“Tradition” – Thousand Below

Listening to the same bands over and over again? Wanting to find that new band that nobody knows about and then when they get big you can brag about knowing them when they were nobodies? I present to you, Thousand Below, a 5-piece outfit from San Diego, California.

Thousand Below dropped a new single titled “Tradition” to accompany their announcement of their recent signing to Rise Records.

I clicked on the YouTube video not expecting much. However, I was proven wrong, and I don’t regret clicking on the music video. The song doesn’t reinvent the wheel or create its own genre, but instead it does a solid job at continuing on in the post-hardcore vein. Majority of people think that each band HAS to be super unique and stray from the norm to be good. Yet Thousand Below simply released a solid track that quite honestly is pretty catchy. I look forward to seeing what else these guys have in store.

For those who vybe to: Our Last Night, Secrets

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Kehlani – SweetSexySavage

10/10

If you don’t know Kehlani at this point, you should be ashamed—I mean, you ought to get to it. With two amazing projects under her belt that have put her on the rise, Kehlani delivers with her latest album SweetSexySavage, which certainly makes the case for album of the year, regardless of whether it’s only a month in or not.

SSS is a raw, vibey R&B album that has dashes of influence from both 90s R&B and modern R&B. Lyrically, the album is exceptionally real (“Get Like”), showcasing growth as a person and artist. Moreover, the production compliments the lyrics in the best way possible (“I Wanna Be”). The production enhances Kehlani’s actual voice, which is a focal point on the entire album (for good reason). The regular version is 13 tracks long, but the extra 5 songs (6 depending on whether the deluxe version you buy also has “Gangsta” on it) on the deluxe version make the album even more of a spectacular listening experience rather than feeling drawn out. Even more important is the fact that each song is wonderfully crafted and infectious in their own way. Not a single filler song on this album. Even the “weak” songs on the album are bops that’ll “get you going”.

One key facet of the album is that it contains zero features. Nowadays, most albums in pop/R&B/rap/hip-hop music have a good deal of features. So when an artist releases a masterpiece without features (cough cough J.Cole), it’s really admirable. Thus, Kehlani was extremely impressive on SSS, showing that she create a savory album with maximum longevity by herself. SweetSexySavage is impeccable in every way and will, if not already, expose her to a higher amount of rightly due fame.

Lyrics: 10

Production: 10

Creativity: 9

Flow: 10

Longevity: 10

Top vybes: “Distraction”, “Get Like”, “Undercover”, “Too Much”

For those who vybe to: Jhene Aiko, Teyana Taylor

“American Dream” – Chelsea Grin

Deathcore titans Chelsea Grin are back with a heavy-hitter titled “American Dream”, which was released on the day of the inauguration of Donald Trump. How coincidental. This track was released a week before the deluxe edition of their latest album Self Inflicted. The deluxe edition will feature two additional tracks, consisting of “Avidus” and “American Dream”. And after the latter was dropped, fans abroad like myself are salivating for more.

“American Dream” is downright heavy, and it never lets up at any point during the song. It’s relentlessly delicious, littered with tasty riffs and nasty breakdowns. In terms of whether Rise Records would water down Chelsea Grin’s brutal recipe for a more accessible sound, the album and this single have proven that that is certainly out the question. Chelsea Grin are committed to pounding you with heaviness until you’re numb. This track is the culmination of the perfect way Alex Koehler’s feral screams fit with the downright filthy guitar play that is surely up in your face in how hard it is. The best part of the entire song is the filthy screech Koehler delivers at 2:15, perfectly ushering in a nasty breakdown that’ll surely induce a ton of limb-flailing and bloody lips during shows.

Most importantly and surprisingly is the lyrical content. A common opinion that I hold myself is that the lyrics on Self Inflicted were extremely lacking. In fact that was the only con of that album. But Chelsea Grin have returned to a better lyrical standing on “American Dream”. The lyrics have a clear message about how the American Dream seems so great from a distance, but it’s severely unfulfilling up close. Say what you want about our current presidential situation, this song seems to be rather fitting for it.

All in all, “American Dream” is perfectly heavy, and it should definitely silence any fan who still  wants Chelsea Grin to fully revert to their old sound found on their first release.

For those who vybe to: I Declare War, Whitechapel

 

“Issues” – Julia Michaels

Who is Julia Michaels? Where’d she come from? None of that matters because she is here, and she’s here to stay. Her first solo single “Issues” is the perfect ear worm to start the year off right. I first heard the track while at a snow tubing park in Pennsylvania, and it was too good to forget.

As mentioned before, this is Julia’s first solo single. She is a 23 yr. old songwriter who is relatively unknown until now. However, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t done anything up to this point. In fact, she’s a talented songwriter who has penned some of the hits that we know and love. She’s written and helped write songs such as “Sorry” by Justin Bieber, “Love Myself” by Hailee Steinfeld, and “All In My Head (Flex)” by Fifth Harmony. Moreover, she practically wrote all of Selena Gomez’s latest album “Revival”. So she’s been working behind the scenes, crafting infectious songs that can easily stick in your head. Her latest track is what propels her from behind the curtains and into the spotlight, front and center.

“Issues” is an airy, smooth track that focuses on the fact that her and her lover both have issues but can work through them together. The lyrics are real all around, which can easily speak to listeners and even be used by listeners. In a society where we only display the perfect view of our lives, it can be unsettling to come to grips with a lover’s issues, yet alone our own. The song is anthemic but not in a crowd-riling way; it’s an anthem that serves as a voice for the masses of a generation with tons of issues. Julia’s vocals are outstanding, making me wonder why she ever took so long to sing her own tracks sooner. Along the same veins as Daya’s latest album, Julia Michaels’ “Issues” serves as a prime example that a minimalist approach to pop music with memorable lyrics/message is on the rise.

Julia Michaels released a track that will rule airwaves for a while. Not because of a hella bouncy beat drop or meme-worthy lyric, but because of the simple yet impeccable blend of her beautiful voice, incredible lyrics, and minimalist sound.

For those who vybe to: Phoebe Ryan, Verité

 

“hard pill to swallow” – morgxn

morgxn is a singer/songwriter based in LA and NYC that I had never heard about until I was casually browsing on Spotify’s New Releases section. There he was, with his latest single “hard pill to swallow”, which looked and sounded interesting enough. So I gave it a listen, and I found myself listening to his other three tracks in no time. To describe his sound accurately, just blend the dark, atmospheric vibes of The Neighbourhood found on their first release with the creativity of Jon Bellion. “hard pill to swallow” truly showcases the combination.

“hard pill to swallow” is a dark, atmospheric single about the coming to grips with a love gone awry. Lyrically, it’s simple and repetitive. But it’s effective in raising the hairs on your body. morgxn has a sultry vocal delivery that hovers just above a whisper in how calm and soothing it is. His vocals take the basic lyrics and transform them in a deep story that you can experience. The atmospheric, rhythmic production full of swelling bass synths reminiscent of Banks’ “Begging For Thread” only adds to the experience that the song makes you feel. Ordinary artists make you sing the song, but extraordinary artists make you feel the song. Thus, with its calm crooning atop a dark ambiance full of subtly powerful production, “hard pill to swallow” has simply made me regret not finding morgxn sooner.

Vybes like: “Disappointed” – Storm The Sky

For those who vybe to: Colouring, Bishop Briggs

Image via genius.com

Artists to Watch: Dwellings

With an impressive duo of tracks under their belt and a debut EP titled Lavender Town on the horizon, I have high hopes for this band, and you should too. The progressive post-hardcore outfit out of Modesto, California comes from the same vein as bands such as Dance Gavin Dance and Sianvar. In fact, they sound like Dance Gavin Dance during the years when they were fronted by Kurt Travis. Are they a exact replica that you ignore? Heck no! This band has their own unique feel. Their track “Lemonade” is thrilling with an extremely catchy hook and exceptional guitar work.

Their latest single “Foreverest” released in late November is much tamer, but super soothing. A Chon vibe is definitely present on this song. Both Josh Benton (ex-Dance Gavin Dance guitarist) and producer Kris Crummet have handled Dwellings’ production and mastering, respectively. Thus, you should keep your eyes open for their debut EP.

Vybes like: “Humble Ledger (Gnostic States)” – Eidola

For those who vybe to: Dance Gavin Dance, Hail The Sun

Check out their newest single”Foreverest” below.

Photo credit: @valleytaylor

 

 

 

Top 10 Of Mice & Men Songs

Metalcore giants Of Mice & Men have ruled the scene ever since their inception in 2009. Led by Austin Carlile and his harsh, unique screams, Of Mice & Men carved their way to the top with their relentlessly energetic brand of metalcore that always translated into crazy shows. With four albums under their belt, a change in style was evident in their third release, Restoring Force. Blending nu-metal with their traditional metalcore, Of Mice & Men further set themselves apart from the rest, as seen by their album reaching number 4 on the Billboard 200. Tours with Slipknot and Linkin Park showed that this band was destined for even greater things. You could even claim that they are pioneers in the revival of nu-metal. However, the current that Of Mice & Men has been riding is finally subsiding, as Austin Carlile had announced his departure from the band due to health concerns. The band will continue with members Aaron Pauley, Phil Manansala, Alan Ashby, and Valentino Arteaga.

Instead of mourning his departure, I think it’s fitting to remember the best tracks Austin’s helped Of Mice & Men create. Here’s the top 10 Of Mice & Men songs.

10. THOSE IN GLASS HOUSES

Frenetic from start to finish, this track was a perfect example of how brutal Of Mice & Men was on their first album. It’s quite often that their self-titled seems to be forgotten, but this was the album that put them on the map. This track simply shows why.

9. Ohioisonfire

You might notice that the first two songs on this list are heavy-hitters. That’s because fans across the board adored Of Mice & Men’s ability to infuse catchy clean vocals into aggressive tracks without sacrificing the originality or integrity of the song. Ohioisonfire is a prime example of that. Thrashing drums with feral guitar riffs and nasty breakdowns will get anyone flailing, but the infectious vocals of ex-bassist/clean vocalist Shayley Bourget will get anyone singing. Also, let’s not forget how wild it is to hear Carlile to chop up his scream when he says he’s taking you with him “out of line”.

8. THE BALLAD OF TOMMY CLAYTON & THE RAWDAWG MILLIONAIRE

I know, it’s a mouth full. But the song is relentless and contains some of the best if not catchiest guitar work from Phil Manansala. The chugging breakdowns seem to perfectly set up Bourget’s soaring chorus. Moreover, the lyrics on this track are straight fire with tons of memorable lines (i.e. “bloody hands stop beating hearts”, “shut those legs, girl, it’s closing time”).

7. Purified

Probably the band’s most underrated track, this track was the second single that preceded the release of their second album, The Flood. This track is the most melodic ever created without coming off as cliche or lackluster. The riff that backs the verses is so sensational and addicting that you will find yourself replicating the riff with your own mouth. Bourget kills it on this track, along with Carlile who destroys the bridge in the best way possible.

6. Would You Still Be There

One of the best songs on their third album, Restoring Force, Would You Still Be There is the most radio-friendly track the band had ever created. Anthemic and catchy by nature, this is the first track in which Austin Carlile takes an extremely noticeable back seat to new vocalist/bassist Aaron Pauley. This track also shows tremendous guitar work from Manansala and Ashby, further showing how talented this band really is. This isn’t a sellout track; this is a versatile track.

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