Exit 22 Music: “Last Goodbye” – one of the finest musical acts in the pop-rock underground

It seems almost impossible that an artist that has been around this long – 20 years in Chris Calamera’s case, can keep making records that stand up among the best that he has ever done. Let’s be clear: “Last Goodbye” is a great song. It’s poppy, with a big melody and an insistent rock rhythm, and it’s catchy as hell. Sounds like authentic Exit 22 Music to me. This is pure Calamera from his pop-rock songwriting style standpoint, and pure Exit 22 Music, considering the breathtaking vocals and high production-value quotient. The perfect, power-pop formula. Exit 22 Music has been keeping

Lake of the Lion embodies embody emotive sounds and textures

Lake of the Lion is the brand name and moniker for Luxembourg music composer and producer, Daniel Kohnen, who is steadily building up his catalog and increasing his fan-base with regular new releases. In recent years, ambient instrumental and soundtrack scores have been following a certain trend. Composers seem to have this motif of creating overblown pieces with harsh lead instruments blasting out from the blue and background strings creating suspense with their melodies. Sure it was fun for a while, but within that little span of time listeners were just begging for it to stop because composers had this

Natalie Jean and Levi Moore: “The Letting Go” speaks the language of the ordinary person

A good duet, in our modern age, is a rare thing. There are plenty of features, guest verses and co-writes, and the cameo drop-in is a dime a dozen. The number of genuine duets, where vocalists share verses and tell a story together in the space of a song, is very small. If your optimism fails you, as you wonder whether there are enough great acts to keep hit radio stocked with worthy pop music duets, it’s reassuring to find that Natalie Jean and Levi Moore have a first-rate single to carry us through the next few months, all by itself. The

MAKI: ‘Waking Up With The World On Fire’ – truly majestic — grandiose, slowly unfolding, and extremely cinematic

The world is a fragmented place, with fear and hate giving rise to isolationist movements around the globe and huge portions of the population turning inward rather than outward towards each other. As such waves of bigotry spread like wildfire, the music scene becomes extremely important, not just because it means more great music, but because it connects us all together on a wavelength that hits the human heart, soul and mind even harder, faster and deeper than anger can. A creative constant in the field of communicative contemporary Instrumental music, is MAKI who focuses his ample talents on a

3 Phase – ready for genre domination!

The names Chirag Shah, Prasham Deliwala and Melvin Saldana may in themselves not ring a familiar bell in your ear right now. Probably, neither will the moniker ‘3 Phase’, nor their 6 track self-titled EP. It’s logical, it’s the law of the industry’s hype machine – cast a light on the big label clones, and leave the independent creatives in the shadows. Luckily the internet has a different set of rules.  On hearing the 3 Phase EP, the lofty ambition, the focus and dedication of this creative collective of producers, songwriters and vocal talent, makes sense – its six tracks

Sy: “Get Out Of My Dreams” – grab this R&B and Soul extravaganza

The singer, songwriter and author, Sy, releases a brand new single produced by Rueben Wood. The track “Get Out Of My Dreams” is the first single release written by the artist in 2018, since writing two self-help books, “A Swan Among Ducks” and “Saying Yes to (No): Learning the Power of (No) before the end of 2017. This track soulfully captures the spirit and feel of the emotional journey of grown womanhood. It is juicy, dynamic, soulful, gorgeous, and it is nourishment for the soul…and mind, as it examines the intricacies of a relationship built on want and lust. As

IJK: “Johnny & June” – sounds invigorated!

Alternative rock artist Imad Jack Karam, known by his initials and stage name IJK, is a Dubai-based, Lebanese singer-songwriter, who has released critically acclaimed songs and recorded with internationally known music producers in prestigious London studios. Both his singles “Space Odyssey” and “Dancing Shadows” garnered a positive reception from fans and critics alike. IJK has a style that can move between edgy modern-day alt-rock and sixties rock n’ roll crooning.  He recently published his latest single and supporting, fully animated video, for the song “Johnny & June”. So, how does this new offering cope? Very well, in truth. “Johnny &

TRVP HIPPI3Z: “On Lock” – no lack of muscular skill-flexing!

TRVP HIPPI3Z is a Canadian rap duo who just dropped their latest single entitled, “On Lock”.  Listeners beware. This product has been known to blow up and cause fires in a variety of stereo systems, due to the super-hot fire provided by this crew. TRVP HIPPI3Z is a team-up that has risen as great exemplars of righteous chaos. Their supersonic sound and hard-nosed imagery gives them a mysterious sheen, but the duo have grounded themselves via booming production, and a sonorous verbal presence, coupled with their willingness to fuck you up. Their chest-beating bravado is explosive on “IDGAF (Prod. THZ)”,

Eddy Mann: “Simple Things” will leave you breathless and in a state of euphoria

At first as a musician, I created music, then as an A&R executive I challenged it, now as a music reviewer, I explore it.  Of the three, the latter is the most difficult. Criticizing or appraising somebody else’s creation is no easy task. Enjoying it is one thing, understanding it another, and translating it is even more arduous. The funny thing is, I’ve always hated describing music. It’s such a volatile and subjective art, that nobody should really have the authority or the presumptuous audacity to judge the level of enjoyment or emotion any one piece of music is capable

Kitson Lau: “Be By Your Side” – an expressive paean to love’s transformative powers

Kitson Lau wears many hats – a musician, songwriter, singer and graphic designer, he is also a medical graduate. Initially without any musical background, Kitson became inspired by Norwegian record producer and DJ, Alan Walker. This passion drove him to learn music and song production. And soon, with dedication and focus Kitson Lau hit the top of the China Kanjian ING 10 Charts with his Mandopop albums. Since signing to Sony Music Entertainment Malaysia, Kitson has been encouraged to record English songs, so now he is making his official debut via Sony, with the song “Be By Your Side”, which

Collaborateurs: “Interstellar Colors” blurs the lines between earnestness and bravado

“Interstellar Colors” is the third album released under the Collaborateurs name, but Curtis Hubbard, Glenn Hubbard, Roger Brandon, and Jeremy Cayton have worked together in other acts for a long time. Most recently, Hubbard, Brandon, and Cayton released three albums under the name Rog & Glenn. Brothers Curtis and Glenn Hubbard have also recorded together for many years, first as Four Day Weekend, and more recently The Hubbard Concept. The Collaborateurs have a formula that works for them. Every album has more than a handful of tracks that are the greatest thing you’ve ever heard, a perfect arrangements of chords and guitar licks, vocals and magic that sets off all the right vibrations in your brain, pillowed by tunes that eventually grow on you over time and the rest are added as melodrama to keep your emotional senses pricked up in between. The Collaborateurs is the perfect album band.

That may be a difficult statement for the iTunes generation to understand, but way before digital platforms made the album downloadable in ridiculous fractions of an atom, it was one body of work that made a profound statement about its creators, performers and producers.

Of course the word ‘producer’ also had a different meaning prior to the digital age, but that’s a whole new story, which we don’t have time to explore here. The fact of the matter remains that the Collaborateurs is an album band. Meaning they can hold your attention span, and intrigue your musical curiosity over 16 full tracks, in one sitting.

The beauty of the Collaborateurs is that you can start at any point. Each album is as good as the last and those that came after it. To that end, “Interstellar Colors” works as a perfect introduction or a delightful continuation.

The band have always worn their hearts on their sleeves. They take their right to be “professionals who decided music is more fun as a hobby” seriously, and they specialize in songs that blur the line between earnestness and bravado.

There are no deep secrets to their songs, because it’s all right there on the glistening surface: a sweeping vision of rock-based virtues by way of pulsing, lusciously layered songs writ large, in flashing neon letters. The band’s music has a glamour that reflects their technical craftiness, while they write songs pumped up with unrelenting seriousness and arena-filling atmospherics.

Glistening guitars, shimmering keyboards, funky basslines, high powered drum beats, and passages of full brass arrangements can be found scattered all over the tracks. You can go from the Pink Floyd-ish lavishness of the mid-tempo “Dimension”, to the King Crimson-styled progressive rock of “LadyBug”.

You can sink into the quagmire of the slow burning funk fusion on “Curmudgeon”, or slide into the silky smooth, and eclectic, after-dinner jazz inflections, on “Two Active Snakes”. But that’s only part of the story, as “Interstellar Colors” offers so many different shades of music it’s hard to keep up with the changes from track to track. Yet the music remains cohesive all the way through.

“Interstellar Colors” is musically beyond spectacular. I closed my eyes and listened to the whole thing…and was stunned by the end; probably the most stripped down of arrangements in this collection, the piano-driven “The Last Time”, is a quiet two-and-a-half-minute ballad of heart-thumping awesomeness which gave me the measure of the greatness of this body of work.

Despite each track bringing different influences, styles and sounds, they all relate to the main idea with clarity and consciousness – which is exquisite arrangements, intelligent lyrics and superb musicianship. Without musical exploration, this album wouldn’t be from the Collaborateurs, and each track here reinforces this theory.

The band offers us an invigorating and insightful work of art for their new studio album, trading in older sentiments for a pulsing display of musicianship and originality that will keep old listeners incredibly faithful and hopefully attract many new ones.

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