Review: Jordan Max Only One Is King

Originally posted on Alternative Airwaves

Artist: Jordan Max
Album: Only One Is King
Year: 2016

"Only One Is King", an EP by Jordan Max released 2 years ago, is an artist/album that has shot up my personal charts. 

Some background on Max - he's a British artist and recently signed to Danger Mouse for publishing.  He's got a new single out ("War" - check out the video here), but Only One Is King was released independently. 

Actually, the story behind the album is kind of cool.  From a press release for his single "War":
Jordan Max made his debut in 2016 with his EP Only One Is King, written and recorded in the bedroom of his childhood home. Lead single “Hell” showcased his unique sound and earned him a spot on Complex’s “10 British R&B/Soul Artists To Watch in 2017,” in addition to praise from Consequence of Sound, i-D, Pigeons & Planes, Fader and more. 

His sound reminds me a lot of Alt-J, but a bit more on the bluesier side than rock.  There's quite a bit of darkness in his music as well, which at times seem to follow what I see as a bit of a trend in the alt-rock scene.  Still, blues & soul permeate through the tracks to make a unique sound. 

Keep your ears open for more from Jordan Max, it's worth a listen.  I give this EP 4/5.

Notebook Habit

I’ve got what I consider to be a “weird” hobby (or habit?) – writing in notebooks.  I consider it weird, because I have no practical use for notebooks – other than my “bullet journal” set up, I don’t really write down anything of substance day-to-day.  And yet, it’s an extremely enjoyable thing to see my personal font jump out just right from the page.

Excerpt from a notebook
Excerpt from a notebook

OK, the picture I just included is a little on the messy side.  But what I hope it illustrates is just the right balance of colour and shape of the letters that seems to look…”right” on the page.  This is the part where I consider my hobby / habit weird.  I don’t spend as much time writing things out as I used to, but finding the perfect paper and perfect pen (or sometimes pencil) for that paper is fantastic.

Every now and then (and now is one of those times) I go on a little quest to figure out, “what can I use my varied selection of notebooks for?”  The question is often unanswered, because either I give up or the feeling just fades away before I get a chance.  Predominantly I use it for planning my day or writing things down I don’t want to forget.  But that is purely functional – I actually want to write something out rather than use a planner.

So my search has started.  At the absolute least I will probably start writing out my blog posts by hand before typing them out here.  Ultimately, I would very much like to use up the notebooks that I’ve spent good money on 😉

Review: Dallas Wayne – Songs the Jukebox Taught Me: Volume II

Originally posted on Alternative Airwaves

I was recently given the opportunity for an advance listen & review of singer/songwriter/DJ Dallas Wayne's 2016 album, Songs the Jukebox Taught Me, ahead of the release of Songs the Jukebox Taught Me: Volume II.  Volume II is set to release next Friday, June 22nd.

The songs on "Jukebox" are pure, classic country.  They're all very well-produced, and are almost bare bones: you've got Wayne singing (and his own voice has that classic twang to it), steel guitar, and some light percussion behind most songs.  Sprinkle in some violin, bass guitar, and acoustic, and that's pretty much the album right there.

There are also some appearances by country vets in there, including Willie Nelson on the first track ("Your Time's Comin'").  The lyrical content is a mixed bag - there are songs about heartache, love, and just plain having a good time.  That to me is pretty much what I expect from most classic country songs.  I'm listening to the album over again as I write this, and "A Dime At A Time" is playing - love it when the piano comes in to add a little personality to the song.

Then you also have songs like "Devil in the Bottle" which sounds like a pretty personal song.  In fact I believe that Wayne put a lot of himself (whether it be through personal lyrics, or just his interpretations of 'traditional country themes') into this album.  This seems like it sounds exactly the way that he wanted it to sound. 

Here's some brief info about Dallas Wayne, in case you were curious (I was):

Dallas Wayne
  • Singer, songwriter, radio DJ, voice-over artist, actor and music producer
  • Recipient of multiple honors, including CMA of Texas Choice award, DJ of the Year and the Disc Jockey Hall of Fame
  • Staff songwriter for Warner/Chappell Music for six years
  • On-air personality for SIRIUSXM Satellite Radio’s Willie’s Roadhouse (Channel 59) and Outlaw Country (Channel 60)
  • Released 11 of his own albums, as well as being featured on five collaborative recordings, including the honky-tonk supergroups Heybale! and the TwangBangers, and a Grammy-nominated bluegrass album with Special Consensus
  • Graced some of the most hallowed stages in country music, from the Grand Ole Opry and the Kennedy Center, to the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree and Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic
  • Opened shows for many of the biggest names in country music, including Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Jeannie Seely, Charlie Pride, Bobby Bare, Jerry Lee Lewis and Mickey Gilley, to name a few
  • Featured artist on “Larry’s Country Diner”
  • Numerous acting credits including the original Broadway cast of “Pump Boys and Dinettes”
  • Commercial voice overs for radio and TV including United Airlines, Chevrolet, McDonald’s, MTV and Avis, among others

My in-laws like to listen to Willie's Roadhouse a lot, so I thought it was cool to find out he's one of the on-air personalities there.

Anyway - if you're looking for some country music that isn't a cross between pop or rock, and closer to the classics, you should check out Songs The Jukebox Taught Me.  3/5.

In the meantime - here is the press release for the upcoming Volume II:

Country music artist and SiriusXM Willie’s Roadhouse and Outlaw Country host, Dallas Wayne will release his latest album, Songs The Jukebox Taught Me: Volume 2, on June 22.

“My latest album represents a continuing journey back to the songs that made me fall in love with classic country music. Together with the previous Songs The Jukebox Taught Me project, this collection of 25 songs is a tribute to the songwriters who crafted them, and the artists who sang them — the heroes and teachers who taught me this music,” Wayne said.

Artists such as Willie Nelson have already given positive reviews of the album: “I’m really enjoying listening to this new CD, Songs The Jukebox Taught Me Vol. 2, by Dallas Wayne. Great job on an old song of mine called ‘Blame It On The Times.’ Thanks for bringing this one back! Also, I love the Vern Gosdin cover, ‘Is It Raining At Your House.’ Remember our motto: If It Ain’t Broke, Break It.”

Songs The Jukebox Taught Me: Volume 2 comes as a sequel to Songs The Jukebox Taught Me: Volume 1, which was released in 2016. In addition to releasing a new album, Dallas will be performing throughout the year, with multiple shows in his home state of Texas. Keep up with all of Dallas’ tour dates on www.dallaswayne.com.

Dallas Wayne Tour Dates
June 27 – Tyler, Texas* - Liberty Hall (w/Connie Smith)
June 28 – Arlington, Texas* - Arlington Music Hall (w/Connie Smith)
June 29 – Waco, Texas* - Waco Hippodrome Theatre (w/Connie Smith)
June 30 – Weatherford, Texas* - Texas Opry Theater (w/Connie Smith)
July 7 – New York City, N.Y. - Lincoln Center Heybale Band
July 8 – Buffalo, N.Y. - Sportsmens Tavern Heybale Band
July 11 – Kansas City, Mo. - Carl Butler's Gospel LoungeKnuckleheads
July 12 – Kansas City, Mo. - Knuckleheads
July 13 -15 – Branson, Mo. - Hit Songwriters in the Round (Americana Theater)
July 28 – New Braunfels, Texas - Gruene Hall -Flat Top Jones (Gruene Hall)
Aug. 10-11 – Carthage, Texas - TX Country Music Hall of Fame Show
Aug. 16 – Waco, Texas* - Waco Hippodrome Theatre (w/Bellamy Brothers)
Aug. 25 - New Brunfels, Texas - Gruene Hall - Flat Top Jones Band
Oct. 27 – New Braunfels, Texas - Gruene Hall - Flat Top Jones Band
Nov. 1 – Waco, Texas - Waco Hippodrome Theatre (w/John Conlee)
Nov. 3 – Carthage, Texas* - Carthage High School (w/John Conlee)
Nov. 24 – New Braunfels, Texas - Gruene Hall -Flat Top Jones Band
*Dallas emcees/opens the show

About Dallas Wayne

“My latest album represents a continuing journey back to the songs that made me fall in love with classic country music. Together with the previous Songs The Jukebox Taught Me project, this collection of 25 songs is a tribute to the songwriters who crafted them, and the artists who sang them — the heroes and teachers who taught me this music,” Wayne said.
Artists such as Willie Nelson have already given positive reviews of the album: “I’m really enjoying listening to this new CD, Songs The Jukebox Taught Me Vol. 2, by Dallas Wayne. Great job on an old song of mine called ‘Blame It On The Times.’ Thanks for bringing this one back! Also, I love the Vern Gosdin cover, ‘Is It Raining At Your House.’ Remember our motto: If It Ain’t Broke, Break It.”
Songs The Jukebox Taught Me: Volume 2 comes as a sequel to Songs The Jukebox Taught Me: Volume 1, which was released in 2016. In addition to releasing a new album, Dallas will be performing throughout the year, with multiple shows in his home state of Texas. Keep up with all of Dallas’ tour dates on www.dallaswayne.com.

Kalie Shorr – Awake (Review)

Originally posted on Alternative Airwaves

Kalie Shorr - Awake
Another one of those "off my radar" music submission reviews!  This time, it's Kalie Shorr's Awake EP, which was released January 26th of this year.  Here's a bit of the press release:
Country rockstress Kalie Shorr released Awake last night to an at-capacity crowd of fans, music industry and friends in Nashville. The highly-anticipated new project features seven songs that bring a rock-infused sound to country, showcasing Shorr’s authenticity, passion and energy which she injects into her music. Awake is available now on iTunesApple MusicGoogle PlayAmazon Music and Spotify.
So let's unpack this EP a little bit.  The album is most definitely a country-rock album, reminding me a lot of Miranda Lambert (thinking her Kerosene days as I haven't heard much of her recent music).  If I were to describe the EP as a radio station, it would be the local Country station that drops in songs that straddle the tip of the country-rock-pop triangle.   I felt that the EP started off on the softer side, and built up to a rougher, rock-infused ending.  I appreciated the build-up.  I haven't checked the country charts to see how Kalie's doing, but I imagine that "Who What When Where Why" would be a song that will do well.  I like that one, and "Cool Kids" quite a bit.  "Two Hands" is also not too bad, being a bit of a love ballad.   OK scratch that, I did do some research, I'm not THAT lazy.  Turns out that "Two Hands" was released as a single and quickly added to rotation on Sirius XM, featured on The Highway, as well as added to Radio Disney Country (there were some promotional exclusives involved with Disney and a few other properties) and TuneIn.  Unfortunately I don't see her name anywhere on the Billboard charts but it sounds like she's still getting airplay out there.   Definitely recommend this one if you're into rock-infused country.  3.5/5.

Flavia – Hateful (Single)

Originally posted on Alternative Airwaves

This past Friday June 1, electronic pop artist FLAVIA released a new single called "Hateful".  Prior to this track, I had never heard of Flavia, so I'll let the press release do some talking:
FLAVIA is an electronic pop artist based in Los Angeles, CA. She mixes dark pop and futuristic R&B, exploring the borderland of yesterday’s soul and tomorrow’s electronica. She started to write music at a young age in Ireland and Italy, where she spent her formative years. Having moved often growing up, she feels the closest thing to home-base in her music. “It’s a part of me,” she says. “I couldn’t escape it event if I wanted to.”
In listening to "Hateful", I definitely caught wind of all of these influences in her music.  Oddly enough I also got a bit of a "Lorde" vibe in her music, which is not at all a bad thing. Here's some info about the new track:
Sharing a powerful message for kindness, strength, and human condition, Hateful was inspired by FLAVIA’s own real-life experiences. Reflecting on such experiences opened the way for the larger issues of animosity, division, and bullying in our society today. With the release of her debut single, FLAVIA hopes to reach out to victims of hatred and bullying, and to remind people to treat others with love and respect.
I can get behind that sentiment.  I think that a lot of people share her views toward bullying (online bullying especially) so hearing art related to that is welcome.  It helps take the power away from the people who would direct their hatred toward us. As for listening the track itself, you can find it on Spotify!  Check out Flavia's website at http://www.flavia.la, and be sure to check out her YouTube channel as well!  It opens up with the track "No Gravity" and it's super cool.