesive of a debut album. Aside from ‘Next Round Of Rum,’ which is a demo, anyway, the album doesn’t have any fat to trim. That’s very unique. It’s well worth the time of any indie music fan; it jams half a dozen genres into one and, amazingly, it works.

www.bricesedgwick.com
www.facebook.com/bricesedgwickmusic
www.instagram.com/bricesedgwick

Mike Bee and the Dead Soldiers – ‘Jane’s Gone Into The Shadow’

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.

As an independent music critic, I’ll often get acts across my desk that attempt to explore ‘classic rock’ stylings to varying degrees of success. More often than not, the bands occupy a space that’s rather derivative, to a painful degree at times. In this transaction, self-identity can get lost, and potentially talented artists don’t reach their potential. Mike Bee and the Dead Soldiers, fortunately, avoids that pitfall and moves forward with his music elegantly and with an especially unique sound unto himself.

Mike Bee and the Dead Soldiers is a solo act, despite its name, and it draws influence from classic psychedelic, freakbeat, and acts the likes of David Bowie and Pink Floyd. There’s a whole lot at play in Mike Bee’s music, and that’s perhaps best exhibited by his newest single, ‘Jane’s Gone Into The Shadow.’ The punchy, powerful track embraces psychedelic rock influence, but it also has the brevity and tactfulness of a pop track.

The intriguing part about ‘Jane’s Gone Into The Shadow’ is the sonic amalgamation that Mike Bee has created, perhaps even unknowingly. The lead vocal stylization is evocative of David Bowie in the 1980s, the lead guitar riffs are reminiscent of harder 1970s and 80s hard rock, and the bass performance is remarkably funky. While Bee has culminated his influences into a single place, he’s done so in such a creative, beautiful manner as such to remain a creative entity of his own, not a copycat. The songwriting on ‘Jane’s Gone Into The Shadow’ is infectiously catchy, too; you’ll hear it once and not soon forget it.

‘Jane’s Gone Into The Shadow’ is also notable for its cohesiveness. For a one person act, the music sounds incredibly sophisticated – not a beat is missed. The production is excellent, superbly mixed and mastered, and Mike Bee and the Dead Soldiers does truly sound like a band, which is perhaps the highest compliment you can give a one-man-act.

‘Jane’s Gone Into The Shadow’ is a classic-infused track that doesn’t sound derivative of the artists and genres it pulls influences from, which immediately raises Mike Bee and the Dead Soldiers several notches above his counterparts. It’s a wonderfully executed single indicative of an artist worth keeping tabs on as he continues to release new music.

Press Release – ALTOSPIN Records, Astraer – July 3, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE – JULY 3, 2017

ALTOSPIN Records Prepares New Astraer EP Release

Joseph Papadopoulos, a member of Mood Krafterz and Psychic Ströpharia, will continue to expand his diverse repertoire as a solo artist under the moniker of Astraer with a brand new release from ALTOSPIN Records due out later this summer. Entitled ‘When The Sky Turns Grey,’ the artist’s new EP includes six tracks that delve into his diverse sonic explorations as a melodic techno and neo trance-producer.

‘When The Sky Turns Grey’ houses some of Astraer’s most remarkable musical feats to date, perfectly blending ambient synthesizers, droning beats, and reverberated, ethereal landscapes into wonderfully compelling pieces of instrumental music. From the pensive, intricate ‘The Rain Falls’ to the surreal, sharply produced ‘Until The Flood,’ the new EP is set to be another extraordinary entry in Astraer’s catalog at ALTOSPIN.

The songs on this latest release are similar to Astraer’s previously work, however, in the sense that they’re conduits for some of his most infectious melodies to date. “I think when music, especially techno music, has melodies, it makes it more accessible,” Astraer said in an interview with the Independent Spotlight music blog. “I do like techno tracks without melodies, but melodic techno is the genre in which I feel the most comfortable.”

Astraer’s ‘When The Sky Turns Grey’ is due out later this year with the tracks: ‘When The Sky Turns Grey,’ ‘The Rain Falls,’ ‘From The Nimbostrati,’ and Until The Flood.’ The EP also includes two remixes by fellow ALTOSPIN artists, Mr. Phoenix and Project Lazarus. To keep best updated with the release of the EP, connect with Astraer and ALTOSPIN on their respective websites below.

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/astraer

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

Website: http://altospin.com | Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/altospin

Facebook: http://facebook.com/altospin

Jett Allen – ‘Good Night’

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.

Earlier this year in May, I lauded the independent composer and producer Jett Allen for his remarkably unique sound. Entirely instrumental, his music harkens back to 80s and 90s film soundtracks and video game scores, beautifully performed with bright, surreal synthesizers layered on top of one another. In this edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on ‘Good Night,’ the closing track of Allen’s ‘Touching Melody, Vol. 1’ record, which can be streamed and downloaded now.

Similar to the last track of Allen’s we explored here on the Spotlight, ‘Good Night’ is doused in synthesizers that make no apologies for being intensely artificial sounding. The single sounds like it may have been recorded entirely on one electronic keyboard utilizing various presets. Even the basic percussion beat that enters later in the track sounds like it could have been inside a basic Yamaha keyboard. That, though, is exactly what I love about ‘Good Night,’ and more so, Allen’s music as a whole.

Allen does so much with these sounds. The synthesizers are so vivid and lovely; if a song could be a rainbow chock-full of colors, it would be ‘Good Night.’ The lead synthesizer seems to be a flute sample of some sort, one that parts to make way for a synthesized brass section several times throughout the song. The stunning melody is, quite simply, infectious, and one may find themselves listening to ‘Good Night’ on repeat.

The flute-like sections, to me, bring back fond memories of 1998’s ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.’ The synthesizer selection is similar to that of composer Koji Kondo’s for the ‘Lon Lon Ranch’ orchestration. When the brass sections come into the track, though, you’re transported to a different place: a pensive, soft-spoken state of reflection. It’s well worth noting that despite the myriad of layered synthesizers and beats, ‘Good Night’ sounds exceptionally clean and is very well mixed and mastered.

While I get my share of unique, experimental artists across my desk as an independent music critic, I very seldom get an artist like Jett Allen that fills my heart with pure, unadulterated, nostalgia joy. You won’t hear instrumental synth music like this in the mainstream or even the independent community. These fantastic little instrumentals are entirely unto Jett Allen, and they’re so worth checking out.

https://play.spotify.com/track/3G56qaroNZFM2scPZr9fHF

https://soundcloud.com/jett-allen