Artist Review: FRND CRCL – “Famous” Single

Review by: Justyn W. Brodsky

It’s refreshing when a band like FRND CRCL hits the scene to remind us that melodic pop/punk is still alive and well. This articulate quartet of professional musicians not only have a solidified signature sound that is raw and melody-driven, but relentlessly fun and energetic as well. And their newest single “Famous” demonstrates their ability perfectly.

Accompanied by a colorful official music video with some clever meme-themed editing, this song launches into a dangerously catchy chorus that will have a very hard time leaving your head. Combining an indie pop-punk sound reminiscent of genre juggernauts like Blink 182, Alkaline Trio, Neck Deep and others of a similar caliber, FRND CRCL hones a unique style that is memorable, personal and elegantly crafted. The four musicians blend diligently and really showcase a type of self-awareness that most bands lack nowadays. Despite the song title, this band is humble and doesn’t portray an arrogance that leads you believe that they’re out just to chase fame. These dudes have fun with what they’re doing, and this song sends that vibe pretty much instantly.

With a pounding rhythm section, crunchy guitar chops and dual vocal melodies at the forefront throughout the song’s duration, “Famous” sets the bar high for the band and really delves into the band’s ability to write a catchy riff with melody choices that fit like a glove. The verses have a punchy groove and really gives you that rare feeling of intrigue when it comes to tightly knit songs angled more towards the newer era of pop-punk, but still maintains that wit and charm the genre has been known for since it started exploding back in the mid-to-late 90s. Overall, FRND CRCL puts forth a balance and composure that showcases each member’s influence in the band, conjuring a solid rock sound that sustains both originality and familiarity. “Famous” from the very first listen will be very difficult to get out of your head: and will stick with you long after it’s over.

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Artist Review: Potok Philippe – “Not The Same (feat. Dre Prada)” Single

Review by: Justyn W. Brodsky

Today’s millennial heatwave has been taking the industry by storm since the explosion of the 2010’s, and many independent artists of this era have been paving their way to grab the attention of music listeners from many walks of life, especially those geared more toward the Rap/hip Hop caliber. One artist that has been making some noticeable noise in the game is Toronto-based Rap/Hip Hop pioneer Potok Philippe with his new fresh single “Not The Same”. A song that demonstrates not only Potok‘s musical and lyrical sensibility, but his insatiable swagger as well.

“Not The Same”, accompanied by an official music video which includes feature artist Dre Prada, is a solid banger from start to finish. From distinctive melody choices to clever lyrical punchlines, this club-worthy single comes out swinging with today’s more charming side to sing-songy Hip Hop narratives and really showcases Potok‘s charisma as well as artistic merit. He reels you in with solid hooks that are viscerally satisfying and lyrically hypnotizing. It’s one of those tracks that proves that it’s not what you’re saying, but how you’re saying it. His well placed verses are nostalgically driven, the beat structure is a force to be reckoned with and the signature sound throughout this track’s duration touches on equal parts originality and familiarity; giving his listeners a taste of something that is recognizable to the modern ear, yet holds its own in its own right.

Drawing notable influences from undeniable Hip Hop heavyweights ranging from the 90s including Tupac, Notorious B.I.G. and Nas, to today’s more modern leaders of the game including Drake, Future, 21 Savage, Lil Pump and many others; Potok‘s signature sound offers up a tasteful blend of old school charm and today’s more prominent production value as well as lyrical execution. He’s an artist that is real, self-aware, and really brings his musical energy to the fold of the forefront with an effective formula that draws you in; and this single definitely reflects it. “Not The Same” is a single that not only brings Potok‘s craft out into the playing field, but also has a solidified production value that is top-of-the-line and a gold standard among today’s Hip Hop scene.

With this single already making waves throughout the music community at large, Potok Philippe also proves that he is quickly becoming a crucial, vital voice to the genre entirely; and “Not The Same” is direct evidence of this in every way. You just can’t go wrong with this one.

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Artist Review: Wolfe Black – “Runaway” Single

Review by: Justyn W. Brodsky

When it comes to natural beauty, unwavering talent and insatiable passion for her craft, Wolfe Black is quite the trifecta. And it really shows on her newest atmospheric single “Runaway”.

Originally hailing from the landscapes of Australia, Wolfe Black has been establishing her musical foundation in the Montreal music scene in Canada, and so far has hit the ground running. Armed with this first single, a regional buzz and word of mouth, Black has been laying down the groundwork for big things in her horizon and “Runaway” is direct evidence of this.

Drawing a nostalgic reminiscence to award winning artists like Enigma, Sia and those alike, Black really focuses on bringing forth an atmosphere that is magical and musically sensual. Her vocal range is showcased very diligently and shines bright on every element this song conjures up throughout the duration of this single. Her melody choices are effective, her vocal approach is authentic and natural, and the overall production value of this song really shines the spotlight on Wolfe Black‘s signature exotic sound.

This is not only a song, it’s an emotional journey; one of those tracks that you can feel as it plays out. Black has one of those voices that can guide you, and she really takes the lead on this fresh single from start to finish. Another important component of this song is the consistency; there is a vibrant edge that touches on melodic swells, subtle simmers, as well as buildups that never let you down. It has a structure that is more adventurous than it is formulaic; which gives it the charm it needs to retain the staying power all hit singles should possess.

This is not your average single, and Wolfe Black is not your run-of-the-mill Pop singer. She truly breathes life into her music and harbors a passion that immediately draws you in. “Runaway” is one of those songs that will soothe the body, the mind, and remind you that you can get lost in the moment at any time. Just close your eyes and let this song absorb into you – you’ll see (and hear) exactly why Wolfe Black is an artist to be keeping an eye out for.

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Artist Review: Chuck W – “Get Your Shit Together!” LP

Review by: Justyn W. Brodsky

With an exercise in innovation, experimentation and musical stimulation, Long Island’s Chuck W brings forth 4 years of in-depth puzzle pieces in every track of the frenetic, lo-fi synth-travel signature sound of his Get Your Shit Together! LP. An album that not only grabs you with persistent musicality, but imagery as well.

This instrumental album is comprised with a vast array of musical elements that range from clever looping samples, atmospheric textures, groovy tempos and jazz-infused outbursts that top off with a theatrical and at-times industrial edge. The track “Monoarm” is a grungy and multifaceted set of layers that sends us on an audio and visual journey. The ambient mood that underlies in this frantic track really demonstrates Chuck‘s dynamic behind the mixing board, as well as his songwriting structure that touches on many tangible elements that gives this song the push that it needs to enter your brainwaves. It’ll stick with you in a way you can’t really explain, but it’ll easily have you enticed to explore the rest of this album with your antennas for detail up. The rhythmic groove on this song is not only notable, but downright necessary. There are no blanks to fill on this track – Chuck covers all bases on “Monoarm” and really delves into detail that gives him undeniable versatility.

Veering over to the soundtrack-worthy “Jazz For A Rainy Day”, this creepy track lends an arm to a more theatrical take on Chuck‘s signature touch. This one gives you visuals and it really dives deep into the clever songwriting structures that is made apparent throughout the album. This keyboard-driven track really adds a fascinating parallel to the other songs on the album and really adds more concept to this multilayered musical journey.

Get Your Shit Together! is a nostalgic landscape of audio imagery that is immediately gratifying to the experimental sides of our brains. It has a wit and charm that speaks solely through instruments, structure and textures. Once you give this a listen, you won’t quite be the same again. But you’ll keep coming back to this album to go through each measure of detail, trying to capture every puzzle piece of the in-depth structure that Chuck W conjures throughout this album’s duration. You can’t go wrong with this album – there’s nothing else like it.

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Artist Review: BiGG$ – “Marijuana Memories (prod. by Novmber)”

Review by: Justyn W. Brodsky

Get ready for a feel-good track with a fresh new vibe, because on-the-rise Hip Hop pioneer BiGG$ is doing big things for the vital future of Hip Hop. And he continues to push forward in his career with the recent release of his popular single, “Marijuana Memories”.

As a track that draws in both old school and modern sensibilities, this is a song that has insatiable passion, clever punchlines, and a feel-good aura that delves you into what BiGG$ is all about – creating effective and addictive tracks that stay with you far after the first listen. Carrying an ambient beat that is more subtle, well-paced and at-times nostalgic, the flow from BiGG$ dynamically crafted lyricism really shines in the forefront and never waivers from the song’s identity and self awareness. It’s a laid back track that lets us know to enjoy life a little more, and to relax with a good quality doobie.

The production value is notable and impressive; putting a visceral and modern spin on old school flavors that mix together like good weed and fine wine. BiGG$ has an established and direct approach in his vocal delivery, yet still knows when to incorporate that subtlety in all the right places to make “Marijuana Memories” the gem that is really is.

His lyrical structures are intact and never attempt to outdo/overdo itself in any way. The post production offers more magical touches than anything else – keeping a level ground to walk on throughout this track’s duration. We’ve heard many marijuana concepts in many Hip Hop tracks, but this one is a definite standout and could easily get a Snoop Dogg approval. BiGG$ is doing big things, and it’s tracks like “Marijuana Memories” that is helping pave the way for the rising artist. You will not regret putting this song on repeat.

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Artist Review: Leaving Zero – “Get Your Body Moving” & “Coming Back For More” Singles

Review by: Justyn Brodsky & Bethany Stephenson

Some bands know how to grab you by the ears from the very first listen. They say first impressions are the most crucial ones, and can make or break a career when attempting to launch. In this case we have Memphis-based Hard Rock quintet, Leaving Zero, who immediately has hit the ground running.

For a band just starting out with their first two singles, these guys are an absolute mind blow. Their first single, “Get Your Body Moving”, does complete justice to the song title. It’s a heavy concoction of frantic guitar progressions, fierce tones, a heavyweight rhythm section, and a masterful vocal approach that steers the track into mid-to-high range ferocity. Drawing reminiscence to influential rock bands like Shinedown, 3 Doors Down and Stone Sour, Leaving Zero combines many versatile elements that deliver up a signature sound that is recognizable and original in their own right. Chris Autry’s vocals are authentic, full of attitude, and really delves into the band’s overall artistic merit as the cog of the machine. With a dangerously catchy chorus at the centerfold of the song, “Get Your Body Moving” does exactly what it advertises.

Moving on to their subsequent single, “Coming Back For More”, we get the same punch and precision as the predecessor, but this time with a more driving tempo and upbeat key signature. This one has a little more adrenaline but sustains the same amount of charm as the first single. Focusing more on the technical skill set of the drums and guitar work at the helm, this tightly fit track is comfortable like a leather glove and never lets up on the insatiable energy. Autry comes out swinging once again with more tasty vocal melodies that soar through each verse and reach a climactic feat by the time the chorus shows up. It’s a perfect follow-up to the last track and continues to showcase the band’s signature sound and each member’s influence on the overall execution of each song.

One of the most notable factors of these singles is the high quality production value. For a band honing their craft with a prominent hard rock sound in this modern era, the pre and post production is beyond the norm and exceeds expectations for a band just starting out. It sets the bar high for the band, and they are more than ready to reach those heights very few bands in this era really do. Both of these songs have mainstream potential and Leaving Zero is definitely a band I can see labels taking an interest in.

I’ve been in many bands for the last 23 years, and this is the type of group I’d love to write/jam/perform with. And trust me…I’m picky. Leaving Zero is just starting out, but not without a bang. Fans of this band will be impatiently waiting for a full length album, just like we are. You won’t regret giving these guys a listen.

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Artist Review: Ples Jones – “Sounds Of The Mind” LP

Review by: Justyn W. Brodsky & Bethany Stephenson

Today’s era of Electronic Music and Hip Hop can be very convoluted with all the sub genres that conjure from today’s contemporary run-of-the-mill artists. It’s a big industry with a persistent rise of up-and-comers from platforms like SoundCloud, DatPiff and those alike. While those platforms remain true to form, it’s hard to stand out from this massive crowd. But every now and then you run into one of those rare gems that truly is a standout of their caliber. And a shining example of this gem is Pittsburgh-based Electronic DJ and Producer Ples Jones with his latest LP “Sounds Of The Mind”.

As the title suggests and perhaps putting one of the freshest takes on today’s Electronic Music standard, Jones comes out swinging on every track of this album and brilliantly showcases his versatile craft by setting a nostalgic tone to his signature Chillhop sound. Specializing in R&B and House music, Jones conjures a refreshing vibe to the table that dynamically puts his skillset to the forefront with exceptional precision and authenticity. He’s been honing his craft behind the mixing board for 15 years, touching on his love for Jazz and Soulful R&B additives to a very addictive Hip Hop sound that is reminiscent with yesterday and today’s more elite producers.

“Sounds Of The Mind” really sets the perfect nostalgic tone in consistency and never waivers from the nostalgic flow Jones brings to each track with his clever production techniques and versatile compositions. With tracks like “Alonzo’s Groove”, “Apologia” and “Bleu Light” to kick this record off, you immediately get a grasp on Jones‘ ability to create tracks that touch on several genre elements that blend very tastefully. The beats and rhythm sections that carry each song drives every electronic-infused melody perfectly and really delves into a craft that touches on equal parts originality and familiarity. Carrying over to “Cherish”, this track serves up a classic R&B style that really puts soul into the record. It is refreshing goodness with that perfect beat that reminds us how R&B was meant to be. The standout on this album, however, is feature-artist track “Drop”. A Hip Hop track with EDM touches that features brilliant lyrical hooks and bars from feature artist Phantom. This sweet concoction delivers an array of genre blending, vibrancy, consistency and everything in between to make this song completely unforgettable and a home run on the album.

“EmpPHATic” is a synth-driven tune that continues to drive the R&B element forward and really helps carry weight on this record with its vibrant setting and ambient flavor. “Late Nite Snack” brings us more of that nostalgic feeling this album has demonstrated from the beginning while “Married To The 90s” and “Shine” are more upbeat and animated in their execution. These four tracks in particular really give us a deep dive into the diversity of Ples Jones‘ production value and garners a dynamic quality that is rare among today’s DJs and EDM creators. The next feature-artist standout track “Quien Tiene Boca (feat. Alba Santos)” is a tasty R&B flavor with an amazing Spanish vocal delivery and soulfully crafted melody. The vocal mix on this song in particular is more than notable as it is beautifully performed. This one will get your heart fluttering. “Rise” is another female-featured track with a sound reminiscent to Sia with its own special touch. Featuring female singer Liz Cirelli, this dreamlike sequence brings new heights to the album with a sense of climax and anticipation as the track plays out. It’s brilliantly mixed, perfectly executed and adds more layers to this record while remaining consistent in the overall signature sound.

The bass and beat-driven “Santorini” is edgy and industrial with a darker tone in its delivery and fits like a glove with the predecessors on the record. “Shine (feat. Late Nite Vegas)” is the perfect subsequence that also captivates a darker tone with an upbeat flow and clever production narrative, while closing track “The Realization” brings us a synth-infused light at the end of the tunnel as a perfect album closer. Altogether, creating an innovative and creatively effective album where all the pieces fit no matter how many times you hear it.

The best thing about “Sounds Of The Mind” is the execution of each song with top of the line production value. Every track flows perfectly to the next while keeping consistency afoot with nostalgic vibes and tasteful genre blends. This album is not just recommended, it’s an absolute must-listen in its own right and demonstrates a very versatile skillset that Ples Jones showcases from beginning to end. This album has staying power with an ability to keep you coming back for more. You’ll be more than happy you gave this album a spin, and this record will definitely entice you to look deeper into Ples Jones‘ artist journey.

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