Music Recommendation – Single – Nate Ruess, “Nothing Without Love”

Fun. Visits New.Music.Live. in Toronto on April 24, 2012I have to say, I probably would not be writing about this song if it weren’t for the impression I was given when listening to Fun.’s Some Nights album. Nate Ruess’ voice has seriously grown on me, and I was hoping for big things from his debut. While it was impressive, this song did not attract the notice from the audience that I expected.

The song has a rhythm to it that feels easy and a feeling of loving passion. “Nothing Without Love” sounds cheesy (and believe me, the “na na na, oh” bits are), but the attitude and emotion of the song really gives the lyricism some power. Of course, the music video also helps with that (you can’t tell me I’m the only one who laughed when he was singing and swallowed a little bit of water). His pure voice is absolutely fantastic, and the pacing of this song leads into a big performance by Ruess.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

9.5/10

This song had to grow on me a little, but now it is one of my favorites. Really loving the energy, the tone and its sound. It is unique, and stands out amongst both Indie and Pop music. I seriously recommend hearing it, and keeping an eye on Nate’s follow up singles. You can listen to the song below:

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Guilty Pleasure – Fun., “Some Nights”

fun.Meet AMP’s newest humor-filled feature, “Guilty Pleasure”. I will add a description of the “Guilty Pleasure” category in the “Features” page eventually, but for now I will give you a brief summary of what I do here. Basically, I take a song that I should not enjoy as much as I do and share how I would never tell my male acquaintances about my lust for this song. Then I tell you guys, my not-acquaintances, about it.

So I thought a fitting first installment would be everyone’s favorite Indie/Pop group whose name they actually recognize from that one party in 2012. By this, I mean Fun. and their hits “We Are Young” and “Some Nights”, or as I like to call the latter, “The fun Fun. song.”

But what is so fun about Fun.’s funny “Some Nights” song? Well, the song has a deep drum beat that subtly invades your body into a rhythm of head-bobbing and toe-tapping. The lyrics are easy to pick up and fascinating to contemplate. Also, the vocals are passionate about whatever the hell they are talking about in the song.

Of course, the song has loads of little flaws. It is dragged out a bit too much, that autotune is disgustingly misused, and it uses the ever-so-signature Pop melody of “Oh oh, whoa oh whoa oh” and so on. I feel embarrassed to say I find Fun.’s music enjoyable to listen to because I know that the moment I accept it as truth, people will mistake my tolerance for being an actual fan of the group.

Overall, I would honestly rate this song at:

7.5/10

Now that I have revealed my secret, you might as well listen to it and see if the same effect rubs off on you:

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Artist Recommendation – J.R. Holmes

JRHolmesWhen it comes to Indie music, RnB can have some of the best hidden gems. Among them is R. Kelly-like (without the creepiness) singer J.R. Holmes. Holmes originates from Brooklyn and has been performing and producing music for quite a while now.

Holmes has been performing since age 7, from singing in choir to swooning with sensual lyrics. The biggest asset to his sound is how appealing it is to so many senses and how much it sets the mood. While the vocals can come off a bit shakey, his harmonies can balance out any voice cracks and his sound is pitched very well.

My favorite songs by Holmes are “Cloud 9”, the EDM-based “Remember Me” and his new single the follow up his Hold On EP, “The Truth”. Overall, I would rate his music at:

 7.25/10

J.R. Holmes does RnB/Soul quite well, and can even pull off Hip-Hop and EDM. However, his voice shows signs of weakness and this may hold him back most. “The Truth” shows how well he carries a deeper note and how much good just a teaspoon of autotune can do without outdoing talent.

You can check out his music below. I recommend at least listening to my favorite songs. Check out his full biography on ReverbNation here and on MuzicNotez.com here. Enjoy the smooth RnB of J.R. Holmes below:

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Music Recommendation – Single – Brick + Mortar, “Bangs”

brickandmortarBrick + Mortar have had a rather quiet career since forming in 2008, but the duo of Brandon Asraf and John Tacon are at their best when coming together to create the title track for their second and most recent EP Bangs.

The song begins with an intense lone guitar riff, and transitions into a thick sound before leading to the catchy, though sometimes slightly contradictory lyrically chorus. The song has a unique Rock sound, which is difficult to pull off in a genre so vague with common similarities between artists.

While the vocals feel pitched well throughout most of the song, the bridge feels out of rhythm and a bit too raw in comparison to the earlier parts of the track. The opening track to the EP does give a reputable preview of what to expect from the remaining songs, though “Bangs” is the clearcut winner in quality.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

7.75/10

You can check out the song and its music video below:

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Artist Recommendation – Equals

EqualsEDM meets Soul in the musical duo hailing from East London named Equals. James Low and Ade Omotayo (which has to be one of the coolest names I have ever forced myself to utter out loud) come together to make music that finds a way to focus on both thick vocals and complex beats.

The blend is hardly standard but has a sense of familiarity for me, mostly due to the similarities between this group and fellow Brit MNEK. These two are not inexperienced in the music industry, however, as Omotayo has worked with the likes of Mark Ronson, Basement Jaxx, Amy Winehouse, and recently moved to teaming up with Low to create a mellow and entrancing style of music.

Equals released an EP titled Single Soul, whose tracklisting included two of my favorite songs by the duo: “Trap” and the title track, “Single Soul”. However, their new release “Black On Gold”, which goes in a more upbeat direction, feels to me like their best song to date and resembles the vocals of Aloe Blacc.

Overall, I would rate the sound of Equals at:

8.25/10

The music seems to be developing still and finding its balance between focus on vocals and the beats’ intensity. The songs all have a catchy yet elegant tone to them, and provide beautiful harmonies. While the transitions from Soul into pure EDM can be a bit too quick on Single Soul, “Black On Gold” seems to be a step in the right direction when it comes to resolving that issue while still tempting me to go from a foot-tap to a full-body dance-out.

You can check out Equals on SoundCloud to hear their Single Soul EP and new single, and learn about the duo’s collaboration history since their formation in the summer of 2013. I recommend at least checking out my favorites below:

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Hear It First – Emile Haynie ft. Lana Del Rey, “Wait For Life”

emile-haynieEmile Haynie has made some serious contributions to music in the last decade, including producing much of Eminem’s Grammy-winning album Recovery. Lana Del Rey has also done a lot for music in the last couple of years, including making young teenage girls feel like hipsters. Now watch me give you an extra strength, 24-hour dose of hipsternex by giving you this mainstreamitis-curing song featuring Lana Del Rey on Emile’s new album We Fall, which is due out on February 24.

The song is distorted and has a faded tone to it. Basically, it is everything you would expect from Lana Del Rey, as these two have worked together on her debut LP before. Her name may be the most noteworthy in a tracklist including Bryan Wilson and Nate Ruess. You can check out the song by following the link to VEVO below:

http://vevo.ly/jiqRkQ

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Artist Recommendation – Sleeping Wolf

sleeping-wolfOftentimes I write about bands with a lack of publicity, but sadly this can lead to cheap sound. However, I was seriously impressed by the Alternative-Pop sound of Los Angeles band Sleeping Wolf. The duo of Jake Newton and producer Steven Solomon come together to make exciting music that features both upbeat rock and complex Pop beats.

Sleeping Wolf is working hard and finding their music slots in Netflix films for promotion. While working on their debut album, which is slated to be released anytime now, Sleeping Wolf has released plenty of excellent new music.

The songs have a Rock-influenced design and sound thanks to Newton, while each also has unique production and lyricism that can be often credited to Solomon. Together, these two make enjoyable music that can be quite the great pump-up to cause hype for anything. Hell, this stuff could make an accounting firm business party become a Rock-out-fest.

sleeping-wolf-2

My favorites by Sleeping Wolf are topped by Blindfold, which is one of my favorite tracks currently. Other favorites include one of the group’s bigger hits, Jennifer, and Come And Get Me. There is yet to be a song release that I do not like, and I have to chuck Sleeping Wolf into one of my favorite all-time artist recommendations.

Overall, I would rate the sound of Sleeping Wolf at:

9.75/10

The music is highly appealing and I would not hesitate to show anyone this group, though in a couple of songs either autotune can be a bit apparent for some tastes or would not hurt to add to high notes. While the vocals can have their ups and downs at times, the music as a whole is quite remarkable and I would highly suggest keeping an eye on this band with me as I write about them in the near future.

You can check out their SoundCloud and at the very least check out my favorites below:

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Artist Recommendation – Foxcat

foxcatFoxcat are a Nebraska-based band with a knack for Folk-Rock. The group calls Lincoln home, and cites influences such as Green Day, Jack White, Tallest Man On Earth, and more. The short songs make great country radio play and have a natural sound to them that showcases the talents on vocals and instruments (especially guitar).

The group is definitely an independent band worth checking out if in Lincoln, Nebraska. The music usually has a moderate tempo but distorted instrumentals and unique vocals. My favorites by the band are Dead End, You Tell Me, and You Shoulda Stayed Here.

Overall, I would rate the band’s music at:

8.75/10

The vocals are just a bit rough on high notes, but their appeal is in the coarse Folk-Rock feel to it. The instrumentals and production feels a bit basic at times, but in other songs (Especially my three listed above) their sound is complex and entrancing.

I recommend at least giving these three favorites a listen, or if you want to hear more, you can stream their debut album Roughshod on Foxcat’s official SoundCloud below.

-Austin Heath

Music Recommendation – Single – Sirena, “Chemicals”

sirenaSwedish Indie artist Sirena (The not-metalcore one) released a song called Chemicals a couple of months ago that I had saved for ages to post about. I am now just getting around to it, but hearing it again, I can still say that this is a rather good song.

The vocals and sound seriously resemble those of Sia or ultimate synth-pop bae of mine, CHVRCHES. The bass is gentle in the first verse and Sirena’s voice just seems to drift until it explodes in the chorus. The second verse is low-key similar to the first, and does not use the chorus as an anti-depressant drug like most songs do to spice up the second stanza.

My only complaint about the song is how misplaced the vocals feel in the chorus. Either downsize the bass and what sounds like the beat sneezing. It just feels as though too much is going on throughout the hook and both sounds just mesh together.

Overall, I would rate the song at:

9/10

This is definitely my favorite Sirena song. The electro-pop sound is catchy while remaining low-key and mellow. You can go ahead and check out Chemicals below:

-Austin Heath

Artist Recommendation – Troye Sivan

trxyeTroye Sivan may have a bit more acclaim, but I only heard his music for the first time today. His sound reminds me of Mystery Skulls (except a bit less exciting), who I have raved about before. His sound is much more diverse, however, making his experimentation in his music intriguing and risky. These kinds of risks are regardless very noble and his ventures in EDM as an Indie artist are quite remarkable.

The South-African singer is also a rather famous YouTuber, known for his videos with Tyler Oakley. I’m going to end this paragraph there so you can cover this bit of text up if you would rather not know about his association with everyone’s favorite Tumblr icon.

There is obvious talent in Troye Sivan’s music, and his debut EP TRXYE is currently out. Out of all of his songs, my favorites are Happy Little Pill (his most popular track to date), Touch (my #1 pick of the three) and Fun. Gasoline and Fault In Our Stars are slower but still beautiful love ballads. I recommend at least listening to my three favorites, but if you get the chance you should listen to the whole project. Each song has a unique tune and is quite entertaining to listen to.

So if I were to rate the artist’s sound, I would give it a:

9.5/10

The ever-changing music that Sivan performs is quite enjoyable, and while some of these ventures can be risky due to lack of appeal, obviously he hit the right spot with Happy Little Pill. You can listen to my three favorites below, but I recommend checking out the other two named above if you want to hear some slower and deeper love songs.

Go ahead and check out my favorites on TRXYE:

-Austin Heath