Browsing Tag

guitar

J reshaped the landscape of protest music with his jazzy guitar score, Shame on You

Busting the myth that protest songs need to antagonise in the same vein as Rage Against the Machine or Black Flag, the Brighton-based artist, J, exhibited how mellow sonic political activism can be with his latest release, Shame on You.

Paired with an aptly endearing official music video, the ‘oppressed version’ of the single, sans the snippets of dystopian diatribes from Trump and Bush, allows you to embrace the absurdity of our tumultuous political waters while rising above them as the lighter-than-air guitar lines seemingly defy gravity.

J’s guitar work is nothing short of phenomenal – his strings sing with a life of their own in the genre-fluid fusion of jazz, pop, and classical guitar, but notably, the secret ingredient is his unflinching sense of humour and his lack of artistic ego. It’s a rarity for an artist to be so talented and not locked into the singular vision of rock stardom; J always endeavours to create sonic experiences that resonate with his soul; in doing so, he opens up cathartic worlds with his virtuosic tongue-in-jazz-groove flare.

Shame on You will be available to stream from January 26th; stream the official music video on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

BlueMelt’s ‘Stardust on Your Dress’: A Nostalgic Riff-Laden Reverie

BlueMelt, spearheaded by the adept London-based Vito Tardia, has unleashed a sonic tempest with their latest single, “Stardust on Your Dress.” For anyone who kneels at the altar of rock, the track is a rite of passage. From the first note, you’re plunged into a whirlpool of nostalgia, driven by a lead guitar that dances with a fiery passion through the overdriven amplification.

The release masterfully blends the soul of classic blues with the grit of modern rock, creating a sound that is both raw and refined. The garagey texture of the track adds a layer of authenticity, a nod to the unpolished gems of rock’s golden era. As the guitar solos soar, they paint a vivid picture while the technical precision becomes a testament to Tardia’s skill and dedication to his craft. Each note is meticulously placed, yet there’s an underlying wildness that can’t be tamed.

Stardust on Your Dress is a journey back to the roots of rock, yet it propels the listener forward, hinting at the boundless potential of BlueMelt’s future endeavours. This track is a must-listen, not just for rock aficionados but for anyone seeking a taste of musical fervour that’s both nostalgic and exhilarating.

Stardust on Your Dress will officially release on January 26; stream the single on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Stelios Kyriakidis created a passport to ‘Copenhagen’ in his seminal ambient classical guitar composition.

Stelios Kyriakidis staked his claim as one of the most evocative neo-classical guitar composers of his generation upon the unveiling of his debut album, 508 Days. The opening single, Copenhagen, pays a fitting ode to the titular destination; each note, a breath taken at the profoundly inspiring scenery, a moment stolen within the rich culture, a step taken through the enriching streets.

The serenity within the instrumental soundscape constructed by the London-based Greek guitarist and composer echoes his influence of neoclassical, folk and film music elements. If the soundtrack to the film Her made an ever-lasting impression on you, expect the very same affecting experience from Stelios’ intimately composed score which undoubtedly resounds as well in a live performance as it does on record. The connection he feels to the guitar in hand is comforting throughout, echoing his own familiar and fond acquaintance with the instrument he uses to make highly visual mirages from melodies.

Prior to the release of 508 days, Stelios Kyriakidis performed in prestigious venues globally and has been featured by BBC Radio London, The Music Dances When You Sleep, and the Minor7th. Since releasing Copenhagen, the single entered the iTunes Classical Charts at no.34. We can’t wait to see where he takes his sound next.

Visit Copenhagen via Spotify and explore the rest of Stelios Kyriakidis’ debut LP,

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Explore the world on Iago Banet’s fretboard in his seminal composition, Iago’s Guitar

Iago Banet orchestrated the antithesis of While My Guitar Gently Weeps with the vivacious vibrance in ‘Iago’s Guitar’, taken from his critically acclaimed album, TRES. The musical piece is a journey through Banet’s extraordinary skill, creativity, and mind-bending rhythmic command which remains captivatingly authentic as a constant. Each strum and pluck of the acoustic guitar strings resonates with intention and artistry.

There’s a cheeky, spirited nature to Banet’s acoustic composition skills that subvert all expectations. Rather than solely melody-making, he’s weaving stories which allow you to travel around the world on his fretboard which explores a smorgasbord of cultural styles. Iago’s Guitar is just one of the testaments to Banet’s ability to blend gypsy jazz, blues, Americana, country, Dixieland, swing, pop, and folk into a harmonious and exhilarating experience.

Described by BBC Radio 3’s Sean Rafferty as “a master of the guitar” and as ‘nothing short of phenomenal’ by R’n’R Magazine, Banet’s talent is undeniable. His third album, TRES, has been a sensation, with multiple sell-out shows and sensational receptions across the UK. Iago Banet’s journey, from discovering a classical guitar as a teenager to becoming ‘The Galician King of Acoustic Guitar’, is not just a story of musical proficiency but also of passion and dedication. We can’t wait to see what accolades await him in his destined to be illustrious career.

Stream TRES in full via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Get into the ‘East Coast Groove’ with Martin Packwood’s jazz-rock soundtrack

East Coast Groove by Martin Packwood

After an installation of tropic percussion and equally as exotic reverb, Martin Packwood’s single, East Coast Groove, gives way to a guitar-driven jazz-rock instrumental soundscape, which amalgamates era-spanning guitar styles from across the globe and unravels as an inexplicably unique tapestry that breaks through the monocultural mould, note by note.

The Birmingham, UK-hailing guitarist has long held a passion for instrumental composition, inspired by a diverse array of riff legends, from Santana to Clapton. By picking up his Strat and finding a refreshing way to pay ode to their styles, Packwood orchestrated a hit of pure rhythmic soul.

If you’re looking to get into the world of groove or you have long been acquainted, you will experience East Coast Groove as four minutes of progressively elevated guitar-driven euphoria.

East Coast Groove was officially released on September 22; stream and purchase the single via Bandcamp.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Agaaze interview on A&R Factory: Making music For You

Showing us how powerful optimism and hard work combine rather beautifully, Agaaze kindly sat down with us recently to chat about his classical upbringing, tasty berries and how grateful he is to do what he loves on For You.

Hello there Agaaze. Thanks so much for chatting with us here at A&R Factory. Please let us know where in the world you are today and what do you usually have for breakfast?
Agathya: Hey A&R, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity, I’m truly grateful 🙂 My name is Agathya Visveswaran, and I work under the artist name “Agaaze” (Instagram: @agaaze). I am 20 years old and was born in Rochester, New York. I currently attend the University of Michigan, so right now I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For breakfast each morning I usually have a protein shake- 2 cups almond milk, 2 scoops vanilla whey protein, and a couple of handfuls of berries (gains!)

Please tell us how the creative process worked while making your new project, For You?
Agathya: “For You” actually started based on a real-life experience. In early 2022, I went on a date with a girl, and she just so happened to be wearing a red dress that night. The night was calm, and nothing really came of it afterwards, however, the vivid imagery of ‘the pretty girl in the red dress’ really struck a chord with me. A couple days later I was working with a simple 4-bar loop of music that I made, and, in basically one-sitting, I wrote the entirety of “Cinnamon Paradise” over that loop. I had always wanted to write a love album, and in that moment, I knew I was ready. I expanded upon the theme and setting of “Cinnamon Paradise” and, like a kid in a sandbox, I basically just let my imagination run free. I thought about my past experiences, what my future might be, and really dove deep into thinking about everything in my life that I loved. I went on to conceptualize the full story and write down almost all the lyrics to the entire album, before I made the rest of the music. “Cinnamon Paradise” was released as the only single off “For You”, and I still find it really cool how I was able to take just a couple hours of my life and turn it into an entire album.

What kind of music/which artists did you listen to while growing up?
Agathya: I listened to all kinds of music growing up- my mom used to play an Indian guitar-like instrument called the ‘veena’, and my dad was a jazz drummer. I started learning classical guitar at the age of six, and because of my guitar teacher’s unique music taste, I was exposed to a lot of Flamenco and Brazilian guitar pieces. As I got older, I started listening to a ton of rap. Besides Kendrick Lamar, I mostly listened to old-school hip-hop/90s rap, as I was drawn to the lyricism and poetry over anything else. The biggest shift in my music taste came when I discovered Tame Impala right before my senior year of high school (in 2019). I was blown away by the intricacy and attention to detail that he brought to electronic music. This opened me up to a whole new world of digitized and production-based music, and I started enjoying artists such as Travis Scott, A$AP Rocky and Tyler, the Creator. Now, I truly enjoy everything. I started a new routine at the beginning of 2022 where I try to listen to at least one album that I haven’t heard before every single day, and I’ve been fairly consistent with that so far.

How did you get started in music and have you been involved in other projects before?
Agathya: As previously mentioned, I started learning classical guitar at the age of six. I would go on to take lessons in jazz guitar, the trumpet, and even in South Indian Carnatic vocals. I have performed guitar at various venues in Rochester, such as the Rochester Jazz Festival and Rochester Lilac Festival, and even played live on WXXI radio in my junior year of high school. I didn’t start making my own music until my freshman year of college. I started releasing music under “Agaaze” in early 2021, and released my debut 7-song EP, “A Portal Inside” in December of 2021. I haven’t looked back since. Agaaze is a solo project, as I
take care of writing, recording, producing, and mixing all on my own (with the help of my friend Zach, @zachwallismusic, for my final master’s)

How do you approach everything needed to be successful in life and in your chosen career?
Agathya: In terms of my approach to life, honestly, it’s just trial and error. I do my best to always pursue what I love, give it my 200%, and then use my mistakes to learn and grow as a person. In terms of success as an artist, it’s a little tougher because success is very subjective. Some may say that I’m unsuccessful because of how many streams my music gets, or how much money I’ve made from my music. Others might say that I’m successful simply by having the courage to release my own music. I guess I try to find a happy medium between the two, to where I’m proud of myself for releasing music, but also maintain my drive to hustle and promote it. At the end of the day, I will never let a thirst for material success influence my art. I plan on graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree that is not music related, so I can support myself financially until, hopefully one day, I can make music for a living.

If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be and why?
Agathya: In an ideal world, creativity and uniqueness would result in more success in the music industry. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will ever be the case because, money is the name of the game in business. Apps such as TikTok are cool for helping some independent artists, but they drive many others to use a formulaic approach, just for a shot at 15 seconds of fame. This results in the oversaturation of the same type of music, which sucks. If I can maybe inspire just a couple other young artists out there to create art that’s true to them, instead of making music for money and clout, that would be amazing.

Last, what advice do you have for new musicians just starting out in this fickle game?
Agathya: My advice to other artists is to make music from a place of love. As the great Rick Rubin emphasizes, ‘you are the audience’. Create art that you resonate with, enjoy, and love, so that when you look back, you can be proud of yourself for all you have accomplished. Doubt and fear live rent free in my head. I try not to think of what other people might say, or whether I will ever be able to make a comfortable living off my music. It’s an impossible task. Yet, when it’s 5 AM- the birds are quiet, the world is still, and I’m all alone in my room, listening back to what I have been working on all night… a gentle smile comes across my face. Hell, sometimes even tears, because I just fucking made that. For a couple seconds, all my worries wash away. Make music For You.

Hear this fine single on Spotify. See more on IG.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

Underground Edmonton rapper MusseDese drops excellent new single WONDER

Enticing us in with a mystical intro beat to boom loud all day, MusseDese keeps trying and isn’t giving up as he looks to the heavens and sees the person who he’s working hard for on the street banger called WONDER.

MusseDese is an Edmonton, Canada-based indie hip hop artist who started out performing on the guitar and piano with sublime skill interwoven throughout.

MusseDese draws his inspiration from his own experiences and interpersonal relationships. Musically, his influences consist of J.Cole, J.I.D, and Smino. However, Musse is determined to keep his sound his own, using social media and posting on “open verse challenges” to exemplify his diversity, Musse enjoys to focus on his lyrics and meaning behind them, attempting to allow the listener to feel how Musse is feeling.” ~ MusseDese

Bouncing back no matter the cuts and almost-deaths, MusseDese swarms the beehive and swats away anyone who is getting in his way towards the honey.

WONDER from the Edmonton, Canada-based indie hip hop artist MusseDese is such a punchy performance and shall drill a hole of significant substance to remember forever. Slicing up our imaginations like nothing before, this is a scintillating track to play loud when extra inspiration is needed.

Listen up on Spotify. See more via IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Call Me Up: Jackson Scott is so happy again on the trust-filled single Save Your Friends

Rolling it up again and sliding swiftly through the roses of life, Jackson Scott is here to help us realize what is actually important on the superlative single we should blare heartily inside our speakers with Save Your Friends.

Jackson Scott is a Pittsburgh native who dropped out of college, as his love for the guitar was too strong to be ignored for any longer.

His voice, whether pitched up or androgynous, offers a series of still life paintings and snapshots into the predecessor of our contemporary youth culture.” ~ Jackson Scott

Exhibiting so much appreciation for a genuine friendship which is mutually real through everything, Jackson Scott is utterly outstanding on so many levels and needs more love. A hazy air fills the atmosphere at each turn, and there is rarified air to breathe in here with much recklessly planned exuberance.

Save Your Friends from Pittsburgh-based indie singer-songwriter Jackson Scott is a dreamy life altering experience to play at roaring levels of enjoyment. This is pure and projected so brilliantly by an artist in his prime.

Hear this new single on Spotify and see more news on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Drench Yourself in the Tonal Bliss of Robbie Lackey’s Single ‘Atoms’

Taken from his first solo instrumental album, Surrender with a Smile, which is due for release on October 22nd, Robbie Lackey’s standout single, Atoms, outlays ambient melodies that absorb you through their intricacy and ability to transplant you into a far spacier realm.

Painting all across the tonal spectrum in vivid yet euphonous colour, the Columbia Falls, MT-hailing musician and producer leads you on a psychonautic road trip that you’ll want to embark on time and time again for the cathartic escapism. With the rising cost of fuel prices, it’s probably best to stay inside and take trips of the mind, led by one of the most tonally-gifted guitarists of our time. His 20 years of playing guitar clearly paid off in Atoms; if we still lauded guitarists as much as Prince and Hendrix, teenagers would have Lackey’s poster on their bedroom walls.

Check out Robbie Lackey’s latest single, Atoms, on YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Philip Brocklehurst is set to start a new epidemic with his catchy pop track, Who Am I?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFcXhTf4uE8

Philip Brocklehurst’s single, Who Am I? is an identity crisis that is more than relatable. The Birmingham, UK singer-songwriter made his lyrical debut with this seminal bluesy pop single – not that the resonance would allow you to believe it.

As the term existential crisis becomes a common lexicon, it is getting harder and harder to eke nuance from concepts of them, but Brocklehurst more than succeeded through his questioning reprises which channel desperation for identity validation.

To contrast the heavy lyrical content, there’s a catchy upbeat vibe to the rock n roll to the soul instrumentals that will stick to your synapses like super glue. We can’t wait to hear the next installation of candour.

Check out Who Am I? by heading over to YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast