Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Von Smith “The Mystery of Mister V”

Von Smith

Although this blog is focused mainly on rock/metal music, that's not to say that I don't like to listen to other things, or that I can't feature other types of music here. Because I totally can. This is my blog and I can write whatever I like!

That being said, one name among that I have mentioned here before that falls under this category is Von Smith, a name you might know from Post-Modern Jukebox, a group of singers who perform cover songs in a “vintage jazz-pop” style. Von describes his music as “symphonic pop”; and to be honest, I cannot think of a better way to describe what he does. His music runs the gamut from so many different sounds and influences that it's hard to pin him down or to put him simply in one category. “Pop” is too small a word to describe Von as an artist: sure, there's pop, but there's also classic R&B, soul, as well as some jazz, some funk, a little bit of showtunes, and yes, of course, a lot of symphonic elements. Von's music really does have something for everyone. As a singer, he is one of those vocalists I can listen to all day long and never tire of hearing. He has such a huge voice, and it is so diverse, that it never ceases to amaze me all of the things he can do with those pipes!

Which brings me to his most recent video, the title track from his upcoming EP, The Mystery of Mister V, which is due for release sometime this summer. The video features shots of Von at the piano playing the melody, and then switching to Von wearing a tuxedo and bowtie, looking very old-school like a film from the 1940s. The song has a swing/jazz vibe to it, which complements Von's soulful voice so perfectly.

So until the EP is released (which cannot be soon enough, let me tell you!), why not take a look at the video and listen to the music yourself?

For more information on how to purchase Von's music or pre-order The Mystery of Mister V, just visit his official website.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: The Spider Accomplice “Calico Concrete”

Group photo; courtesy of Norm Tallant

This week's video features a band I've grown to like a lot over the last several months: The Spider Accomplice, from my hometown of Los Angeles. Like many people who live in the City of Angels, the three bandmembers who make up The Spider Accomplice are all from different places—two members from the East Coast and one all the way from Finland—but just like the cultural melting pot that is Southern California, they combine their influences to make for a sound that is so L.A.

Fronted by VK Lynne—a well-respected vocalist on the femme-metal scene in her own right—The Spider Accomplice is a mix of various sounds ranging from straight-up rock to alternative to even a little bit of goth or folk. The video for this week, “Calico Concrete”, is a catchy tune with a video that immediately hits you with the sights and sounds of Los Angeles: the world-famous skyline, an old, broken-down television left out on a street corner, with flashing images of “breaking news”, followed by a police pursuit (something that has become somewhat of a spectator sport in the Southland). The band rocks out at a dilapidated-looking apartment building; the guys on the roof of the building, jamming it out wearing pink; while VK wears a super hero-type costume and wanders around the empty halls.

The band is currently holding an IndieGogo crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the recording of their upcoming full-length album. Follow the link provided for more information.

But before you do that, why not check out the video first?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Master Sword “Behind the Mirror (The Dark World)”

Master Sword band photo

For this week's Hump Day Hot Ticket, I'm featuring a band that I've written about here before and whose music I enjoy for various reasons: Baltimore-based Master Sword, whose music is an ongoing tribute to The Legend of Zelda video games. Whether they are melodies based on in-game music, or lyrics pertaining to the mythology of the series, Master Sword brings the world of Hyrule (and all its varying parallel universes) to life through music, surely as Link manipulates time and space with his trusty ocarina.

This video is the first single from their upcoming album, due for release in the next several months. It features a guest vocalist whom I have also written about before: Rob Bradley, formerly of Aries and currently of Thrillkiller, he has a set of pipes that are certainly a gift from the Golden Goddesses. In this video, the bandmembers (which includes Jesse Keen from A Sound of Thunder, yet another band I have written about in extensive detail) are shown jamming on their instruments while Rob is at the mic delivering his epic vocals. Master Sword's musicianship is as intricate as a Zelda dungeon puzzle, and as imaginative as a Hyrulean tale.

Now that the band has recruited vocalist Lily Taylor to the mix, it will be interesting to hear how the rest of the album unfolds. But for now, take a listen to “Behind the Mirror (The Dark World)”, a song based on a musical piece from the game The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Britta Phillips “Drive”

Photo courtesy of Luz Gallardo

As the singing voice of Jem from the iconic ’80s cartoon Jem & The Holograms, Britta Phillips has had a unique advantage in that her audience has grown up with her as her musical journey continued to evolve. From her various projects such as Luna, Dean & Britta, and movie soundtrack work, Britta has come a long way since her “truly outrageous” days as the pink-haired superwoman that inspired young girls and boys alike to follow their dreams. But her fans are just as devoted to her now as adults as they were back when they were little kids parked in front of the TV, waiting every week to hear her voice and sing along to those catchy Jem tunes. Now Britta has released the very first solo album of her storied career: Luck or Magic, a balanced mix of original material coupled with cover tunes from the ’70s and ’80s that her Jem fanbase are sure to recognize.

Much as Britta has embraced her past and does not try to deny her Jem affiliation, it is also safe to say that, musically, she as is far removed from the synth-driven ’80s pop that was the signature sound of the fictional band she fronted. Her singing style is completely her own now, and sounds nothing at all like her “Jem voice”. But her unique vocal delivery is still very identifiable, and if Britta Phillips really was Jem, one could say that her music on Luck or Magic is exactly what Jem might actually be doing in the year 2016; as a grown-up, mature woman who knows herself, knows her musical message, and knows how to utilize those talents to the fullest. With her throwback covers of past hits combined with her own current music, Luck or Magic speaks to the heart of every ’80s kid who are at that age where we are still young enough to approach newer music with an open mind (even if not with the same enthusiasm as in our teens and ’20s), but also reaching the age where childhood nostalgia kicks in, and the music from our past becomes as important to us as it ever did.

So then, perhaps Britta's choices of cover tunes on this album couldn't be more perfect, especially the choice for the video I'm going to share with you now: a cover of the classic tune from The Cars, “Drive”. If you grew up in the ’80s, you know this song. Britta does a fantastic job of conveying the sad and tragic lyrics; the juxtaposition of her morose vocals heard over a retro-style video of seemingly happy home videos that belie the tension just beneath the surface. Between these images are clips of Britta in black-and-white, either singing or driving around in her car. The music is minimalistic, drawing attention to the lyrical content; making it more powerful of a delivery. The comments on Britta's YouTube channel compare this tune to Lana Del Rey, so for those of you younger readers who don't know anything about the ’80s or don't get the references I have made, then consider those comments and take it from there! It's a worthy cover tune of a timeless classic from a super-talented singer. Need I say more?

Luck or Magic is now available on Double Feature Records.