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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What an excellent electronic dance single.

I think for contrast, it's important to realize how much I dislike singles. Sure, one song on its own is great, but the idea of pre-releasing one or two songs to later make you feel like you should buy a mediocre album makes me sick. It's at that point that the art in music dies and becomes business. Remember that every time you witness a one-hit-wonder.

XO's Divine Disaster and Night Time Solace aren't quite that.

It's a lot more like a short release. Seven fulfilling minutes with songs that could work out on an album, but work really well unaccompanied by a grand track list.

 It's actual dance music.

Technically you can dance to whatever you feel like, so way too much of the electronic genre is classified as EDM, but here XO has produced the kind of groove that makes you thirst for abstract movement. They call it electro-funk and warped R&B, and I hear it, but XO also has a strong hip-hop influence that's right there within the production if you pay attention.

It starts with Divine Disaster, and the genius here lies in the mixing. Those vocals hover over the beat. They nearly combine but set themselves apart, allowing you to dissect the track any which way works best for you.

iTunes | Amazon
Night Time Solace is so similar in attitude that I've found myself confusing the melodies, essentially
extending the mental image of its sound. This isn't to say they sound the same, Night Time Solace is a more bass-driven bump-and-bounce kind of track with fading vocals and interestingly sampled details.

I think I might enjoy the effort because I respect his vision. The 20 year old English producer isn't releasing the way music is supposed to be released, he isn't expanding with the rules placed in modern music public relations. He's making music for his own label and releasing it as he sees fit. I can't wait to hear more.

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My problem with modern hip-hop is that most everyone sounds like someone else. It's all imitation, on and off the masses, and unnecessarily so. It's possible to be unique, to stand out with originality, wit, and talent.

Jace has talent, but other than that he's everything I avoid. I'm still paying attention, and it's not just because the Jace Tape is a free download, it's more about how he takes existing patterns and makes them damn near flawless.

You'll be able to compare him with radio play on just about any song on the mixtape, but focus more on his attention to detail to make the most out of the experience. I first noticed the big picture over the course of the first four songs. Get It is exactly what you need out of a hip-hop intro, Call Log follows up with production, ensuring the listener of what lies ahead (hint: it's accurate) and Dirty kinda sorta starts letting it fall apart while maintaining some quality in the song. Dirt, on its own, is just a generic piece with little worth, but when it follows those first two tracks of quality it creates mental breathing room before you could be worn down from the excess of greatness. It's followed by J.A.N., a very strong piece that, had it not been for Dirt, would have been a taxing listen.

Stream/Download @ HotNewHipHop
Add to this his selection of some fine producers' finest production, and you wouldn't catch me under
any circumstances saying Jace doesn't know what he's doing.

He knows exactly what he's doing, and he's serving it on a golden platter.

I guess there's a few tracks here and there that don't quite cut it. Then you listen to tracks like Designer Drugs where advanced hip-hop/rhyme techniques aren't just displayed, they're built right alongside your ears, and the mixtape starts to pick itself up.

It might take some replaying, but it won't take much to replay it. The production, as mentioned, is of better-than-decent quality, the rhymes rarely ever slack, and his hooks do exactly what they're supposed to do. Give half the album a listen and you'll see for yourself.

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Emotional's Brian Wakefield has been refining his music's psychedelic sound for years. Their newest album is called Ahh... The Name is Emotional, Baby! and it has ten tracks of kind of hazy, soft dream pop. Even though the album mostly sticks to the realm of psychedelia, the pop that balances it is fun and light.

Sometimes the melodies even start to resemble traditional pop like the Beach Boys.

Oftentimes the tracks take on late night science fiction tones, something especially exemplified in the alien tones and stretched vocals of the single "Hand 4 Hire". Don't be confused, the dazed attitude the album takes on does not mean it is trance. Every track carries a catchy beat and sometimes even the kind of groovy beat perfect for dancing.

The best trait about this album is it understands creamy pop but is not afraid to stray from it by overlaying heavier sounds. Sometimes the vocals are uncomfortable to listen to. Sometimes grating sounds last until the end of the song. But it always pays off with some dulcet reward later in the LP.

Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp
Ahh... The Name is Emotional, Baby! was released on February 19th.

— Courtney Shelton

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This post was written by Courtney S. 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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Downtempo instrumental trip-hop can be a beautiful thing, and it can also be monotonous. Stratus' debut album, The Diver, sits mostly in the middle with a very attractive leg a bit further on the beautiful side than anything else.

How monotonous is it?

Luckily, not very. It can be a little strenuous on the ears if you're paying close attention and you're unaware what you should be appreciating, but you can't go wrong leaving it on and enjoying the rest of your day while it's there.

Use this album to focus without boring your auditory senses. Use it to enhance those small magical moments. Use it to shower, use it to
cook, and you'll see how easy it is to love it.

Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp
It's got a lot of depth. Certain songs can be a little more uplifting than others, other tracks can ground themselves in other influential genres like hip-hop or ambient electronics. Its versatility helps you dig into it, but its emotional consistency is the key to its replay value.

Don't confuse this Stratus with Stratus (bass), if you're into this chill stuff, follow this Stratus on socials and consider supporting the album

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