“HAZEY (The EP)” finds a way to highlight every element of its artistry

Hazey aka Yung Doowee is a 19 year old producer and artist from Dallas, Texas. He moved to Portland 2 years ago and has devoted himself to his music. His latest EP release is the 10 track self-titled “HAZEY (The EP)”. Hazey oscillates between extremes of exhilarating and surreal, through the album, both musically and lyrically. There’s plenty of wheedled and growled phraseology, as well as temperate and tuneful melodic singing, too. Hazey, makes the eccentricities of “HAZEY (The EP)” sound like embryonic visions of a future, calculating take on trap music. The results are something to behold. In its

Flexico Deeskie: ‘Leanin’’ falls within trap’s ever-expanding parameters

Flexico Deeskie comes out of Dallas, TX, to where he moved from Kansas City, MO, in 2005. Fresh on the grid, he became an active artist in July of this year, and has been steadily dropping singles to build his catalog and fan base. Flexico’s emphasis on a positive attitude and grinding, pops up regularly as does his commitment and dedication to his craft. These trademarks of his personality and style, are of course very much evident in the single project, ‘Leanin’’. Trap music’s roots date back quite a few years, and it’s been a presence in rap’s mainstream in

“Trump in the Trunk” attacks political, social and cultural issues

From Backwards is a master at creating high quality music with low quality satire. The only thing more surprising than how well those two aspects mesh, is how well he performs them on stage. His genius, however, lies within the fact that while he will laugh at (not with) almost everything he does, his audience will nod and move in sheer appreciation that someone is able to articulate the frustrations they otherwise are unable to deal with. From Backwards is the much needed fifth of whisky to last year’s presidential debates. Hip-hop and politics have been together for a long

Alien Skin: ‘1980 REDUX’ takes synth-pop to a different set of limits

There aren’t many synth-pop bands that I deem buyable today. I could probably count them all on my left hand. And if I only included the bands that actually played authentic 80’s analogue-driven synth-pop, I’d probably be left counting my stiff middle finger.  Sure digital and sampling can mimic just about any sound today…if you know what to mimic of course! Our current generation of electronic heroes can knock up the most devastating beats, create massive drops, and stirring buildups, so synth-pop might seem like the simplest form of electronica to them. Technically that is. Because musically we’re talking two

C-Los N.S: “Ye-Tape” features a wide range of thought-provoking lyrics

Songwriter and Rap Artist C-Los N.S (Carlos Ruelas) was born in Santa Rosa, California (East L.A.), and raised in Racine, Wisconsin. He recently released his mixtape, entitled “Ye-Tape”. After listening to it three times, I must say that this album is a mature product. C-Los N.S sounds like he has graduated from the rap game. He has an intelligent narrative that goes along with the music, while the experience is filled with more emotionally charged singles rather than club bangers. The production created is haunting with each song bringing about a different mood but it fits the messages masterfully. Beginning

Third Realm: “The Suffering Angel” – a bold and compelling addition to the group’s growing legacy

Recently signed to Distortion Productions, Third Realm is the eclectic dark electronic project founded in 2000 by Nathan Reiner of Buffalo, New York. The danceable darkwave band with powerful industrial tones, is known for their shadowy, sexed-up blend of synth rock and intense vocals. On their brand new album, “The Suffering Angel”, the collective spends half the time perfecting their gritty, driven sound and the other half eclipsing all expectations of their efforts. The result is an intense listen with tremendous highs, and outstanding performances by members, Nathan Reiner (Lead Vocals/Music Production/Songwriter), Arrow Fitzgibbon (Guitar/Keyboards/Backing Vocals/Sampler), Melanie Beitel (Keyboards/Backing Vocals)

Nika Starr: “Connection” – succinct, sassy, and sincere

Nika Starr, female Soul/RnB singer from Toronto, is currently working with her mentor DT the Artist for Artist Development from the ‘Ground Up Program’. Her latest single is “Connection” which was produced by ClevaMix Records with an instrumental from ShamGodBeats. Being a woman in a male-dominated music industry, means they always want to back you into a corner and force you to wear a label. Unfortunately, that means you either fall into one of two categories: sexy or cute, and maybe lust or love. Now more than ever people need to be reminded that women can be in more than

Liam Merrigan: “Broke Beyond Tomorrow” – a high sense of life and perception

Liam Merrigan is 29 year old singer-songwriter from Kintbury Berkshire UK. The 10 track album of original songs, “Broke Beyond Tomorrow” deals with Liam life experiences – either lived first hand or witnessed. I enjoyed the intimate nature of the recording, which sounds as if Merrigan was playing a beat old guitar on a stool 10 feet in front of you. Totally stripped down, this album demonstrates the great craft of the songs, as well as Liam’s expressive voice, and of course his acoustic guitar. Liam is the English equivalent of rejuvenated Neil Young in his observational skills. Liam Merrigan puzzles

Etop: “Masterworks” is ground-breaking and innovative

Etop is not your typical electronic artist. If someone says to you that Etop plays electronic music do not go thinking that he plays heavy beats and dance songs. Well he does, but not quite the way you’re thinking. Etop is everywhere. He can go to a bubblegum electronic pop tune, to a groovy dance song, all the way over to a depressing ballad. And then he can do something better than just about anyone else…go back in time. No, this is not another installment of Return To The Future. He really goes back to the past, and out of

Andre Gimaranz: ‘Supermoon’ – a rare jewel!

After 15 years as a session musician, Brazilian guitarist, singer and songwriter, Andre Gimaranz’s first solo album, ‘Handmade’, was released in 2015 gaining instant attention from the industry and fans alike, resulting in Gimaranz being considered one of the best new live acts in Brazil. In 2015 and 2016, Andre was a nominee in the categories ‘Song of the Year’ and ‘Artist of the Year’ at the IMEA Awards. He recently dropped the highly acclaimed single, ‘State of Rage and Fear’, and has now followed that up with his brand new full-length album, entitled ‘Supermoon’. Every once in a while, after making

Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins and Symphony X bassist Mike LePond

New Jersey native, best known as bassist for progressive metal giants Symphony X, Mike LePond, now presents his first solo project ever: Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins, an onslaught of raw and true Heavy Metal in its purest form. His debut self-titled release is a full hour of head-banging riffs, kick ass vocals and epic tales. It is an album that draws influences from the classic heavy bands of the 1980s, all the way to the Viking/Folk metal of today. It was made for metalheads, by metalheads  – a celebration of the power and glory of that which we call…Heavy Metal!

Mike LePond

Mike LePond

How did you come up with the concept and the songs for your debut project; was it all written over a long time, or did you decide upon an idea and then write the music as you went along?

Mike LePond: Throughout my career I had compiled a bunch of random music and lyrics. Over the next 2 years, I matched the lyrics to the music like a jigsaw puzzle. Once all the songs were written, then I began to think about the concept, artwork, etc.

As one of the best rock bass players in the world, do you find that song writing comes naturally to you, or do you consider yourself a musician first, and the writing came about later?

Mike LePond: I always considered myself a songwriter as well as a musician. Since I’ve been a member of Symphony X I haven’t written that much but when it came time to do the solo album, my songwriting skills came right back.

You’ve got some very close friends involved in your recent projects – do you find it’s much easier to perform and to put tracks together with musicians you already have personal relationship with; or do you sometimes seek out that air of freshness that can come from jamming with new musicians?

Mike LePond: I think working with familiar faces and outsiders both have their advantages. Working with Symphony X for 15 years is a comfort zone. I know all the styles my guitarist likes to use and it’s easy to work with. On the other hand, working with other musicians keeps my mind and chops very fresh.

Do you plan to still perform with and be a part of Symphony X even if your solo projects become consolidated adventures?

Mike LePond: No matter how big my solo project gets, I will always be a member of Symphony X.

You’ve played on a lot of different projects during your career – is there anyone you’d love to work with at some point?

Mike LePond: I have done many projects when Symphony X is off the road. There are so many amazing musicians out there these days. I think my dream would be to work with Ritchie Blackmore on some medieval music. He is my favorite guitar player.

Is there any other genre you haven’t yet experimented with that you’d like to explore at some point down the line?

Mike LePond: I have always loved Renaissance/Celtic music. I have incorporated this style into parts of my solo album. It might be nice at some point to collaborate with someone on a whole album in this style. Perhaps with Ritchie Blackmore, hahaha.

Mike LePond

Mike LePond

“Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins” was released through a crowdfunding Project, where the fans contributed for a physical version of album. How was that experience? Due to the low sales of discs that the music business lives would that be an option for the future?

Mike LePond: Crowdfuding was a really great experience for me. These days when record labels are going out of business, I think this a great way for a band to achieve its goals. So it’s the fans now who can in essence become the new record company.

In “Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins” beyond the bass guitar you also recorded the guitars, with Symphony X teammate Michael Romeo, and Metal Mike (Halford, former Sebastian Bach, ex-Testament). How did the idea to invite these axe men for the record come about?

Mike LePond: When it came to the lead guitar playing, I wanted to have the best players I could get in the area where I live. Metal Mike is a close friend and I actually played on his solo CD so he was happy to help. Romeo’s style complimented his style rather nicely.

Also how did the choice of vocalist Alan Tecchio (Hades , former Seven Witches, Watchtower former) come about, and why use programmed drums on the album, could you not find a suitable drummer?

Mike LePond: Alan had the power and melodic ability that I needed. He is a dear close friend. He loved what I was doing and he did an incredible job. I asked Romeo to program drums because of the project’s budget and time issues.

The sound of Mike LePond’s Silent Assassins is so different from your band, Symphony X. it’s more classic metal. How did come the ideas for it?

Mike LePond: Most of the music I write is in the traditional and classic metal styles so the CD was very easy to put together. I wanted to make an 80s style metal album but with orchestration that is used in the modern day. This would create a new and fresh sound.

Who or what was it that originally inspired you to play a musical instrument and what’s your favorite track to perform live?

Mike LePond: At age 13 my dad took me to see KISS. I was so captivated by Gene Simmons that from that day on I wanted to be a rock star. The song that I love to perform live is always changing. As of now my favorite is a track is called “In my Darkest Hour”.

Can you offer any words of wisdom or advice to upcoming musicians and bands who are just starting out, and struggling to reach the wider audiences they dream of?

Mike LePond: The best advice I can give any new band is to keep writing, keep performing and perfecting your craft. Record companies are going out of business left and right so you have to carve your own path. Use social media and crowdfunding sites as much as possible.

You’re recording a brand new album in the very near future – what can we expect from this, and how will it differ from the debut release?

Mike LePond: I am in the process of recording my solo album called second “Pawn and Prophecy”. This album will be in the exact same style as the first one. The title track will be a 21 minute epic. The lead singer will be Alan Tecchio once more.

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