ODESZA - "Higher Ground" feat. Naomi Wild

With their fifth single released today in support of the upcoming LP, A Moment Apart (due out September 8th!) I figured I would write something about it, considering their 2014 release In Return is one of my favorite electronic albums ever. I know, bold words. But you know what? I'M A BOLD MAN! 

ODESZA presents a rare combination in that their sound is often equal parts soothing and grandiose. Their single "Corners Of The Earth" is the latest example of that. Add to that their affinity with worldly sounds, often incorporating eastern or tribal themes, along with a slew of others, places them in another league in comparison to their peers. Each single released so far hasn't just been good, it's been incredible, and considering there have been five, I'd say signs that this album will be just as good as In Return are obvious. Plug in and zone out. September 8th can't come soon enough. 

Because I mentioned the groups other singles, I figured I'd link you with my two favorites. 

I'm With Her - "Little Lies"

Often times when you come across new artists/groups you find yourself dwelling in that familiar place of "is there enough here for me to keep listening?" It's an understandable question, with so much music available even people with the most free time (i.e. yours truly) have to pick and choose. It's unfortunate, to say the least, especially when your goal is to listen to everything...ever (PIPE DREAMS!). Because of this "time" conundrum I am always grateful when I hear a sure thing, and I'm With Her is just that.

Formed back in 2015, the group is comprised of three musicians who are all very dear to me, Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek and Aoife O' Donovan of Crooked Still, who both have now been working as solo artists in more recent years, and Sarah Jarosz. All three are engaging on their own, so the marriage of these three dynamic and incredible musicians is something to get excited about. If you're familiar with their work at all, their debut single, "Little Lies" is beauty that should come as no surprise. The airy harmonies, the intricate string work, the calming tones and dreamlike melodies hit all the points you'd expect. Their EP, also titled Little Lies, features this single as well as five live tracks recorded back in late 2015 while the group was on tour. It's a refreshing summertime escape and I couldn't be more excited about a more complete release from these women, should the day ever come.

The trio has a few upcoming tour dates left with Punch Brothers, and if you happen to be near any of their stops remember that money is no object when incredible music is what awaits (CLICK HERE FOR SCHEDULE).

Miloux - "Paris"

I have been WAITING for this day. New grooves from Miloux day, and much earlier than expected! Excuse me while I pop some champagne. Now, in case you aren't familiar, she's an New Zealand based artist who came on the scene last year with an EP that HIT THE SPOT. Smooth, dreamy, arresting, it had (and still has!) it all, and this new single is no different. 

"Paris" has all the atmosphere that made her such a presence in life last year. She knows the power of simplicity when it comes to her backing beats and keeps things driven vocally, which is my personal preference, generally. Between her harmonies, phrasing, and melodies, I can't get enough. It's sexy without throwing it in your face. I love it. Welcome back Miloux. Whether it be an EP or LP on the horizon, I'm here for it. 

Rationale - "Loving Life"

Before I say anything, just listen to this song. It's dance-y but relaxed and smooth. Truly built for any time of day. I'm starting with this only because I don't know how long it will take for me to stop showering love onto this artist because I've been away from the site for so long that I'm just aching to heap praise on someone and no new artist is more deserving. I'm obsessed. Ok. You're listening right? Perfect. Thank you! Let's get to it.

I know this is bold but I don't think there is an artist that has emerged in the past few years that I love more than Rationale. I have been the opposite of active when it comes to the site for the last....billion months (?), but between this new single and debut LP announcement (his self titled record will be available October 6th!!!!), I was basically forced to come back and alert the world aka my single digit subscriber list. After two strong EPs he's finally gearing up for a full length. As many of you know, one of my pet peeves is when the majority of an artist's album consists of previously released material, HOWEVER in Rationale's case I will honestly take whatever he feels his listeners should hear and in the order he wants us to hear it. 

From a vocal standpoint he sits in a realm all his own. His voice is so unique and pleasing, and because he naturally dwells in a lower register, when he ranges out of that it is a genuine gift (and this single, "Loving Life," does exactly that). I also realize I sound too excited to be taken seriously but just listen, you'll get it. His ability to maintain the addictive pop-like melodies and production without sacrificing genuine emotion is something many artists that have been in the industry for years have yet to master. This guy is the real deal. Across the board. First round draft pick. Easy.

For those unfamiliar with Rationale's previous releases, fear not. I got you. Loop these EPs. And don't forget who loves you the most. October 6th can't come soon enough. But until then...

LOT - "Take A Look"

I came across LOT's debut EP Mother Board earlier this month and haven't been able to tear myself away from it, mainly because I crave the opening track "Take A Look" and then can't help but let the rest play. 

Based in Portugal's capital Lisboa, this moody, synth heavy electronic trio definitely maintains an atmosphere, each song adding it's own personality to the feel. The EP as a whole is a groove throughout, though I really think "Take A Look" is the strongest of the bunch. It's such a slick offering, the steady vocals grab you and the slow build is so smooth it could exist forever on it's own, so the fact that the the drop hits is just another reason to show this track love. 

Mother Board is sensual and trance inducing, built for a late night drive through the city - crisp air and good vibes. Remember Barcelona's string of EP's from a few years back (Love Me / Love You / Know Love)? Well if you've been missing a new addition to that mood, look no further than LOT. 

Notable Tracks: "Take A Look" // "Glimpse" // "Swing"

Earl St. Clair - My Name Is Earl

WELCOME BACK TO ME. I say that because, and I KNOW you've noticed, I have not been very active on the site outside of a few major posts regarding awards shows (Grammys / Oscars). Well, I'm back now baby, I had to all thanks to Earl St. Clair's debut EP, My Name Is Earl. While I've been working largely with down tempo and classical sounds, this has broken me free from the tyranny of comfort sounds, it's time to explore again. Adventure is out there! 

Earl St. Clair is a bluesy swiss army knife. In this seven song EP he delves into all aspects of the genre: classic, soul, funk, gospel, etc. and it all feels oh-sooo-fine. The opening track, "Pain," instantly reels you in with it's moody rawness. I loved it. It's the kind of song where you KNOW the live performance is absolute fire. The album doesn't let up there, especially during the lively four song stretch of tracks three through six. "Criminal" gets the feet tapping, but once the combo of the funk heavy "Bad Love" and summer time jam "Feeling Alive" hit you've got no choice but to groove.

Earl's got it all, and it's not hard to hear. You feel it from beginning to end. If he can expand this great an output into a full length release there's going to be no stopping this guy. The fact that I need to personally thank him for slapping me back to reality makes My Name Is Earl that much more important. Good God almighty, this is the real deal baby!

Rationale - Vessels EP

There's really not much I need to say other than this guy is probably my favorite young musician working right now, a sentiment held by quite a few fans and industry heads alike. There isn't a thing I don't love about him. Everything commands your attention, though nothing more than prominently than his voice. His tone, which sits comfortably between a tenor and baritone, is so pleasantly crisp and unique. His natural register is so smooth that even if he had no range it would still be addicting, so the fact that he DOES have range is basically a dream come true. Add in his knack for melodies and catchy hooks and you've got yourself a hit machine. 

Though his sound is in the realm of electro pop (he's sporting that modern 80's synth vibe) there is genuine emotion in his delivery and presence, removing him from the emptiness that you generally associate pop music with. There's quite a bit I could go into but at the end of the day it comes down to this, his music makes me feel good. No matter what kind of mood I'm in, the atmosphere he presents feels fitting. For an artist to have such a universal situational appeal is a special thing, I can't think of too many others who I can confidently say work well like that. The same goes for his previous Fuel To The Fire EP, which, like Vessels, I had nothing but the highest praise for.

Rationale is the real deal and then some. Anything but a long and fruitful career would be an unfortunate future for anyone with functioning ears. I hope you've been listening while reading, it'd be a shame if you haven't pressed play on this yet. 

Becca Stevens - "Queen Mab"

Why this hasn't found itself a niche audience I can't tell you. It's different, compelling, fun, and a whole mess of other positive adjectives, the most important of which might be "cool." While I was familiar with her from her collaborative work with pianist Brad Mehldau (whose recent release Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau is SPECTACULAR) as well as the jazz outfit Snarky Puppy, I never had listened to her specifically via Becca Stevens Band or her trio Tillery. Due to "Queen Mab" that has changed.

Opening gently with light harmonies, I truly had no idea where she would decide to take it - but let me tell you - each progression gets better and better. The fuzzy bass and heavy backbeat pair perfectly with her layered vocals as they dance and swirl around you. It's such a genuinely pleasing listen, and while rarely feel bold enough to declare my love of a song seconds after it starts, this one was a no brainer. I can't wait to see what comes next and how it fits within Becca Stevens' bigger picture. Which, speaking of that bigger picture, her record Regina comes out March 24th! Good stuff people. GOOD. STUFF.

Kelsey Lu - Church

I listen to a decent amount of music, but when I come across something I really love and see that it’s been out for a long time I still pause and wonder whether I’ve been living under a rock. Kelsey Lu’s debut Church made me do just that. Arriving in July of last year (making this post a hot SEVEN months late), this beautifully haunting six song release has had a hand in changing my preferences almost entirely as of late, forcing me to dig up records like Yann Tiersen & Shannon Wright’s intensely gloomy 2005 self titled collaboration. 

With the almost eight minute opening track “Dreams,” the tone is set immediately. It finds it’s strength in patience and simplicity, largely working with just her voice and cello; and with a sound that’s as arresting as this it doesn’t really require anything else. The second track features her playing with a lighter sound, using melodic plucking as the backdrop (think Andrew Bird, “Something Sinister”). However when she introduces the strings on top of that it shifts the mood back to a darker sound. 

The rest of Church, while never feeling repetitious, maintains the atmosphere; intense in nature, soothing in reality. It’s a remarkably mature first work, and I love the eastern sounds weaved in throughout. Kelsey’s vocals complement her brand perfectly (I love last half of "Morning After Coffee") and I think that’s what solidifies the effectiveness. While I’m generally partial to orchestral and classical sounds when it comes to my everyday, this adds a new element I wasn’t aware I had been craving. It grips you instantly as her style feels extremely visual, and if this is the beginning of her career I can only imagine the artistic heights she’s capable of ascending too. This is easily one of the most exciting artists I've come across in awhile.

Allan Rayman - "13"

It's been awhile since I wrote about Allan Rayman, almost a year to be exact. After his 2015 record Hotel Allen gained the love it deserved he rereleased it in 2016 with newer singles added, most notably "Verona The Hellcat." His brand of gritty, distant R&B blended with a bit of moody soul was refreshing and different. 

With two new singles towards the end of 2016 it was clear he was amping up for a new record. Well that record has a name and release date, Roadhouse 01 will be in our ears and on our minds February 24th, and it can't come soon enough. Until now my favorite of the tracks he put out was the Jessie Reyes featured "Retreat." The single showed growth while also maintaining his style and atmosphere; and I'm happy to report that "13" does the same, but better.

His largely minimalist approach makes the intertwining heavy backbeat that much more effective, however on "13" he rides the steady synths to victory, putting together one of my favorite songs of his, and also of the month. 

Allan is on to something big, play it safe and get on board now.