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Showing posts from September, 2021

You Need to Hear This: Concrete Castles

I first heard of First to Eleven a few years ago thanks to the powers of social media. They are a talented young band straight out of my hometown (Erie, PA). Since I've first heard of them, First To Eleven - which primarily were a social media-based cover band - has revealed an original music incarnation, Concrete Castles.  No matter if they're covering songs or releasing their own music, one thing is evident: Concrete Castles is MASSIVELY talented. Anchored by Audra Miller's powerhouse vocals that are vaguely reminiscent of Hayley Williams, Concrete Castles demand your attention. Although they can fall in that sort of amorphous "indie pop" umbrella, I don't think their sound would be amiss on mainstream radio - top 40 or alternative.  "Wish I Missed U" - their debut album - came out earlier this September, and it's an enjoyable, invigorating listen that would probably make those who were raised on emo or fans of CHVRCHES feel at home. Hell, Anth

"Golden Light" - Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow for me has been an a hit-or-miss artist. Like some of his music deeply resonates with me, and other songs I'm fine never hearing again. I've never personally been a huge fan of his, but what I like I really like. But "Golden Light" - a single he released earlier this decade (for some reason I thought earlier this year? Not sure how that came about). Wow . What a tour de force this track is, showcasing his finest features - his uncannily strong voice, his top-tier production, the almost operatic quality of his flavor of indie pop at times. If you haven't heard this song before, I implore you take some time to listen. You won't regret it. 

“Arcadia” - Lana Del Rey (Mini-Podcast)

Yes of course this was coming! I once again was too lazy to write about this particular song, so I once more took the mini podcast route. I would like to preface this with saying that I recorded this before Lana took down all her social media accounts, so I no longer can rely on her Instagram for my updates. :D EDIT: Here's the song itself - And here's my mini-podcast - Britt Kemp · The Useless Critic #2

"Neon Lights" EP by Annie is Out

Earlier this month, Norwegian singer-songwriter Annie released another EP, "Neon Lights." And "Neon Lights" sounds every bit like its name would indicate. It's upbeat, it's poppy, it's danceable, and it's powerful. It's a great next step following her critically acclaimed album "Dark Hearts," released in 2020, for which she won a Norwegian Grammy Award and Fans' Favorite Pop Music (a crowdsourced honor) from Billboard Magazine . But "Neon Lights" is definitely the alter ego of "Dark Hearts," which is as evident as the contrary nature of the albums' names. If "Dark Hearts" was a season of "Twin Peaks," this feels a little like its "Baywatch" counterpart. The EP features a guest collab with  Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters' fame (who has embarked on a solo career since) as well as covers a la The Jesus and Mary Chain …  and Patrick Swayze ("She's Like the Wind.") 

"Deep Down Way Out" - Orlando Weeks

I was delighted to get a notification about Orlando Weeks in my inbox not too long ago. I've always enjoyed his voice as the lead singer of now-defunct British alternative band The Maccabees (RIP). In fact, I think he has one of the best, most captivating male voices in music today.  Last year, Orlando's debut album "A Quickening" was released into the world, capturing his feelings about the tumultuous world of parenthood. His new music takes off exactly where "A Quickening" left off. His sound has been described as "left-field pop," a description that is extremely apt. I found his new music reminding me of alt-j at times, but it's truly unique and truly his.  Check out his video for his new single "Deep Down Way Out" featuring comedian Lolly Adefope :  About his new single and video, Weeks had this to say: “I never thought I’d make cliff top, roof down, drive into the sunset type music but, Deep Down does feel like that to me. A sort