Innocent Monster is everything you want in an alternative rock album. With influences from multiple genres of music, poetic lyrics, and powerful storytelling, every track takes you on a different journey, each one more intriguing than the last. Her narrative structure in lock step with rhythmic song provokes the listener to hear the lyrics as well as move to the beat. She compels the listener in, making them relatable with lines like “I hold on by not holding on” in “All Purpose Lament” and “what is now a trickle, was once a running stream” in “Petting Zoo.” Sandhya is no stranger to writing. She is an award winning writer and musician. Her first album, Memoir (2007), was chalk full of story-type songs and the mastermind behind Mobtown Moon, a nod to Pink Floyd. Innocent Monsters only amplifies her true talent, a philosophical, powerful, and passionate storyteller with the help of her trusty piano.
You can feel Sandhya’s deep passion for music and storytelling. “Better” is the most obvious example of this. Jazz is the main influence in this song, but she also ties in some 70’s pop and some western styles. What makes this song so powerful is the essence of spoken word. Because there is no obvious hook, she makes you listen to the lyrics and engulfs you in a story of a girl trying to find better in life. It keeps you listening, so much so that she makes you want to know what happens next. Where does her future go? Where will her future take her? It’s not traditional and that’s what makes it so intriguing.
A stark contrast to the poetic form in “Better,” she takes us on a more familiar trail in “Last Two Standing” which is more reminiscent of a country rock song. She still guides you through a story, but unlike “Better,” she gives us a more traditional structure with a strong hook and repetitive form. It has a little bit of a church choir feel with the use of the organ, enhancing the religious feeling she gives you and narrative lyrics of “won’t you love me like we’re the last two standing” and “I will always be your soft landing.”
She beautifully intertwined so many musical ingredients in Innocent Monsters, from the ballads of “Mark Me” and “All Purpose Lament” to the improvisational jazz qualities of “The Neighbors” and “Innocent.” Jazz, Rock, Country, and 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s pop blend so effortlessly. It’s playful, new, and sticks with you even after listening. You can’t listen to it once, you want to listen to it over and over again. You’ll definitely want this on your spotify playlist.
Prolific hit-making trio Cheat Codes, popularly known for their smash single “No Promises” (feat. Demi Lovato), has released their new, self-produced music video for “Lean On Me” featuring the multi-talented music sensation, Tinashe. “Lean On Me” is the standout track off the group’s debut album, HELLRAISERS, PT 1, which is available now on all DSPs and streaming services HERE.https://www.youtube.com/embed/FoTVL5tyB2s
The feel-good video shows the value of friendship and its ability to help pull you through a difficult situation. The beginning of the visual finds Tinashe experiencing heartbreak but after joining up with Cheat Codes, the group has an adventure to help raise her spirits. They help out a friend at his classic diner who needs someone to lean on, cruise around town in a classic convertible, mingle with friends and professional skateboarders in an empty swimming pool and end the night with a wild junkyard party.
The Cheat Codes-produced visual ends on a high note with everyone dancing and vibing until ominous music builds as Trevor and his date leave the junkyard party alone. The pair stop for a kiss and what follows is a surprise ending you won’t want to miss!
David E. Johnston is the brainchild of Gift of Tongues. His music and energy flows spontaneously without trying to mimic or consciously capture an aesthetic. David writes on a keyboard, and what comes out organically invites comparisons to 1980s new wave/synth pop, 1970s disco, and more contemporary electronic artists such as The Knife, Planningtorock, and Zeigeist. David is an emotionally visceral writer whether he’s writing about a man he loves or about a traumatic experience. Signature to his musings is often an intriguing juxtaposition between his words and his music. His songs fizz with sugary synth-pop hooks and undeniable grooves. These invigorating electro-pop songs move your body, and, if you listen closely, they will stir your soul.The Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter has created a safe space to heal and to process his depression and anxiety through dance music. Previous to his intimately revealing electronic releases, David had a critically-acclaimed theatre career and was known for dramatically inhabiting various personae. In his songs, however, David is David. We chatted with David regarding his new video for “Becoming,” which you can dive into…
1. Tell us the story of this song, why did you choose to visualize this song specifically?
“Becoming” is a melancholy trip hop song about rediscovery and transformation that was inspired by my friend Danielle, who transitioned from male to female several years ago. It is also what I consider a “hidden gem” in the album that doesn’t sound like the other electro songs that I created. In my opinion, transgendered people are at the forefront of the Gay Pride movement, as I believe their journey is one of the hardest, and that their bravery and courage command the greatest form of respect.
2. What was the inspiration behind this video(visuals, storyline, etc.)?
Besides my inspiration from my friend, I decided that the best imagery for Danielle’s transition would be that of metamorphosis and emergence. Since Danielle feels like a newly evolved person, I figured that showing flowers going from their buds to full bloom would highlight this idea in the best way.
3. What was the process of making this video?
The process was using found footage of blooming flowers from a variety of stock footage sites, and then manipulating some of them by doubling them in the frame or dividing them horizontally. The editing was done in After Effects while listening to the song.
Written to a foot-stomping, hand-clapping beat, “Matriarch” by Mary Jennings, is the feminist motherhood anthem we didn’t know we needed. Mary Jennings is a singer-songwriter and musician with a knack for storytelling and a powerful voice that oozes emotion and confidence. Having been born into a musical family, Mary has had an affair with music since she was quite young and now uses her talents as not only a way to express herself but also as a form of therapy. Mary’s expression of raw emotion in her melodies and lyrics, make her easily relatable and charismatic.
The single “Matriarch” is a high-stakes, foot-stomping battle cry for all mothers. The song is centered around lineage and power passed down through women, and the newfound strength that comes with being a mother. “Matriarch” flourishes on a theme of give and take and the idea of cyclical life, “I gave you life” the lyrics state, “you brought back mine”. With resounding drums and uplifting harmonies, this single is truly an innovative way to view the idea of motherhood.
Kaitlyn Myers’ “Happy Pills” is a Motown, soul inspired song about addiction as a means of escape from harsh reality and whether you can relate to the message or not, Kaitlyn’s smooth voice and infectious instrumental will make you want to listen to the song over and over again. Kaitlyn Myers is a Philadelphia based, independent singer-songwriter, with a passion for music, mental health and social justice. Her debut EP ‘Chasing Dopamine’ touches on her challenges with anxiety and depersonalization, while her most recent single ‘Star Spangled Revolution’, talks about the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement within the United States. Throughout the past year, Kaitlyn has achieved a large following on Tik Tok and released a music video for the song “Technicolor” off of her debut EP.
“Happy Pills” is the second piece off of Kaitlyn’s debut EP and stands at almost three minutes long. The song has lots of sound FX elements that are used as instruments such as the squeaking of sneakers on the ground, the knocking of a door, and the jangle of pills in a pill container. The piano chords and melody are upbeat and almost cheerful, however, the lyrics are much darker upon inspection. The narrator flips back and forth between happiness and sadness. When the narrator takes her happy pills she feels calm and blissful but when she comes down from her high, she is consumed once again in the meaningless of life.
After listening to “Happy Pills” we can’t wait to see what else Kaitlyn has in store for 2021!
Carolyn Shulman is a Denver-based folk singer-songwriter whose connection with music has been a lifelong affair. She came by her love of music and all things guitar-related naturally. Her father has played guitar as a hobby for most of his life, so when Carolyn expressed an interest in learning to play, he brought home a kid-sized acoustic guitar perfect for a nine year-old’s hands and set her up with lessons. By the time she was fourteen, she was writing songs and playing in coffee shops and restaurants in her hometown of Mobile, Alabama. Carolyn recently finished recording her debut album, Grenadine & Kerosene, at Cinder Sound Studio in Longmont, Colorado. She worked with veteran producer and award-winning singer-songwriter John McVey. Shulman and McVey brought in a band of seasoned musicians including Michael O’Connor, Eric Moon, Christian Teele, Chris Engleman and Kramer Kelling. Glenn Taylor of Bonnie & the Clydes plays pedal steel on two tracks, and fellow Colorado-based singer-songwriter friends Edie Carey, Megan Burtt, and Jen Hitt lent their support as background vocalists. We caught up Carolyn as we speak regarding her new video for “Matter of Time.”
Tell us the story of this song, why did you choose to visualize this song specifically?
This song is about trying to escape the daily grind or create a bit of spark in a relationship by seeking some adventure, “getting lost,” and not being worried about making mistakes. I thought the song would work well for a video because it is a fun, bouncy, folk-rock influenced song that lent itself to a narrative video.
What was the inspiration behind this video(visuals, storyline, etc.)?
Since the song is about breaking routines and seeking some fun and adventure, I wanted to incorporate a mix of scenes depicting routine, day to day lives as partners, spouses, or parents, contrasted with fun road trip imagery. I also specifically asked my video producer to include all kinds of couples and families in the video – I wanted to make sure that my LTGBQ and non-white listeners and friends saw their themselves represented, too.
What was the process of making this video?
I worked with a fantastic, professional animator and video producer named Lars Skaland. Lars lives in Norway, and we connected through a platform called Fiverr, which is an online marketplace that helps people seeking creative work find digital creators to help them. Lars stood out on the platform because his lyric videos often incorporate the lyrics into the scenes of the video in super creative ways that I didn’t see in other lyric videos. I sent Lars the song, lyrics, some background on the song, and my ideas for a video concept. We had some back and forth to flesh out the details, and he NAILED it. I was so super pleased with his work, and he was very professional and an absolute pleasure to work with! I am thrilled with the results and love this video.