Drawing inspiration from Saul Bellow’s 1987 novel of the same name, Chuckie Campbell’s More Die of Heartbreak finds the Buffalo emcee exploring the past seven years of his life, framed by a violent assault that left his jaw broken in two places and the suicide of the friend who assaulted him. “Men carve hate in the hearts of men”, Campbell raps on “Father’s Hands”.The album’s scope is both personal and political. Lead single “Synesthesia”, which recalls Qwel’s “Vincent Van Gogh Coke Ad” in its hues, attempts to address all that is wrong with America in just under four minutes. Though the song is off-putting in its obviousness, it is the only major misstep on the record. When Campbell switches his lens from macro to micro, his skill as a storyteller emerges. The brilliant, piano-driven “Seasons” fleshes out a childhood memory of watching a young man succumb to a heart condition on a basketball court in the unforgiving cold of winter.
Austin, TX by way of Sheffield, UK singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Mark Stoney is back with his strongest and most diverse LP to date, More Than Animals, slated for a January 14 release. The record begins with a tangible bang and ends the same. It’s a concise, brilliantly arranged 12-track effort void of filler.Though Animals marks only his third official release, Stoney’s music bears the presence of a Brit-pop veteran and recalls decades worth of influences in its classic hues. The preacher’s son from South London knows how to write a hook. The preponderance of his new album boasts remarkably catchy choruses, none more so than the moody, layered reprise of “Devil On My Back”. That track sets the emotional tone for the record, a decidedly darker affair than his last LP, 2007’s The Scene & The Unseen. Stoney’s provocative snapshot imagery suits Animals’ gloomy aesthetic well. Lines like “shivering like a whore turning tricks in the London rain” and “I’ll carve you on my heart just like a fool” provide abstract glimpses into the turmoil that informs his writing.
Sydney, Australia’s Monks of Mellonwah made the interesting decision to release their new LP, Turn the People, in three installments, beginning with Ghost Stories in June and continuing with the Afraid to Die EP, which came out earlier this month. MOM’s recent bona fides include Best International Act at the 2012 L.A. Music Awards and Best Indie Rock Band at the 2012 AIM Awards as well as a deal with A&R Worldwide.The alternative quartet cites Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd as influences, but its sound skews more towards a less polished, pop-friendlier Incubus. The EP’s title track is its most impressive offering, with a glimmering melodic breakdown in the final third complementing chugging guitars and thick bass. Lead singer Vikram Kaushik rolls with the punches of an uptempo chorus but falls considerably flat on poorly written verses.
Stay on topic.Not the easiest of tasks these days. The artwork for Black Milk's sixth solo effort—hand-drawn by Dallas illustrator Joonbug—speaks to the dark and chaotic times we're living through. Milk goes full concept on this, the first release from his own imprint, Computer Ugly.During the hazy turn-of-the-millennium days, artists, businesses, etc. developed the concept of a web presence. Now, we're wondering if there's any actual humanity left on the other side of the interface. The phrase "Computer Ugly" evokes this notion while the album speaks to the forgotten recesses of the Motor City, which in itself is a snapshot of American decline.
Elle Varner performed to a sold out crowd last night, mostly comprised of die hard fans and friends aboard a luxury yacht cruise along New York City's Hudson River. The Grammy nominated "Refill" singer performed her trademark singles, "I only want to give it to you" and "Refill" before giving insight into her writing process and that she's in a whole new space creatively.