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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I've been holding this one in for nearly 2 weeks. Soul-folk duo Take Berlin released this album for I think everyone but the United States a few days ago, and I can't contain myself until the US release date of some time in May to put into words how good Schoharie is.

Motion is that wonderful debut single that gives you a window seat on the Take Berlin tour. It's one of the many tracks on the album to stick out like a sore thumb with all its hook and potential to store itself within the depths of your psyche.

Analyze the single for a bit and you'll get a web of ideas of what's waiting for you on the rest of their album. Lyrics of quality, adorable vocals, and excellent composition that leads to a firm folk base without all the Americana cliche. This song is really well composed, and it's nothing but a deep scratch to their surface.

So what else is there to look forward to?

Alright, so the cool thing about their sound is that it's theirs while maintaining flexibility. They can go a little more rock on a track like Tommy Gun, or they can exercise the cute-factor and couple it with great story telling like on Waiting on a Friend. No matter what they do, it always fits, and it makes for a versatile album you won't be yawning with.

There's some other details, not quite as musical but pleasing to the ears, that they dissolve over the effort. I'm talking about the pleasing sound of distant traffic, somehow, or sounds of nature, all beautifully placed on the perfect moment. Maybe it seems more difficult than it is, maybe it's harder to pull off than I can imagine, but a lot of the time it makes the difference between good and great production.

When you can, I recommend the stream in full with a clear head, or the hopes to relax. There's something about Schoharie that gives a strong caress towards relaxation. It'd be a shame to waste that.

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The Smoking Bells released their album Sleeptalk and it came out on fire. Indie pop is a very satisfying genre when it's done correctly. Indie and alternative music can be a bit too daunting, sometimes venturing to places that are more noise than music. Pop music tends to swing the other direction: it's been done so many times that listening to it is just like listening to any other pop song.

When I listened to the Smoking Bells, I was hesitant to label it as psychedelic because I wasn't lost or carried away by a vast tank of layered sounds. This music's tendencies towards pop keep it in check. It is always simple enough to follow and simply enjoy without too much cerebral strain.

It is clear from the first track that this isn't the kind of music that'll soak your grey matter in sugar water until it turns into bubble gum.

iTunes | Bandcamp
Bands like the Smoking Bells tend to have an obvious elemental strength. Typically, those that can find a melody fall short in lyrics and those that have lyrics opt for simple beats. The Smoking Bells gets downright experimental in order to put every notch in their belt.

They've got groovy rhythms and talented musicians and well-paced lyrics and really just overwhelming talent.

I found that this album really creates its own atmosphere. It's familiarity makes it easy to listen to but its unique qualities and borrowing from many different subgenres of alternative rock really makes it engaging. It feels like it brings a visual story with it at times.

The Smoking Bells' album Sleeptalk was released on March 4th, 2016 and is available on iTunes and Bandcamp.

— Courtney Shelton

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This post was written by Courtney Susan Shelton
As a student at Northern Arizona University, Susan studies Creative Media and Film with an emphasis in documentary studies and a minor in English. She writes poetry and short stories and uses her film expertise to create clay animated shorts and poetry compilations. In addition to making documentaries, Susan also enjoys working her blue-collar fast food job, keeping up to date on the climate crisis, and planning her imaginary life outside of the state of Arizona.
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D4AM has been following The Foreign FIlms' pre-released indie-psych-rock since side 2. Now, side 2 is really special to me. It features Emily Blue, which is currently one of the most played songs on my music library. Needless to say, I jump every time I hear there's a new side of The Record Collector available.

Side 4 came with some interesting news. The Record Collector is gonna be a 6 side release, meaning once it's all out you'll find yourself with a triple LP of the album.

I'm not disappointed with side 4, but I'm not extremely happy about it. On one hand I'm finally understanding the point of releasing the production in sides. Each side carries a completely different vibe, meaning you can replay your prefered side over and over, or if you're feeling lengthy, you can stream the album in full. From a vinyl's experience perspective, the idea is beautiful. On a more personal note, it feels like the album will be so varied that I'll be stuck listening to my favorite side and nothing more.

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I wish the sides were a tiny bit more similar than they are, with just a little more psych but that same awesome Foreign Films production.

As far as this side goes, I'm flirting with it a little more than side 3. My favorite track comes near the end, Sunset Beyond the Sea, but every track has its magic to it. I recommend at least one dedicated listen before making up your mind.

I'm also really glad there's promise for more sides. As pleasant as it is to hear side 4, it doesn't feel like an ending. It feels like its own experience, maybe, but not the end of the show.

The side is available as a name-your-price release, so pay whatever you care to support with, or download it free if you're planning on purchasing the triple LP upon its release. You can also check back on Side 2 and Side 3 right here on D4AM.

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I take things very seriously when you start saying things like "progressive-genre" which is pretty much what happened with female fronted progressive death-metal band Infernal Outcry. I've been paying attention to he sounds of this album and, though it's far from perfect, it is a pretty great take on a genre that usually features what I like to call abstract monotony. Death metal us known for screaming, heavy and quick paced riffs, and they've got all that, but they blend it with change in tempo, melody, and the occasional shift in style.

Basically, they made death-metal that non-death-metal fans can understand requires talent. And if you do like the occasional noisy screech of extreme metal, you're in for a treat when you hear this EP.

Eclipsed begins the theme. They'll attempt to hook you with those first 30 seconds, because immediately after that point it gets a little less attractive. It's a seven minute single, though, they work their magic over time. You'll hear talent in the guitars and drums right away. It's gonna take some analyzing to realize the accuracy of the bassist, but it's just as solid.

Chemistry keeps them together. Honestly, the talent isn't so much that each member could hold up the band on their own. The fact that they work so well together is most of the reason this album's so good.

Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp
And let's clear this up, as of writing this only Eclipsed is available for stream, but it's definitely not the most progressive track on the album.

You can hear attempts at awesome prog, sure, but it's not until later in the album that you realize all they're capable of. By the time you start noticing how intense it could be at the same time, they start finishing off. It's a mere 4-track EP, which is probably perfect if the genre's not your usual cuppa.

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It took me a few days to properly digest Alistair Blu's hip-hop, and I still think it's weird. I think musically the effort is nearly flawless, lyrically he's starting to conquer the food chain, but there's something about that end result that rubs a little too much.

His content is where he hooked me. He can connect with the listener without resorting to the same old generic single ideas. He won me over when his love song was more about a difference of taste, and not about how perfectly imperfect his relationship could be.

This is just an EP though, and I can see how he stuffed it with great musical production to fluff the listener into thinking there's more going on. It's not that there isn't, it's that this is what an EP should be. An extended taste.

Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp
A nice little detail is how Busty and the Bass helped out with that quality production I keep mentioning.

The oddest point of the EP for me is specifically attached to the production of the vocals. It's all done on purpose, but it felt a little unsettling or creepy, depending on song and subject matter. This odd use of vocal filters isn't a permanent display, but it's there. I can't help but think I don't get where he was heading with the sound, but I imagine in time it'll all clear up.

I recommend you give this one a listen when you have the time to dig into the lyrics a bit. Stream it on either Soundcloud or Bandcamp if you're indecisive. Otherwise, keep up on socials.

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I've been listening to this album for the better part of a week, and I keep asking myself what it sounds like. They hooked me with the music video, catch it below. That single felt like a downtempo-meets-jazz kind of thing, but the album explores so much more than just that.

So, what is it?

The better question is: Who are they?

They're a five piece outfit from Basel, Switzerland. They're female fronted, but she doesn't just sing, she's also in charge of the some of the guitar and the piano throughout the effort. There's some digital work elsewhere with the members, especially with the synths. You'll also find a trombone, a trumpet, as well as regularly expected instruments.

Next up is mood. Often dark, always intricate, and usually very relaxed. It's so relaxed that for the first time in a long time I was forced to stop analyzing the album in order to properly enjoy it. They have a way of swaying you into the story of the melodies, and a certain magic that allows peculiar details to pop up after repeated listens.

I guess it's... Alternative jazz? Or maybe downtempo trip-hop.

iTunes | Amazon

It really doesn't matter. They sound like themselves, and you don't need more than a single to figure out if you'll like that sound or not. However, the album might be much for some.

I found it perfect. Not too lengthy, varied, but focused on the mood of their sound.

If relaxed music with excellently composed instruments isn't quite to your liking, maybe an album's worth is too much for you. I recommend you leave it on for background play until your ears get used to it and start analyzing the lyrics with the sounds and all the beautiful little details.

You can stream the album in full on Spotify, and I recommend the stream if you're enjoying their These Words single.

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Hip-hop exists because it can be honest in ways that other genres or styles can't easily portray. Bas purifies it, unafraid to share extremely personal rhymes, and equally confident when faced with the perception of others.

To sweeten the catch, musical production is of good quality at its worst moments. Even the tracks that don't completely cut it sound superior to your average radio play on a decent set of headphones. It's not like the lyrics ever fail to impress either, so we're talking about a superior album.

It starts off quick with the title track, impressively explaining the album's quality. His lyric will explain general direction, the production will explain the mood, and there's a few other details in there that'll let you understand without giving the fun of it away.

If you're short on time, a few recommended tracks include:
  • Methylone
  • Clouds Never Get Old
  • Matches
Taking the time to listen to the album in full is rewarding, and I think it's because it feels honest. It doesn't feel like propaganda, it doesn't feel like elitist views, it feels like a regular person with incredible talent speaking from his own perspective. There's plenty of room to disagree with him, but even if you do you realize he's explaining himself. You see why he comes from where he comes from, and in turn he lets himself be respected.

My only problem with anything is a question aimed at his future:

Can it be better?

Well, probably, but the truth is I wouldn't know where to start. He could demand better beat production, but it's so good as is that I doubt it'd be necessary. He could change his rhyme style so that it occasionally pulls the audience in with more force, but I fear that might cost him the very selling point of his music, the purity. If all that's left is his subject matter, wouldn't we grow tired of hearing the same person speaking about different things in a very similar way?

As long as he doesn't fear his evolutionary process, I'm sure what's in store is something we can't even peg a thought on. Until that day comes, I'll be enjoying everything there is to offer on Too High To Riot.

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