SONG REVIEW: Ines Herrmann - "Final Enemy"

By Jessica Klausing

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German singer-songwriter Ines Herrmann releases her newest single “Final Enemy,” ahead of her upcoming EP, Thunder which will release on September 10.

Herrmann has a knack for compelling storytelling songs as she adds a bold flair of her personality with unique instrumentals to create something truly special. Her music can be compared to Janis Joplin, Kate Bush, Charlotte Gainsburg, and Julia Jacklin.

Herrmann refuses to be ignored as “Final Enemy” is a testimony to anyone who dares stand in her way. Honest lyrics and pitch perfect vocals soar over diligent percussion while Herrmann proclaims that she’s your final enemy, “in the back of your mind when you’re ready to face it.”

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SONG REVIEW: Tony Andreas McQueen - "Summer Anthem"

By Jessica Klausing

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Tony Andreas McQueen is half of the duo known as McKQwn. He is a songwriter, producer, arranger, and vocalist based in Los Angeles. McQueen releases his sizzling new single, “Summer Anthem” to kick off those carefree summer days.

“Summer Anthem” oozes R&B elements with a laid back deep soulful smooth earworm melody.

McQueen’s tender vocals cools and sets the perfect scene for a summertime evening chill. This track will make you want to cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway in an open top convertible with your love riding shotgun. Sweeping in its simplicity and eloquent in its lyricism, it’s a romantic charmer without being too sappy.

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SONG REVIEW: Ch3ls - "Crying Wolf"

By Jessica Klausing

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Ch3ls releases her new single, “Crying Wolf,” a seamless blend of country, blues, and hard rock with a tinge of pop appeal, thrown in for good measure.  She’s a spitfire powder-keg of talent ready to explode into the atmosphere.

The delicate opening guitar lulls you into a false sense of security as Ch3ls sweetly sings, “Oh you know/I used to care/ but how much can a girl take?”

Her sugary sweet delivery comes as a surprise when you realize that she’s calling out a guy who did her wrong: “Don’t you know…You did it to yourself/so go lay down in that bed you made,” she croons casually before the tempo picks up and we’re thrown into a whirlwind of booming hand claps and somber backing vocals.

Ch3ls’ howls are justified when she reveals evidence of this man’s behavior: “A wolf in sheep’s clothes/ That huffin’ and bluffin’ is bullshit/I’m sick of your lying and whining, you crying wolf!” The electric guitar solo that ensues will have your heart pumping on an adrenaline fueled high. Before long you’ll find yourself howling along with Ch3ls’ fierce wolf pack. It’s well worth the listen.

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SONG REVIEW: Rob Drabkin - "It's A Beautiful Day"

By Wanda Whitley

Rob Drabkin.

Rob Drabkin.

Without even one glance out of a window, this latest single from artist Rob Drabkin lets you know what the weather is. 

“It’s a Beautiful Day” is so positive and uplifting, you may not even need that morning Cup of Joe to get you going. The guitar is very pretty, and Rob’s lyrics are just so smooth and soothing. As the song pleasantly soars you into the chorus, you want to get up and take that deep breath – breathe in all of the joy of this beautiful day. And you can just feel the sun on your face as you listen and take in this day that Rob has created and shares with you, feeling more than okay as you sing along with this anthem of celebrating today.

Although his musical talents make it easy to believe he’s always been a full-time musician, Rob attended Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, where he graduated with a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology with the intention of becoming a doctor. His focus quickly changed after a family trip to New York to reconnect with his father’s old musician friends. After that moment, Rob knew he wanted to pursue a career in the music industry. His song, “Someday” has already a spot on major Spotify playlists and in just one month, the single accumulated over two million plays from listeners around the world. I think we can agree that Rob made a great choice in a career change.

Clap your hands, move to the beat, and enjoy the vibrant horn arrangement - just drink in the fun of this celebration of life!  And like a day that is as truly beautiful as this musical creation, as Rob tells us in his song - “whatever you do, don’t let it go, don’t let it get away!”  No worries, Mr. Drabkin, we promise we will hit replay on this one! 

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SONG REVIEW: Blake Brown & The American Dust Choir - "Stop Shakin"

By Wanda Whitley

Blake Brown & The American Dust Choir.

Blake Brown & The American Dust Choir.

Let me begin by addressing the one disappointment I found with Blake Brown & The American Dust Choir’s new single “Stop Shakin."  It is not fair, just not fair!  How can you tell us to stop shakin’ to such a lively beat? 

Let me tell you, I am just loving how this song gets you movin’ and groovin.'  And even though this song has some angst, it is a happy song, a song of hopeful reconciliation – a song of “ok, enough is enough – can’t you see I can’t take it anymore?” 

Blake's wife, Tiffany Brown and and his longtime friends Jason Legler, Adam Blake and Trent Nelson make up The American Dust Choir, creating a blend of indie rock and Americana. Blake’s music is rooted in acoustic sounds, and characterized by his seemingly simple, yet complex melodies and heartfelt lyrics.

This is actually a sweet love song, too. And what is that I hear? An echo of Fleetwood Mac in the music and vocals! "Stop Shakin" is the lead single off the band's debut full length album, Long Way Home. It should shake up the charts, for sure! 

At first, I thought the bass is what I love the best, then – those guitars! And wait a minute, the keyboards, too!  All in all, such a complete package of vocal and instrumental beauty.  Did I mention I love this song?  I cannot wait to hear more from you, Blake Brown!

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SONG REVIEW: Tim Lancaster - "Half-Life"

By Wanda Whitley

Tim Lancaster photo by Guy Roberts.

Tim Lancaster photo by Guy Roberts.

Listening to Tim Lancaster’s latest single, "Half-Life" has left me in joyful wonderment.

Tim Lancaster is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and singer. His music spans the spectrum of pop-rock-psychedelic-punk to modern jazz. "Half-Life" is the second single off his debut album, Conspiracy. With Conspiracy, Tim created a genre-bending collection of tracks that utilize a carefully selected range of instruments, effects and production techniques. He even built a pedal board from scratch, imagining exactly how he wanted the fuzz to sound and how the distortion should roar.

There is so much to love about "Half-Life." The music itself is spooky-cool, an eerie, melodic sound that is all at once futuristic, yet it transports you to the past. With keyboards that pay homage to The Doors, some electric guitar riffs that whisper a little bit of Jimi Hendrix, drum beats reminiscent of the space-age beat of Billy Thorpe’s "Children of the Sun," to Tim’s smooth vocals and performance channeling a bit of Alice Cooper – this song is a trip to the past, present, and future.  

Yet with this pleasant transportation, "Half-Life" is truly Tim’s song and Tim’s song only. Such an eclectically-ethereal treat. This song is far-out for sure.  Far-out in a good way, man.  We are definitely feeling your presence with "Half-Life," Tim, and we are all the better for it!

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SONG REVIEW: Kodacrome - "Think Of The Children"

By Wanda Whitley

Kodacrome.

Kodacrome.

I am so energized right now people! 

If you haven’t heard it already, rush right now and listen to Kodacrome’s single "Think of the Children." I promise you an awakening and a rush, a transportation into an electro pop dream, with beautiful vocals that are breathy and sexy, yet what a pristine sound! The techno-beat gets your feet moving, your head grooving, and your body shaking in a rapturous dance.

Kodacrome is comprised of Elissa LeCoque and Ryan Casey. The pair create fragmented pop with a warm electronic pulse, featuring swells and lead lines which ring from synths and throats, alike. Elissa and Ryan share a deep love for melodic composition and it certainty shows within their music.

I particularly love the horns and keyboards playing along with the beat, a joyous addition to the composition. This is the type of song that keeps playing in your head long after it ends, the kind of music you tell the D.J. to “play it again”!  

A line in the lyrics tells us to “Stretch your arms out…” Indeed. Listeners will most definitely stretch their arms out in an embrace for this one. Think of all of us, Kodacrome, and keep up your excellent and eclectic work!

SONG REVIEW: Jake Aldridge - "The Underdog"

By Wanda Whitley

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Listening to Jake Aldridge’s latest single, "The Underdog," I was pleasantly haunted and inspired. The music is incredible. It’s melodic and ethereal beat puts me in mind of emerging out of the mists of a moor. Which is fitting, as his song about an underdog is all about coming from the bottom and rising to the top, and not giving up. 

Like a swirling mist that may obscure those in our lives (or even our own selves), that we might say never have a chance, "The Underdog" breaks through the clouds and comes into the light on the winning side. Jake’s moving lyrics convey in every way the struggle of the underdog, and how hard the battle is, and how lonely it can be. 

Listeners can relate to feeling like they never fit in, and having to “fight demons for your freedom," as Jake raps smoothly and sincerely the plight of the underdog. Yet in this plight, what encouragement! Jake tells us we “gotta get up” and “stop wasting our potential," and even though at the bottom, with a long way to go, we can “live in hope for tomorrow."  What an inspiration this song is, as Jake reiterates to the listener in his lyrics that the underdog  doesn’t need a mirror to know who he is, and he offers to “let me show you," opening himself up to reveal who he is to us, keeping it real. 

Jake is showing us his heart and sharing his soul to us in this song. A very moving part of this song is his tribute to his father, who he reveals he “lost at an early age, but his love remains."  He also refers to being the son of a king. And my favorite line in the song is “a gift from God, the underdog with no collar” – how humble the underdog is to recognize where his gift comes from, and what imagery that there is nothing holding this underdog back! 

I will conclude this review with the beginning of this song, which is a montage of introductions of Jake Aldridge.  One of the announcers introduces Jake with the underdog’s proclamation: “Don’t get discouraged, no matter what is going on in your life." This is the key to "The Underdog" coming out on the winning side – never give up.  Bravo, Jake, for this brilliant song – you are definitely on the winning side with this work.

SONG REVIEW: Yona Marie - "My Soulful Baby"

By Wanda Whitley

Yona Marie.

Yona Marie.

Okay, folks.  First, I cannot tell you how relaxed and chill I am right now.  Listening to Yona Marie’s new single, "My Soulful Baby" has de-stressed me (can I say to the max)? 

In 2010, R&B artist Rachel Marie Moore AKA Yona Marie first gained mainstream popularity by releasing 'The Luv Exposure' featuring artists, producers, and singers from all over the world. The lead single was featured on a Majormix release which included Chris Brown, Ace Hood, and Tyga.

Marie followed up with the release of "High," a 90's styled instrumental garnering over 100,000 listeners and 20,000 downloads. In 2014, Marie released her full length album, "Reminiscent" which eventually led her to collaborate with EDM producer Eli in 2016 to create the viral track, "Just Wanna Love You" which hit over half a millions plays between Spotify, Youtube, and Soundcloud.

Marie's soothing, soulful voice is such a balm to the soul.  And what a song!  With hints of Diana Ross’s voice, and such sensuality flowing from her heart-felt words that I am put into the mind of hearing a female version of some of Barry White’s work, Yona Marie is indeed a multi-talented artist. 

The musical arrangement is very cool and smooth - the keyboards and groovy guitars and the beat just carries "My Soulful Baby" onto the dance floor for a romantic slow dance.  The music to this song, along with the lyrics, takes me back to another time – a time when this world cared a little more and loved a little more. Thanks, Yona Marie, for helping bring us back to this time with your beautiful love song.

SONG REVIEW: Aidan James - "What My Friends Talk About"

Written by Jessica Klausing

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Aidan James shakes up the pop scene with his Hawaiian inspired melodies.

At age 9, James uploaded a Youtube video cover of Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister” while playing a ukulele. The video went viral with over 20 million views inspiring the young Hawaii native to venture into a music career.  In the last couple of years he has released an EP, “Live Again,” and a full-length album, “Echoes.” He has toured with many notable acts such as Train, Jack Johnson, Lisa Loeb, and Michael Bolton. Currently, 16 year old, James has been hard at work to release his new full-length album sometime later this year.

In his new single, “What My Friends Talk About,” James uses his ukulele to the bridge the melody gap between contemporary pop and R&B. Think sound wise similar to Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours.” The ukulele fades as the song progresses into an eclectic fusion of finger-snaps, hand claps, and percussion.

James’ warm vocals evoke a sweet innocence as he admits, “And you know I can’t remember anything before I saw your face.” His versatile talent and individuality shines through on this track. I can’t wait to hear what Aidan James has in store on his new album.

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SONG REVIEW: Justin Levinson - "I'll Make It In Hollywood"

Written by Jessica Klausing

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Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Justin Levinson’s new single “I’ll Make It In Hollywood” promises he’ll do just that. Coupling the ambition to ‘make it big’ in the entertainment industry with doo-wop harmonies and touches of 60’s pop and soul, Levinson embodies the spirit of the struggling underdog: “I’ve been so tired lately/LA can wear you down sometimes/Working for survival while you try to keep your dreams alive.”

“I’ll Make It In Hollywood” is an endearing ballad that instantly soothes a soul, lifts a mood, and inspires a weary mind. The song strikes an inspirational chord of determination to overcome life’s obstacles and see a dream fulfilled. This track follows up his 2017 release, Yes Man.

Check out my interview with Justin Levinson HERE.

Purchase Justin’s music HERE.

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