K.P. Wolfe’s ‘Exodus’ EP
The main attention-grabbing element in K.P. Wolfe’s debut seven-track EP, Exodus, is her voice. Her vocal range is wide and embodies a lot of attitude, firmly setting the tone throughout the entire set of attention-grabbing and catchy tracks. While they do at times sound familiar, Wolfe’s special attention to writing thoughtful lyrics sets her apart—in a good way.
The pop rock title track is aggressive and passionate, with guttural vocals and a relentless beat. The repetitive call to move on and the seeming push forward by the guitars and drums give it an anthemic quality. Combined with Wolfe’s theater experience, a live performance of this song could be potentially unforgettable.
The slower “Icarus” delves deeper into the pop genre. Here we see another side of Wolfe: her attitude towards life, for one, is not just one of angry sass; she is also hopeful, sunny, and almost sweet. For another, her vocal range spreads out even more. The throbbing “Louder” brings together elements from the first and second numbers on her EP: an aggressive front with a sweet, hopeful layer underneath. The plucked electric guitar in the pop rock “Puppeteer” comes across as auditory metaphor for the being strung along, in one of two numbers that could pass off as an early Lady Gaga offering. The second one, “Take Back The Ring”, is a lot slower and more intense, with the emotional range Wolfe’s vocals can touch upon on full display: hope, pain, despair, and even touches of joy. Youthful angst is combined with a mature look towards the future, with tracks hopefully soon available for streaming on SoundCloud. More information can be found on the artist’s Facebook page.
Michael Van & The Movers’ ‘A Little More Country’
It’s well worth starting this part of the round-up with Michael Van’s rather tongue-in-cheek statement that cowboy boots hurt his feet. Oh, and that he’s from the San Francisco Bay Area, a place that isn’t usually associated with country music. How even more ironic is it, then, that, in so many ways, his album is so country that it can’t be in any way misfiled. All 13 tracks on the December 2016 release, titled A Little More Country, are soothing and smooth, be they a slower ballad or a quick-paced festive number. There is a richness in composition, lyricism, and delivery and yet, there is a certain straightforwardness that could be taken for a reflection of the simple things in life that Van wanted to explore in this work. It might seem at first contradictory, to be searching for the richness in the simple things in life, or, for that matter, to create simple songs that embodies this richness. But after a little thought (and a lot of slowing down), it becomes somewhat self-evident that each moment in one’s life is filled more than we could ever imagine.
Van explores the richness in the simple things in life, which can come across initially as a contradiction but only after a little thought, one realises how true it is. Fans of traditional country music will love this album. It’s all about the good, old-fashioned, and well-know country “formula” that is well used and well performed. From smooth numbers such as the title track to the fun, toe-tapping ones such as “Skeddadle Mountain Lullaby”, Michael Van and the Movers guide listeners expertly through a kaleidoscope of emotions and feelings. Tracks are available for streaming on SoundCloud. More information is available on the band’s Facebook page.
Thorin Loeks’ ‘Thirsty Hearts’
Canadian indie folk artist Thorin Loeks released in May 2016 his debut album, Thirsty Hearts, which brings together eight tracks inspired by years of struggles and growing pains. Pensive, meditative, and ultimately uplifting, Loeks delves into various aspects of the human experience with the purpose of developing a greater understanding of ourselves, each other, and the world
The title—and opening—track sets the tone for the rest of the set. Wistful and hopeful, it combines the delicate plucking of an acoustic guitar with a uptempo beat, accompanied by warm vocals that seem to embody that wise, loving friend everyone wishes they had (and some are lucky enough to actually have). “For Love” is a slow and soulful, piano-driven ballad in which Loeks shares some of the higher notes in his register. It is a heartfelt call for people to reach across the divide to create unity, a message that is quite à propos now more than ever. Loeks also shares how such a thing could happen in “Bare Bones”, a brisk and to the point call for authenticity which can be achieved by stripping yourself to the bare bone to feel what’s real.
Listeners searching for thoughtful, insightful, and inspiring tracks should take a listen at Loeks’, available for streaming on SoundCloud. More information is available on the artist’s website.
April Martin’s ‘In the Blink of a Life’
Listeners thirsty for even more thoughtful, insightful, and inspiring tracks can give New York City’s April Martin’s In the Blink of a Life a try. Released in December 2016, the folk-inspired album was put together by a woman holding a Ph.D. in clinical psychology who is maintaining a successful practice. After the success of her first album, 2010’s Pennies in a Jar, Martin decided to continue her exploration of the human condition, sharing her thoughts and insights through honesty, humor, and gentleness.
Most of the tracks are built on softly played instruments and vocal harmonies. Martin begins in a way by setting the tone, melodically, lyrically, vocally, and, most importantly, conceptually in the opening number. “One Breath” sounds like the most cheerful and happy meditation session ever. “Heart Break Doesn’t Come” is a refreshing love song based on the reality of love, in all its glorious imperfection, rather than the maudlin and romanticized one that is usually the focus of so many songs. The harmonies are particularly attention-grabbing in “My Rock and My Rain” another number with a refreshing take on love.
The focus of the emotional “Looking Back” is on the life of a friend, with Martin’s vocals and the guitar work wrapping around each other beautifully. The ballad “Everyday I Love You More” is another retrospective but this one on the singers’ own relationship which, although she couldn’t have known at the time, went from its humble beginnings to a beautiful, strong, and still growing relationship.
Knowing that Martin is a psychologist gives the album another unique layer of meaning—as if her perspectives on life, shared here in a non-threatening manner, as a type of therapy on their own. Tracks are available for streaming on SoundCloud. More information is available on the artist’s website and Facebook page.
Dylan Tauber’s ‘Dolphin Trance 2’
Israel’s Dylan Tauber is back with the release, in September 2016, of Dolphin Trance 2, the DJ’s tenth album to date. On the one hand, it does come off a lot like its predecessor, 2015’s Dolphin Trance. On the other hand, there is a lot that clearly was left unexplored in the first volume of Tauber’s dolphin series, to the point that one cannot help but wonder if there is potentially a third volume that could come out in 2017.
While overall the album can be filed under electronica, there are a lot of dance, ambient, chill, and trance influences throughout. The pace is perfect, grabbing listeners just before their attention wanes by an expertly applied uptick or downturn. Guest vocalist Enlia adds further smoothness and depth to the listening experience provided, with Tauber’s confident guidance. There are so many uses to this album—the soundtrack to a summer party, an auditory backsplash to a fun get-together, or the backdrop of a quiet, introspective afternoon at home.
Tracks are available for streaming on SoundCloud. More information is available on the artist’s website and Facebook page.