Close up with Rocker Rick Shaffer

Prolific recording rock artist, Rick Shaffer, is a founding member of the Philadelphia band, The Reds©, whose first self-titled album on A&M records, was produced by David Kershenbaum. It highlighted a blend of Rick Shaffer’s guitar and Bruce Cohen’s keyboards. The album was supported with live appearances with The Police, Joe Jackson, Blondie, The Ramones, The Psychedelic Furs, and Public Image. Shaffer has also done plenty of studio work and features on the Marianne Faithfull album (Island); Hilly Kristal’s, “Mad Mordechai” (Stereo Society); Peter Murphy’s, “Holy Smoke” (Beggars Banquet/BMG); and Marc Almond’s, “Fantastic Star” (Some Bizarre/Mercury); as well as writing, producing and

All Atomic: “Destinate To Radiate” harnesses its wild dynamics gloriously

Bristol, England’s All Atomic brings a variety of styles to his new EP – his second release for Pink Dolphin Music. “Destinate To Radiate” covers all varieties of electro music and shows a progression from his label debut earlier in 2017 “???? (Track With No Name)”. Everything is extremely well produced and fits together like pieces in a puzzle. It’s also incredibly diverse, but not all over the place. Songs jump from standard electronic tunes to blaring club bangers and glassy-eyed soundtrack-styled compositions at the drop of a hat. It sounds exactly like a collaboration effort by diverse producers…except it’s

Henry Metal: “Metal O’Clock” – an absolutely brilliant hard rock recording

Henry Metal debuted in late March of 2017 with the release of 2 singles which was then followed by the albums; “So It Hath Begun”,   “Wizard Vs Demon” and  “The Maestro Abides”. “Metal O’Clock” is Henry’s fourth collective offering is again an extremely engaging, epic and anthemic recording which never loses its caustic tongue-in- cheek, confrontational edge as it  investigates government ineptitude, consumerism, drug abuse and cosmetic surgery, as well as and pays homage to the Swedish Viking gods Odin and Freyja. Henry Metal is, to put it simply, stunning. His singing is melodic, yet has just enough grit and low

The Bach and Beethoven Ensemble’s CHICAGO STORIES Project – October 14/15

The Bach and Beethoven Ensemble’s CHICAGO STORIES Project brings the city to life on a personal level through new music written by Chicagoans, with and about Chicagoans and Chicago communities. Through Chicago Stories, the audience learns about the Alvarez Brothers and their renaissance efforts to revive the Pilsen Latin jazz scene. They are then taken on a journey through the harrowing escape of members of the Assyrian immigrant community, who finally found refuge in the neighborhoods of Rogers Park and Lincolnwood. Finally, they scale the wall along with a group of minority women in executive leadership roles who crushed their

Vizualye: “Hunger Games” ft J Schick – delivering wordplay lined with context

Vizualye, born Rajaee Grey presides over his tunes with an old world grace and steely strength that feels oddly calming in these uniquely turbulent times. Given how unorthodox 2017 has been and how much more unorthodox things are going to get, we need someone who has been fighting for a while to tell us the importance of continuing to fight. The rapper knows his duty to educate and inspire the public, and “Hunger Games” feat J Schick is one of his best records since his debut release. The record is produced by Taye Legend, and is steeped in a muscular, economical

Boostman Family: “I’ll Be There For You” – tricks pulled from the very catchy electro-pop toolbox

The electro/pop band Boostman Family, founded in 2012, is composed of different artists from the same family, of which Amy and David are the visible part. David Boostman sings, plays keyboards and drums, as well as being the band’s producer. David has been an arranger for big names in France and has composed movie soundtracks played in European theaters and on TV shows. He speaks fluently English, French and German. Daughter, Amy Boostman, sings, plays the guitar, and also shares in writing some of the band’s music and lyrics. Uncle Jo Flash comes from the European underground electro scene and

Sunerian: “I’m Not Worried” – genuine emotion, and positive energy abounds here

Singapore- based EDM Producer Sunerian, who has a preference for Tropical House and Chill Music, has released his 3 track EP entitled “I’m Not Worried”. Sunerian’s EP doesn’t fit the old overnight success adage, which is all for the better—he prefers his bright, electronic melodies drenched in sunlight. Brimming with sun-kissed flavors, the recording hinges on spring-break nostalgia for glistening bronze skin, sand snug between the toes, and young love and lust. It is the perfect September soundtrack for those clinging to the final scraps of summertime. When done right, an artist can invoke nostalgia without losing their purpose or

Emilio Crixell & Border Soul: “Music People” – exploring all of the possibilities within musical hypnotism

There is an essence of allure that exudes from the content of “Music People”, the new 11 track album by Emilio Crixell & Border Soul. The music is jubilant, with a mesmerizing melody that entices the listener into a sensation of musical ecstasy. We open with “A Face in the Crowd” featuring soulful songstress Leeann Atherton, immediately it induces a entrancing atmosphere to set the mood, a seductive horn blowing ambience decorated in a sensual percussive mysticism. And just as the music has us succumbing to its will, when we give up all restrain and let our senses sink deeper

Nina Kotova: “TCHAIKOVSKY” – outstanding technical detail

Born in Russia, Nina Kotova belongs to the third generation of a family of musicians—most notably her father, the renowned virtuoso double-bass player Ivan Ivanovich Kotov. At the age of seven, she was accepted into an adult cello class at the Moscow Conservatory. At fifteen, she won First Prize at the Prague International Competition. And at nineteen, having graduated from the Moscow Conservatory, she left her homeland to continue her studies in Germany and the United States, where she now resides. Kotova has been the subject of numerous features in Time, Newsweek, Vogue, Elle, the Wall Street Journal, and The

Devil’s Holler: “The Dusty Road Stumble” – unassuming, visceral and genuine

Devil’s Holler is a project from multi-instrumentalist and Pittsburgh native Rob Gray, who performs acoustic-based Americana roots music infused with slide guitar, bass and stompbox. Gray has released 5 albums, including his latest, “The Dusty Road Stumble” and has shared the stage with a host of local and national artists. If you enjoy books that take you into unimagined lands, foods that surprise and please, and effortlessly intriguing conversation. If you enjoy allowing yourself to discover parts of life you didn’t know you liked, Devil’s Holler new album is an opportunity to expand yourself into an eclectic, unassuming, visceral and

KIDx: “From Above” – legitimately excellent for someone his age

There’s proof that hip-hop is of great importance to young kids, whether or not they’re good at rapping. Studies have shown how powerful music can be for inspiring underprivileged communities and supporting undeserved students. Learning music at a young age can offer powerful cognitive boosts that could do wonders in closing our current achievement gaps. Not only that, hip-hop’s complex lyricism and wordplay makes it an excellent tool to help increase verbal fluency, broaden vocabularies and teach literary concepts such as metaphor and personification.

Hip-hop can also be a way to show how to be a good person in the world as well as a tool for creative expression. Whether all of the above apply to 13-year-old Fairfield, Ohio-based rapper/producer KIDx is still to be seen, but for sure his rap is legitimately excellent for someone his age.

Signed to the American hip hop label Ballaholic Music in July 2016, KIDx is also a member of the hip hop production duo Ballaholic Boys with HULKx. He very recently dropped his 5 track mixtape entitled, “From Above”.

Fans and haters alike will abound after listening to this recording, as his is the age of angst and insecurity, but at his young age KIDx is positioning himself in a perfect light to spread hip-hop’s inspirational and entertaining aspects. He recognizes his art forms’ ability to communicate, and he’s clearly setting his sights on sending his messages far beyond Ohio.

The odds are stacked fairly firmly against KIDx in almost every regard, despite his impressive drive and clear talent. Hip hop has traditionally been built upon a bedrock of authenticity (or at least the faking thereof), and it is hard to imagine the community being welcoming of a 13-year-old kid off the back of a 5-track mixtape. It would seem that he is being set up for a fairly spectacular fall, whichever way you cut it.

But if KIDx feared such an outcome he would hardly have put himself up to the challenge. Hence tracks such as “Limit” (Prod. By Cxdy), “Hitman” and “The Greatest” serves to showcase both his technical proficiency, and the pop-friendly production of his mixtape.

And his artistic trajectory across these tracks is impressive, to say the least. Forget about the ‘authenticity’ and ‘real’ tags for the moment and concentrate on the kid’s wordplay, flow and all-round technical ability. Those are the things that tell you whether he will last long enough in the game to forge the ‘being real’ nonsense further up the road.

The overall feeling is that if KIDx can keep spitting with the passion, intelligence and verve shown on “From Above”, then one day he might just pull it off. And even if he doesn’t, he will have done something remarkable. He would have proven once again that hip-hop is a vital and essential art, regardless of age…or commercial success.

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