A totally random, whatever came to mind first, selection of the latest additions to our
New Music Monster
Music Reviews written by Tobi Davis
Track: “Break Point”
Bittersweet alt electro-pop artist X.Ari returns with Midi Jones produced heavy synth hook and stutter, burn low on the down and out, “Break Point”. Caught between the two worlds of hyper-confident anthemic chart bangers and dysfunctional electronic pop, X.Ari is a difficult artist to pin down; the 3 minutes 21 second shard of sonic scream in anguish, ‘Cattle Call’ a glorious demonstration of all that is great, raw and noisy about Independent Music; could not be more starkly contrasted, than by that of the brazen mass appeal and uber ‘Boom Boom’ of ‘want you up in my room’ crowd pleaser, ‘Stay Go’; the release of these two tracks not separated by years, but rather featured on X.Ari’s second EP ‘Dis-Order’. To date ‘Vapors’ perhaps represents her most successful endeavor to reconcile these two opposing creative forces; both perfectly formed slice of consumable electro-pop and problematic expression through lyric, introspective and raked with self-doubt. With latest release, ‘Break Point’ the young artist and songwriter draws upon painful memories of her own mental breakdown; the protracted shattering of self and sense of dislocation; which, to this day, she still carries the psychological and emotional scars. X.Ari’s talent for crafting vocal lines of engaging and contrasting percussive pattern is evident throughout, as she walks the beats with well-practiced finesse. The verse twists and turns through the lyric; a tightening spiral of scattered thought, flashback and abstract impression. The chorus presented in two halves; the first, a sharp series of melodic splinters that cut and snap at the ear; the second, a rapid vocal cascade and collapse. X.Ari’s smart use of vocal structure to reflect the weight of her words is further enhanced by well-judged and imaginative production and sound design by producer Midi Jones. Deep impact kicks and stuttered beat are combined to form an odd, stunted rhythm, paired with a lumbering, grungy synth and smartly blended reverses and quick rises; resulting in a compelling and unique listening experience. Additional musical and sonic elements add rich variation and surprising depth and detail to the on the face of it, stark pop production. Tastefully arranged backing vocal support, compliment, and counterpoint X.Ari’s own impressive vocal performance. Although eclectic, there’s a consistency of thinking behind the design/arrangement of the song that is evident throughout. ‘Break Point’ may well be X.Ari’s most accomplished work to date; no small achievement, considering the stand out quality of her work so far. With a Midi Jones produced EP slated for release, X.Ari is standing tall on shoulders of her hard-earned successes of last year, and looking straight up at the stars. To her great credit, she continues to turn her pain into our power.
Artist: Cream with a K
Track: “Stuck in the House”
Former J Pop front-woman Cream with a K drops a five-minute slice of ultra-cool alt-pop oddity groove, new single “Stuck in the House”. Having spent five years behind the mic with J Pop group NEKO PUNCH, the British born Independent musician and visual artist released her first solo material early 2018. Driven by a retro drum machine, saturated trashy and sat back in reverb, debut single, ‘Burn’ contrasted fuzzy lo-fi guitars and gloriously draggy bass line, with sweet vocals, delivered lazy, laid back and luscious. Two further singles followed last year, the stuttered bit-crushed skip and distortion fest of ‘Terrible Voices’, and trash-compacted beat, stupefied guitar breaks, and surreal feedback dance ‘5:35’; both adding weight to the integrity of fledgling solo artist’s songwriting and musicianship. Latest release “Stuck in the House” adds awesome alt synth drone and noise to the do it yourself digital drums and grungy over driven six strings. Cream with a K works the ‘at odds’ instrumentation with impressive finesse, successfully crafting a unique and cohesive sound. The production is willfully ‘garagey’ and stands in stark and, no doubt, intentional contrast to her self-described ‘bubblegum J Pop band’. The hazy, dazy vocal delivery, idle lines and undersung/talked lyrics further contrast the super-catchy/hyper-singalong melodies of NEKO PUNCH. And yet, despite a seeming indifference in presentation, a keenly developed sense of songcraft is nevertheless hard at work, as “Stuck in the House” quietly catches your ear, holds your attention and encourages you to sing along. With musical influences ranging from early electronic through grunge to pop, Cream with a K stands apart as a strikingly original and exciting young artist. One to watch in 2019.
Track: “Beast of the Night”
South London Electro Indie Grrrl Band CATBEAR’s debut release, “Beast of the Night” is an uplifting neo-synthpop infused independent pop gem of stand out quality. Released in late November 2018, “Beast of the Night” is a well-worked production of soaring sequencer, ambient pad, and carefully placed riser. Punchy electro snare and pumping dance kick smack and thump the three minutes twenty-second track forward in tight percussive stanzas. Additional sound design and clever use of automation ad extra depth, width, and movement. The vocals delivered, quietly confident and with understated cool; lyrics running through a shifting, building mood, impressively reflected in the shifting, building arrangement. Although very much kept on the down-low, “Beast of the Night” represents an accomplished demonstration in musicianship and songwriting. An impressive debut release. More CATBEAR, please!
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About Tobi Davis (BRASH! Magazine/Blog Writer)
Good producing is like good plumbing. If you do your job right, no one notices. Mix, Remix + Master. Run @monsterthread w/ Singer Songwriter Jon Magnusson. Host Thursday’s @musichouruk. Music Reviews for BRASH! Magazine. Promote. Occasional Lyricist. Love my beagle Enzo + fav bands Little Empire and Moxi.
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About The Monster Thread
The #MonsterThread is a community of Independent Musicians, Bands and Artists supporting each other in making and sharing Indie Music.