Pensacola metalcore band is out to prove that the hybrid genre is here to stay. With a mix of screamed and sung vocals, blazing fast tempos and breakdowns, Arsonwave is an energetic band ready to make any mosh pit explode. Embrace Reality’s nine songs clock in right over 30 minutes, and it’s an extraordinary well-executed debut album.
– Nikki Hedrick
Please Be Mine
Molly’s doing things artistically that other vocalists are just not. Her deep breathy voice is simply enchanting and evolves beautifully throughout the album. The Austin-based singer-songwriter’s debut single “Downhearted” was a real treat to discover last year, and Please Be Mine delivers in every way I had hoped. It’s easy to get lost in Molly’s mesmerizing voice, but it would be a real crime to overlook her band. The subtle balance of retro country, soul and jazz makes the music an excellent choice to sit back and take in. The guitar work is nothing short of delicious, too.
– Chris Leavenworth
55 Rose Street
Southern Red Bird
Tallahassee-based blues band brings all the southern charm you’d hope for. From the piano and harmonica infused “Devil Done Put Me Out” to the slow-burning title track and the more modern guitar blues of “The Blues is What I Live With,” a variety of blues-oriented styles and influences find their way onto the album. And it is certainly always nice to see regional artists help keep the style alive and kicking.
– Nikki Hedrick
Dubbed the “honorary Beastie Girl” years ago by Rolling Stone, genre bender Kristine Flaherty is finally making a name for herself. The now familiar single “Blood in The Cut,” with its slightly outrageous lyrics and infectious rhythm, is the first of four delicious tracks off the EP. The remaining three are hybrids, as she seamlessly shifts between rapping the pulsing rhymes of hip-hop and the high, clear voice of a lilting songstress. For someone with adventurous musical tastes, Crush Me comes off as delightfully fresh.
– Joni Williams
Beachcomberland musician McCann creates laid-back blues perfect for the beach. 30A Amigos is a keen balance between acoustic and electric instrumentation, letting McCann showcase his abilities as both solo artist and electric guitar playing frontman. From the album title to the content of the songs, the area seems to be serving as major source of inspiration for the songwriter. And we’re mighty happy McCann landed here.
– Nikki Hedrick
Now That the Light Is Fading
Rogers’ debut EP proves she deserves and demands attention beyond the phenomenon of her breakout hit “Alaska.” The energetic single about her cathartic experience of walking off an old relationship in the Alaskan wilderness confidently introduced us to her blend of folk songwriting roots and her newer love of dance music and the release it provides. “Alaska” is a gateway to the honest and layered world of Rogers’ music. Through quiet ballads and vibrant pop songs, her EP explores love and heartbreak, reflections on the past and the unknown of the future. As a collection, these songs create a vivid aura that is organic, magnetic and filled with promise.
– Jane Morgan
Fin is R&B singer and producer Syd’s debut solo album outside of her work with her former rap collective Odd Future and current band the Internet. Iciness pervades the record, from the cover art to the hazy production to the cool disposition Syd maintains. Syd cuts through the ice with her sultry, ethereal voice as she details her lust and love for women in an expansive way that sees her bounce from detached voyeur to infatuated lover to, finally, someone who knows when to walk in the face of insecurities and a toxic relationship. Fin is a statement of what Syd can create on her own as a confident artist and woman asserting her queerness on her terms.
– Jane Morgan
David Weiss & Point of Departure
Wake Up Call
Trumpet and Fender Rhodes player Weiss teams up with a strong roster of musicians, heavy on tenor sax and guitar personnel, rounding out with bass and drums. The nine tracks range from kind of scary (“Sanctuary”) to simply ominous (“Two-Faced”) and even soothing (“Noh World”). Weiss is much in the post-modern trumpet vein—experimenting with his horn as both lead and background instrument. A few of the tracks have an old fashioned, almost West Coast Cool vibe, an unhurried meditative quality that balances things. Some of the guitar passages might make you think you’re listening to lost Miles Davis’ tapes.
– Bruce Collier
Tipico is reportedly alto saxophonist Zenon’s 10th album as a leader. He is accompanied by his longtime colleagues Luis Perdomo (piano), Hans Glawischnig (bass) and Henry Cole (drums). Zenon, who hails from Puerto Rico, steps off what might have been the path of Afro-Cuban music (for which he’s well known) on this album, and comes up with eight compositions that glide and sometimes tiptoe around, with no attempt to “Latinize” things. There’s plenty of quiet here, those silences that Miles Davis said were as important as the notes. Even when it drives (as in “Corteza”), it’s tight and controlled.