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  • Tom H

New Music Spotlight (October 2019)

So much incredible new music out there, and so little time to blog about it all. That's been my recent challenge. Which brings us to this 'New Music Spotlight' where I spotlight, in a single post, a few noteworthy releases from musical artists across the US, Canada, and UK, that have become recent musical earworms.

Read on and expand your playlists with new music from Hey Major, Cryote, Future Silence, Suri Wong, Yard Arms, and Blake Stadnik.

Hey Major | "The Station" (new single)

Quebec-based Hey Major is the musical project of two multi-instrumentalist brothers, Mickaël and Raphaël Fortin, who just released their impressive debut album, The Station. The duo's latest single release is the album's opening/title track - a romantic, elegant-sounding song that showcases the musical chemistry between the brothers Fortin. "The Station" transports the listener onto a blissful, slow-motion, musical journey accentuated by smooth, emotive vocals, grand soundscapes and poetic reflections, while conjuring up influences of Radiohead, Oasis and Arcade Fire.

The track is the perfect opener to the Hey Major's new album, which was produced in Montreal with Peter Edwards and Franz Schuller. and mixed by Chris Shaw (Bob Dylan, Weezer, Wilco) and Tim Palmer (David Bowie, Tears for Fears, U2). Hey Major also features the band's previous standout singles, include the upbeat, electronic "Goldfellas" and reflective and immense "Brother."

The single's accompanying music video was shot on location in Sydney, Australia, where the band toured earlier this year, and features some artful shots set in Sydney's Hyde Park and Museum railway station.

Cryote | "So Much Nature" (debut single)

Step Rockets frontman Joshua Schmidt launches his new solo project, Cryote, with debut single, "So Much Nature" - an upbeat, finger-snapping fusion of Indie and Reggae, loaded with the infectious hooks, solid songwriting and inspiring, emotional vocals that are the hallmarks of every Step Rockets song.

Co-written with his brother and 300 recording artist, Cobi, the project was borne out of change and challenges over the past year. "Lyrically, we explore the dynamics and challenges of our brotherhood growing up on the North Shore and our relationship with our family," Joshua explains. "The songs took on even more meaning as we both simultaneously brought daughters into the world and lost our father to cancer, underlining the great divides we must cross in life."

"There's a valley in between, in between

There's so much nature between you and me

Can't cross I get lost in your ravine

and now I'm down on my knees to get back to you"

As for the origins and inspiration for the Cryote sound, Joshua elaborates, "Musically, this project was born out of playing acoustic shows using a live looper, building beats and producing songs on the fly with layers of guitar lines. Inspiration from Step Rockets creeps through in the big choruses but open a musical window into nature and organic instrumentation that is new for me."

Future Silence | Future Silence (debut EP)

Future Silence is the songwriting duo of longtime Chicago musicians Kirk McMahon (Slow Thrills) and Shannon Roberts (STAR, Modern Tyranny), joined by Rosie Schubert (Sabertooth Rodeo, Slow Thrills) on drums. With influences that range from Ennio Morricone, Velvet Underground, David Lynch, Radiohead and Depeche Mode, to the universal concepts of loss and love, and the towering city of Chicago, Future Silence crafts a fresh, unique fusion of pop and garage rock across the five tracks that comprise their stunning, self-titled debut EP.

Future Silence was recorded in Chicago by Balthazar de Ley (Martha’s Music, Balthazar Audio Systems), with the band promoting opening track "Kansas Plains" as the lead single. Beyond "Kansas Plains," it's worth noting that every song on Future Silence is captivating and single-worthy in its own right. Featuring celestial, dreamlike vocals, pulsing bass lines, energized guitar hooks and riffs, cleverly-placed keyboard arpeggios, and pronounced drums, this is an EP you'll find yourself putting on repeat play - one listen is just not enough!

If you're a vinyl lover, you might want to check out the Future Silence's Bandcamp page for a limited vinyl release of the debut EP available on Australian label, Half a Cow Records.

Suri Wong | "In the Unknown" (new single)

Chicago-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Suri Wong creates a moving soundscape of heartfelt, melancholic vocals, poignant lyrics, and ambient, piano-driven accompaniment on her new single, "In the Unknown." Suri's musical career started with piano lessons at the early age of four, as she ate, slept, sang and daydreamed. It was on an airplane halfway around the world years later that she would eventually decide that songwriting and performing was her true calling. Fast forward to 2017, Suri teamed up with producer Taylor K. Phipps to record her debut EP, As I Am.

Suri explains the story behind her new single: "I was in a pseudo-relationship with a man and as young people, who didn't know ourselves, we never really became a 'thing.' But we shared an undeniable soul connection as we dragged each other along our journeys. We fizzled out in the end when we finally arrived at the hard truths about ourselves, but until then, we were unable to unlink ourselves."

"Maybe someday we'll freely

Come out from hiding under the Cold,

Frosted snow where we stayed

To survive to keep alive in the unknown"

"In the Unknown" is available to stream on SoundCloud, and will see its Spotify release in early November. In the meantime, check out Suri's cinematic and artfully choreographed music video for her single, "As I Am."

Yard Arms | "Comfortable" (new single)

Bristol-based Yard Arms is the musical project of long time collaborators and musicians Noah Villeneuve and Billy Golding. Ahead of the November release of their sophomore EP, A Glossary of Broken Humans & Beating Hearts, Yard Arms releases their refreshing and candid single, "Comfortable." With glittering guitar riffs, soaring, heartfelt vocals, and a magical atmospheric depth, the song's lyrical elements reflect upon the human condition, mental health and trauma, a theme that is prevalent on the band's forthcoming EP. With a sound that is reminiscent of artists such as The National, Death Cab For Cutie, and The War on Drugs, the band's sound takes the listener on a musically charming, yet melancholic musical journey, away from the daily routines of life.

Blake Stadnik | "Memorized" (new single)

If you're a regular viewer of NBC's TV drama series This is Us, then you've already heard "Memorized," the stunning debut single from Pittsburgh-born, NYC-based actor-musician Blake Stadnik. After already receiving critical acclaim for his roles in several musical productions, including Newsies, 42nd Street, and Sweeney Todd, Blake is currently playing the role of grown-up Jack Damon in season 4 of This is Us. The show's character is visually challenged like Blake, who has Stargardt disease, a retinal condition that causes blind spots, blurriness and other vision difficulties.

"Memorized" is written by Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes) and Siddartha Khosla, and was recorded at Sunset Sounds. The song's anthemic chorus and powerful lyrics are outstanding, as Blake's soaring vocals sustain the uplifting vibe of the track. After just one listen, I guarantee you'll find yourself singing along to the song's infectious chorus ("I found my way, I found my way to you"). As a side comment, I think the song would be an ideal candidate for a tasteful dance/electronic remix (in the spirit of Paul van Dyk or Armin van Buuren). Have a listen to "Memorized" if you haven't already.

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