Mathanas is the debut record from Los Angeles based cellist, composer and songwriter Marza Panther. It’s hard to pin down a sound or genre for this album, which seems to be the point. Panther describes the project as a prism, having “many moods.” Panther creates a whole world on Mathanas by mixing fantasy, folktronica, classical, rock and found sounds that form a dark and unfamiliar version of pop.
The throughline of Mathanas is the cello. Some songs feature it more than others, but it’s always there. Panther has a complicated relationship with the cello, saying, “I had a love-hate relationship with it since I never quite fit in with the classical music world. I have been deeply influenced by the beauty and depth of classical music, however. I'm always looking for new, interesting ways to use the cello.” Panther has undoubtedly found an exciting way to do it. Her connection to the cello feels more like metal’s connection to classical music. There’s a deep respect for the genre, but it’s turned on its head with additions like distorted guitars or warbling synths.
Mathanas’s most memorable moments are its darkest. “What We Ordered” sounds like it could be the soundtrack to a horror movie or video game. The haunting cello and acoustic guitar set the tone, and eventually, a crunchy electric guitar comes in that enhances the song’s uneasy feeling. “Ghosts” is another atmospheric tune that perfectly sets a mood. Shrill strings and reverb guitar bring to mind desolate landscapes. Panther’s powerful voice and harmonies on the chorus rounds out the track.
Many songs on Mathanas have fantasy elements, which is most evident on “Wizards of Doubt.” Aside from the name, the song begins with eerie laughter that brings to mind a coven of witches. This song also leans into its folk elements by highlighting acoustic instruments, for the most part, giving it an aged feel. The bridge breaks away from this, with creepy spoken word and electric guitar that add to the track’s otherworldliness.
Marza Panther’s debut Mathanas succeeds in world-building and genre-bending. Its mix of folktronica, classical and rock gives it a sound all its own, while its dark atmosphere forms a world in which listeners can get lost. This album has so much to discover-- I'll be listening again and again.
Real Mirage is a one-man band from Chisinau, Republic of Moldova. The band released its first EP entitled Real Mirage – EP which came out in March, 2020.
According to his Bandcamp page: “Real Mirage is the place where poetry blends with ambient, atmospheric and psychedelic music.” That is Real Mirage in a nutshell. As a solo act, the man behind the band writes, records, mixes, masters and performs all the instruments himself. Coined as a place where people can escape to, the moniker is an apt description of what the band is trying to do. Wrapped up in a melding between dream-pop and ambient, what you get is a soundscape that leans into a sound that will take you on a trip out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary.
Real Mirage – EP opens with “To End Up Being,” where industrial sounding synths sizzle up in tandem with a rolling chorus of guitars. The vocals are rough and rumbling and executed with a gnarly vibe. The soft music contrasts with the harsh sounding vocals. The dichotomy of hard and soft tones adds another layer.
The sounds of rain falling and thunder adds an ambient approach in the opening of the track “Embrace.” The vocals come in, in a mellow whisper here. They come across with a spoken word-like appeal although they are hard to discern as they are mumbled throughout the gamut of this song.
Reverberating guitars could be heard spiraling overhead on “Frame.” The drums come in with a dramatic backbeat. The vocals are low-key and droning with a performance poetry-like vibe. The spoken word is executed a few decibels lower than the music, giving the music an almost overpowering element.
On “Aware,” the ambient sound of synths starts off this number. Next, some guitar riffs reverberate and adds in its soulful range. The drums come in with a slow driven backbeat. The vocals are loosened over the effects of lush instrumentals. The poetry performance is highly experimental and shows the band’s penchant for innovation. The music is moving and engrossing. The song closes to a sweeping finish.
The music on Real Mirage – EP certainly takes flight. The band dissembles and puts together a range of instrumentals from guitars, bass lines, drums and percussions. The EP also incorporates the electric sound of synths where organic instrumentation is mixed in with that of the electronic. This delves into a more full-on and fully realized sound. Recommended.
A college indie rock band based out of Athens, Ohio and currently signed to the campus record label at Ohio University, Tomorrow Daily primarily play shows in Athens, headlining on busy nights due to the band’s larger pull of audiences compared to most of the college bands in the area. The statewide tour they booked for March and April to support their full-length, self-titled album Tomorrow Daily was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID-19, but they state that they intend to go forth with rescheduled dates as soon as it is safe to do so. The record was recorded with gear the band purchased using a couple months of gigging and merch money. For all music techs out there, the band used the interface Focusrite Scarlett 18i8, and the only mics used were an SM57 (snare and guitars), SM58 (kick, vocals and guitars), and a matching pair of Rode M5 condensers (overheads and gang vocals). Bass was all DI.
The band states their album is a straightforward indie rock album with a lot of blues and southern rock influence. Faithful translations of their live sound have been preserved, with some fun electronic interludes to break up the monotony of bluesy guitar rock. The quintet’s goal was to create the most faithful representation of their sound up until a certain point (i.e. being a college band, you never know when your mates will graduate and pursue careers elsewhere). This awareness resulted in a pretty straightforward garage rock approach to mixing, but they’ve been experimenting with a more modern indie production style (a la Tame Impala and similar acts) on their more recent projects with Brick City Records and their upcoming self-produced EP. The band’s main influences are the Strokes and Petite League, though individual tastes vary greatly.
The opening track “Give Me the Slip” is about well, telling someone that it’s time to go by leaving the scene as it were. Already, I’m loving this band’s raw sound, and the way the guitars feel, the drums, the production – this group has got a fantastic old school ‘70s vibe going on. “New Yesterday” has a gritty nature about it, sounding even more old fashioned than the opener – but in a good way, this group definitely has got something refreshing to offer. The best thing about this one was when the entire band sings all together. “Peach” is a 14-second break of a clock ticking, I think. “For Real” feels more like a Strokes kind of song, or some other band from the early 2000s that tapped into a nostalgic sound. “Lime” is another short stint, with sounds of a heartbeat and some kind of plane flying overhead.
“Now and Then” begins with a bright and warm guitar sound, and Avery Waffen takes control on the vocals with accompaniment by one of the other guys in the band. A classic guitar solo, with a southern-fried sound polishes this one off. This one to me qualifies well for a radio single. “Something New” is heavy on the instrumentation with great sounding guitar licks and plenty of drum fills. “Waves” is yet another short, quick instrumental and I really liked this one a lot. It would be cool if the band did an entire album of ambient songs because they are good at it. “Plastic” has got a fantastic funky beat, but it also has some heavier rock edges to it. Overall, the structure of the song kept me engaged. The lyrics here seem to be about false friends and lovers and getting taken for a fool. The guitar solo is really great on this one.
“Dusk” is another instrumental with more complex instrumentation, drumbeats, a driving bass line, Paul McCartney like keys and melody, an acoustic and a tick-tocking clock to begin this very creative tune. The whole arrangement and writing set this one apart from the rest, I thought. Last, there is “Don’t it Look Pretty Clear” a light and pop styled tune, that kind of reminded me of Lou Reed’s lighter stuff and Ben Folds (minus the piano). Oh hell, there was a lot of great stuff going on with this one and well worth the wait, despite being a shorter song. Perhaps you’ll hear some other influences as well, but what I can say, is that this Athens band has got great chemistry. It’s a shame that they may part ways in the coming years if and when they graduate college or move away. For now, I hope tomorrow doesn’t come too soon for this talented young band.
clash bowley is back with a new release entitled Impact. If you are familiar with his other releases Impact should be a welcome addition to his work. bowley mixes a lot of organic and electronic instrumentation providing a cocktail of tones, textures and colors which in my opinion sound best through high quality headphones.
The first song is “Deus Vult” and revolves around a good amount of percussive elements, distorted ’70s sounding Bowie guitars and more. Even without the vocals there is a lot going on. The vocals on this song are processed in two different ways giving it a unique flavor.
“Down the Wormhole” has a similar vibe in terms of the music but the vocals are delivered with a different affectation at times. There is this sort of Tom Waits type quality that he sings during the verse. It could be a different person or he is just good at taking on different characters.
“A Daughter of the Local Gentry” is very different at least in terms of the vocals. It’s a little subdued, intimate and pensive sounding. The music does feel like a like-minded strain of the previous songs and it’s evident that bowley was constructing a cohesive vision with these tracks.
The first three songs felt like a good indication of where the album was headed and he is just getting started. I did think there were some highlights as the album progressed. The minamilst and lounge worthy allure of “Orbital Station Number 47729” was hypnotic and a song where his vocals were able to really breathe.
The trap-like qualities of “The Queen of Hearts” created an ominous yet seductive atmosphere while “The Creeper” has qualities of one of my favorite bands - Primal Scream.
This was a consistent album in terms of quality. It felt quite seamless when listening to it from beginning to end which is something essential. Take a listen.
Valerio Montelatici is an artist from Italy who recently released My Inspiration. It’s an album he has been working on for years. He explains that this release was something he did after leaving his band and trying to process the death of his father.
Montelatici sings in English and his accent was very noticeable to me but not in a bad way. His vocals were well delivered with a good amount of passion. The album gets going with the driving and fast “My Inspiration.” It’s a rock song with a good amount of attitude and I was getting an ’80s and early ’90s vibe in terms of the music.
Up next is “Lost” which is another solid song with similar striking lyrics that are confessional and earnest. I really liked the instrumentation but the vocals on this song were fantastic. That being said do not miss the shredding guitar solo. “Nothing Else Matters but The Sun” is an upbeat song with tinges of Americana. I enjoyed the vibrant vibes on this song.
“Facebook” is a rocking number with prominent organs and distorted guitars. I was getting a Black Sabbath type of vibe on this song that is perhaps even more drenched in the ’80s vibe. There is some kind of conversation happening right before the guitar solo.
The first ballad is called “It Is Not yet Tomorrow” and it felt very well placed. Montelatici can pull off a rock song but he sounded especially good singing on this song. “Looking for More” is a mix of synth, piano and guitar and was a slight deviation in sound from everything else. “Forever Without You” is a soaring ballad where he combines sine waves with guitars while “Letters to a Friend” is a somber reflection that showcases some sax.
I thought this was a cohesive album but also had plenty of variety at the same time. Take a listen.
Every week we mention a couple of artists that are worth your time to check out that were not featured in our weekly reviews.
Artist Album Rating
LV Solo Neon Summer 3.7
Jerry, at the Beach Jerry, at the Beach 3.8
SOFIA Stories For The
Poor Beastie Now Stories Told 3.9
Tiger Beach Tiger Beach 3.6
Tom Schreck is an independent artist based in Nashville, Tennessee, but originally from Bismarck, North Dakota. His three full-length studio albums, Outsider (2009), Save Your Glory (2014) and most recently #Schrexit (2020), alongside his EP Added Glory (2015), showcases Schreck’s insatiable creative appetite and a fascination with wide-ranging genres of music. From folk and standard singer/songwriter fare to garage rock, indie, power pop, electronic, Celtic, R&B, jazz, classical, crooner-ism, world music and much more – it seems the multi-genre songwriter has done it all. His work has earned him finalist honors in the USA Songwriting Competition three consecutive years, as well as features on Nashville radio station Lightning 100's Local Lightning Spotlight and on the syndicated NPR program On Point. His unique singing voice, compositional style and captivating performances have placed Schreck as a distinct and respected creative force in the Nashville community and beyond.
People who have heard #Screxit so far say it reminds them of Beck, which Schreck takes as a big compliment. The album showcases the artist’s evolution as a producer on compositions spanning dense power pop, electronic textures and funky percussion grooves. The lyrics are often allegorical and topical, reflecting themes on chaos, alienation, disillusion, violence and hope. It was recorded, mixed and mastered by Jason Hall at Hot Lava Studios in Nashville and several other musicians took part helping Schreck out by adding their talent.
Starting things off is “Beef Supreme” – a happy, vibrant ditty with positive sounding melodies. It’s got a little pop, a little world beat. It’s an interesting beginning for sure. Next up is “Der Februar,” an electronic symphony of sounds, quite different from the feeling and style of the previous tune. What made this one rich with texture and layers were the addition of strings – a little classical, a little popular sounding – alongside the MIDI sounding keys and electro beats made for a very unique instrumental. “Cobalt Blue” switches gears again with a contemporary folk-pop rock, singer/songwriter sort of way, in the style of Crosby, Stills and Nash in their later years. Jason Hall helped out on background vocals and engineering with this one. “World Without War” carries the spirit of the ‘60s protest songs into the 21st century. I immediately thought of Billy Bragg, and it sounds like something he actually wrote! It’s got a lot of good things going for it – strings, bells, harmonica, piano – an all-around beautiful song.
I absolutely loved the old fashioned drum machine beat, shakers and arrangements to “T.H.C.” It’s one part Bob Dylan with samples from his “Things Have Changed” but, if you’re familiar with how original Tom Waits can get, especially on his 2006 masterpiece Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards, then you’ll understand what I was hearing – although I’m not sure Waits would have done the hip-hop or scratching records thing. Who knows? – maybe he has already. Anyway, a highly entertaining song! “The Chase” has some great fantastic accompaniment of bass clarinet and guzheng by Rory Hoffman and the electronic piano/synth by Reed Pittman. If you’re familiar with R.E.M.’s Reveal record, then you may hear some connection here. I also thought of the folk-rock band America for some reason, too. Overall, another great number I thought. “Save It for a Rainy Day” has a feel-good quality to it. A pop oriented, sing-along song that I thought reminiscent of bubble gum pop of the ‘60s – think of bands like The Turtles and The Lovin’ Spoonful.
The last tune seems so far removed from the rest of the album, I thought I was listening to an entirely different artist. Apart from this last number being Schreck’s longest by far, “Imagine Me” sounds like a mix of The Gap Bad, George Clinton and Funkadelic, Grandmaster Jay and perhaps a sprinkling of Rick James and/or Earth, Wind and Fire. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up on funk music and still love it to this day, but wow – this was not what I expected. Regardless, it was a fantastic surprise ending for sure.
If you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for some night and need a good dose of variety, try out Tom Schreck’s #Screxit.
The Great Noise is a rock band based in Norfolk, Virginia, formed in 2018. The band features Corey White (guitar/vocals), Jake Shinn (bass), Danny Cash (drums) and Ryan Brown (guitar). The band released their latest EP entitled Wish.
With influences from The Foo Fighters, Deftones, The Smashing Pumpkins and Silversun Pickups, you can definitely feel the vibe of these aforementioned bands in the group’s music. Rolling forth with a heavy sound from deep, dark guitars and bass lines that support crisp vocal harmonies, the EP also embellishes on a strong pop rock foundation with catchy riffs and melodies.
Wish opens up with “Intro,” with a loud clamor. A full-ranging anthemic sound comes from the guitars. Next, a more hard-hitting and driven sound comes from the bass lines. The sound is heavy and revolving.
Without missing a beat, the title track “Wish” transitions right from the get-go “Intro.” The vocals roll in full of energy and expression. Emotionally powered, listeners will feel the angst head-on. The sound crescendos many times.
A melee of guitars produces a wall of sound on “Feel It.” The vocals come in, soaring with emotional power. The music sails and really comes to life with an energized fashion.The guitar solo toward the three-minute mark is powerful.
On the closer “Back At It,” dark rhythms comes from the guitars and bass lines. The beat is adamant and driven. The sound coalesces with the cadence of guitars, bass lines and drums that support the on-point vocals.
At the focal point of these rock numbers is White’s vocals. Expressing full-on theatrics and a range of emotions, his vocals oscillates from a coo to near-screams. Taking the lead in many of the numbers, White rolls out all the punches with his showmanship.
The deft musicianship on this EP covers all the bases with expert maneuvering. The band showcases their tight-knit chemistry as they undergo many a jam-session . The band’s penchant to dive deep shows their versatility and range. Exhibiting high-tail energy, the seamless way the EP unfolds makes for a very cohesive listening experience. Expect more exciting things to come from this band.
Minneapolis-based Going To The Sun just released Love Letters From The Western Gate. Their album is perhaps a welcome declaration when so many places in the world are struggling in myriad ways. The music is rock based with a good amount of Americana. I think the most significant attribute to their sound is that it’s motivating, inspiring and hopeful sounding. At the very least the album should provide some solace.
They get going with “Music For A Party” which really sets the tone for the album. The beginning of the song is slightly melancholy and reflective but soon enough the band is rocking out fairly hard with soothing vocal melodies, distorted guitars and a driving rhythm section.
It would be weird if “Hopeful Song” wasn’t that hopeful sounding. The song is at first reflective and soon enough starts to roll. I was getting a strong Mumford & Sons type of vibes especially as the song progresses with intensity.
I was really digging the initial grove on “Broken, Still Beating (feat. Tonia Hughes Kendrick and Sara Renner).” The lyrics revolve around acceptance and optimism. They sort of mellow out on “Western Gate” but not really as the band continues to go for epic crescendos that seem like they wouldn’t be out of place at a Tony Robbins conference.
“Dark Before The Dawn” was more pensive sounding while “Remember Who You Are” returns to the cathartic nature of their sound. “Dustbowl” is a dramatic slight country infused song. I enjoyed “Rodeo” more however which really plays into a spaghetti western sound. “Closer Every Day” feels like their bread and butter sound. They close with the more reflective and nostalgic “What Would I Say.”
For most of this album I was picturing a large crowd with their hands in the air seeking salvation. It is an intense set of songs that might contain some healing like properties if you are in the right mood.
Don't Blink needs no introduction. Lockdown Tunes is the tenth album from the artist. He is one prolific artist and throughout those ten albums he has created a signature sound that I really can’t see confusing with anyone else. That being said there are plenty of influences I have mentioned in the past such as David Bowie.
Lockdown Tunes contains eight songs and I think the title is obvious to our current situation. That being said his music revolves around a lot more topics than just the pandemic. He opens with “Cowboys and Astronauts” and I really enjoyed the music but the lyrics were some of his best. He sings about the space race and even more broadly the American dream and the hope for a future. There are some great lines such as “We were cowboys and astronauts, we flew everywhere, we rode with joy, we reached for the stars, thought they were ours, cause we were cowboys and astronauts.”
“Teach Us What We Need” is lush, intimate and pensive. The music is a little more minimal and this song was more like a ballad. His lyrics are more clearly about the pandemic. The energy gets picked back up with “Radio Berlin” which is a solid song that revolves around the striking piano chords, guitar and drums. It felt a little like a fluctuating pad that ebbs and flows.
“This American Carnage” was certainly the centerpiece at almost nine minutes in length. This song is a rollercoaster ride in terms of the music but is also quite seamless in how it transitions. The topic revolves around feeling lost in society where everything is upside down. In particular this seems to be about America.
“The Bleed Out” was a rocking affair but the interjected arpeggiated synth gave the music a very ’70s quality. I also liked the melodic and hopeful sounding “You Give Me Shelter.” I’m sure you can figure out what “I Can't Breathe / You Can't Breathe” is about while “Sheba's Tree” is about everlasting love and dogs.
Lockdown Tunes is one of my favorite releases from Don't Blink. It’s striking, relevant and easy to empathize with. Recommended.
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