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  • From A Birds Eye View by Cordae | SuperfanNews

    From A Birds Eye View by Cordae Chris Peters 14 Jan 2022 It's a risky move to open your long awaited second studio album with a track revolving around another rapper but it sets the tone of what will prove to be a boundary pushing and deeply personal record from Marylands own, Cordae. From A Birds Eye View has been greatly anticipated by those who were taken aback by the young star's 2019 debut which showed the world what potential he had in him. The way and speed the music industry is moving, two and a half years is a fair amount of time to wait for a follow up so have we been rewarded for our patience? Has Cordae become what we hoped he would? Shiloh's Intro is a short freestyle down a phoneline by Cordae's childhood friend Shiloh Young. Including this as the opener to the record is in keeping with the personal nature of this project but also nods to some classic nineties and noughties releases that no doubt inspired Cordae. When he eventually drops his first verse in Jean-Michel it's clear he has been doing his homework. The lyricism is much welcomed urban poetry that I thought had almost been forgotten in 2022. Elegantly crafted lines like 'consider this a venomous haiku' are going to earn this young rapper the respect he deserves among those he looks up to. His vocabulary and verse structure consistently hit the mark even when, as we will see, he bounces around various styles, tempos and themes. Super tells us all about Cordae's A list life and how easy it is for him to make seven million. With his upbeat vocal style and playful writing though this doesn't come across like his arrogant peers throwing bricks of cash at Ferraris filled with bottles of Hennessy. Although he did apparently have 'bad bitches in a new Bentley' so I could be wrong. Momma's Hood's first verse has the characteristic flow of Tical era Method Man and the beat of the following track Want From Me is screaming early Kanye. I don't think this is accidental. Cordae is not hiding his influences but instead showing the world what made him. For some that includes actual appearances on the album and although the number of features on this record is tasteful they are impressive in their stature. The moody down tempo Champagne Glasses boasts not only a tidy, complimentary verse from Freddie Gibbs but, amazingly, an outro by Stevie Wonder. Elsewhere we are treated to verses from Gunna, H.E.R and of course Lil Wayne on Sinister which was released as a single last year. Eminem fans will be excited to see the collaboration on Parables but unfortunately it goes on far too long for the quality of rhyming Em gives us. I understand Cordae wanted to show his appreciation to someone who helped shape him as a rapper but this collaboration felt forced and unnatural. Wearing his influences for everyone to see is in line with the way this record as a whole gives us a look inside Cordae's life. We have candid mention of how the death of his grandmother affected him, recordings from his incarcerated friend and even a track named after his High School. Parables touches upon some of the darker periods of his life and in Chronicles he tells us about love. It's all there laid out on the table for us. No one can deny that hip hop as a genre has been evolving since the days of Grandmaster Flash and it will continue to evolve with every generation. In recent years, especially with the growing popularity of trap and its own development as a sub genre, complex and sharp lyricism has become less of the main focus and sadly we often see the charts topped by artists whose lyrical capabilities could be entirely questioned. Then someone like Cordae comes along who keeps the listener fully engaged with his words alone. Kid Culture, Daoud and various others have done an impressive job of pulling Cordae's voice in to a number of different styles but not stealing any of the limelight from the main act. Its an exciting and refreshing listen that gets my recommendation. Check it out now and let me know your thoughts. Chris Peters

  • Just As I Am by Bill Withers | SuperfanNews

    Just As I Am by Bill Withers Tom Radigan 11 Jul 2022 The 1971 debut album "Just As I Am" by Bill Withers launched him into the success of the music business. It’s an album that was able to show off his soulful voice and prolific songwriting talents. Ten of the twelve songs are written by Withers with two covers which were the popular "Everybody’s Talkin" by Freddy Neil and the Beatles "Let It Be." This album has all-star musicians all over it with Stephen Stills on guitar, Booker T Jones on guitar, keyboard and who did string arrangements, especially on songs like "Ain’t No Sunshine" which was the well known hit for this album along with "Grandma’s Hands." The opening track "Harlem" starts the album with a good 70’s groove. It’s a good intro before we hear the well known "Ain’t No Sunshine." When you listen to the eerie guitar riffs on Ain't No Sunshine by Withers and Stills. It focuses on a singer who can’t seem to find his girlfriend and is lonely without her. Withers claimed he wrote this song based on the movie "Days of Wine and Roses." This is what Withers had to say about the impact that the film had on him. "They were both alcoholics who were alternately weak and strong. It's like going back for seconds on rat poison. Sometimes you miss things that weren't particularly good for you. It's just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I'm not aware of." The string arrangements by Booker T bring a melody that adds to the tragedy of how the singer feels. The song was able to make it to number 3 on the charts. This song got Withers a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and earned him a Grammy for best R&B song. A song like "Grandma’s Hands" focuses on the important role Wither’s grandmother played in his life and when you hear that song the first thought is “Yessss.” I mean what a song. What can I say about this song that hasn't already been said. It’s bluesy, soulful, deep and authentic. You don't get much more real than that and this song really stays true to one’s roots. You know there is something unique about this song once humming from Withers starts and with the use of simple guitar work similar to "Ain’t No Sunshine." I also love how the drums just kick into the song to help emphasize the tone which is bittersweet about reminiscing his grandmother who has now passed on. It is pure poetry that focuses on one aspect of her which would be her hands and how he says “boy they really came in handy.” He looks back on how those hands defined her as the person he knew as a child. The song is an homage to a role model of someone who is no longer around but will never be forgotten. With the love of a family member Withers was able to create a soul classic. However it is a shame it only made it to number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100. A song that for me is a real ear worm would be "Sweet Wanomi." What was interesting about Withers' choice of topics when he wrote his songs was that he was basing these experiences on speculation and not that much on personal experience when it came to love due to the fact he was in the Navy for 9 years. He might have not lived what he was writing but he could feel it. And a song like "Sweet Wanomi" represents the love and affection you have for someone else. Especially with the repetition of “Sweet Wanomi resting in my arms.” The melody brings a mood of joy and happiness. The song captures beautiful imagery with lines like “a room with soft satin pillows. Cracklin’ fireplaces keeps us warm.” This is also a track where you can hear Stephen Stills's guitar really carry the song. What I love about Withers is his change of emotions in his songs. Like you hear a song about loving someone with a song like "Sweet Wanomi" and then the mood switches when a few tracks later you hear a song like "I’m Her Daddy." This song has a dark feel about the man in the song who reconnects with a woman named Lucy that he had a one night stand with and finds out she had a six year old daughter that he is the father of. The man in this song is upset by the news that he isn’t in her life and wants to meet her. The instrumentation brings a bluesy vibe of depression due to the fact he has no connection with her yet seems to want to be in her life. He has a lot of questions about how she is living. The line “did you give her one of my pictures?” makes him curious if she knows anything about him. The way Withers delivers the line “see that man that’s my daddy” brings a lot of heartbreak and trouble in his voice realizing this major event in his life. And even how he says “you should have told me Lucy” makes us realize he wants to be involved and also makes us wonder about his love for Lucy. I love that each song has a distinct mood and are not all about the glory of love. I do happen to appreciate and am fascinated by the dark songs of romance like "I’m Her Daddy" but I find the disturbing song "Better Off Dead" very interesting. This song is about a man who has an issue with alcoholism and his wife decides to leave him with their kids. He mentions how she tried to help him but he couldn’t stop his bad habits. He realizes he doesn’t want to live without her. He focuses on her unhappiness with him. A line that emphasizes their tough marriage would be “she’d sit and cry while I went out and pawned the things we owned.” What I love about this song is that there is a clear story that could be a movie or a play about a struggling married couple. I also love how Withers who was not married at the time and never was would be able to capture a dark situation that could unfortunately be the case for a specific family. I absolutely am engaged with the dark choice of symbolizing suicide by ending the song with the sound of a shotgun after the line “she’s better off without me and I’m better off dead” is used. It also is a different and interesting way to end an album. Especially a debut album. This album was able to help Withers receive a grammy nomination as Best New Artist of 1971. This album was able to reveal to the world who Bill Withers was and was able to be the start of something new for him and the rest of the world. Not bad for someone who had little music experience prior to this album.

  • Unlimited Love by Red Hot Chili Peppers | SuperfanNews

    Unlimited Love by Red Hot Chili Peppers Zampano Elegy 15 Apr 2022 John Frusciante is back with Red Hot Chili Peppers after a 16 year hiatus. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t bring myself to finish listening to this album. I hope to one day come back to it, but was pretty turned off. Parts were fairly good - I enjoyed the bass line on “Aquatic Mouth Dance” and the overall groove of “Poster Child”. However this album overall left me feeling bittersweet about it, and I quickly became bored. Long gone are the Red Hot Chili Peppers of old. Their sound has matured. I wasn’t really into it and sadly ended up turning it off. I hope that one day I find myself in the mood to try and listen to it again. Of course, don’t take my word for it, go listen to it yourself. Your results may vary, and you may love it.

  • Music from Big Pink by The Band | SuperfanNews

    Music from Big Pink by The Band Tom Radigan 11 Jul 2022 In 1968 a lot was happening in rock music. A lot of new acts were emerging and bringing a type of powerful and effective sound to their music. One of these acts was a band called the Band. This band included five members: Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson and Levon Helm. They started out as singer Ronnie Hawkins’s backing band, the Hawks. They later became Bob Dylan’s backing band. They had already played for most of the decade together and had proven themselves to be talented musicians in their own right. When it came time for them to do their own album they were able to prevail. These five members all had something to give. None shined without the other. They all did their part. With Helm, Manuel and Danko's rocking and soulful voices, Robertson’s songwriting and Hudson’s musicianship would guide them to becoming one of the most successful rock groups of all time. The reason for the title of this album was due to the creation of these songs in a pink house in West Saugerties, New York. They used this house to write their own songs and some songs they worked on with Dylan. The first track on this album is Dylan’s “Tears of Rage” which was co-written by Manuel who also sings lead on it as well and makes this song such a soulful ballad. What hooked me to this song is the ballsy organ riff. And then it just becomes more interesting as hearing Manuel’s voice singing in a calm state of mind which brings this tune such beauty. The most famous song on the album that became the group's most signature song was “The Weight.” Like most of their songs it’s credited to just Robertson yet it has been documented from Helm over the years that the songwriting process was a group effort from all five of them. The power of this song is Levon’s voice and his harmonies between Danko and Manuel. The power of these three voices continue in the next track written by Manuel which is “We Can Talk.” It's such a comedic song that all three sing on. What makes this song so clever is that each of them finish each other's phrases. Another essential track from this album would be “Chest Fever” which has Hudson all over it with his heavy organ playing that carries the song. We can’t forget the hollering of Manuel singing lyrics that don’t make a lot of sense yet it’s so fun to sing. Danko collaborates with Dylan on the song “This Wheel’s on Fire.” This is a great tune that represents Danko’s raspy type of voice and is able to produce a raw sound on it. What helps add a great flavor to the song is the harmonies between Danko, Helm and Manuel. What ends the album is the gospel style song “I Shall Be Released” also written by Dylan. Manuel sings this in falsetto with harmonies from Helm and Danko in the chorus. It’s an interesting way to close out this masterpiece of an album. If you want to hear deep meaningful music then this album is for you.

  • The Space by Somali Yacht Club | SuperfanNews

    The Space by Somali Yacht Club Chris Peters 22 Apr 2022 There was a time not so long ago that a declaration of my love for shoegaze would draw blank looks and perhaps the odd smirk from a Millenial who had never heard the bizarre term before. It seems however that in recent years the underground resurgence in this, originally early nineties, movement has been floating to the surface through the increased popularity of independent online publishing platforms like Bandcamp. For although shoegaze is perhaps not always the most commercially sensible direction for a band to take there has always been a love for the genre bubbling under and the changing commercial landscape of music has provided a platform for it and other more niche varieties to flourish globally. This week's slew of new releases has brought with it the third studio effort from Ukraine's Somali Yacht Club. The Space comes four years after 2018's The Sea and at a time when the Ukrainian music scene is probably not flourishing. Despite this, the trio from Lviv have put together a solid 45 minutes of thought provoking, atmospheric, studies in sound that paint stunning landscapes in your mind as you listen. Although the density of the guitars and the choices of vocal treatment undeniably point at a shoegaze influence the pace of the album and the compositional techniques employed are more from the post rock domain. Tracks range from 4 to 12 minutes and have irregular structures giving them a feeling of a short story rather than a song. The album opens powerful, heavy and slow with Silver. About as gentle a tune as you can play with that much distortion. The vocal melody is a little predictable but I can forgive that on an album that is so heavily focused on the instrumentation and composition. The voice itself however is beautifully fluid like a layer of watercolour washed over the canvas of music. The albums second single, Pulsar, sets a slightly faster tempo with its opening riff. The lead guitar repeats an echoey motif over increasingly apprehensive drums that eventually build the tune in to its first explosion of noise. There are then several distinct portions of the track characterised by differing guitar techniques ranging from sparing single notes left to ring out over the backing drums to thick and heavy distortion pumping out a relentless marching rhythm. A running theme in this bands style is the contrast between quiet gentle lowlands and powerful noise filled peaks. In Echo Of Direction the lighter portions are so sparing they almost open up in to a complete void at times if it weren't for the subtle electrical hum hiding in the background. As is expected the following sections than drench everything in layers of effects and drawn out distant vocals. The Space closes with the epic Momentum that cannot be described in a few short sentences so you must go and listen. Just know that there will be highs and lows and a whole range of atmospheres and scenes set throughout its 12 and a half minutes. If you want an album that is going to transform the world around you in to something entirely different then The Space is definately worth a listen. Somali Yacht Club have proved with this record that they are masters of setting mood and shaping environments with their interesting and engaging compositions and creative soundplay. This record addresses my love for guitar soaked shoegaze but it uses this style as a tool amongst many. Listeners will find psychedelia, metal guitars and post rock as well as other subtleties and nuances to be discovered deep in the musical journeys. Take a listen to The Space and let me know if you agree with my praise.

  • Oud Zeer by Jan Swerts | SuperfanNews

    Oud Zeer by Jan Swerts Chris Peters 19 Nov 2021 There are albums inspired by heartbreak. Albums inspired by new love, by travel or even by the excitement of a new pair of shoes. And then there are albums inspired by graveyards. Most of these records have names like Decaying Fish Breath and depict a malnourished fetus on the front. You know the sort. Well Jan Swerts’ graveyard inspired Oud Zeer is not that sort. What exactly is it? Belgian singer/songwriter Jan Swerts has built his latest piano based study around the epitaphs on graves in his local cemetery. You immediately buy in to this with the opening track Dezen Killen Grond. This is a beautifully tragic instrumental piano piece with very stripped back production and lots of empty space. However stunning this might be, Dezen Killen Grond is haunting and almost desolate which is not something I want to be experiencing for the whole album. Luckily the third track on the record opens with a buoyant piece of strings eventually accented by the occasional piano chord. This feels much more upbeat and is at the right point in the record or perhaps ever so slightly late. Here, various instruments drop in to say Hi throughout but always backed by the same layer of strings and piano. Before it fades out the piece has become full bodied and warm and exactly what the listener needed. Any vocals delivered from this point on are much brighter than those featured earlier. The performance on Voor U Alleen has a calming, almost, dare I say it, uplifting tone and folky intonation. Uw Lied Was Kort En Broos features a female voice delivering a solitary repeated line at the close of the track which gives the listener a fading glimmer of something to grab hold of. Much like the selection of vocals the instrumentation on Oud Zeer is clever in its infrequency. Sometimes we are only given a single strum of a guitar or a hint at a string section coming and then dissipating before it actually arrives. The amount of sustain on the piano and the empty space does tend to give, in general, quite an ominous mood and I’m not sure if that is always intentional especially when that contrasts with the vocal performance. The album is over an hour of music and feels it. This might be down to the tempo throughout and the minimal instrumentation which is obviously a place where Swerts likes to sit. Jan Swerts has created here an album oozing with sadness and stark beauty. The journey to discover this though is slow and hard going. I find individual tracks to be emotive masterpieces on their own but I struggle to commit to the entire record in one sitting. I respect Jan for his talent at making sure every note counts and painting aural landscapes with his music but I can't see myself putting this record back on in a hurry. Take a listen and as always let me know if you agree or not. Chris Peters

  • Alpha by Shenseea | SuperfanNews

    Alpha by Shenseea Chris Peters 11 Mar 2022 Earlier in the year we were wowed by Cordae presenting a sophomore album with A list features like Stevie Wonder and Eminem. Well now we have Shenseea releasing a debut with support from international superstars such as Sean Paul and Megan Thee Stallion. Everyone from Kanye West to Christina Aguilera wanted to get involved with Shenseea even before she released her first full length record which is quite an achievement. So does Alpha live up to the hype? I went in to the first listen of this record fully expecting 40 minutes of mostly anthemic dancehall with subtle pop hints to give it that mainstream chart appeal. Surprisingly, however, that is not what Alpha offers. Shenseea, although primarily recognised as a dancehall singer, has put together a remarkably cohesive album of hip hop, pop and R&B. This isn't a confused young artist trying to find her sound though. Instead it comes across as a confident display of her stylistic versatility that somehow still manages to keep the flavour of her roots throughout. The production on Alpha is consistent in its ability to get the listener moving. The rhythms are infectious at any tempo from the slow, hazy, reggae of Lying If I Call It Love with Sean Paul to the minimalist trap beat on Bouncy featuring Offset. The heartwarming dialogue at the end of Sun Comes Up is the perfect amount to give us a bit more personality to Shenseea without stealing us away from the music for too long. Now there is an elephant in this room that we will not be able to avoid discussing and that is Shenseeas lyrical content. The men might find it sexy, the women might find it empowering but no doubt some are going to find it a little too blue for their ears and unfortunately there aren't many tracks that are going to gel with this group. The vulgarity is strong with this record but Shenseea has a powerful energy that is never going to be comfortable whispering from the back row. It is, however, easier for even the most bashful of listeners to be drawn in by the way the profanity is either beautifully sung or delivered in a bouncy, playful way that avoids any cheapness. Overall, I have very little to criticize about this album. I think Shenseea is still growing and could become the new standard bearer of injecting a subtle dancehall flavour in to the charts. I think pop and hip hop fans alike are going to discover new avenues of Jamaican music through this star and that is a result of her branching out not despite it. The production is great, the features are sensible and the performance from Shenseea is jaw dropping in more ways than one. Possibly the best record of the year so far. Take a listen and let me know what you think. Chris Peters

  • Garth Brooks by Garth Brooks | SuperfanNews

    Garth Brooks by Garth Brooks Anthony Fajardo 25 Jul 2022 Growing up in the 80s, I mostly listened to pop music day and night. My childhood was defined by names like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Whitney Houston, Aerosmith - anything they played on pop radio. As the 90s rolled in, I found myself interested in a genre I'd never thought I'd enjoy, Country music. With that I would discover one of the greatest country artists in music history, Garth Brooks. His passion and dedication he put not only into his songs, but his live performances was truly a spectacle for the ages. While he has many memorable hits, I often wondered how good his albums really were. That's why I'm going to review them all from the beginning, and we start with his self titled debut album from 1989, Garth Brooks. This album does have three of his hit songs and we will get to them in due time, but what I like to do if possible is go song by song, front to back, and see how they hold up overall. We kick it off with one of my favorite songs that never made radio waves in Not Counting You. It's a nicely medium paced sad song about a guy trying to get past a heartache. It also has a great honky-tonk dance sound with the fiddles and the guitar that makes it a fun song and a good start to the album. Next up is I Had A Good Thing Going. It's one of those classic stlye country songs that you would hear a lot of in the 80s and 90s country catalog. Nothing too special but still a great song. We then get to the first hit song from Garth Brooks, If Tomorrow Never Comes. This is one of the reasons why I'm a big fan of Garth. The lyrics are simple but very powerful. Basically the song ponders the idea "If tomorrow never comes, did you do all you could to let the loved ones in your life know how you really feel.." It's definitely a wonderful song and it really makes you think. Every Time That It Rains is next and it's a cute little story about one magical night at a roadside cafe. He sings about how being stuck inside an airport on a flight delay due to rain reminds him of that one night and we actually get closure to the story as he adds that the lady he made that memory with that one night decides just to be friends and that whatever happened that night was no longer there. We then get another good story song with Alabama Clay. This song is about a farmer's son who grew tired of the farm as a kid, grew up and went to live in the city to be in charge of a factory. He then sees an old photo and decides to move back to the farm to carry on the family legacy. Another good story and another good song. Halfway done and this album sounds pretty dang good. Now it's time for the second of the three hit songs, Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old). Although this song is an homage to the life of a truck driver and the life he leads, I also consider this the middle aged anthem because I seem to say that almost all the time. Nonetheless another classic song that never gets old. Next up we go back to the great storytelling with the song Cowboy Bill. This song is about a weathered old cowboy and the many tales he would tell the children about his life on the trails. The parents saw him as just some crazy old man, but to the kids he was a hero. Another amazing story with a bittersweet ending that will leave you happy and sad at the same time.. We follow that song with a nice country bluesy/swingy song called Nobody Gets Off In This Town. It's pretty much a fun song about a boring one horse town that's so bland, nobody wants to live there. When your high school colors are brown, yeah that's probably a pretty boring town. Fun song. We then get I Know One, a song about a guy so caught up in a lady, he's willing to be the fool to come back to her after all the bad. Not a bad song. It pretty much keeps with the themes of the album about that fool in love. And now, to finish up the album, Garth Brooks' mega hit and probably the biggest song he's ever recorded, The Dance.. If you've ever seen the music video to this song, you know it had several different meanings. That beautiful piano solo to start the song. The powerful lyrics sung with nothing more than a guitar as a melody. The emotion he gives out about loss, reflecting on all the memories you had with that loved one that's no longer there, the disbelief that's it all over but knowing that "I could've missed the pain, but I would have to miss the dance." Truly a remarkable song and a great end to his debut album. Overall, I thoroughly enjoy this album a lot. The big three hits were a great addition and spread out perfectly throughout the album. His story songs were great and I always say if you can close your eyes and visualize the lyrics being sung, it is a great song. There really were no bad songs on here, there were a few okay songs but at least they had good melodies. Overall I give this album 9/10. This was the first time I listened to this album in full, but if this was the first I heard from him back then, then I would have been sold on him as a superstar. Thankfully he went on to be a mega star both in country and pop music so I look forward to the next installment. Thank you for reading the first of many reviews as I look back at every Garth Brooks album ever.. I look foward to reviewing these any many more to come down the road.

  • Crystal Throne by Crystal Throne | SuperfanNews

    Crystal Throne by Crystal Throne Chris Peters 26 Nov 2021 Remember that time you dreamt you were living inside a fast paced 80s arcade racing game? Do you remember the soundtrack? Let me jog your memory - it was French progressive heavy metal band Crystal Throne. Well believe it or not your dreams have come true and Crystal Throne are here to rock you straight to wherever it is they reside in the far corners of the galaxy. The opening number to this self titled debut album is a journey in itself. If you happen to miss the cover art ripped straight from a page of a Dungeons and Dragons rulebook this instrumental first track may take you by surprise. We first hear an echoey distant guitar being picked which is soon drowned out by a more prominent riff bouncing around in the foreground with a tone that is cheeky and uplifting. Before long though a holy metal orchestra takes over every inch of the room. In the perfect amount of time to make this a successful introduction to the album the lead guitar then breaks down in to a textbook Hollywood ending and gives you a well earned breather and chance to gather your thoughts. Track 2 picks things up right where they left off and really we stay on that same page for most of the record. Guitarist Max Waynn is the sound of Crystal Throne and he manages to completely embody early eighties new wave heavy metal. Waynn shifts between catchy riffs, layered up rhythm and seizure inducing shredding. His pedal board which is transporting the listener through time and space is stuck in another era but we are all thankful for it. Vocalist Terry DeFire excites me less. His style is immediately recognisable and is reminiscent in every way of the new wave of British heavy metal bands from the late 70s and 80s. Unfortunately though, in trying to emulate his idols DeFire has planted himself in an octave his voice doesn't seem too confident in. Holding certain notes sometimes seems like a stretch for him and the range comes across unnatural. This may be lack of experience but I think he needs to find his own style and something that works for him a bit better. Valkyrie Ride breaks from the norm and incorporates some more guttural singing and growls. This adds a nice flavour and break from DeFire's regular pitch which can get a bit repetitive and even piercing. As always Waynn rips this song apart with his solo 4 minutes in and the vocals that come after this break are backed with evil laughs and theatrical character. The record ends with Crystal Warrior, an 8 minute behemoth that journeys through Mediterranean inspired guitar play, retro overdriven solos, dramatic breaks and enormously varied vocal parts. The layered guitars, diverse vocal approaches and defined sections give Crystal Warrior an operatic feel. It sounds like the soundtrack to a most awesome adventure and a great way to end this album. On the whole Crystal Throne have developed a recognisable character to their music. There is no doubt you are listening to the same band throughout and for a debut record that is always a good sign. There is some work required on the production of future records for sure and the vocal parts are not my favourite but I think Max Waynn is a pleasure to listen to. Have I been too critical? The record is out now on Spotify and Bandcamp so take a listen and let me know. Chris Peters

  • Rise of the Monarch by AmaLee | SuperfanNews

    Rise of the Monarch by AmaLee Shion Yu 26 Jun 2022 Hello, this is Shion, and what you'll see is a verbatim of a review I posted on my Late Night LoneLyn-ess blog for the album Rise of the Monarch by the Vtuber and multi-talent artist, AmaLee (minus the intro made by my character) To kick things off, the intro track metaphorically feels like the listener (or even Monarch herself) “drowning in the bluest of waters” in a good way, if that sensation even makes sense to visualize. Not only does it segue very well to the next track, but it actually makes you feel like you’re about to rise from the very deep. I love the dreamy and melancholic production, the little chimes subtly played at the back, and how AmaLee’s voice has that relaxing effect on her, the intro track actually reminds me of Nitro Fun’s Come With Me (ft. Anna Yvette), but less electronic-sounding and more grandiose. And then we go to From The Embers. I’m just gonna say, this might be my most favorite from the track list. It has an EDM-esque production but without sounding too tacky or too generic, and while it has an anisong-like feel in its songwriting, it doesn’t feel too etched in the song’s DNA. AmaLee’s vocals have a bit of an Ariana Grande vibe to it, but I think she manages to have her own charm regardless. Usually in the music that me and my creator listen to, it’s hard to feel like you’re being enraptured in the vocalist’s sonic embrace and it feeling soothing. This is one of those rare moments. I’ve listened to it 3 times already and I’m listening to it on repeat while writing this, and her voice, back with the well-produced instrumental, makes it feel like I’m either sinking more and more into the euphoric comfort of my bed or floating on the ocean for hours, not caring where it takes me. (Sorry to go on a ramble but to summarize, this track moved me in ways I didn’t think it would.) The next song, Metamorphosis, immediately struck me with an assumption that I wish would be answered by someone: did AmaLee take notes on Riot Games’ songwriting on their K/DA songs? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing, in fact I’m happy to hear Monarch’s songs having that kind of songwriting be incorporated in this track along with a few others. It’s why I commented about me daydreaming a K/DA x AmaLee music video, I think it would make an interesting comic even, but regardless, I like how few songs in and AmaLee has not only already displayed her candor of making catchy pop tunes that even get me bumping their head in delight at 2 am, but also established the regality of Monarch’s character in a subtle manner. Monster U Made continues the album’s catchiness, and I actually think this track has one of the better instrumentals, and I love how Monarch manages to sound a bit more alluring and eerie in this, though one thing I’ll critique is that the chorus feels like it lacks a bit more oomph for what the song tries to present. Like I would’ve probably loved to hear Monarch get on her high notes a bit more vividly in it, or at least make it feel more foreground. Thankfully, though, it doesn’t actually take away from how groovy and catchy the song is. The album doesn’t exactly stumble (I’m telling you, I think it’s consistently catchy and well-produced), but it picks itself back up in Villain Vibes, featuring Mori Calliope’s rapping. The duo definitely feel like what the song’s titled: they got villain vibes, boiii. I love how the chorus feels punchy, the instrumental feels energetic, and the performance from both artists feel synergistic to not just the beat but also towards each other. Monarch makes me envision a portrait of her ominously smiling with barely visible eyes when she sings in this track, and Mori feels like the badass girl friend and subordinate that would outshine Monarch herself at times but is actually just having fun on their own world at the end of the day. I don’t exactly have much to say about MWTWB that I haven’t said towards the previous tracks, other than the fact that I never thought an artist can incorporate “ara ara” in a song and make it sound like a demoness’ nail tip is touching your back and make you feel the biggest chills you’ve ever felt. You’ve done a solid here, AmaLee. Ok, we’re in the track Drink Your Light now, and sadly I think this is the track that’s giving me a bit of a head scratcher, which is a shame cause I actually think this is one of my favorite vocal performances from AmaLee in the entire album, but I’m struggling to feel awed by the chorus, nor am I not crazy about the production feeling a bit garish at certain points of the song. The one upside it has, though, is that it doesn’t take away from the overall sonic presentation of the album. I also have gripes with the final track, Call Me King, but fortunately I don’t think this one is as severe as the previous track. While I don’t think the performance in this song is the best, I do like how the chorus blasts through my ears, almost like I’m in a musical kaleidoscope, despite the weird effect that I can’t unhear in Monarch’s voice during it. I also think the production is a little better in comparison to the previous track, however I do feel like it ends a little too abruptly for the album’s worth, I feel like a small final verse would’ve tied things up very nicely, esp. for something that has a lore/concept tied to it. Overall, despite the critiques we had on a few songs, we really enjoyed this album from front to back. It’s only 8 tracks at 25 minutes so it wasn’t too time-consuming, plus there was never a point in the album where I think it stopped being catchy. S/o to AmaLee, you’ve made a good album, not just by Vtuber standards, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I recommend you listen to it, whoever’s reading this: Favorite Tracks: Intro, From The Embers, Metamorphosis, Villain Vibes, MWTWB Honorable Mention: Monster U Made (I think it’ll grow on me and my creator in a few more listens) Least Favorite Track: Drink Your Light Rating: 8/10 (light to decent 8)

  • When You Walk Away by FUR | SuperfanNews

    When You Walk Away by FUR Chris Peters 12 Nov 2021 If you are struggling to remember what decade we are in, listening to Brighton four piece FUR is only going to confuse you further. With 70s surf rock guitars, contemporary melodies and a vocal approach clearly influenced by a few big names from the last 50 years we are all over the calendar with this band but the question is - does it work? This month FUR release their debut studio album When You Walk Away. The album fittingly opens with guitars and the guitars are in the most part what give this band their sound. That and the seemingly long string of guest vocalists that constantly pop up. When listening to the album for the first time I was just getting used to Julian Casablanca singing the odd line here and there when out of nowhere it seems the late legend Marc Bolan performs the entirety of The Fine Line Of A Quiet Life. Some listeners are going to grab hold of the unique qualities of FUR vocalist William Murray's voice whereas others are going to struggle to see past the similarities to other unique vocalists from the past. I fall in to the latter camp. Regardless of who is singing though this record is full of catchy hooks and riffs that will get stuck in your head all day. She's The Warmest Colour In My Mind has got every ingredient needed for a radio hit and Anybody Else But Me has a chorus that you will end up singing whether you want to or not. A lot of what makes these songs work is the guitar play. Sometimes providing a catchy simple riff early on to set the stage for the track and elsewhere providing a backdrop for Murray's voice. Nothing particularly technical but well thought out and to great success. What I Am is an early surf rock tune with backing vocals straight off Pet Sounds and a well executed transition in style. The sequencing of this record is well thought out with the highs and lows all in the right places. A great finishing touch is starting and ending the album with the same musical motif of When You Walk Away Pt. I and Pt. II. If Britpop were invented in a Hawaiian beach hut in 1970 it would have sounded a lot like FUR. Their influences are undeniably broad but are equally identifiable. If you can get past that you will find some great tunes and smartly mapped out compositions that set the stage for FUR to have some real commercial potential. I definately struggle to listen to FUR without hearing a whole host of predecessors coming through far too strongly but that doesn't take away from the songwriting and a less concerned listener will appreciate that for what it is. The album is out now so please take a listen and let me know your thoughts. Chris Peters

  • K Hole by Alex Cameron | SuperfanNews

    K Hole by Alex Cameron Key Lime 1 Apr 2022 Yesterday as I walked through Newcastle upon Tyne I came across a window full of posters for artists playing live in the city and I figured I’d take a picture of them and check them out. Alex Cameron was the first poster in the window. Alex Cameron is an Australian artist from Sydney. A high art concept adopting the persona of a failed musician and doing it with aplomb. In January 2022 Alex released his 4th Album ‘Oxy Music’ from which the singe ‘K Hole’ was released in March 2022. ‘K Hole’ is a lounge music/cabaret style track which immediately draws you in with a Sunday morning chill vibe, very quickly realising that this is a Sunday morning on a come down from the previous nights Rock n Roll antics. Shades of ‘Wonderful Tonight ‘ era Eric Clapton guitar tones and a smattering of David Bowie in the vocal really stir the senses that behind the facade of a comedic character we have an artist of immeasurable talent. Perhaps the biggest influence I can hear in ‘K Hole’ is Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, which may well be a link to the album title ‘Oxy Music’. Listed as a reference to the Opiate/Oxycontin pandemic it can’t be an accident that the main sound I’m hearing is Roxy Music. It’s a beautifully, bruising play on words and while we are talking about words sublimely satirical lyrics like “It might appear like I’m drivin’ straight for the moat Oh baby, but it’s one of those cars that turns into a boat” and “Someone tell me what’s goin’ on they’re actin’ like I went and said cunt in a song” make this track a hilarious joy to listen to over and over again. After a brief listen to ‘Oxy Music’ while doing my research I’d say Alex Cameron is an artist you need in your life today and for the rest of your life. Album: Oxy Music Single: K Hole Both are available across major streaming platforms now Alex Cameron can be found online at and is playing live at Newcastle University SU on Wed 13th April 2022.

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