TINK – ‘TELL THE CHILDREN’ (PRODUCED BY TIMBALAND)

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Nothing to say: Tink says it all.

(This song is in response to all that Ferguson bullshit.)

LOVESUCKER

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Duos are a delightful epidemic. Every time I turn around there’s another pair of besties or siblings or college pals creating awesome originality, no full band set required.

LOVESUCKER is the project of Crystal Crosby (vocals, percussion) and Zoltan Von Bury (guitar, bass, drums, etc). Zoltan melds his 1970’s rock influence with an “indie sensibility”, while Crystal dubs her rivetting style “Gypsy Soul”, crediting Etta James, Grace Slick and Tori Amos for vocal inspiration.

Zoltan speaks of their sound: “The descriptions “Indie Funk and Gypsy Soul” actually have a true meaning or power source, if you will. This is who we are and what we do. …There are no examples for those terms because there is no one out there doing this sound; this is OUR sound.”

Their debut landed in the fall, and I just dipped my ear in. Sayonara Messiahnyde boasts some immense soul. Mississippi has been described as “intensely funky”, and I must agree. (Very rarely do you find such funk in a song denouncing slavery.)

Altogether it’s a scattered, dark, deep release, and yes, undeniably unique.

RxGF

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I always complain that there aren’t near enough bands who are socially aware, and seek to EDUCATE as much as they entertain.

Times are a-changing (again). Exhibit A: RxGF, a hard-hitting industrial band with a serious agenda.

One of the greatest joys of music (especially in alternative circles) is it grants us the opportunity to say that which is unsaid, especially that which deviates from accepted norms.

The song that’s most captured my attention: How to Make It, a meta-critique dissing the music industry’s prevalent corruptions.

Their heavy gothic crunch isn’t quite my thing, but it’s the message behind the music that gets me going.

“If you do what we tell you, we’ll make you a star.”
“We’ll reprogram your mind ‘til you don’t know who you are.”

AUBERGINE MACHINE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Aubergine Machine. Low-tempo, tranced, sweet. I listened to Sundown this morning, 7:32 AM with not a streak of light outside, anticipating cold and feeling considerably useless.

Aubergine Machine changed everything. Suddenly I was less alone.

I don’t think I could dance to them but I sure the fuck could sway. They are music for meditation. Waking up and living.

Shanti’s voice is a rippling peak, devastating and free. She cites influences such as Santigold (awesome!), Vampire Weekend, and No Doubt. This combined with producer Ian Carey’s undeniable experience, and the results are delicious.

JULIAN RHINE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Brooklyn-raised hip-hop afficionado Julian Rhine is “sick of the bullshit– the suppression of humanity, the constriction of freedom, and the government’s active attempts to treat us like dancing puppets”. From this cerebral, social rage comes a blazing commentary: his latest single, An Excuse to Riot.

Julian’s begun to blast off with previous releases (No God Flow, another track, was hailed recently by several media outlets), but I think Riot is the song that will seal him as an artist of merit and grit. When you’re brave enough to tell your government to back off (or stand up), that’s when you decide who you want to be, and what you want to fight for.

We need more musicians who use their songs to spread a real message.

This is a great start.

THE INTERRUPTERS

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Wicked lively rockin’ riotous jumpy friendly freakin’ sweet The Interrupters are such pure perfect poppy ska punk I have no need for commas.

I saw them open for Rancid one (two?) year(s?) ago, downloaded a few songs, and left it at that. Yet those four songs off their eponymous album (Liberty, Take Back the Power, Family- featuring Tim Armstrong, and A Friend Like Me) have deftly manoeuvered themselves onto my favourite playlists. I got to thinking, What if the rest of the album’s this good?

Spoiler: it is. They have that ska beat bounce down so well it guides the groove in every tune, no matter if the melody itself is more mellow (which it rarely is). Ideal for jogging, toking, talking, pogoing, dancing, living!

Not only that, but they take the time to write about important, honest issues, everywhere from human rights to human relationships.

I hope they get the attention they deserve.

BORSCHT

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I saw Borscht live: they opened for Audio/Rocketry at Wunderbar, one of the better venues along Whyte Ave, not that this means anything to anyone reading this on the internet, `cause the chances of you being from Edmonton are slim. Regardless. They were the first opening act, and even though I didn`t get on the floor because I was sitting with my friend (who paid for the tickets, the sweetheart), they did what I always wish bands (and writers) would do.

They made me feel.

Girl, guy: voice, guitar, drums: more than enough. They had a quick wit and confident, humble presence and their set lasted as long as I needed.

Their album DAZER is available on Bandcamp. First props: the album has no set cost; they chose the Name Your Price option. Smiley face.

As for the music, it was just as good as I remembered, and expected. The obvious hits -Boys Who Make Out, Candy- are the obvious favourites, but Jet Stream too packs a guttural punch, leaving Tipton and BFF to taser loitering soundwaves.

They`re smart and hard, slow and strong, one of the best quiet riots to scream from an Edmonton rooftop.

I dunno what it is, but they`ve got it.

Borscht – Boys Who Make Out (Audio)

NEHEDAR

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I hear an honest streak: pulses of pain, plashes of rapture, intelligence, openness, aching optimism.

Bravery. Struggle. Joy.

Nehedar is the project of NYC-based singer-songwriter Emilia Cataldo, a character as complicated as she is poignant. There aren’t enough genres in the world to keep her creative curiosity satisfied. The Warming House (released this summer) is a lively, cultural event, sometimes weird, always magical.

I’m most impressed by her unabashed philosophies. It’s ridiculous that a feminist lean remains a dangerous stance for musicians to take, but Emilia proudly declares her ideals. (Take Is It Annoying, a feminist anthem all about ‘wanting out of the gilded cage’.) Some songs she even reminds me of a less abrasive -but equally brazen- Kathleen Hanna (see her delivery of Don’t Look for comparison, or how she belts it in Loshon Hara Barbie). There’s a lot of punk in her funky folk- if not in timbre, then attitude. Then, when she softens (as with Flying and Come Into The Light), it’s deep and sweet.

I leave you with the last song mentioned, not ‘cause it’s my favourite, but ‘cause it’s the one with a video. (Practical, no?)

MICHAEL LEONARD WITHAM

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com


Michael Leonard Witham has a voice like an angel on whiskey.

Associations: Connor Oberst, Bob Dylan, the Violent Femmes guy… anyone with a bloody punch in their throat.

I was tired when I turned it on, and I wanted the night over, but as soon as he started singing, I had to stop. It`s all rusty, strung-out, sick-sweet, raw-rubble folk and it only makes me wonder, What the hell does he feel, that he can make those sorts of sounds?

Michael Leonard Witham: John’s Old Lady from Actual Cats on Vimeo.

RIVAL EMPIRE

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Rival Empire is sexy satire juice. They do funky stuff to the brain, and I like my brain funky.

It would be fair to say the band happened by accident. Matt (vocals) and Steve (all electronic instruments) started mucking around with music in college, and before they knew it, Tim (rhythm and lead guitar) joined the mix, and the muck became a weird, wispy magic.

Their sound`s a collage of commentary: poppy synth spliced with Ronald Reagan clips. They mix repurposed lyrics and minor compositional melodies from Phil Collins, Fleetwood Mac, and Michael Jackson (dancing around the dangerously blurry lines of the Copyright Act), and the result is a dance floor full of yum. Best of all, the lyrics are peppered with a brilliant, conscious wit, one that deconstructs the silliness of society.

Some of the message may be missed by the greater populace, but no matter what, we`ll all have fun.

VISION THE KID & TRU

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Rap’s hit and miss for me. It’s hard to relate to a musician when they can’t film a music video without exploiting a woman’s ass. Yet, even observing from outside the scene, I sense an evolution. Seems hip hop artists are relying less and less on hackneyed formulas, and exerting their energies on what matters: the fucking music.

Vision The Kid is evidence of this. Voted best local Minneapolis rapper by Vita.mn, he’s now teamed up with acclaimed producer Tru.

I listened to Somewhere In A Dark City (2014) from beginning to end, and felt I was transported into a dark urban opera.

It starts with a sundering stream of spoken word. Vision The Kid’s lips make tremendous movement, with or without a mix. All tracks following ride a hard rush: heavy, throttling.

This is music; this is talent. Lush, creamy, lines that crush n’ slice, with enough varied tone to keep me piqued (quite a feat- I lose interest quickly).

The lyrics are aware, observational, unblinking, and emotionally attuned. Somewhat predictably, my favourite bits would be any of the tracks with dark, sharp, poetic prominence: All Goes Away (ft. Lizzie Fontaine), Somewhere In A Dark City (the title track, obviously), and The Streets at Night, the spoken-word intro that had me hooked. (Fyi: there are two other spoken word tracks on the album -an interlude and outro- and they’re awesome.)

I especially like how clearly this is a duo effort. Though Tru may not strictly “perform”, he’s with Vision The Kid at every step. Together, they walk strong.

All in all I deem this a complicated, mature release, lending a lot of intelligence to an otherwise visceral art.

THE SLANG

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Depth is rarely found in guitars. That sounds like a shitty thing to say (or even type), but sometimes we have to wade through our cynicism ’til we swim to a better place.

The Slang is a band (big surprise), alternative rock (’cause I never cover that!), and I like them (’cause I always write about bands I hate!). (Does this sarcasm make me look fat?) I’ve only heard their single, Feels Like Work, but one good song is enough reason to write.

It’s ear-rubby, throat-drenchy, tear-grippy. Emo, honest, elastic. The keys (are those keys?) are great. I have no idea how this single reflects the quality of their upcoming EP (Sept. 2), but I was in a bad mood, and when I listened to this song, it made me feel better.

Sometimes that’s all that matters.

THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM ROLLS & TUMBLES

By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

If you’re a blog junkie or an avid fan of actual music, you will find three words popping up in your search history: The Gaslight Anthem. Yeah, I have reviewed them in the past — a few times to say the least — so you can naturally call me bias. However, I’m not here to plead a case or defend a band that I’m passionate about; I’m simply here to talk with the minds that are interested in their craft.

A few weeks back, New Jersey natives The Gaslight Anthem released their first single off of their soon-to-be-released LP Get Hurt. The track, entitled Rollin’ And Tumblin’, is ironically the exact movements I made when I heard rumors that their new album was done (you’d be surprised what a girl can do after a few glasses of Pinot). They decided to work with Mike Crossey this time around, which is really exciting news for people who analyze producers. If you’re a fan of the Arctic Monkeys you will recognize his art, or even artists that may be somewhat newer in the game to you, like Jake Bugg.

There are few words that I will never say about this band, that their sound is in typical Gaslight fashion. Any article that I read reviewing this single will immediately be passed on if that phrase comes about. No hating here, just stating the facts. This band continues to reinvent themselves as their career progresses, which is how it should be done. However, don’t get it twisted, I don’t think that is what they are setting out to do. It just happens. People grow, things change, and any fan of real music would appreciate that with the utmost respect. In a fan’s world, you’ll naturally see people boasting that they’ve changed or that their sound is different now. Honestly, yes, the only thing that is constant is change, which is portrayed in a band that cares about their work. I think this track leaves a lot to the imagination, which I hope is the theme to the whole record, however, the sound isn’t way out there — there’s still some familiarity for Gaslight diehards.

Rolling Stone recently debuted the title track Get Hurt. This song takes Gaslight fans in a new direction. It left me not wanting to think, but to listen, and that’s when I know a song is true. Let’s be honest, a fan is never going to actually be in tune with what a band is thinking entirely when they’re crafting a record, but there’s one thing for certain: This band is in tune with who they are, and what kind of sound they want to make.

I think Get Hurt is a great lead-off single, for its radio friendly while compiling a ragged howler that any fan of true rock and roll can appreciate.

There is a sincerity and passion in this group of guys that I have not only gotten to experience on an interview level, but through my speakers as well. This time around I hear more nuance, more layers, and of course, some damn well polished tunes.

These two tracks are the perfect appetizers to lead fans on without disappointing anyone or completely blowing minds.

Let’s bask in the ambience of their glory, shall we?

MS MR

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

“Didn’t know what this would be”

I’ve been looking. I’ve been getting bored. It’s become routine tedium: listen, like, review, forget, with little regret, unthreatening pop and riding crops and not enough fantasy.

“I jumped the gun, so sure you’d split and run, ready for the worst before the damage was done”

I need music that breaks and builds me. It has to understand where I’m coming from. I still pine for bouncy, sweet light, but from this point forward, there will be days only Ms Mr will suffice.

“Welcome to the inner workings of my mind”

They are intelligently designed, infinite darkness, subtle (that is, ripping) explosions.

“Keep my eyes open, my lips sealed, my heart closed and my ears peeled”

Music should let you be sober. Music should let you be anything. Sound is a spiritual experience- when done right, at least.

“Dig up her bones but leave the soul alone”
“We found a way to escape the day”

But I’m confused: Ms Mr doesn’t seem like the typical duo I’d like. They’re brand fucking new (Secondhand Rapture, a flood of genius, was released in 2013), they’re music school graduates, clean and tight and signed, New York based with gorgeous faces.

I thought genius was over. I thought music couldn’t be composed if it was mixed. And here I am, so happy to be proven wrong.

“How could you be what I wanna see, when my reality could never live up to the fantasy”

We’ve gotta be open to experience anything worthwhile. Your soul mate may be dressed up in the last persona you’d expect.

“The world is gonna burn as long as we’re going down”
“Baby, you should stick around”

I’m affronted by a strange, cerebral kiss: tribal, indelible, healing, mystic. There are so few bands I think, burn and bathe in. It would take me twenty-six hours of constant exposure to get remotely drained. Even then, as soon as they drop me off, I gotta turn it on again.

Love is both scary and beautiful when it gets compulsive.

“Hard to believe this could cause me harm”

What I love most about Secondhand Rapture (their first album, in case I’m too euphoric for facts to translate) is how many layers it explores. Music should be psychologically complex. This is!!!

I’ll try to talk human for a bit: What kind of music do they play? No clue. Wikipedia tags them under indie pop, alternative rock, dream pop and dark wave, which is about as useful as any genre explanation. When are people gonna get science is magic, and magic is subjective? I don’t care what you call it; I love it regardless.

“You only picked me up to bring me down”

They remind me where it hurts, and close my wounds by helping me open up.

“It didn’t come easy; I’m glad it was hard”

When I first heard them I thought (among many, many things): “This can’t just be music! Oh wait, music’s everything.”

I’m so lucky they were given to me. Thank you.

AMATUS

By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Amatus is a bard for the modern age, accompanying her tales not with lutes, but synthesisers.

She produces, writes, and performs her own vision, with others offering additional instrumentals (such as Nate, Butter, Matt, Jared, Vince, and Mikaal), while Andy Baldwin and Jamie Segal mix the tunage. The result is an act reminiscent of M.I.A; Amatus portrays those same hypnotic, gotta-listen beats with the air-tight seal of poppy persuasion.

A self-proclaimed nerd and music junkie, Amatus has made music studios her natural habitat since age 14, absorbing lessons from either side of the glass. But it was only after Meshell Ndegeocello (a critically acclaimed songwriter and bassist) lent her a sequencing keyboard that Amatus truly began to emerge as an artist.

Now Broken Compass is her first solo step into the music scene: a five-piece party favour, freshly wrapped and crisply orchestrated. It reconciles R&B with electro and breezy hip-hop, any remaining cracks plugged with indie pop.

This Brookyln babe’s gotta good thing going.