music

* Oh He Dead * Kimberly Townsend * Leah Nobel *

Oh He Dead “This Time Around”

Oh He Dead is fronted by the soulful duo of Cynthia ‘C. J.’ Johnson and Andy Valenti. “This Time Around” is their latest release and it is sure to get your feet shuffling. The production has a crispy Daptone vibe, featuring smooth vocals with just enough rasp, and swagger that is hard to beat. Arrangement-wise it is confident and keeps the listener nodding along, right up until the 2:48 mark drops to tremolo Rhodes/Wurlitzer, before bringing the listener back to a groovy bookend closing.

 
 

Kimberly Townsend “How I Got There”

Kimberly Townsend gives us a wake-up call in her new tune, “How I Got There.” With an honest voice and a curse, this song is delivered from a sincere and straightforward songwriter. A NYC-based artist, Townsend wrote “How I Got There” after a “period of stagnation.” It is her battle-cry to live in the moment, and the steady delivery of the hook keeps the message front and center. A clean version is to follow, which is great because this song has monster licensing potential.

 
 

Leah Nobel “Earth and Sky”

Leah Nobel is one of the most talented songwriters penning tunes today. Her voice and ability to relay stories is top-shelf artistry. For those new to Nobel’s material, I suggest spinning a few songs in her catalog. Each one seems to be better than the last — and they are all worthy. “Earth and Sky” is her latest release from Running In Borrowed Shoes — an interview-inspired album due out in February 2019. In anticipation, enjoy this “pop-tinged tribute to the wonder of nature.”

 
 

* Jo Wedin * Matt and the Skeleton Crew * Salem *

Jo Wedin “Maybe Not Tomorrow”

Jo Wedin will get you bopping and swaying with “Maybe Not Tomorrow.” The tune is catchy with a refreshing production that blends retro and modern pop vibes. There’s a hint of 60s/70s/80s and contemporary melodies throughout. The jangly surf-like guitar, the pumping keyboard, and the sugary vocals all add up to a fun listen. The chord progressions are a nice change of pace and each dynamic shift in the arrangement keeps the listener grooving along with this gem of a pop ditty.

 
 

Matt and the Skeleton Crew “Merry Go Round”

Matt and the Skeleton Crew rattle the speakers with their new tune, “Merry Go Round.” Fronted by multi-instrumentalist/producer Matt Silverstein, these Boston indie rockers know how to write a hook. “Merry Go Round” is hum-worthy from start to finish. The tune really lifts when the chorus hits — forming a wall of loud guitars, Mellotron, and swinging drums. With a polished production and performance, Matt and the Skeleton Crew’s debut Odds & Ends is out now.

 

Salem “Impatient”

Salem is a new face to the pop music scene, but with songs like “Impatient” she is off to a strong start. Radio-ready and produced to perfection, “Impatient” has all the elements needed to hit the Top 40. It is a bouncing electro pop tune, with a strong hook and vocals comparable to the leading artists out there today. The use of clock-like clicking is one of the many layers and crafty arrangement moves that make this tune stand out, and Salem is the perfect voice for it.

 
 

* Jet Luv * Albert and His Dreamboats * Dino Mansik *

Jet Luv “Rebel On The Run”

Need a power pop rock and roll fix? Jet Luv’s “Rebel On The Run” is an upbeat number that is sure to get you grooving along. The vocals are doubled, with harmonies playing nicely throughout the verses, leading up to a chorus that has melodic stylings of sixties groups like The Zombies and Beatles. Fans of Superdrag and Fountains of Wayne will also dig the modern meets retro vibe. The guitars are loud, the bass and drums pound along and “Rebel On The Run” is one cool tune.

 
 

Albert and His Dreamboats “Cheap Beer”

Crank the jukebox and crack open a tall can of cheap beer with Albert and His Dreamboats. “Cheap Beer” is a feel good tune that plays like a fun time at your favorite bar or backyard barbecue. While many artists would leave it at “I love drinking cheap beer," Albert and His Dreamboats add “with good people.” This clever hook is backed by a top shelf production and performance with an arrangement that closes via a late night wobble. It’s a stunner of a tune that sure brings a smile.

 
 

Dino Mansik “Iso ja tuntematon”

As an English speaker, I can only guess at what Dino Mansik is singing about, but “Iso ja tuntematon” has my toes tapping. Translated, the song title means “Big and unknown,” which is a good way to describe the dream-pop soundscape. The Finnish duo is led by Mikko M. Koskinen and Johanna Koskimo and their tunes are both epic and ethereal. It’s almost like hearing a cross between The Pet Shop Boys and The Killers — a transformative sound that is pleasing to the ears.

 
 

* Vetle Forsell * Gentle Ivanhoe Death Skulls * Tali * The Mistoos *

Vetle Forsell “Adventures”

Vetle Forsell has one of the most pleasing voices (if not the absolute best) my ears have heard since reviewing music. His approach to songwriting is soft and sentimental, touching on personal yet familiar emotions and feelings. “Adventures” is a beautiful. Plain and simple. It is a song worth checking out, and from a songwriter/producer standpoint, "Adventures” is a masterpiece. It rises and falls, with hints of classical music and sixties folk: “Which leads me to that place we used to read of in books.” I look forward to hearing more from Vetle Forsell in the near future.

 
 

Gentle Ivanhoe Death Skulls “A Clubber Lang Fan”

Gentle Ivanhoe Death Skulls find a sweet spot with saturation and harmonies in their new tune, “A Clubber Lang Fan.” The song is crispy and grooves along with doubled-tracked vocals and pleasing melodies throughout. It’s a laid back listen off their new album Beaches, on Hidden Bay Records, and a cassette release. This seems like a nice fit for “A Clubber Lang Fan,” as the distortion lends to the vibe. Fans of The Raveonettes will dig this, as will anyone looking for music to chill to.

Tali “Comfortable In Another Bed”

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage…Tali! With a stunner of a debut single, Tali shows off her vocal chops with “Comfortable In Another Bed.” It is a solid performance, backed by a top notch production. Everything from the vocals to the drum programming and tasteful musical arrangement is impressive. To complete the package, Tali has also released a stirring music video. She is most certainly a real deal talent and I am looking forward to hearing more from Tali.

The Mistoos “Girl (I Need You)”

Oh, snap. I dig The Mistoos. They have a sound that is undeniable California swagger rock and roll. “Girl (I Need You)” is a Beatle-esque Vaudevillian rock and roll tune with a contemporary tip of the hat to songs of old. Anyone who has missed The Thrills will get down with The Mistoos. Fans of Phantom Planet and Rooney will also find a soft spot for these fellas. Lush harmonies, clever musical chops, and a bouncy burlesque meets honky-tonk saloon piano make this song one of a kind.