zenxienz – Album Review

Hong Kong-born musician, producer, and songwriter, Cameron Williamson, aka zenxienz, has released his second full-length album for 2017 titled “Brainforest” on August 4. Listen to the album on Bandcamp here:

 

The opening track “Insignia” is a full burst instrumental rife with colorful sounds that mix both electronic and tribal-sounding drums, enchanting piano and an immense amount of creativity that sets the table as to what’s to come. The Middle Eastern vibe is traditional with a strong dosage of modern influences. “Undercurrents” continues the electronic sound but with a more intense EDM and dance vibe that pulsates at every turn. It’s the perfect song for those hot nights at a glow in the dark festival where you just want to lose your mind, body, and soul in the music. The album is the audio translation of a painting full of vivid colors and strange shapes all colliding into each other to produce a unique visual image. The beats throughout the album are fast yet the melodic keyboards that accompany them are slow, majestic and space-like to the point where being surprised becomes the expectation.

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Image via zenxienz

“Pico” has vocal sound samples mix with heavy bass and disjointed drums all put into a synthesizer blender that melts away all conventions about what music is supposed to sound like. The drum style changes pace, style and tempo all in a matter of seconds making it a stand-out track that is destined to be blasted against a backdrop of strobe lights and beer cups held in the air. The sound of the album is heavily electronic, constantly changing through different methods of expression in both planning and execution. Soaring synthesizers add layers of discover that make for repeated listens, as this is not an album that could be fully understood in just one spin. The amount of rave and hardcore dance injected in each track will be enough to last for a very long time.

Some tracks like “Coiled” are a bit darker in tone with vocal tracks making small appearances to keep you on your toes of what to expect. Though most of the songs border on being dubstep, they do not stray into the territory of being loud and abrasive for the sake of it. The psychedelic drums and bass have deeper intentions with many breakdowns that give you a breather from dancing and trancing about. The breaks allow for recuperation, reflection on introspection, and allows you to take in the moment with someone new as you’ll most likely be listening to this new age, off-the-rails record at a blistering venue. The sounds, although chaotic, are therapeutic even for those swaying alone to the rhythmic madness alone in a room.

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Image via zenxienz

There’s no doubt that the sounds from zenxienz will continue to impress for many years to come. For now, let’s all enjoy what this masterful electronic musician has created: an inspiring connection with others through sounds, mental images and creativity. To stay up to date with all things zenxienz, be sure to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Bandcamp, Spotify, Soundcloud, and his official site.

Jay Hunna – Song Review

Jay Hunna released a new music video for his track “Good Ol’ Music” from his upcoming “Better Days” album coming out Sept. 8. Check out the track here:

Hailing from the south side of Chicago, Jay’s inspiration for his debut album “Better Days” comes from the tragic death of his cousin Sandra Bland, which sparked nationwide attention in July 2015. Sandra Bland closes out the album on the track entitled “Land of The Free.” To tell his story in the album, Jay looks to Hip-Hop artists such as Jay Z, Tupac, Notorious BIG and others and takes elements of their style. Some of those elements can be heard in “Good Ol’ Music,” which celebrates Hip-Hop and independent record shops as seen in the video. Jay visits a shop and picks up classic records from legendary rap acts all while giving a very chill vibe that celebrates recognizing where we come from and the importance of community. Although the song talks about coming from humble beginnings, the track is also proving that we don’t always have to stay there.

Lyrically, the song begins with Jay expressing his appreciation for music at a young age and how he would go up to his room and use music when he was feeling down to feel like new again. The chorus is about relaxing, smoking, drinking, and listening to good ol’ music, and the chill beats allow for the listener to do the same when they blast this track at full volume. Jay comes off as a man who wants to enjoy the good times and not worry about the problems of the world, making him the perfect candidate to deliver a fresh track that celebrates the inspirations of legends past as well.

Overall, the song is recommended for anyone who prefers the more laid-back style rappers compared to their super hard counterparts. There will no doubt heavy-bangers on the rest of the album, so we’re excited to hear what comes next from Jay and his upcoming “Better Days.”

To find out more about Jay check him out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and his official site.

The Peanut Gallery – Video Review

New Jersey Hip-Hop duo The Peanut Gallery recently released its first single “Deep Thoughts” from the upcoming “Tales from the Basement” album. Check out the track here:

The Peanut Gallery is made up prep school graduate and breakdancing Orlando and his partner in crime Flee Jones, an inner-city gangster using music as an outlet. They got together after their plans to start up Party of 5IVE went astray and now the duo are making songs they want to and connecting with fans on a deeper level.

The song starts off with a symphonic keyboard track and popping beats that get you in the mood to hear what deep thoughts could come from the unorthodox duo. Almost immediately, hints of OutKast and A Tribe Called Quest can be heard yet the duo takes their expressive style in their own direction. The music production by Flee Jones has been accurately compared to the likes of Dr. Dre, Ja Rule, and Ludacris.

The personal lyrics cover topics like getting locked and being denied, but the main takeaway is that Orlando will not change his outfit or stop rapping because that’s who he is. The track delivers the message of accepting who you are and making it as far as you can despite the haters that will inevitable try to tear you down. His poetic style of the song and the lack of a chorus allows Orlando to fully express what’s on his mind without having to conform to any typical songwriting patterns, creating a refreshing and unexpected take in the rap genre. “Everything I end up loving always seems to disappear” is the final line that puts into perspective the overall message of “Deep Thoughts” and allows the song to be relatable to other people who are going through similar experiences.

The video strongly features Orlando’s interest in plushies, especially one of cartoon character Arthur. The visualizations on camera represent what’s being said lyrically and there’s a humoristic tone with the acting throughout. The use of the dolls highlights Orlando’s comedic values and soft spots rather than trying to appear all hard like most other rappers do.

The Peanut Gallery are in the process of writing and producing their album and both plan on releasing various projects together along and touring this year. “Deep Thoughts” is available on iTunes Spotify and SoundCloud, and we know we’ll be seeing more of them as they continue to rise. Be sure to check out the album “Tales from the basement” coming out Oct. 13.

Find more of The Peanut Gallery on YouTube, Vevo, iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud and Twitter.

Last Giant – Album Review

Last Giant has recently released its sophomore album “Memory of the World.” Check out the the opening song “Living in Photographs” here:

Last Giant began as a solo project by bandleader Ryan Heise (ex- System and Station) who collaborated with a group of touring musicians to take his “Heavy Habitat” debut album out on the road. He has since teamed up with Palmer Cloud on bass and Matt Wiles on drums to create “Memory of The World.”

The opening song “Living in Photographs” starts with a techno greeting before diving into the alternative rock sound that fans have come to expect from Last Giant. The riff is poppy and fun sounding, perfect for upbeat car rides. The chorus is catchy and the vocals by Heise are top notch, coming together to form a proper introduction to the album. The song is about the social media lifestyle many people live and how everyone is living in the pics they post online. “Diamond Decade” follows up with a heavy riff that is edgier and rocks harder than you would expect, truly being a representation of their louder inspirations such as Led Zeppelin.

“The Comedian” features some interesting keys in the beginning that soon delves into their trademark Jane’s Addiction style grunge with a breakdown featuring satisfying drums rolls that play off the guitar-work well.  The next song “Toys for the Devil” has a very 70s groove riff that can make anyone start head-bobbing and the song’s guitar solo adds substance to the overall album that has so far lacked any standout solos.

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Photo via Last Giant

After the four opening rock songs, “Inventory” slows things down with thought-provoking lyrics and a sentimental melody. This song shows Last Giant can go beyond the expected rockers by adding textures to their recordings and allowing their instruments to propel their message forward. Next up is “Drastic Plastic,” the fastest composition that is anchored on a strong rhythm section that carries everything along at quick pace. This track seems to have punk-inspired influences but mixed in a 90s alternative atmosphere.

“In the Calm” continues on with the trademark Last Giant sound of heavy groovers layered with clear, and determined vocals. The songwriting follows the pop format of catchy hooks yet has unexpected twists and turns that are reminiscent of the best progressive acts. Also, the end of the song is intense and one of the most aggressive performance heard so far. “Coverz” has the most bizarre opener with distorted vocals over a couple of guitars playing. It’s a welcome surprise and offers a change of pace to keep listeners on their toes. This hybrid track is part a loud-banger and part introspective toward the end, and illustrates their progressive influences well.

The electro vibes kick in to start “Blood on the Road” when suddenly the slow pounding drums introduce the guitars that sound straight from Soundgarden with head-banging riffs along the hard-jamming drum and bass. At this point the album has already proved its worth and any additional songs of high quality are just the cherry on top. “All the Same” features passionate screaming that demonstrate Last Giant’s dedication to their craft while the closer “Saint Paul” brings it all to a close with a bluesy riff that underlines the narrative about the murder of innocent Philando Castile at the hands of police officers. The song ends the album with an explosive finale.

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Photo via Last Giant

Mixing engineer Paul Malinowski (Shiner, The Life and Times, Riddle of Steel) and co-producer Larry Crane (Sleater-Kinney, Pavement, Tape Op) did a phenomenal job at putting the great talent that is Last Giant and making the instruments and vocals stand out while blending in. “Memory of the World” is a recommended listen to anyone who enjoys heavy jams and raucous riffs fronted by a legitimate singer who knows how to pen songs and bring us the rock.

To stay up to date with everything Last Giant, check them out on Soundcloud, Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, and their official website.

Avery LR – Mixtape Review

Avery LR is back at it again with a new single for his 2017 “Surviving” mixtape that features more than 20 underground and gangsta rap tracks. Listen to his latest single “They Don’t Like That” here:

The “Surviving” mixtape could draw comparisons to works from Avery’s inspirations such as Jay-Z and his contemporaries. He often raps about real issues and doesn’t shy away from topics that others are too scared to talk about. The mixtape features no holds barred lyrics throughout with occasional glimpses of softer, inspirational tracks.

The opener “What U Know Bout Dat” is a true Hip-Hop staple with its quick spitting rapping, sleek beats and haunting piano melody that all combine to form a song that recounts the tragic day-to-day reality of living in the streets. “They Don’t Like That” follows up as an anthem that puts the haters on blast. It’s an “us against them” narrative that is empowering and makes the listener want to take control of their own sense of justice.

The mixtape is a combo of hard core tracks that eviscerate the naysayers while also having calmer songs that hit straight through the heart. “One Dream” features 10asee and is a softer, humble tale that tells of the struggles they both had to endure to get their families ahead. Avery raps about how he never takes a day off for the benefit of his kids and how he wishes his grandma was around to see his successes. This song is a nice break from the heavier tracks and shines a different light on both Avery and 10asee, showcasing their fight to overcome the challenges they have faced along their rapping careers.  In the same vein, the song “7 Years” featuring Avery’s son Aries is an uplifting rap with verses about being a good dad and chasing dreams.

The mixtape goes back and forth between the tough and the delicate so you’ll be getting a varied listening experience every time. “Fight Night” is a standout track that has an addicting keyboard bassline with aggressive lyrics and “Loose Yourself” is an Eminem throwback that uses sampling in a unique way making it a highlight.

“Never Surrender” was previously reviewed by ETV, and it goes to show that Avery LR goes above and beyond the status quo of what is expected from rappers and tells the trials and tribulations he went through without holding anything back. This ability to be open about his experiences is really Avery’s calling card to who he is as a rapper as well as a person. You know that when listening to any one of his tracks you’re going to get the most honest interpretation of narratives that are wrapped up in clever, provocative and in-your-face lyrics.

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Photo via Avery LR

There’s a lot of songs on the “Surviving” mixtape and if you like any iteration of rap, Hip-Hop, or underground gangster rap, then every song will be tailor made just for you. Be sure to check out what Avery LR is up to in the coming months while listening to the sprawling mixtape available now. To stay up to date with all things Avery LR, be sure to check him out on Facebook and Twitter.