Shamanka Phoenix: Destination


This could be a case of the grass looking greener on the other side, but there’s something about European artists that always seems so cool. For example, how does a John Ford western transform into a Sergio Leone western? How did they know to replace the classical Hollywood orchestral arrangements with Ennio Morricone’s bizarre western music? How did they decide to use extreme close ups between each character’s eyes right before the shoot out?

It’s an ability to transform art into something so much more stylized, with so much more substance that separates American and European art. Listening to Shamanka Phoenix’s album feels so cool in the same way. It’s the coolness that comes from a long line of European artists who redefine genres, offer new styles, and revolutionize sounds.

It’s no surprise that the tracks on Shamanka Phoenix’s album Destination are named for European cities. Each track sounds remarkably well crafted, to the point where any slight rearrangement would drastically alter the sound. Shamanka Phoenix is an artist who knows what she’s doing. From the beautiful melodies of each track, to her phenomenal vocals and lyrics, make no mistake, this is no amateur making these songs; this is master craftsmanship.

Take B E R L I N (Dappled Sunlight) for example. There are so many little nuances in the beat of the song. An echoed snare, the faint sound of a tambourine; it’s these little touches that show Shamanka’s attention to detail, an absolute asset to her tracks.

Often when an artist devotes that level of attention to detail, the gestalt of the track can be obscured, like the artist is no longer able to separate the forest from the trees, yet Shamanka Phoenix can get that granular and still make incredibly beautiful and melodic music like on I B I Z A (Sexbot). The track is absolutely beautiful right from the get go. With a melodic harp in the beginning and lush, indulgent piano chords sprinkled throughout, it’s an extremely melodic and beautiful song with an amazing sound that balances both the organic and synthesized. It conveys both a highly intimate feeling, and yet sounds detached, which is fitting for a song about sexbots. It takes impressive ability to convey such complex emotions.

S H E F F I E L D (remember me) is a real showstopper. It’s in this track you realize how gifted Shamanka Phoenix is as a musician, singer, songwriter, and producer. In the age of DAW producers, autotune, and ghostwriters, it’s a rare artist who actually owns their own talent. Yet this talent has a purpose, it serves the song; it makes something so beautiful and stylized possible.

Listening to the last track, S T O C K H O L M, you can’t help but bring a smile to your face. It’s like watching a star athlete play a perfect game. Throughout the whole spectacle your jaw drops down to the ground, but then when it’s all finished you can’t help but smile at such a phenomenon. This song is her victory lap at the end of an already impressive album

D E S T I N A T I O N’s not an album to just listen to, but to learn from as well. Listening to these tracks, the musical world feels more expansive and exploratory than ever before. If you haven’t listened to to this album, please give it a chance. Definitely would give this album a recc.

atlxb: TheLostSouls



Nothing hurts like your first heartbreak. Yeah sure, we can look back and say, “Oh man I really dodged a bullet there. That bitch was psycho hahaha.” But really can anything be worse than the first time a girl looked into your eyes and said, “I love you” only for her to end the relationship?

atlxb spills his guts and reveals truths about breakups that we’d rather forget. Every single song oozes with a melancholy that can only come from a hurt that only a breakup can give. Every single track deals with a specific feeling that’s pinpointed with surgical precision. Whether it’s the obsession of the girl you lost, to suicidal ideation, and then the false machismo that comes from hooking up with girls. atlxb has got you covered, and the fact he has committed this experience to his music speaks volumes on his willingness to express himself through art.

atlxb is an excellent rapper who has really honed his craft. His flow is phenomenal and his lyrics are excellent. Though at times he can be difficult to understand, it’s not so much due to a lack of technical but due to a lack post-production polish. Which my reply to that is, would you rather listen to something that “Says nothing to me about my life,” as Morrissey would put it? Or would like to hear something that’s sincere and honest?

The production as well is top notch. KAMIKAZE is an amazing musical number that perfectly encapsulates the themes of this album. The guitar strums along this dramatic chord progression that feels an apex in a movie where a shoot out takes place. Another song that just oozes with sadness is Forever. The reverbed out piano and rain samples, paints such a clear picture of the isolation that a break up brings, and that’s just through the music alone, taken with atlxb’s lyrics, he adds such an emotional depth that only somebody who has experienced heartbreak can understand.

atlxb spills his guts for us and his bravery for doing so provides a much needed perspective on the matter of relationships. Everybody after a breakup does things they regret, and because they regret what they’ve done we try our hardest to hide our pain. We all try to cover it up, we lie to others that it really didn’t hurt us as much as it did. We try to intellectualize the relationship–minimize the pain as much as humanely possible. We do everything we can to runaway from the emotional truths of what we gone through, because it’s difficult to believe that anybody else has ever gone through what you have gone through. You feel alone, because you believe are alone and atlxb shows us with his incredible lyricism shows us–that no we aren’t. We all go through this and there is nothing to be ashamed of.

For his emotional depth, and relatability I give this album my recc.

Johnnascus Questions Everything

This post was written by The Scratch King you can follow him on twitter, instagram, and soundcloud.

In the microcosm of independently-released music, it’s all too common for relatively average projects to be erroneously labeled as experimental. Texas-based rapper/producer Johnnascus’ most recent release, Identity Crisis, is not one of these projects. Identity Crisis is an EP bursting with otherworldly bridges and authentic eccentricity, with genres within ranging from noise, to metal, to rap and even gaps of ambient. Johnnascus himself shows tremendous vocal range, bringing servings of screams, singing at a variety of pitches, and everything in between.

The first track, “Question Everything,” features a monologue setting the stage for the rest of the project, detailing meditation interrupted by an existential crisis. Playing out against a backdrop of haunting key melodies from producer Sleepy Randy, the track explodes into a stunning bevy of layered percussion and vocals. Similarly aggressive tracks can be found throughout the 36-minute runtime, including “My (A)sexuality” (prod. by Bruhmanegod), “Sad Satan LSD” (prod. By Bruhmanegod), and the self-produced “Gen Z.” The track listing here has no shortage of softer, more melodically-minded cuts either, including “2am,” with a stream-of-consciousness vocal flow that soars alongside a gorgeously mixed synth instrumental.

Identity Crisis is what so many projects dream to be: cathartic, polished, even unsettling. For any fan of music that doesn’t color inside the lines, it’s worth a listen.


Whettman Chelmets: Giant Eyes and Infant Steps


I remember the first time I played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Being in the Kokiri Forest, everything seemed normal, seemed like a regular game. And then it happened.

You entered the Great Deku Tree’s mouth and was in another world. A far more ancient, frightening, and strange place. I felt on edge, and yet I was discovering something new.

The same thing can apply to Giant Eyes and Infant steps. Take away the music from the Great Deku Tree–and you’re just inside a tree–all the emotions and sensations previously mentioned wouldn’t have existed. Except instead of entering the mouth of the Great Deku Tree–it’s parenthood.

With the beginning of this album with Interruptus there’s an incredible tangible foreboding sense of doom. As though the black shapes you see when you have sleep paralysis are suddenly in your room. It’s unknown, intangible, and entirely frightening. And then it stops. And as a listener just because it stops doesn’t mean the fear is over. It just means that the black shape is gone, but it doesn’t mean it won’t come back.

With Dada the panning arpeggios makes it feels like the loss of control. And as anybody, who breathes air can tell you, there’s nothing worse than the lack of control. Then the orchestral synths rise up into an existential angst, while still the arpeggiated synth whirls around your headphones. Until they don’t. Then all you’re left with is the thudding a drum, like your heart beating deep in your chest, and the animal like growl of a synth. Which creates such a foreboding and tense atmosphere.

TFW it’s 400 am and you’ve been up 3 times already sounds like pain. And I don’t mean it sounds painful to listen to. The synths sizzle, as though you’re lying on a frying pan. The guitars are either playing the kind of music that you’d hear in a western after someone is wondering through the desert all day, or is so distorted, so fast, and distant it feels like every nerve is on fire. And as someone who has worked 20-30 hour days, there’s no worst feeling then not having sleep. Where every cell is screaming out in pain, on why you are still awake. This song captures that feeling perfectly.

MRW I drop the passie in the dark. Has the same feeling TFW it’s 400am, the beginning glitches feel like a mistake. Feel like something has gone wrong. The distant guitar has an almost lullaby like quality to it, yet the ambient noise hisses in the background. There isn’t going to be any sleep here.

Giant Eyes and Infant Steps is the less chaotic, and less painful song. It’s a song that isn’t out of control, that isn’t fearful of the unknown, and the sinister hiss in the beginning has transformed from a lion to a bobcat. Still a threat but no longer the great danger that it was. In fact it’s almost under control.

Finally the album ends with She says Dada. The sound that was so chaotic before, and yet is still chaotic forms into a melody. That melody which is soothing, the synths no longer are threatening in fact they whimper away. The chaos isn’t something to be feared because it’s forming into something tangible, something coherent something that is to be understood. And the last part of the song there are only the half audible words, followed by the soothing sound of a pad.

The chaos that seemed to overwhelm and frighten, is now understandable, you’re now able to put words to that shapeless darkness, you’re able to call it out by name and now it doesn’t seem all that bad.

David Lynch on his first movie Eraserhead was said to spend years on just sound design. To capture all the anxieties and frustrations of being a parent, and this was a guy who has an incredible ability to frame a shot. Who is probably one of the greatest visual filmmakers, and the fact sound was such an important tool to use to illustrate parenthood is why this album is such a good album.

The fact that I can write about such complex emotions on songs that have no lyrics, no traditional song structure, is a testament to the craft that Whettman Chelmets has committed himself to. As somebody who isn’t a parent I immediately understand all the emotions that are going on, because as obtuse, abrasive and foreign the album may seem to be–the emotions expressed on it are universal.

For creating such a great landscape I give this album a recc


Elay Arson: Borrowed Memories


So first let me tell you this, you think you’d know a song, especially one made by Led Zeppelin. If anybody were to tell me they’d prefer a cover of a Led Zeppelin song to the original, first I would ask if they we’re okay. Maybe they’re off their meds, maybe they got tinnitus, maybe they’re on a week long PCP bender. Then if they persisted, I would just tell them that they have no taste and would no longer associate with them.

Well either I’m crazy, or Elay Arson is just that good.

Borrowed Memories starts with a kicker, an incredible rendition of Led Zeppelin’s immigrant song. From the heart pounding synths, heavy guitar, to the amazing vocal performance of Becca Starr that manages to add so much sneer and viciousness to an already great song.

So already this album had me in high hopes, and did not disappoint.

My first love was of movies, then video games, and then books. Each of those do something that’s incredibly difficult to do in music. Which is to breathe life into a new world. Create something we had never seen before.

From Hotline L.A. the scene of a futuristic dystopia mired in crime, mass riots, and maybe the overthrow of some robotic overlords. The drums thud on as riot police march down the street. The synth soars high as our protagonist narrowly escapes being captured by an android. The guitars swirl around as we capture of city of great technological achievement, yet failing to satisfy the basic needs of the human condition.

To Gods Amongst Men featuring Dred (one of my favorite synthwave artists). The track seems mired in hopelessness as the guitars trudge along, yet those synths retain that glimpse of hope. That little spark that has not yet died. Then the track accelerates picking up in tempo and lead guitars soaring above the track–delivering that fire that the little spark once promised.

This track is definitely for those workouts when you think you can’t do anymore and you just push on through one more rep. (Btw synthwave as a genre is probably the best for workouts.)

Finally Final Midnight Ride is that track that breathes in a new world. There’s something esoteric and magical about it’s sound yet at the same time incredibly technological and synthetic. Like the meeting of two opposing worlds that of the mysterious, and that of the logical. The guitar solos shred throughout this track as though these two worlds cannot coexist–that one must prevail. This song bursts through the seems with struggle as each opposing sounds fight for dominance, and at the end is the droning noise of synthesizer.

In a genre of hacks, copycats, and those who just want to race to the bottom. Elay Arson creates a breath of fresh air. A sound that creates a new world, and in that new world contains insight into our own world.

With everybody plugged into the matrix that is the internet–and all that entails–the invasion of privacy, the overreach of government agencies and social media. Every day we feel the increasing paranoia that new technological advancement brings us. The future is now. The question is will we rule technology, or will technology rule us?

With this I give Elay Arson: Borrowed Memories a recc.

Rat Riley: TrapTronic – EP (Disc 1)



Do you remember that one kickback you went to? The one where everybody was having  a great time, you met a cute girl, and you escaped the party to talk about life? You shared your life stories committing seppuku and spilling your guts to each other.

This album brings back those nostalgic call backs to youth. Back when everything seemed so much more fun. Weed wasn’t boring yet, girls didn’t lose their luster, and the responsibilities of adulthood seemed so far away.

This album is really beautiful from the track Morning After although seems to be about hangovers, they’re the type of hangovers that are still fun. The kind that drinking a gatorade and popping an advil will cure, and that really is 100% worth it since the night before was so fun.

TrapTronic the piano that creates this whirlwind of butterflies in the stomach, and the distorted vocals piercing through as though your heart is beating through your chest. As you finally realize that you’re attracted to the girl you’re talking to and not only that–she’s attracted to you as well.

Full Moon with it’s vocal samples is a much more sensual song. It’s not the three pump dump kind of deal I’m talking about either. This song oozes with sexuality, the type of sex that lasts long, feels great, and makes you feel like a champion. The only problem with the track is that minor sample with the crow caw. Yet it still fits with the song, I’m just off the deep end on how this album made me feel. Personal interpretation and all that jazz.

Forlorn with it’s synthesized keys sounds very similar to TrapTronic, yet with the occasional echoed synth creates a feeling of anxiety. The encroachment of adulthood. The realization that all of those things in the past, are becoming that–in the past.

Traptronic – EP Disc (1) is one of those rare trap albums that’s not some guy plucking away on a DAW making cacophonous sounds that doesn’t even really sound like music. It’s wonderfully made, and creates a whirlwind of emotion. My interpretation, is just that–my interpretation. The feelings and emotion still remain to anybody who takes a listen. Whether it calls you back to your favorite book you read on a rainy day, to staying up all night playing video games with your bros, or even “Passing the herbs” –it captures the youth and nostalgia that’s now in the past.

So with review I give this album my recc.


St. Wave: Troposphere




So from thesis of the album “Telling a story of moral conflict within a mind of an introvert, striving to be a better individual. From one Millennial to another.” The album already has grandiose claims.

What I mean by grandiose is that every single person in America has become an armchair psychologist for millennials. That the reason for our lack of agency, histrionics, or whatever; is the result of trophies for everyone, being taught that we were all special snowflakes, etc. You get the picture. You’ve heard it before.

St. Wave with his unique lyricism paints us a portrait that most pundits, armchair psychologists, simply just can’t grasp.

The music in Troposphere Vol. 1 has this melancholy atmosphere that seeps through every sound. It’s a melancholy that can only be expressed by someone that has experienced what life has to offer–which isn’t much.

St. Wave with his introversion is very introspective, and as a result very insightful. He’s not like the typical rapper who boasts of his success, lectures others, and tells the classic from drug dealer to mogul story.

St. Wave isn’t like that, he’s somebody who strives for higher heights, who knows he deserves better, no song better encapsulates this than Troposphere, yet we “We walk alone in this day and age, a generation misunderstood.”

The paths to success or even to start a family, something that all previous generations had so easily been to obtain, seems to allude us. We aren’t able to go work for a high paying job straight out of high school, we aren’t able to get a degree and get the career we want, we aren’t able to do these things. So what else is there to do but to indulge in hedonism. We have no future– so why not smoke weed, drink, and hook up with chicks?

Yet St. Wave wants a better life. He wants to be a better man and LiVE EVIL–my personal favorite track on this album–encapsulates the inner turmoil that an average millennial faces from social pressures, giving into temptation, giving into sin, resulting in the self defeating chorus of “I give in everytime.”

I’ll paraphrase C.S. Lewis–because St. Wave has a soul unlike most contemporary artists–that everybody on earth always feels like there’s something missing. Because we have souls we always feel like we’re missing out on a grand adventure; that we all want to get on, but somehow can’t. As a result our lives feel empty, physical pleasures lose their allure, we become alienated from one another, and even love as St. Wave on Wine puts it “Doesn’t feel enough.”

Millennials with all of our drugs, instant gratification, materialism, hook ups, and everything else still can’t find the thing that we yearn for. What that is–alludes us. But the diagnosis the symptoms of the disease of the soul we have is no where better laid out than by St. Wave’s Troposphere Vol. 1.

I give this album my recc.



Phosfiend: Guilty Machines



Thank God there’s still originality in rap. Since it’s formation it’s always been highly contentious. Soul Train host Don Cornelius didn’t even regard it as a respectable form of art.

These days, it can be difficult to argue against that point. With thotcore and mumblecore dominating the scene, hiphop can seem to be leading the race to the bottom of the barrel, but that’s really an unfair and frankly ignorant stance to take.

Right off the bat, Phosfiend’s voice stands out as excellent. At first it seems like the type of voice that would fit perfectly in a metal band, so to hear that voice dedicated to rapping is a welcome juxtaposition. His unique vocal style give his songs an almost operatic tone.

The music varies wildly from a moog synthesizer, to heavy or reverbed out guitars, to bizarre sounding sitars. Everything is experimental, yet familiar.

The best way to describe his music that it is the 00’s sound. Not the mainstream sound that we remember, but the sound that we will nostalgically recall.

For example, everybody says that synthwave is the recreation of 80’s music. It’s not. It’s the nostalgic recreation of the ideal 80’s music, of those B movies that always promised a terrible, scary monster, accompanied by that infamous arpeggiated synth, but just delivered a guy in a rubber suit and overused stock music.

Phosfiend does that with the 00’s music; reconstructs the ideal, not the actual. For example, those rock-sounding vocals and the heavy guitars in Mad God seem like they could fit with any nu metal band of the 00’s–except that they wouldn’t. Nu metal offered a fusion of hip hop and heavy metal, but ultimately ended in a cringe-fest. Phosfiend– very much like synthwave–nostalgically recreates and delivers on the promises of the that scene, giving his listeners something they can’t help but feel they’ve been waiting for.

From the emo guitar in 2 Woke 2 Cope, to the lyrics of Guilty Machines discussing theology, every song is a fulfillment of what was 00’s aggressive music promised but never delivered.

When I think of that time I’ll always remember playing MK4 with friends late at night and listening to Papa Roach. Mad God (my favorite track on the album) seems to amalgamate these various sounds and invokes those feelings of nostalgia in a way that a lot of pop music can’t. It’s a sound that only somebody who lived and breathed in this century’s first decade can understand. It’s not something a studio hit-maker can produce on a whim. An excellent album worth checking out. I give it my recc


On Music Bloggers



So anybody who has been in the music scene, who has been slaving away trying to “Make it” has gotten the same advice. Which is to get featured on a blog. An economy which is by nature a ponzi scheme.

Bloggers for some reason believe that they are holier than thou, they demand that you should pay $40 dollars for a chance to be promoted. They shill tweet after tweet saying that “If you just repost and comment your music you’ll be featured on our blog” a promise which always turns out to be bullshit.

Months pass by, you see two or three musicians featured with 10k-30k followers, all bypassing any promising underground talent–that could be the next David Bowie–based on the arbitrary amount of followers they have on soundcloud.

This desire to make it with the self appointed “taste-makers,” creates this incestuous dichotomy in which the music they approve creates a scene. People see that that scene gives people popularity and then everybody gets into this rat race to the lowest common denominator. Nobody pushes any new boundaries, sets up new genres, or whatever. Everything becomes stale, tiresome, and boring. Then everybody wonders why modern music (and even “indie” music) just sounds so bland.

So I have an easy solution to both find new music that pushes boundaries, that says something different–that is unique and beautiful–and that is if you say you’re a fucking blogger. Then blog.

After all the time and effort it takes a musician to make a song, the least thing you could do is at least review a few musicians. But alas bloggers are delicate narcissists whose fingers can’t type on a keyboard too long and the work is just oh so difficult.

So since I have a work ethic, and so do other people on this blog. WE WILL REVIEW your music, and we will give artists the platform to VOICE THEIR OPINIONS.

Because everybody knows at the end of the day, those who cannot do, can always blog.