Ephect: “Just Like That” – focused on making an impression

Ephect is an Independent Rap/Hip Recording Artist and Music Producer born, raised and currently located in Indianapolis, Indiana (US). Ephect has released around 20 music, numerous singles, and his latest full length album titled “The Nphection”, which dropped back in September 2018. What makes this album different than other recent releases comes down to, how Ephect works with his producers. He doesn’t just compliment good production, he capitalizes on stunning production. In today’s hip-hop scene, fans tend to shy away from raw rapping talent. Gone are the days when the scene was more focused on how good the flow was

Lew Houston: “Safe” – a gritty flow that adds to the lyrical poignancy

Lew Houston is a hip-hop artist currently based in San Diego. Originally from Houston, Texas, Lew rose above the violence and poverty in his life by playing sports and creating music. Influenced by Southern rap styles, he began writing his own lyrics at a young age and released his debut album “The Progression” in 2016.  His latest EP “Back to da Money” is available now, and features the single “Safe”. With no forewarning, Lew gives us a sharp and compact four-minute statement on “Safe”. It’s just a quick and efficient declaration of supremacy, a warning for us not to underrate

Rodrigo Rocha gets the lead role in “SSW Of The Border”

Actor Rodrigo Rocha is not slowing down anytime soon. After a slew of roles, he is preparing to lead a feature indie movie, “SSW Of The Border”. Set to start production in the first quarter of 2019, the film is projected to be released early next year. “SSW Of The Border” will be directed by Felipe Bretas and Bruno Vieira. Other casts of the movie include Kayky Brito, Zhubin Rahbar, Eduardo Magalhaes, Dani Antunes, Eben Reinhardt, Joao Gevaerd, Dimi Papas, Kenzie Dodds, Rhaina Rodovalho, and Juliana Amador. “SSW Of The Border” movie will start production in April 2019. An official

Daud Aur Yahudy: “Home Bound” – The sounds are deep-toned

A former professional athlete in the NFL, now turned singer-songwriter, Daud Aur Yahudy has released his EP “Home Bound”, which follows the re-release of his critically acclaimed debut album “Soulful Life Within”. Daud has earned his right to experiment with his sound and release something that tells us who he really is. The eloquently presents his unique version of future soul lined with a touch of love, spirituality and enchantment. His distinct flare allows him to appeal to the masses without becoming a cookie-cutter R&B and soul singer. The silky smooth, 6 song EP features peaceful and melodic vocals that

Marcus Christ is the American prodigy known for his hit hooks, killer songs, and melodic voice.

Marcus Christ continues to move forward in the entertainment industry. He has just recently released two single songs edited for radio play called “It’s Like” and “If I Knew”, for sale on Cdbaby.com. Marcus Christ is the American prodigy known for his hit hooks, killer songs, and melodic voice. Marcus Christ was just recently released from jail after pleading no contest to vandalism charges. As an artist Marcus Christ has had problems in the past “expressing himself”. Marcus Christ expects his double album “Prince of the Universe” to showcase various producers, but especially his own productions. Marcus Christ admits he

AMARU: “CHAMPAGNE ATTITUDE (RAP-TITUDE MIX)” is totally on fire!

AMARU – a singer-songwriter and a trained actor, originally from the Republic of Suriname residing in The Netherlands since 1991 – has found critical success with enough Pop, Rock, R&B and Electronic influenced songs that there’s plenty of demand for more, but there’s nothing like hearing the gloriously hard-nosed Dutch artist rap a beat to shreds. This is something he does not often do. Now on his latest release – “CHAMPAGNE ATTITUDE (RAP-TITUDE MIX)” – we get to savor just that. The song is rap remix of the title track of his debut album, and is a completely new version,

Hookdiggy: “On My Way” ft. Sunja Dannette – full feel-good potential

2019 sees Atlanta-based Hookdiggy, continuing his growing momentum and his promise to put out well written hip-hop that appeals not only to fans of the genre, but fans of creative and innovative lyrical content. In fact he goes beyond that with his latest track, “On My Way” ft. Sunja Dannette. Utilizing full-bodied smooth instrumentation, Hookdiggy manages to pull off an almost cinematic-like ambiance throughout. The intoxicating mix of jazz, hip-hop, and neo-soul with a dash of dance is maintained at a very high level from beginning to end while the musicianship is top-notch every step of the way. Hookdiggy, together

Tony Marino: “Family and Friends” – a wildly rhythmic demonstration of every crowd-pleasing twist

Tony Marino – the South Philly composer, pianist, and bandleader – has been passionately carrying the torch for his love of Latin Jazz sounds since the release of his debut Cd “Tony Marino & Havana Heat: The Latin Jazz Project” which was dropped in January 1997. The artist who fell in love with the piano at just 7 years of age, has since recorded 10 more albums. Each bringing to the fore his songwriting and performing skills learned over the years, after crossing paths with Bill DelGovenatore, Frank DiBussolo, Al Stauffer, Tom Lawton and Ernest Hopkins – all of whom had an

KC Sisters: “Walk With Me” – sincere, authentic and absolute!

The KC Sisters aren’t old enough to remember when radio programmed pop records next to country, rock, folk, and beyond, but their artistic DNA tells them that’s the way music was meant to be heard. Their sound on the EP, “Walk With Me”, is like a warm embrace from a loved one. It’s sincere, authentic and absolute, taken from a legacy of sound that comes from their fondness for the all-girl groups of the 1960s. The Casey sisters – Deanna, Noelle, Tasha, Elise and Kathleen – highlight their acapella harmonization, as well as their mastery as skilled musicians, playing piano,

GentleBeatz: “Soul City” – the rhythm and flow of free form poetry

Sometimes a recording catches you off guard, rising from nowhere and worming its way into your ears with new sounds and ideas. Such a recording grows on you over time, and eventually can reorient what music and sounds you thought you liked. “Soul City” released on December 31 by artist and producer GentleBeatz, is such an EP. Emotionally rich, musically rich, and technically brilliant, it appeared with little fanfare or publicity to mesmerize our senses. GentleBeatz is an artist and producer currently residing in Mozambique. The eclectic creative crafts his tracks in the lo-fi hip-hop/chill-hop genres. Here he includes flavors

Universal You: “Obsession”

‘Universal You’ are Paul FinnieGulzhan Ibraveya and Mark Grant, the band hail from Scotland, via Kazakhstan. Paul and Gulzhan first met in Kazakhstan when both were working in the oil business where they started writing songs together and performing for their co-workers and the locals. They have since recruited Mark Grant as the lead guitarist in the band and “Obsession ” is their latest album from which has been lifted the first single ‘Your Sin City’.

Paul wrote ‘Your Sin City’ in a hotel room in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, a city filled with beggars, prostitutes, oil tycoons, religion and sin; you have to go there to fully understand the meaning behind the song; but you may not want to. The single is a powerful, dark and brooding rock number and exhibits similarities with some of the music world’s most notorious and powerful female vocalists, from Garbage’s Shirley Manson through to Beth Ditto and PJ Harvey with a number of stops in between. The similarities are not limited to the recordings with the band’s notoriously explosive live shows showing that Gulzhan, augmented by Mark’s jaw dropping guitar work, can hold a crowd as well as any of her contemporaries.

One of the first gigs the band ever played was headlining a free outdoor concert in Kazakhstan, which was attended by more than 12,000 people; highlighting the cultural differences between Kazakhstan, where no bands ever play and the UK, where we are often spoiled for choice. Upon their return to Scotland, ‘Universal You’ (named after a song by ‘The Cult’) began to record some of the material they had written and performed a number of gigs across Scotland.

The 12 track album, “Obsession”, opens with “Find A Way” and the first band that came to my mind was Roxette. Maybe grittier and rougher around the edges, but Gulzhan’s voice and diction is uncannily similar to that of Marie Fredriksson, the Roxette singer. The song arrangement, of catchy choruses and guitar driven bridges, convinced me even further. Considering that Roxette knew exactly how to compose successful pop songs, having sold over 60 million copies. This is a damn good way to start off an album.

“Iskala” is the third track, and comes straight after the first single release “Your Sin City”. I fell in love almost instantly with this mid tempo track. I’m not sure if it was because of the intriguing Russian(?) language phrases, tastefully inserted into the verses, the insistant chorus line:”…you, you’re just like a dream..”, or the distintive reverberating guitar riffs provided by Mark Grant and Paul Finnie, which add a brilliant touch to the musical arrangement. This is how to produce a hit melody, and would have been my absloute first choice for a single and radio release!

“Obsession” passes by effortlessly without disturbing the rest of the album and brings you to “Mona Lisa”, with it’s sparkling guitar flourishes and hypnotic chorus line. Gulzhan drives the song along powerfully with her excellent vocals.

The electric-piano and synth dominated ballad “Cry Me A River” is Universal You’s version of the famous song by Justin Timberlake. Apparently Justin wrote this song about Britney Spears. In the song, the relationship goes bad because the girl cheated, and to get even, the boy makes sure that the girl finds out he’s moved on with his life. The girl gets upset, and “cries a river” because she screwed up and lost the boy forever…sound familiar anyone?

“The Answer” once again testifies that this band know how to compose catchy pop songs. Pleasant quieter verses and potent melodic choruses, wrapped-up with jangling guitars, handclaps and harmonies.

 

“The Things” rhythmically move the album along nicely towards the piano ballad“Colours” which promised so much on the opening notes, but never quite delivers what I’d been expecting from Gulzhan’s beautiful booming voice.

This partly depends on the famed production team headed by Michael Brennan, who on the whole, has done a splendid job producing this album. As a personal observation and nothing more, I would however, have expected the lead vocals on this specific track to be ‘drier’ and more upfront in the mix. Giving “Colours” and Gulzhan, an immediate intimacy with the listener instead of sounding corridors away. I would imagine that the choice of mix had deliberate intentions which I may be unable to interpret correctly. Maybe one day I’ll get the band’s opinion on this. This , however, in no way detracts from the general appeal of the album, which remains extremely high.

“Perfect” gets straight back onto the rock n’ roll track, with sassy guitar solos, driving rhythms and the typical Gulzhan vocal to get temperatures rising. This is the way I like myUniversal You. Straight. On the rock. Shaken, and not stirred.

Track 11 is an elaborate dance remix of “Your Sin City” while the album closes with“Coming Back For More”, another one of my favourites along with “Iskala”. It has an incessant rhythm riff which will keep you pinned to the dance floor. This powerfully modern mix could sit comfortably on the Billboard Top 100 charts, alongside Lady Gaga and the rest of the million-dollar sellers.

“Obsession” is an album that crosses many genres, from rock to pop and dance to electronica. Universal You are not only universal in their member line-up but in the sounds they produce as well.

Their songwriting is pinpoint accurate and catchy, while Gulzhan’s vocals are authentically delectable on the ear. The rest of the magic is conjured up by the wall-to-wall guitar sounds of Paul Finnie and Mark Grant, plus the straight down the line crunchy rhythmic arrangements. A great band beyond doubt.

VISIT UNIVERSAL YOU’S HOMEPAGE HERE

JOIN UNIVERSAL YOU ON FACEBOOK HERE

GRAB UNIVERSAL YOU SONGS ON ITUNES HERE

About The Author

Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.