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Get ready to rock (opera) with the standout single from Solemn Pledge’s latest concept EP, Hollywood Dreams

A starlet sleeps in ‘Hollywood Dreams’ in the standout rock opera number from Solemn Pledge’s latest concept EP, Anna May Wong: A Screen Icon Story.

There are few things as visceral as the passion that drives us to reach the heights we are born to ascend to; the anthemic orchestration which emanates determination by the cinematic smorgasbord is one of the few exceptions as the NY outfit pays a fittingly strident ode to Hollywood’s first Chinese-American star.

Right from the opening instrumental sequence, you will be catapulted in the captivating hit which puts the guitars in overdrive to give them a fighting chance to dominate the soundscape with Maria Genevieve Elia’s commanding vocal lines which will blindside you with their three-and-a-half octave range.

After the previous EP, which touched on the history of Joan of Arc, we can’t wait to hear the ground Solemn Pledge choose to storm across with their next.

Stream Hollywood Dreams with the rest of the concept EP which dropped on October 20 by heading to Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Kevin Walsh paid a fitting ode to Meat Loaf with his dynamic rock-licked cover of ‘Not a Dry Eye in the House’

With his soaring, perfectly sustained tenor vocal range, Kevin Walsh could easily become the next wonder of the West End. For now, he’s commanding the airwaves through his latest single, a cover of the Diane Warren-penned Meat Loaf classic, Not a Dry Eye in the House.

The instrumentals seem to melt away around his vocal performance in the evocative rock-licked reworking of the classic hit, which, and I might be committing blasphemy by saying this, is infinitely more arresting than Meat Loaf’s rendition.

After growing up in Cork as a non-verbal autistic child with an eating disorder and intense social anxiety, Walsh sought solace in theatrical videos and dramatic performances. Emboldened by the presence of Meat Loaf, the self-taught pianist earned a First Class Honors Degree in Music before meeting his icon virtually at GalaxyCon 2020.

In 2022, Walsh entered the music scene with the neurodivergent supergroup, Embrace the World, of which Caroline Kay and Emma Langford were members; the group soared straight to number 1 on the iTunes charts. We can’t wait to see how far up the charts he climbs with this release.

Stream the official music video for Not a Dry Eye in the House which will premiere on October 27 via YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Interview: In Search Of expands our minds on Alice and the Wonderland

In Search Of is the kind of LA-based music duo which will give many flashbacks to the past. They have that extra charm and imagination that the mainstream seems to hide away. We love their vibes. Alice and the Wonderland is their 13-track release which should open up eyes, ears are souls. They tell us more about it in their own words. Ready? Okay. Let’s find out more..

Llewelyn: Firstly, hello Michael and Michelle. Thank you for joining us at A&R Factory. We love that you’re a father-daughter duo as this seems so rare these days. When did you first start performing together and was there a specific moment when you both knew…we need to get on stage?

In Search Of: Hi, thank you! I (Michelle) started singing and performing at age 10, I was lucky enough that my parents supported me every step of the way. My dad (Michael) grew up playing music and eventually managed a successful prog rock band (Royal Hunt) that toured all over. He built a studio in our house and we started writing together when I was 12!

Over the years, I (Michelle) was able to sing vocals for my dad (Michael’s) band on their tours, specifically “Loud Park Festival” in Tokyo Japan, “Sweden Rock Festival” in Sweden, among others.

Llewelyn: Please tell our readers where you are today in the world and what is a normal day like. A day in the life would be absolutely wonderful to understand what it takes to be successful in this fickle game.

In Search Of: We are currently based out of Los Angeles, California. A day in the life is never the same but the consistency of writing / playing music remains! I (Michelle) work as an independent songwriter and session singer while I (Michael) manage bands. We both make sure that we practice our craft on the regular!

Llewelyn: We’ve noticed Alice doing rather well. How has the reaction been and what’s it like to be featured in so many incredible shows and platforms?

In Search Of: Thank you! Alice is one of our favorite songs off of the Album so it’s really exciting to see it getting added to playlists and having such a positive reaction!

It’s been so much fun being able to perform in musical theater productions, a dream of mine is to perform on Broadway one day!

Llewelyn: Ok, let’s get to your new 13-track release Alice and the Wonderland. Goodness me it’s so exciting. It brings a massive smile for all the right reasons. What was the creative process like and are you both happy with the end result?

In Search Of: We are so happy to hear that it brings you a massive smile, that’s the goal! My dad is truly the mastermind behind this project. We wrote / arranged and produced the whole album and used very talented guest musicians to complete the entire project.

The idea was to tell the famous story via music in a unique way and we believe that we have achieved this goal. I (Michelle) was living in Barbados for 8 months and recorded the vocals while there. We had zoom sessions to perfect / do any lyrical or music changes. All the guitars were recorded by guitar maestro, Luca Sellitto (Stamina, Luca Sellitto) in Italy. Mark Boal (Yngwei Malmsteen, Ring Of Fire) sang the Mad Hatter parts on the album. Drums recorded by the talented Andreas “Habo” Johansson (Royal Hunt, Narnia) in Sweden. Additional keys were recorded by Andre Andersen (Royal Hunt) in Denmark, violins were recorded by Allie Stamler and the bass, additional keys and FX were recorded by Michael at our very own Majestic Studios in Los Angeles, California. You can most definitely say this was an international effort!

Llewelyn: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard music before? Also, who do you make music for?

In Search Of: Our sound would be considered rock opera/musical infused with elements of rock, progressive rock, hard rock and power pop. We make music for dreamers and book/music enthusiasts of all ages! As Willy Wonka so wisely put it, “we are the makers of music, and the dreamers of dreams!”

Llewelyn: What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever received that you don’t mind sharing?

In Search Of: In every aspect of life, including a musical career, never do anything to please anyone else but yourself.

Llewelyn: Lastly, what does the future hold and where do you see your creative energy headed? Touring all over the US and then the world?

In Search Of: A world tour sounds like a dream! We have about three other albums already written based on other famous novels, so just you wait! 🙂

Listen up to this memorable escapade on Spotify.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

Where Our Family Comes From: Solemn Pledge is destined to rule on Brother Enemy

Taken off the recent soul-stirring 5 song concept album called Cleopatra, Solemn Pledge returns with inspiring fire and has dropped a superb single to turn up on full volume due to the quality on offer with Brother Enemy.

Solemn Pledge is a Michael Justin Lee and Maria Genevieve Elia-fused indie rock opera-like duo who make spellbinding music which seems destined for blockbuster movies.

Our previous 3 Rock opera albums have been very gratifyingly embraced by the public. They, along with Cleopatra, are streaming on Spotify, iTunes/Apple Music, Pandora, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, and on over 150 other platforms worldwide.” ~ Michael Justin Lee

Solemn Pledge is rather wonderful here. They get emotions out and have brought the world something to hold onto with both hands. With intricate guitar excellence and pure singing to match, this is a no-brainer release to embrace forever.

Brother Enemy from Solemn Pledge is a song made with true intentions and shall rocket into the hearts of many. This is a moment which requires all listeners to take a second to visualize the outstanding aura on offer. This is a land-loving experience which shows us the strength needs when evil forces try and destroy everything.

Sung with passion and projected by terrific musicianship, this is a special single to return us to a graceful world.

Listen up on YouTube.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Cameron Owen diaphanously covered Les Miserables’ Bring Him Home

After Cameron Owen’s cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water left us insurmountably arrested, we couldn’t wait to feel our emotions swell with the orchestral crescendos in his latest single, Bring Him Home.

The compellingly diaphanous ballad is as graceful, delicate, and powerful as an angel’s wing for the way the theatrical pop cover of the Les Miserables prayer comes to life through the minor piano keys and his unfaltering vocal lines fusing as the ultimate aural redemption story for humanity.

Just as Les Miserables conveyed the resilience of the human spirit and its ability to endure heartbreak while still keeping courage, love and passion at our core, Cameron Owen’s reworking of the number will serve a poignant reminder of our innate inner capacity for beauty.

Bring Him Home was officially released on April 21; stream it on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Fly Away to Neverland with Solemn Pledge’s Stunning Rock Opera

Michael Justin Lee and Maria Elia, together known as the band “Solemn Pledge,” have created a stunning adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale with their rock opera, “Peter Pan.” With its modern sound and captivating vocal performances, “Peter Pan” is a musical journey that is both faithful to the original story and innovative in its approach.

Maria Elia’s voice is the centerpiece of the production, and her performances are nothing short of outstanding. She brings a raw, emotional power to every song, infusing each lyric with a sense of urgency and intensity. Her vocal range is impressive, and she effortlessly transitions between soft, delicate passages and full-throated belting. Elia’s standout tracks include “Wendy’s Nessun Dorma” a seductive ballad that showcases her sultry lower register, and “To Neverland,” a rollicking anthem that allows her to cut loose and let her voice soar.

But Elia is not the only star of “Peter Pan.” Lee’s instrumental arrangements are equally impressive, and they provide a driving energy that propels the story forward. The guitar riffs are electrifying, the drumming is thunderous, and the basslines are infectious. The opening number, “Welcome to Neverland,” sets the tone for the rest of the show with its upbeat tempo and catchy hooks.

What makes “Peter Pan” such a remarkable production, however, is how well it captures the spirit of Barrie’s original story. Lee and Elia have crafted a musical journey that is both faithful to the source material and innovative in its approach. The story is brought to life in a way that is engaging and emotionally resonant, and listeners will find themselves swept up in the adventure and wonder of Neverland.

Overall, “Peter Pan” is a triumph of musical storytelling. With its exceptional instrumental arrangements, stellar vocal performances, and faithful adaptation of the source material, it is a must-listen for fans of musical theater and rock music alike. The partnership between Michael Justin Lee and Maria Elia, known as Solemn Pledge, is a powerhouse collaboration that has produced an enchanting and unforgettable experience.

Ten(or)s Across the Board for Cameron Owen’s Striking Rework of Bridge Over Troubled Water

After growing up to the sounds of Simon and Garfunkel, listening to Cameron Owen’s classical reworking of Bridge of Troubled Water was an evocative trip of nostalgia. Yet, it was the cinematic crescendos which gripped the senses tight enough to leave a mark which made this a truly unforgettable release.

Tuning this consolingly dulcet classic into a cuttingly intense orchestral masterpiece that is enough to stun you into arrestive awe was undoubtedly no easy feat, but Cameron Owen, armed with his beguilingly commanded operatic tenor range, stunningly succeeded.

With the number of accolades and awards under the British Pianist and singer’s belt, we’re hardly coloured surprised by the international virtuoso’s talents, but God damn, he epitomised visceralism with this dramatical reinvention. I genuinely can’t bring myself to stop listening to it.

Hear it on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Prepare to be torn from passive slumber with Cielo Pordomingo’s orchestral alt-electro feat of world music, Wake Up

Here to tear us from our jaded slumber with her spiritual synthetics is the alt-electro trailblazer, Cielo Pordomingo, with her latest single, Wake Up.

‘Enlivening’ scarcely cuts into the alchemy that the composer, singer, and producer used to reflect her soul in the orchestrally heightened single. It’s Europop meets Depeche Mode via Bond soundtrack with a classical chamber outro; need we say anymore? If we want to do Cielo Pordomingo justice as a lyricist, definitely.

Wake Up is far more than your average cry to people letting their lives pass them by. Pordomingo practically takes you by the hand to guide you through your awakening while addressing the problem of our tendency to waste existence by branding it as just another day. At this point, if she started a cult, I’d jump right into it.

Wake Up is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Holding My Heart: Brookyn’s Elly Kace is absolutely wonderful on ‘I’

Taken off her just-released 11-track concept album named ‘Nothing I See Means Anything‘, Elly Kace simmers down all of our distress with her exquisite 3rd single that will have your heart feeling so much more relaxed than before with ‘I‘.

Elly Kace is an award-winning Brooklyn, New York-based world-class opera singer, pop artist and certified JM Vinyasa yoga instructor.

We find a thoroughly engaging musician who has just taken the brave step of moving into the pop realm – and she certainly defies all the odds stacked against her – with a truly mesmerizing performance that puts you into a transformative state of new-found awareness.

Elly Kace’s musical life so far has been defined by ceaseless curiosity and passion. Already an established and acclaimed opera singer, her winding and award-winning career has found her performing across the world.” ~ Elly Kace

After having to flee her brand new career in Italy due to this horrid pandemic during 2020, Elly Kace took time to reinvent herself during this time at home. We find a truly excellent talent who was spurred on by her absolute love for yoga, as she uses her outstanding vocal ability to bring us a wonderful single that is one of the best so far in 2021.

I‘ from the Brooklyn, New York-based indie-pop artist and all-around star Elly Kace, shows us an extraordinary singer who sounds reborn from a restrictive environment that is in the rearview mirror now. She flourishes to mind-bending heights with a vocally-advanced single that has your whole body in absolute euphoria, with an ear-bending encounter to truly behold and remember forever. This is that soul-healing track for us to be inspired with, as Elly leads us into a better place than before.

Hear this stunning effort on Spotify and see more from the superb creative on her IG music page.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Niadomi has released her theatrical, hyper pop single, The Beast and the Grind.

Just when I was starting to think that I had heard it all, alternative artist Niadomi appeared on our radar with her theatrical, hyper pop single, The Beast and the Grind.

With her operatic vocals that verse fantastical, poetic lyrics meeting the happy hardcore-style beats, I now know how Emilie Autumn would sound if Dune remixed one of her archaically fierce singles. The Beast and the Grind may not be your average earworm, but that doesn’t remove its infectious potential; you can’t help being hyped by the aural presence of Niadomi. We can’t wait to hear what follows this seminal release.

Check out the official lyric video to The Beast and the Grind via YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast