We’ve had The Harmalators duo on our platform before, and they have yet to do disappoint. Since that time, the elite Californi-natives have put together another plethora of colorfully eclectic songs with top notch production value and songwriting technique versatility – some which have landed them in award/charting positions. Comprised of eight amazingly blissful textures and structures that melodically soar throughout the musical landscape, the two brothers in The Harmalators have truly hit it out of the park with their 8-track collective, titled ‘Two Great Minds Think Alike‘, an exercise in innovation, thoroughness, blissfulness and so much more that’ll captivate your musical aura and ambience.
Opening track “Love On Fire” really emphasizes their vocal melody approach, all while keeping that indie feel at the forefront with several facets of different instruments playing their respective roles. Each vocalist really helps enhance the other and you can tell that their togetherness and solidification really puts the melody strength into the writing structure in its entirety. It’s a brilliant intro to the album that will easily entice you to listen to the duration of the record in its entirety.
“Where Would I Be Without You” is a much more simple listen but is undeniably a much more basic structure – and that is held to the highest regard. It’s a shorter song, one that is easily to take in as a classic, and could definitely be heard as an intro to one of those 90s sitcoms (a GOOD one, by the way). Another facet of this track is to find it impossible to get it out of your head. From its title track lyrics, addictive melody structure and just overall charming presence with its well-put-together.
Overall, ‘Two Great Minds Think Alike’ insatiably showcase both brothers’ strongest points in both production and performance value in ways that entice any listener to hear what they’ve put together over the years together and solo-wise as well. They’ve put out a small catalogue of their innovative gems in the past foür😝 its time, but this 8-track collection of highly-produces bliss will definitely turn some heads; especially when an album like this is in the band’s arsenal.
“Two Great Minds Think Alike” have also garnered them some award status. Including…
If this is the first time you’ve heard the first time you’ve heard The Harmalators, then it definitely won’t be the last!
Emerging from Te Aroha in New Zealand, Ivy Blue is the official solo project of James Brodie, an ambitious musician with Autism, ADHD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Utilizing his passion for music as a creative outlet, James through his Ivy Blue moniker started singing about his life and his experiences with his mental health issues in 2014 on the advice of his counselor. His music is tailored to help inspire and educate others about mental health through his own experiences both on his recordings and live shows. By singing about his life and the challenges he faces, James has had the opportunity to play a vast array of shows in Europe and New Zealand, which has also led him to perform in 11 other countries subsequently.
After independently releasing a handful of singles and EPs over the years, James has partnered up with Swerrdmedia Music Group to release his full length debut studio album ‘Wasting Daylight’, comprised of 11 well-written anthemic tracks with a distinctive Alt-Rock sensibility. Featuring a charismatic vocal style and heartfelt story-telling lyrics, this ambitious record showcases many angles of James’ ability as both a songwriter and performer. His in-depth and dynamic signature sound shares an equal balance between originality and familiarity, implementing several crucial elements of yesterday’s nostalgic Rock sound and today’s more innovative and eclectic modern style. His anchor single from the record “Stanley Avenue” is an excellent example of this, diligently casting a spotlight onto James’ witty lyrical outbursts and clean rhythmic acoustic guitar progressions. This story-telling track not only has catchy and coherent melody choices, but a charming sensibility in James’ delivery of the song as well. You really get to know him in this track and it really gives the listener an opportunity to soak in the many different facets of James’ writing style. Another song off this album worth mentioning is “No Going Back”, a more melodically visceral track that’s a little more rhythmically paced. What’s great about this song is we get to hear a different side to James’ craft, all while maintaining a coherent consistency with the music’s overall delivery. This song is very flavorful, more emotional and really enhances the uniqueness within James’ musical aura. This is another well-written track that will entice you to listen to the rest of the album with your undivided attention.
The official release date for the album is October 11th and will be available on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes and any other digital music streaming platform of your choice. It’s a very ambitious and intriguing debut for James Brodie and will undoubtedly entice both old fans and new to keep a close eye on what he has up his sleeves in the very near future and beyond. And since the release date is just around the corner, we got the opportunity to talk with James Brodie about the Ivy Blue project in an exclusive interview.
•How long have you been active under your artist name?
I have been active as Ivy Blue since 2014 when I first started writing music for what would be my first indie release Rosewall (which, like my other independent projects has not been released onto streaming sites… yet…). The name came about because I wasn’t so sure about releasing those songs under my real name and the songs I had been writing from as early as 2013 when I was a session player in Future Te Aroha’s Monday Nights group (later becoming The Danny Broeglin Band, who I would regularly test songs with and get feedback) seemed like an extension of me but not something I wanted to label solely as mine. So my best friend Troy and I put names into the hat (as he would often help with my music) put random words into a hat and we’d ach draw one out- those two words becoming what we would work together as/my moniker. The two words that were pulled out were Ivy Blue, and the rest is history from there.
•What music scene/city do you currently represent?
I live in Morrinsville (10 minutes from my hometown Te Aroha) and am part of the New Zealand music scene. My closest city is Hamilton, but I play where-ever I can get a gig.
•The pandemic has really thrown a wrench into the live music experience and for artists altogether. How has it affected you and your career (if at all)?
This album was meant to be released in 2020 and I was due to be on tour in Europe/US soon after. Obviously, this has not been able to happen and what I have primarily been focusing on as a musician is doing studio work and writing for the second album with Ivy Blue (which all going to plan will come out sometime soon). I’ve only been able to play a couple of shows here in New Zealand but the plan is to get back on the road next year now that the world is opening up and things are starting to get under control in most of the countries I was meant to perform in.I also do other things outside of music so I’ve had time to focus on those and clear my decks so I can be ready for 2022. Of course, things can change so who knows what might happen? New Zealand’s been relatively unscathed (only 2 major nationwide lockdowns and small escalations) but the rest of the world’s not been so lucky so I can only hope it’s manageable soon so I can get out there, and of course my thoughts and prayers are with everyone who’s been impacted by COVID-19.
•What are some of your music influences?
There’s a lot of things that come into it but my main influences right now are Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and Robbie Williams. U2, Queen, REM, Arielle, and Ally Vennable are also on that list as are Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Shihad, and Ed Sheeran (among many others).
•What kind of concepts do you tend to write about as an artist? Shine some light on that.
I don’t know if I have any specific concepts that I sings about. It’s something I’ve never really wrapped my head around and took the time to think about. Overall though, my music is like my journal. I just observe my life, what’s going on around me, the things that I’m learning, and put it to the songs that I create. There’s not much more to it than that but maybe this is something that I can give more thought to at a later point.
•If you could put together a dream show or tour, what bands/artists would be on the bill?
I’d just do one big jam session with all of my favorite musicians if I’m honest. And it’d be a massive band. Bono and The Edge from U2, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, The E Street Band, Michael Stipe, Ally Vennable, Robbie Williams, Queen, Arielle, and for good measure, my friends who I love playing with. Even with the biggest stars in the world, this kind of thing is best shared with friends.
•When is your next release coming out?
Wasting Daylight (my debut full-length album) arrives onOctober 11th to digital stores and steaming sites. CD and Vinyl releases are also in the works, but due to the current outbreak in New Zealand have been postponed.
•What’s in store for you in 2021/2022? Give us the goods.
Hopefully in 2022 I’ll be back out on the road playing the shows I was due to play in 2020, but we shall see what happens. I’m fully vaccinated and ready to go. Just waiting for the business end to be carried out, dates to be rescheduled, and all the logistics to be ironed out. I’ve also been working on a few songs to keep my fingers moving and bide my time until the tour can kick off so you might hear something from that. But plans can be easily upended in a pandemic so I’m going to wait a little longer to fully spill the beans. When the times come for me to talk about those plans, you’ll know!
We’ve reviewed and featured West Of House before and these guys do not disappoint. With 2021 in full force nearing the end of summer, the alt-rockers have put out a subsequent album release that surprised just about everyone that knows them, and intrigued a plethora of new listeners as well. And that release is their newest album ‘Drown The Wind’, which is easily their best effort to date that really brings their signature sound right to the forefront.
Comprised of 11 anthemic and atmospheric songs, ‘Drown The Wind’ is an alt-rock album that encompasses the band’s artistic merit while combining crucial elements from 90s industry heavyweights like REM, Coldplay and Oasis. Anchor single “Entwined” is an excellent example of this and really delivers the production and performance parallels that set the tone for the rest of the album. The song begins with some dynamically executed time signatures, showcasing the band’s driving rhythm section and dueling guitars that bring out the brilliance of the well-written vocal melodies. It’s a very multi layered mix that shines a light on each band member where you can easily hear each of their individual contributions into one precise unit. Another anchor track on this record is “Fall Down”, featuring a glistening mandolin intro that is anthemic, melodic and insatiably versatile. This melody-driven track really showcases the high-range vocals that once again really encapsulate into melody choices that are very next-level. The song is hauntingly ominous, ambient and really adds a layer of magic to the album that puts the band at the top of their game. This is a song that sustains a standout all on its own and will easily be one that people will be talking about.
One more track that needs mentioning is “Where To Begin”, another atmospheric tune with visceral synth parts that implement alongside the chord progressions and add a layer of detail that is crucial and effective. This one is a little more rhythmic and has climactic measures that really serve up a wholesomeness not heard often with independent artists. This track also embraces melodic structures like the previous song, but also diligently blends more atmospheric guitar swells and smooth bass lines. This will easily be a favorite on the album right alongside the sensibility we heard with “Fall Down”. Overall, West Of House have really set the bar higher for themselves and continue to manifest magically with every release. You can hear the evolution of their own signature sound but still get a dose of nostalgia from great callbacks to the 90s alt-rock sound that we’ve come to know and love over many years. ‘Drown The Wind’ from start to finish is brilliantly crafted, melodically visceral and really explores the depths of combining originality and familiarity. You can get your copy of the album now on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes and several other digital music streaming platforms.