Lael Summer - Lael's Image-Rather Than Her Music-Is Her "Burden To Bear" Review

Lael Summer is the definition of the artist who doesn’t sound like how she looks. She looks like your average Pussycat Dolls-esque singer, heavily autotuned and wildly average. In reality, her voice is funky, fun and light, something sorely missing in pop music today. While I didn’t particularly go nuts for her album, Burden To Bear, I respect what she’s doing and how she’s doing it.

Her tracks are sexy, loaded with soul and flair. Her voice is refreshing, too. “In Time” is a stand-out track for me, as it evokes a summer-y (no pun intended) vibe of just relaxing at home, taking it easy. It’s one of those “lounge by the pool”-type tracks that I’m always a sucker for.

Jan
14
2014
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Amelia Scalies - You "Should've Known", And Been This Accomplished As A Teenager Review

What were you doing when you were 14? Were you writing beautiful music and being awesome like Amelia Scalies? I didn’t think so. Personally, I was being a painfully average teenager with a burgeoning obsession with film. I wasn’t writing anything at the level of Scalies or her outstanding album, I Should’ve Known.

Scalies could be compared to Avril Lavigne or Haley Williams. I don’t know how apt this is, as her voice has a more booming, Broadway-vibe to it. It’s also far more mature than either of those two could ever conjure. On Scalies’ album, I Should’ve Known, the young alt-rock powerhouse delivers track after track of awesome song.

Jan
13
2014
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Oakes & Smith - This Clearly Isn't Oakes & Smith's "First Flight" Review

Oakes & Smith are longtime folk singers who come from musical families. It’s evident in their tracks that their musical knowledge and upbringing helped forge their distinctly folk-inspired tracks. “Factory Girl” is a track that perfectly encapsulates this folks-y vibe. Almost mournful lyrics are coupled with strong lyrics that evoke well-traveled folk territory that, in the end, isn’t terribly spectacular.

“Before Dawn” opens like a Doves track, very spiritual and driving, then transitions to a pretty typical folk track, not unlike something by Simon and Garfunkel. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dig it, as this is probably the only track I’d come back and listen to repeatedly. I’d throw it on a playlist on a playlist on Spotify, even. Get it in the rotation. In the end, it’s definitely my favorite track off their album, First Flight.

Jan
13
2014
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Heidi Howe - Heidi Howe's "Be Good" Could Be Gooder Review

I’m just not a country guy. Even when sung by a sultry femanina, I just can’t get into it. Heidi Howe, as beautiful a voice as she has (she sounds almost exactly like Stevie Nicks, it’s insane), is a country singer out of Louisville and I’d really like to love her album, but I just can’t get down with it. Be Good is her album, and it’s eleven tracks of what is typically referred to as “alt-country,” which, while not as torturous as something like Big & Rich or that guy on The Voice, is still really difficult for a jaded New Yorker like myself to get into.

Jan
12
2014
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Chuckie Campbell - "More Die of Heartbreak" Could Earn You Some More Street Cred Review

Chuckie Campbell is a rapper from Buffalo, NY. I don’t know much about Buffalo, but everything I’ve ever heard about bills it as a total dump. I don’t think it’s one of those cities that’s on anyone’s list of places to visit. Out of that kind of city (which I believe is responsible for Buffalo wings) comes the kind of hip hop artist who can finally wash that ugly Eminem-tinted taste out of mouths.

I make that connection because Campbell, like Eminem, is white. Unlike Eminem, Campbell speaks to social issues as opposed to personal ones, which is a nice departure from some of the traditional hip-hop we might all be accustomed to. I can hear a distinct Dead Prez vibe to Campbell’s lyrics, which is a huge thing for me, as I love Dead Prez. He’s also compared to Macklemore and Nas, which is something I don’t particularly hear, but the Dead Prez thing is spot-on.

Jan
12
2014
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Michael Cullen - This "Transmitter" Sends More Melancholy Than "Love" Review

If you took James (of “Laid” fame), mixed him with Robert Smith and added a dash of Ian Curtis, you’d have Michael Cullen. Easily the darkest artist I’ve gotten to review yet, Cullen’s tunes are loaded with melancholy and dripping with loss. Oddly enough, there are underpinnings of hope, too, but those notes seem lost amid the darkness of the tracks themselves.

Dec
22
2013
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Ron Littlejohn & The Funk Embassy - "Shining On" Is A Funky Good Time Review

If you’re in the mood for some serious Shaft-esque vibes, wanna’ hang out with some friends, maybe enjoy some illegal substances, or are just relaxing smoking a stogie while driving around, you should be listening to Ron Littlejohn & The Funk Embassy. I can see the connection to The Roots, who these guys have been compared to in the past, but overall, they seem like a band out of time. And I like that.

I guess I’m lucky in the sense that I’m finding nothing but solid artists since I started reviewing music and albums for JustPressPlay, but Ron Littlejohn & The Funk Embassy are awesome. They’re like a great party band that people have been saying “Man, these guys should cut a proper album, they’re so good …” and that’s exactly what it seems like they did. I love it. “Light Me Up” is the definition of a party track. It’s either about weed or sex, and either way, I love it.

Dec
22
2013
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Stoney - "More Than Animals" Is More Than Just An Album Review

“Sweet Release” by Stoney, who reminds me of Brandon Flowers and Martin Page, is an amazing track. Outrageously good. The perfect way to kick off an album, a sweet balance of melody and drive.

The rest of the album is a hodgepodge of different things, which is pretty interesting. More Than Animals is one of those albums that’s almost like a concept more than it is a defining piece of music. This is a good thing. The album is brisk, refreshing and brilliant while also scratching that rock/indie itch that we all get once in a while.

Dec
22
2013
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Kevin Jenkins - "Step Inside" This Latest Smooth Effort Review

Kevin Jenkins is a dude who has opened for a lot of neat folks. Cyndi Lauper, Roberta Flack, Maxwell, to name a few. The dude’s music oozes a vibe that’s perhaps more at home with the legendary R&B greats than the current spate of talented folks. Jenkins’ music really nails home a kind of relaxing, atmospheric feeling that would perfectly accompany a night of relaxation.

Dec
14
2013
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EdTang & The Chops - "Goodbye, Zen 5"-Hello, Weirdness Review

EdTang & The Chops are a strange crew. Everything they do seems like it’d fit perfectly in a Terry Gilliam movie. A sequel to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas or something. Music that evokes a strange, almost metaphysical quality which is hard to find these days. I like it, but I don’t know if I love it.

“Vaya” is an almost angry-sounding yet melancholy track that seems to be exploring the world and finding one’s self. At least, that’s what I think it’s about. Or it’s about three friends having a journey and one of them dying. I honestly don’t know, but I dig it. I can’t put my finger on exactly what the track is about, but I think it’s easily something I’d listen to while smoking stogies with a few buds.

Dec
14
2013
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