Off The Ground is Aaron Cohen's latest release. It's produced entirely by Kemal and the combination of both their talents is why this hip-hop EP deserves your attention. Think dark bass influenced music production with honest quick-witted rhymes.

The more I listen, the more attached I get to the tracks. Still, I know a lot of people that wanna get to what's good immediately, so a few D4AM track picks include:
  • Off the Ground
  • A Cosmic Sense of Humor
  • Grey Soul
It might take a little more hip-hop appreciation to understand the depths Aaron's exercising, but for the most part these tracks are good for anybody who likes rhymes and urban moods.
iTunes | Amazon
I think it's safe to say this album couldn't be closer to expressing its mood with any other duo. During those few times where Aaron's lyrics allow you to drift off, Kemal is right there making sure you want to listen to what's next. When Aaron goes a little too far with impeccably rapped truths, Kemal is there making sure the production is up to par.

What I'm getting at is it's an impressive EP.

It's eight tracks long at just 24 minutes in length, and its replay value is high. Stream it (Off The Ground is available on Spotify) and you'll see what I mean. Every replay is giving in to your Aaron Cohen addiction. Enjoy.

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What do you get when you mix modern R&B with a quality urban background? And who are The Pheels to be presenting something like that?

likeWise is an enchanting experience. It's honest, and it sometimes coats ugly truths with quality production to make you fall into it. Thick bass lines, smooth musical transitions, and lyrics with nods to some amazing inspiring talents. A personal favorite example are Tupac lines on RnS.

There's a couple of tracks I'm not crazy about, but the rest of the EP has so much replay potential that I started singing along anyway.

I think they really nailed it with the track list.
iTunes | Amazon
It works in a way that the tracks compliment each other. The result is an EP you want to stream all the way through. It's not the same listening to your favorite tracks without their surroundings, though the better tracks can definitely hold being played all on their own.

So, who are The Pheels?

I don't know, man. Atlanta natives making fresh music for a very wide audience.  I recommend remembering who they are, likeWise feels like it's just the beginning.

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This gem of an EP has been out for about 10 days now, and I've been listening to it since day one. Six tracks make up the list, and all of them connect with me. Novaa is great on her own, she'll offer lyrics with depth and beautiful melodies. Moglii focuses on production, smooth, natural, relaxed, and more often than not, upbeat.

Before Down Under, the German duo were solo acts, but it's not every day separate acts debut together, and it's even less frequent that it works so well. Just listen to the title track open the EP for you.

You'll get it.

It's wise to roam about with the music, leave the stream on a while. Different songs strike differently at different moments. As you pay attention, and if you like awkward electronic music, I'd have to recommend Same for an early listen.

Same features excellent bass and sampled vocals.
I hope there's more. This EP is a great way to spread their individual talents out into the world, and when you go to Moglii or Novaa's Soundclouds, you'll hear they don't really need each other. It's such a nice combination, and the EP is so well done, that I'd love to see what a full length effort would sound like anyway.

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I was hesitant. I've been focusing on Butterscotch's Youtube videos for a while now, and the way I saw it the EP could either grow into something stunning or remain an unpolished gem.

I wasn't let down. The beatboxing singer-songwriter provides growth, beautiful melodies and trip-hop attitude.

The magic of it is something doesn't sound like everything you hear in a weekly basis, but it's also hard to put your finger on it. Think of a clean R&B sound, and then think of the beat boxing completely matching with some great musical production. Think of silky vocals making it seem easy, and you'll have an idea of what the EP is made up of.

What's best, the entire EP flirts in the same kind of quality. Nothing ever goes wrong, there's always something to pay attention to. That's not to be without some really stand-out tracks, but the reason I find preference over some songs feels purely biased.
Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp
I recommend the stream, it's quick and will most likely bend to better suit your day. You'll see.

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I wasn't impressed at first, but after a few tracks (and then a few replays) you start to get where the production is going. It was only after I started to admire the work that I found out Blue Book took two and a half years to create.

What is it?

Tor's produced a very relaxing, almost ambient trip-hop. Unless you consider sampled or minimal vocals otherwise, the album is completely instrumental. Some might say it's excellent background music, but I think the album is much more attractive on its surface.
Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp
If you wanna skip around a bit, a few personal favorite tracks include the lead single Days Gone, Myth, and Sunyata, but all the other tracks hold their magic, too. I realized upon re-inspection that much like a good movie, you go back and hear different things in different ways with each listen. Hear it out at least once and you'll see what I mean.

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What are we listening to?

Jasmine Rodgers is a singer-songwriter who's really good with folk and alt-rock. Her latest double A-side Sense / Icicles displays a little bit of both worlds, and the Icicles remix is there to demonstrate her voice suits multiple genres excellently.

Icicles isn't really my favorite track, but I admire how well produced everything is. I really do mean everything. From the music to the video to the bare poetry of her lyrics. Icicles was a decent start, and I just barely like it more than the drum and bass remix (which I still recommend you check out.)

Then there's Sense.

Sense is exactly to my liking. It's the alt-side of her music baby, and I personally felt it to be a lot more contagious. I'm listening to intricate acoustic work, pop fundamentals, and an excellent segue into Icicles.

I think I love that her music fits together. It's two songs, but it's still like fitting a puzzle together with random colored pieces.

If you like what you hear, these tracks will be out June 17th, and there should be a full album release sometime in September.

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It started with potential when I heard singles here and there with solid rhymes.

Then I finished it. It starts off wirh Morning Sex, a three minute intro to the iiiDrops experience. I thought I was about to be stunned. You'll hear it. It's quick wit and educated rhymes over layers of experience in a single incredibly well produced song.

About halfway through I started to feel it getting stale. I was wrong in a sense, but the idea of it deteriorating somehow is something I still hear pretty clearly.

The mixtape is basically a lot of potential and a few pretty good ideas, wrapped with his own experience and understanding.
For the most part he does an amazing hype job. Listen to tracks like Photobooth and you can feel it out for yourself. It's those moments that build the iiiDrops base. Everything else is mostly solid with a lot of room for greatness.

I'm not sure where I stand. I love the hype but I'm not feeling the lyrics of substance. I really don't like the moaned verses, but they work to the mixtape's advantage so I sucked it up and made peace with everything else.

Maybe the point went over my head. Maybe I'll listen to my favorite tracks in a couple of months and realize the iiiDrop references or something, or maybe nothing happens until Joey combines wit, charisma and substance on a future release. I'm ready to find out.

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Ever since I remember Yuna, I've respected her.
I just couldn't finish an album until Chapters.

Changes in production style make her latest stand out. It feels more modern, with deep bass and modernized RnB influences to balance the harsh pop base her style was built on. Balancing both worlds really well is her latest single Crush featuring Usher. Check it out.

I thought Usher was gonna hype the track more, honestly.

The fact that he kept it at mostly Yuna's vibe was the first impressive shot to me. The rest of the song and its dreamy downtempo goodness works well all on its own. It also features the weakest point of the album, which is the common every-track-is-a-romance, but it works, especially if you listen to the deluxe version of the album.
iTunes | Amazon
The Malaysian singer-songwriter always had vocals and creative song-writing to her advantage, and it doesn't fall short on Chapters. The three extra tracks on the deluxe version give the album a completely different spin that I can't recommend enough. It goes from ending on a sentimental ballad, to ending on a sentimental truth. She goes in depth talking about how she got to where she is and the struggles she faced along the way on Time. I highly recommend at least that song if you're liking what you're hearing so far.

While you're checking the Deluxe out, check out another personal favorite, Places to Go. I'm not sure how, but lacing a heavy hip-hop beat immediately after the album's original ballad ending is the perfect way to slap you awake again. It almost makes you wanna replay the album.

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The ugly truth is B for the Beast is the only reason I heard this album. This, The Switch Album, isn't  even a bad album, it's just lost in a sea of indie pop-rock albums with psychedelic twists. I like it because I can go to the library and play The Switch and I know what the mood's gonna be, and they have more than just a couple of great tracks. Even this album has some pretty awesome material in there.

Golden nugget #1 for me was Hangtime. Check that one out if you get the chance.

So what are the Norwegian pop-rockers offering us?

I thought they fixed their sound from their prior We're Fooling No One, Really, what they're doing is modernizing. They've found their own indie sway full of dreamy melodies and airy vocals. It works really well for them, I just have a personal affection for their psychedelics.
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There are other tracks you can't stream on their Soundcloud yet that I really got into.  I can't help but sing along to Girlfriend Material. Gilgamesh is a decent opener, though, and if you like it you might want to look into She Is the One and Narrow It Down.

I wish it were more particular in style. The album's catchy, it's running circles in my mind, but it's music I'm used to, or music that despite being brand new, I hear often. But maybe it's just me.

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I could nit pick, but if you're being honest about every important aspect, it's a solid hip-hop album.

Maybe the quality of the content could reach a higher level, but you gotta be realistic about these things. You get about two lyrically fulfilling hip-hop albums a year if your standards are up there with mine. This isn't one of those albums for me.

It doesn't feel like a guilty pleasure, though.

Actually, it feels just right. It's just catchy enough to rap along if your lungs can take it. It's got enough artistic variety to keep the haters at bay, too. We're talking about a giant crew of musical talent being featured on just about every other song. It looks ridiculous on paper but it works out pretty smooth.
iTunes | Amazon

Blended Babies killed the production on this effort. If you're gonna analyze every track you'll notice the work put into each beat is excellent, but they also know how and when to pull away. Nothing is ever overdone, giving it a classic feel while maintaining all those great production tricks they've got up their sleeves. Just wait 'til you hear those instrumental sections; it's beautiful.

What about Chuck Inglish?

Well, he was exactly what I was expecting him to be. Really good. You can't deny the quality of his rhymes, the wit and charisma. Again, I could nitpick and say it didn't exceed expectations, but he set his own bar high enough. The album works.

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I try not to write negative reviews

It’s a system. I like a variety of sounds so I focus on the best and worry less about the worse, and in the process of not worrying I come across hundreds of musical efforts. Somewhere in that pile of efforts was Voluma. I paid attention.

Voluma felt like it was in the worry-less area. There was a few good tracks on the effort but the album itself never caught me. I discarded the effort. It’s a week since I heard it now, and I hate the thought that I’m missing out on Mar just because the album isn’t up to my admittedly high standards.

Mar is fucking beautiful.

It’s got all kinds of rock and ancestors in there. Beach sways and a hint of bossa really engraved in. It feels like peace. It’s not pushing you anywhere but you wanna sway with it.

Mar translates to Sea. If you’re taking it literally, the song is an ode to how the sea cleanses and relaxes, together with the horizon sun revitalizing the soul. It’s a song about distance from the asphalt jungle.
iTunes | Amazon
There are other good songs on that album. If I heard the album over I’d probably be glad I did. But the only one I couldn’t stand not hearing again was Mar. You can check it out yourself and see if there's something else for you by streaming it through Spotify.

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And if you really like his voice, find him with Latin-Grammy award winning Zoé.
At first I thought maybe it was deep. It's so complicated it becomes confusing, and sometimes the point of the confusion is so minuscule you might wonder if it was worth listening and understanding.

It's overly complicated rap, but it sounds really cool.

So why did I stick around?

Raf Riley. We're talking quality back-to-back music production. It's that dark English stuff, from the grimey floor to smooth transitions. He made progressive beats that help AV's more poetic moments flow in the right light. Regardless of what the point of a song is, it sounds the way you know it's supposed to.

Together they made a better than average album. Understanding everything lyrically definitely won't be for anybody (Genius helps.) It helps that you can focus on transitions and general ideas. I love the way certain tracks introduce the up-comers.
iTunes | Bandcamp
After a while I got into understanding the Avelino style and point of view. I really like when one listen is enough for me to understand the whole picture, but this guy's cryptic. The puzzle becomes fun, even if the finished result is nothing spectacular. 

I would have loved if the point of a particularly difficult track were something equally as complicated. But this is a good start. It's a lot to ask for, but maybe a future album will complete the circle I was hoping for.

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Do you know why I love Karikatura?

I mean I thought it was their use of Latin spice at a time where those influences are pretty much dying. Eyes Wide showed me that capability and I'll never forget my seat-dancing. Now it's something else, though.

Now it's about focusing on sounding good, and how it just so happens that their dominant inspirations are Latin.

Alright, so that first track is the EP's lead single and it's a great start. It features Akil B. Strange on rhymes, and it paints a darkened powerful picture to go with the theme. In fact, the entire EP is focused heavily on justice (or lack thereof) and the realities many of us have to face.

It's an extremely political effort, and its production does nothing but support it.
Bandcamp | iTunes
A defining moment for me was with Miesto. For a while I kept thinking it went with the Latin theme. The music fit, the style worked, but I couldn't quite pin those vocals. After considering Portuguese and kicking myself about how wrong that guess was, I found that it's Russian lyrics with extremely Latin music.

And it works!

Dima Kay (think guitarist) has roots in Ukraine, which ends up making a Latin beat with the subject of identity struggles in the Ukraine, sung in Russian. Saying it feels almost as fun as hearing it.

As for the EP as a whole, it's bitter-sweet. I think it's overly lengthened with the addition in the end of a technically longer but censored radio edit of Ghost Town. The production for each track works wonders as an overall listen, though.

If you're looking for something a little less serious and a little more fun, they recently started shooting the Suitcase Series while they're out on the road. So far, covers include Stevie Wonder, Major Lazer, and Aaliyah.

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Captain Supernova has been a consistent force of retro electronics with the modern production of today, all wrapping his signature space travel stories. In his latest, Doors of Perception, I hear a lot of vocal jazz incorporation, and he's managed suiting it together with his synth base quite wonderfully.

Doors Into Doors leads you into the album, and if you're new to Captain Supernova it makes for a majestic entrance. Everything is a little too classic, though, and as an instrumental track I feel it does little to explain the fresh direction he's taking.

Skip to track 2, Only One

Only One is a personal favorite because it shows a lot of flexibility. It shows the direction and reminds us which album we're listening to. I look at it as the defining moment in the album's style.
Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp
There's seven tracks in all, and only two of them are instrumental. All vocals are female, which pretty much goes best with the style, I think. I'm curious to know how male vocals would fit into the CS style, but I'm in no rush to find out, either.

I'll take whatever the Captain dishes our way and feast with it.

There's also a really cool music video for Searching for Forever I recommend you watch if you're digging the sounds. I have a hope that it's the first in a series, and that we're all in for the Captain's more visual side of his story.

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So, say a poet can use words to convey a story and melody. Well, Aussie ambient-psych rockers Twin Haus use their instruments to do the exact same thing.

And it's kinda funny, because I find the lyrics the most difficult part to understand.

I dug the album when I first heard it, but it was mostly a nostalgic thing. It's been a while since I've heard music that reminds me of The Mars Volta or Campo-Formio, and those awkward executions were missed and appreciated.

There were a few parts of it that didn't quite make sense until afterwards, though. I gave the album a rest and came back to it later to realize I'd seriously underestimated a lot of the work put into it. 

I don't know how long it's gonna take me to fully understand this album, but I feel like a cyber audio archaeologist after every play.
Stream/Download @ Bandcamp
Lets run the album down.

It starts off with the very popular Synthetic Egg. It's an amazing EP opener, and it's not the best track on the album, or at least that title can be very subjective. I have a personal thing for the way the EP was put together so the emotion of Synthetic Egg could carry on into my personal favorite, Self-Love. I'm a big fan of anticipation and reward, and the way those first two tracks play with each other almost defines the satisfaction I crave from it.

All this being said, it's definitely not an album for everybody, because it's not the best album of its kind. If I'm gonna be really honest, the only thing it has going for itself is that it's definitely its own sound. You end up treating it like a person, and it's either your friend, an acquaintance or —if you're not into psychedelics at all— an annoying guest.

Those first two tracks should define where on your music social chart Twin Haus will fit in, but you'll miss out on everything else if you stop there. Track three, I Used to Think, isn't the most eclectic track but it's fundamental in ending side A. As for the final track and the sole single on side B, The Revue, well I think that one embodies the entire Twin Haus idea in just 11 minutes.

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This one's been teasing me for months, and ever since it was released I've been listening to it on leftover time. I'm not gonna say it's perfect, it's got some moments that wobble for me, but I can say it's done with the best quality of sound in mind.

It's not your average folk album, it spins a little more towards psychedelic folk rock at times. It's well composed. We recommend clicking play.

Capsized is one of my favorite tracks overall, and the best intro this album could have. It's also one of the few songs with a music video, making it one of the few songs you can freely stream.

You won't be streaming this album on Spotify, so let me break down Capsized so you can better understand what all the fuss is about.

Capsized is the first date. It's charismatic, so it's not just trying too hard, it's succeeding. It's a magical take on its own folk and rock roots, and if you were to marry it you would not be unhappy with your relationship. All the magic and value is real, it's just not as concentrated as you'd find it on that first impressive date.

It's not exactly my soulmate, but I could live with it.


You know?

iTunes | Amazon
The whole streaming situation is a minor pain. Again, not on Spotify, Soundcloud, or anything of the sort, but I could find a complete stream via NPR on this link. Check to see if it works for you, and let me know in the comments if you know of/found an alternate stream.
(It's appreciated)

If you want to experience the release the way I did, check out the video for Left Handed Kisses featuring Fiona Apple. There's also a very well made lyric video for Capsized, and a video stream for Roma Fade which is probably much closer to the album sound.

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