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Spotlight Feature: rise and shine with the soul in Laraland’s latest single, In the Morning

Laraland

Ahead of the release of her third LP, the Melbourne-based singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Laraland has unveiled the soul in her latest seductive jazz-pop serenade, In the Morning, featuring bassist Nama.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. ‘They’ have never succumbed to the succinctly revelatory lyrical style of Laraland. “In the morning you won’t know my name but I’m the same” perfectly encapsulates the hangover from the cocktail of alcohol, fleeting affection and amicable rejection. At least the love affair with this loungey jazz revival is built to stand the test of time.

With all the timeless class of Ella Fitzgerald nestled up against the modernist resonance in the groove-deep production, easy listening just became infinitely more arrestive. Voices like this don’t emerge every day; Laraland is notably a golden souled diamond in the superficial rough. Get her on your radar.

In her own words, here is what Laraland had to say about her latest single,

“In the Morning was written during another long lockdown in Melbourne in late 2021. It reminisces on the idea of being able to go out and meet new people at a bar, club or anywhere the night takes you. I am drawing on the idea that sometimes you form a connection with a stranger in a bar and want it to last longer than its bitter-sweet one-night expiry.”

In the Morning will officially release on June 20th. You can hear it for yourselves via Spotify.

Follow Laraland on Facebook and Instagram.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Sydney singer-songwriter Robbie Maroon brought Reckoning (day) to us with his third funk-pop-rock album.

Interest in the LP format may have waned in recent years. If anyone can make a case for them in 2022, it is the Sydney singer-songwriter Robbie Maroon, with his riotously eclectic blend of funk, pop, RnB and rock in his third album, Reckoning.

The opening single, The Fighter, doesn’t set the tone for the album that throws everything from soulful ballads to rock anthems to groove-led jams. Instead, it throws you head-first into the captivating energy and expressive soul that Reckoning was created with. The consistently evolving nature of the release never allows you to get complacent with the unpredictable transitions in tone, style and lyrical influence. Yet, each visceral piece of the puzzle binds together seamlessly.

After the early Faith No More meets Go West opener, the album careers into funkier and playfully synthy territory with Track 2, Cyberlovestory, which will resonate with everyone who had the displeasure of experiencing the surrealism of dating during the lockdowns. Crafting the track in the form of an 80s synthwave love song was cunningly clever. I think the extent of the ridiculousness of the past few years finally just hit me with its full force.

After two infectiously protestive tracks, in track 3, Maria, Maroon delivers the indie funk-pop ballad, which celebrates the sanctuary that only certain people can open the door to. The upraising vocal layering, Men at Work-reminiscent horn stabs, and the sticky sweet melodious essence is enough to make you pick up your phone and tell your favourite person you love them.

Track 4, Rewind, is the perennial soul-pop earworm of the album that gives you a view into just how much command the Prince-inspired artist has over funk-bridled rhythm. From rap bars to vocal lines that would give Seal’s soul a run for its impassioned currency, the vocals stick to your synapses like superglue.

Track 5, My Love, allows Maroon to wear his James Brown and George Michael influences on his sleeve through the slick-with-salacious-funk-disco-grooves. The hand claps against the Nile Rodgers-Esque chops bolster the nostalgic euphoria, while the smooth vocals and equally as smooth lyrics scribe Maroon’s unrelentingly sonic signature.

With track 6, Falling out of Love, Maroon proves that love goes as quickly as it comes in quick to burn love affairs before he grooves into the striking funk aesthetics of Stand. Track 7 gives plenty of limelight to the female backing vocals that raise the energy throughout the album with their shimmering old-school soul.

Track 8, I Won’t Be Doing That, leaves a similar question springing to mind as Meatloaf’s I Won’t Do That. The intriguing ambiguity in the rock-licked track grips onto grooves reminiscent of Hall & Oats, and there is plenty of room for the unpretentiously virtuoso solos. Strangely, they amplify the sense morality mystery while you wait for more clues.

In Track 9, Maroon is out of his funk in the harbingering 80s rock title single, which grieves the normalcy that forgot to get a return ticket after the pandemic. I can quite honestly say that listening to The Reckoning was one of the most vindicating and affirming aural experiences I’ve indulged in this year. While the mainstream media keeps trying to sell us fear and hate, the masses find new brands of tribalism, and everyone secretly loses their sanity in the privacy of their bedrooms; it is impossible to find a voice of reason. Thank god one exists on my playlists now.

I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing the closing single, Take a Bow before, but my tear ducts still opened the floodgates to the ode to Prince. Simultaneously a celebration of his legacy and an illustration of the impact that inspirational people have on us, the subtle and quiescently yearning single is a tribute like no other. Hell, it’s a ballad like no other.

Check out Robbie Maroon on his official website, Facebook, and Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Spotlight Feature: Gemïny delivered a vindicating high in his soul-pop debut Too Close

Don’t look to your icons for the hottest soul-pop drop of the year. Find a new one by hitting play on the debut single, Too Close, from the artist and mental health advocate, Gemïny.

I don’t know what I love more, the juicy efficacious hooks up against the stridently raucous energy of rock or the Columbia-based artist’s lyrical vulnerability and intellect. Too Close isn’t just one hell of a debut. It’s a public service announcement to those confined in toxic dynamics wrapped up in an earworm that demands repeat attention.

After experiencing the crazy-making fallout of a toxic relationship that had an appetite for boundless destruction, Gemïny stepped up to the plate to speak for everyone carrying trauma from past relationships and those still confined within the malevolent grips of one. It’s enough to change your perception of Crazy in Love for life.

The inspiration for the track may be heavy; with the poetic wordplay, the nuance in Gemïny’s narrative, the Usher-Esque vocals and the seductively lush production, few singles will leave you on a better vindicating high.

In his own words,

“Too Close is a song that places you in a climactic chapter of a toxic love story, where limits are pushed past desperately failing actions, and everything spins out of control. It is a reflection on my role, a separation from the damage done, and an acceptance of how my actions played into the traumas placed on me.

My biggest goal is to resonate with those in a darker place and show them that there is life beyond that darkness. Not saying you have to put on a smile like Batman, but there is still light out there, and I’m trying to bring that out, despite everything.”

After garnering over 20k streams on Spotify alone with his debut, the humbly prodigal artist is definitively one to watch. Especially with the release of his sophomore single, Avalanche, in the pipeline.

Too Close is now available to stream on Spotify & SoundCloud.

Follow Gemïny via Facebook and Instagram

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: You’ve gotta ‘Feel It’ for yourselves in MDMelo & Francis’ standout electronic soul single.

With its kicking beat, shimmering sonics and the effortless resonance of Francis’ vocals, MDMelo’s title single from his collaborative album, Feel It, rhythmically commands you into an evocative appreciation for the aural delivery of oxytocin.

It has been a while since we have heard funk-riding electronic beats with such deep seductive grooves; the euphoric aesthetic of the collaboration is nothing short of electrifying. The zealously infectious track marries old school soul with new-age electronica to achieve an uplifting effect that can scarcely be put into words; you just have to feel the disco synthetics up against the funk, soul and RnB textures for yourselves.

Here is what MDMelo had to say on his latest collaboration with vocalist, Francis

“Feel It, featuring Francis, is a breakthrough for me; it was a long-term project which focuses on production, composition, harmony, groove and sonics. My main objective is to make sure that Francis gets the notoriety he deserves; he transformed my music world.”

Watch the official music video for Feel It, which dropped on the 20th of May 2022, via YouTube.

Before the release of the 11-track soul album, Feel It, in May 2022, MDMelo & Francis caught up with A&R Factory. Check out the A&R Video Interview with MDMelo and Francis here.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Basia Bartz has released her feverishly pure piano-pop score, All Your Pages (Read Like Mine)

Basia Bartz

After an outtake-y intro which strips any air of pretension from the soundscape from the outset, the Poland-born and raised, London-residing singer-songwriter Basia Bartz careers into a smooth experimental jazz-pop ensemble with her latest single, All Your Pages (Read Like Mine).

Even though it’s scarcely imaginable that a contemporary artist can conjure as much soulfully demure alchemy as Peggy Lee did with Fever, that is exactly what Basia Bartz beguiles with.

Her name as a solo artist may be relatively unheard. As a violinist, she’s worked alongside Boxer Rebellion, Maisha, Ben Walker and Josienne Clarke, Dan Raza, The Penny Black Remedy, Cherise Adams-Burnett, Tankus The Henge, Trent Miller, Ian Prowse, Tom McRae, Jamie Lenman, Ferries & Sylvester, Catherine Rudie and the Kisses, Jason McNiff, The Clientele, ESE & The Vooduu People, Gabriel Moreno, Adam Beattie and many more.

Inspired by those very same artists, she started training as a vocalist and composer before releasing her debut single, A Girl at Dusk, in 2022. Her third single, All Your Pages, is her soulful take on a groove-led feat of piano pop which unravels as an honest expression of female sensuality. God knows we needed someone to put the innocence back into affection after Nikki Minaj defiled all that was sacred about those moments that are just as tenderly captivating as the swinging piano riffs in All Your Pages.

All Your Pages will launch on Bandcamp on June 3rd before releasing across all other platforms on June 21st.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

DRCY preserved the timelessness of old school soul in ‘Small Talk’

Pairing old school Olivia Dean soul vocals with contemporary and conversational lyrics, the Liverpool/London-residing singer-songwriter DRCY brought a resonant air of modernity to the timeless style in her latest RnB pop single, Small Talk.

The sophomore single is a natural continuation of the artist’s debut single, Butterflies, which also mused on the honeymoon phase of new relationships. This time, there is a particular focus on the addictiveness of small talk during the early stages of a relationship, where every trivial fact feels like a new beguiling piece of the puzzle.

Her radiant vocals paired with the bass-carved grooves and jazzy instrumentals don’t make for the average 2022 love song; DRCY could never be that unauthentically pedestrian.

In her own words

“For so long I have cared about what other people think of me. Insecurities held me back for so long, I just need to own it now. I want my music to inspire people to feel good in their own skin, to feel sexy in their own skin. And I hope that everyone who listens to my music knows that life is not as serious as you’ve been told.”

Small Talk is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Marco Pastoré Cammarino delivered a smoky plaintive soul serenade with his latest single, Empty Bus

Remorse may be the overarching emotion within the Italian, Lisbon-based singer-songwriter and guitarist Marco Pastoré Cammarino’s latest single, Empty Bus; sonically, it progressively drifts across the tonal spectrum to stand as a testament to the artist’s aptitude for melodic expression.

After a plaintively sparse intro that suckers you into the melancholy, the smoky jazz horns, Nile Rodger-Esque guitar chops and seductive keys make for an aphrodisiacal platform for Marco Pastoré Cammarino’s just as knee-weakening vocal timbre.

Towards the outro, Marco Pastoré Cammarino’s rock influences collide with the soundscape in an entirely unexpected, indulgently appreciated style. In short, Empty Bus is a single that never stops giving the gravitas.

Empty Bus is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

 

Lamar Creation soulfully hates the player and the game in his RnB pop hit, Feeling Me

Chicago born and raised artist, Lamar Creation, has dropped the ultimate 2022 RnB pop summer anthem with his latest hip hop influenced single, Feeling Me, which gives all the luxe grooves as Jay Z, the fiery passion of Frank Ocean and all of the contemporary funk of Daft Punk.

The sun-bleached electronic textures, which also find enough room to throw in nuances of Afrobeat, create the perfect platform for Lamar and collaborator, RichDaPhatt’s vocals as they seemingly drift through the entire emotional spectrum to lay it all down on the line on a relationship that is as much of a mental mindfuck as spending an hour watching the news.

The old adage may tell us to hate the game and not the player, but Feeling Me stands as a testament to the dissonance that playing games can cause in a way that may (hopefully) make people think twice about dealing with that kind of hand.

We scarcely needed his bio to tell us that Lamar is as much of a poet as he is a lyricist. It is all too perceptible through the jarring lines that keep on delivering the evocative hammering blows.

Feeling Me is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Nina Duschek has released her sultrier than Setzer swinging blues-rock debut single, Married to the Art

There is no love affair like the one an artist can have with their craft. For definitive proof, turn to the sultry, swinging blues-rock proclamation of passion, Married to the Art, by the Italian born and raised singer-songwriter & busker Nina Duschek.

The Setzer-Esque genre crumble knows exactly when to drip a little salacious magnetism before switching it up through the playful reggae-infused guitar rhythms. As for the vocals, Duschek is one of the most beautifully unapologetically authentic artists to have appeared on our radar this year. Her vibrant free-spiritedness is organically infectious. Naturally, we can’t wait to hear what follows.

Married to the Art is now available to stream via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Chalant hooks us up ‘For a Night’ with his injection of dark RnB

After garnering a serious amount of traction around his debut single, the Sydney-based alternative artist, Chalant, has dropped his dark, grungy slice of RnB, For a Night. If you can imagine what it would sound like if Frank Ocean and Trent Reznor met in the sonic middle, you will get an idea of how emotionally intense this production is as it balances on wailing synths, oscillating bass and dark monochromatic textures.

Never afraid to gaze into the most malignant facets of the human condition, Chalant is quickly making a name for himself in the field of high fire social dissections. With a perspective that is just as refreshing as his sound, it is only a matter of time before Chalant sees the top of the charts.

For a Night is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast