Album Review: Luke Underhill-The Left Side

Chicago-based singer songwriter Luke Underhill has partnered with producer Mikal Blue (known for his work with Colbie Callait and Jason Mraz) for his 7-song EP The Left Side, out August 18. The release follows two self-released projects from 2015, Atlas and Atlas Unplugged, along with a 2016 self-produced single, Too Good for Me”.

The Left Side explores a realm of young love and loss with the 21-one-year old musician delivering fairly simplistic lyrics, yet nonetheless catchy songs. Within each piece, there are moments of artistry embodied with potential that will undoubtedly blossom with age and experience.

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Album Review: Moonrise Nation- Glamour Child

It’s hard to believe the finely crafted songs on Glamour Child are the debut works from the indie pop trio Moonrise Nation. The band, comprised of Emma McCall on lead vocals and guitar, Arden Baldinger on keyboard and Eva Baldinger on bass and cello, is as talented as writers as they are musicians. Each piece is finely crafted into theatrical displays of artistry that are not only instrumentally pleasing but also lyrically fulfilling.

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Album Review: Ratboys- GN

Ratboys’ sophomore album GN (which stands for ‘Good Night’) is the result of a sound instrumental rock band mastering the art of storytelling. Their 10-song compilation, which received an early release on June 27, 2017 from Topshelf Records, encompasses a special mix of personal anecdotes and memories from vocalist Julia Steiner and guitarist David Sagan.

The album begins with eerie vocals speaking over the light finger picking of a guitar, eventually leading to the opening lyrics of “Molly”. The story explores the relationship of two people, one possibly not feeling enough for the other. There are no repeating lyrical lines, yet the underlaying melody is catchily memorable.

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Album Review: Layla Frankel- Tame the Fox

Chicago-raised singer-songwriter Layla Frankel set off with her Little Martian guitar in the fall of 2015 to travel Europe. The following spring, Frankel spent two months hiking 600 miles on the Israel National Trail. On her hike, she carried a children’s book, The Little Prince. It was the combination of this book and these travels that the inspired the singer’s debut album Tame the Fox, released April 25, 2017.

The 6-song release, produced and arranged by Frankel and recorded by Josh Richter, is a beautiful collection of bluesy folk tunes filled with rich tones and rhythms. It features a number of talented musicians such as guitarist and bassist Dave Hildebrand, drummer Robert Rashid and Eddie Ganet on keys.Continue Reading

Album Review: Leo Kidd- Marion

Musical medicine is the best cure for an emotional breakup. As a woman, sometimes nothing assists with coping more than good music from a badass woman. This is exactly what Leo Kidd delivers on her debut EP Marion with a blend of powerhouse vocals and charging piano chordsEach song feels full of heartbreak, but also strength and the boldness to move on.

The EP opens with a simple piano melody quickly followed by a steady beat and the theatrical vocals of Leo Kidd in “Fool Me Once”. The song tells the relatable story of learning the true colors of a former mate as the start of the chorus poses the questions, “Who do you think you are?/ What happened to the man I knew?” What makes this song great, from a storytelling standpoint, is the strength of the female character. She is not pleading, but instead asserting confidence with lines such as “Why can’t you see I’m the baddest bitch you’ll ever know.”

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Album Review: Bonelang- Venn Diagrams (Pt.I)

Nothing fits quite as nicely as hip-hop and jazz. The two genres may not be a typical mashup, but the Chicago duo Bonelang definitely makes it work it on their newest EP Venn Diagrams (Pt. 1). With careful layering of emotional vocals over smooth instrumentals, Bonelang has put together a truly unique piece of art. The music stands out on its own, but it’s not what makes Matt Bones and Sammy Language artists. They’ve collaborated on a complete body of work which includes 12 tracks split between two releases, a four-volume short film series entitled Venn Diaries, two music videos, multiple 3-dimensional installations, an art book and a photo series. Each piece is being released in its own time, creating a true experience for fans as they explore the minds of Bonelang.

The EP opens with Bonelang’s first single “Mushroom Moon”; a creatively arranged piece pairing jazzy instrumentals with heavy beats and poetic lyrics. From the first downbeat, the vocals are strong building with emotion until the lines “I like my city dirty and I like my thoughts deep/I like the sky scrapped and I like the concrete,” are belted out. These lyrics repeat throughout the song, always the same and always different. They become a bit of a mantra as a round breaks out with “I know you wish that someone could be on your side but I’m hopelessly addicted to my own brain child oh/What am I to do if I can’t have you?” There’s a great deal of buildup as the music fills with static and distortion before abruptly coming to an end; like the white noise on like a television before suddenly being turned off to a silent room.

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Album Review: Sunjacket – Mantra

Sunjacket takes a solid first step on their way to stardom this week with the release of their debut album Mantra. This exquisitely produced mix of haunting vocals, bold brass, alluring guitars and enchanting synth has set a promising future for the four-piece synth rock band. The album is filled with beautifully crafted pieces making it hard to pull the out favorites with each tune progressing into something equally as appealing as the last.

Over the last few months, Sunjacket has released three singles featured on Mantra. The first single “Not Enough” is an eerie synth tune with airy vocals gracefully accompanying a strong rhythm section. Their next release, “Creepy”, which contrary to the title is not at all ominous but bright like an 80s roller disco jam. The latest single, “No One’s Around You”, which was released late last month, is probably the best of the three; an easy listen with catchy melodic lines and lyrics.

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