Reviews
The Beautiful Revolution
"The Beautiful Revolution"

Unleashing The Beautiful Revolution on Inauguration Day 2017 was no coincidence. Revolution is on the minds of many today, including Sacramento rapper Mr. P Chill.

The album opens with the title track, ending with an excerpt of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967, known as "It's A Dark Day In Our Nation."

Following the opener, "If These Tattoos Could Talk" delves into P Chill's autobiographical art emblazoned around his own body. An explanation of passion, loss, and spirituality, the song conveys what makes this emcee tick. Perking up the ears with a familiar loop, "Hello" samples Lionel Richie's 1983 hit single of the same name.

But at the heart of the album isn't body art or catchy samples. "Dear Crooked Cop" drives a stake through the heart of recent senseless police brutality that has taken the news, the internet, and our nation's state of civil rights by storm. Mr. P Chill has released a video to the song, only 1'53" in length, but not short on calling out of reckless interpretations of the law and a citizen's right to be innocent until proven guilty.



The Beautiful Revolution ends with a bit of inspiration and hope. In spite of the assaults many of us believe the new president is unleashing on our freedom, Mr. P Chill leaves us with some positivity. Longtime friend and tourmate Spyder D joins in this sing-song chorus echoing Marley's legendary refrain, "everything's gonna be alright."

This month, Mr. P Chill launches a 14-city (and growing) tour in support of The Beautiful Revolution. He'll kick things off in his hometown, head up the West Coast, then down through Arizona and into Texas. Catch Mr. P Chill soon...and support his beautiful revolution.

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Flesh & Metal
"Flesh & Metal"

Opening with the haunting "You," Noah James Hittner's 2014 release Flesh & Metal is more of the former and less of the latter, at least stylistically. The album's mellowness comes from its tightly compressed vocal tracks laid over a blend of acoustic, effect-laden guitars and an assortment of old school, almost MIDI-like electronic drum tracks.

"Wonder" meshes the styles of an 80s Casio keyboard 'Demo' track and a Pet Shop Boys songwriting rough. Songs like "Valley of the Sine Wave" bring to the table a bit more organic acoustic guitar and Noah's more organic singer/songwriter roots. But as with the rest of the album, drum loops and crystal-clean vocals bring about a more mechanical aspect to the songs.

An almost New Age-y feel comes through in "The Pines," "Stephanie's Interlude," and "When, Indeed," all instrumentals fueled Noah's acoustic guitar. But the majority of the record includes lyrics and the aforementioned electronic percussion. Closing out the record is "Chasing," a guitar/vocal feature sans any drums or bass guitar.

Part flesh (of organic nature) and part metal (of electronic instrument derivation), Noah James Hittner's Flesh & Metal brings together these two aspects of his musical nature.

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Heavyweight
"Heavyweight"

Blasting through your speakers with riffage of AC/DC-level intensity, Thunderbird's new album Heavyweight opens with the aggressive "Run For The Border." Vocalist Marc LaFrance takes the reins from the get-go with his gritty, metallic delivery, evoking a sound and style not entirely unlike that of Krokus frontman Marc Storace.

Thunderbird churns out arrangements harkening back to the heavier rock acts of the late 70s and early 80s. The guitar is chunky and virtuosic, the drums thunderous with machine-gun-like fills, and there is no lack of quintessential 1/2-time pre-choruses and breakdowns.

Having contributed to wildly successful albums by Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi, Cher, and many more, LaFrance is no stranger to singing hooks that sell. Thunderbird doesn't seem to follow the songwriting tendencies of those artists, however, remaining more raw, down, and dirty.

"Big Stick" brings on pounding verses and choruses that rival the grind of Udo and Accept, but then sprinkles them with guitarist Rod Coogan's Vai-like playful guitar wails. "Go" does just that, speeding along at a blistering clip, while "Baton Rouge" dances along with a more head-bobbing bluesy gait. Breaking away entirely from the feel of much of the rest of Heavyweight, "This Sea" lands somewhere in the neighborhood of a prog-jazz ballad.

Heavyweight is now available at all fine musical retailers: Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, CDBaby, and is brought to you by the fine folks at Delinquent Records.

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Welcome to Kiddoo and the Dude’s Funky Freakshow!
"Welcome to Kiddoo and the Dude’s Funky Freakshow!"

These motherfuckers!

And by that, I mean Kiddoo and the Dude are some MF's to be reckoned with on a live music stage. You've got a cast of characters including Kiddoo, The Dude, an "Argyle," a "Houndstooth," and they even bring a goddamn trampoline onstage. By the time they get to playing, the feeling of utter ecstasy flowing through the audience members' bodies is enough to permanently imprint silly grins on each and every one of their faces.

Suffice it to say, if you haven't seen Kiddoo and the Dude live, you're missing out and need to get off your ass. But we're not gathered here today to fellate Kiddoo's impressive stage show. Nah...the kids and dudes ventured into the studio recently to record their second album, Welcome to Kiddoo and the Dude's Funky Freakshow! Although, the live act preface wasn't entirely pointless—what the band set out to do was capture in a studio the same bravado and circus-like vibe generated in-person.

Well, they've done it. The album kicks off with a sideshow talker's "Welcome," followed by "Let Your Hair Down" which serves as a helpful guide, reminding you to forget about the fact that you may be sitting at your desk at work, or walking through a store with your ear buds in. To fully appreciate the near hourlong party that's about to ensue, you damn sure can't be uptight.

With the mood set, Michael Kiddoo's lead vocal and the ultimate instrumental badassery of his motley crew takes over. The style, composition, and arrangement of Welcome to... Funky Freakshow! seems a distant relative of a Long Island band in the early 90's called Scatterbrain. The two groups share their blend of thrash, funk, punk, metal, and lyrics that are at once witty, intelligent, and downright silly.

Role play's okay but only if we both play. Hell, I could be Barack OB and you could be Michelle.
- "Whatdya Say"

Like a rock 'n' roll child of a Hip-Hop artist and professional wrestler, Kiddoo and the Dude wrote "Brand New," which smacks of an entrance theme song. In fact, you may want to approach your next lunch date with it playing out of your phone from your pocket. Trust me, it'll bring good things your way.

Welcome to... Funky Freakshow! brings together all of the aforementioned genres and more. This album shreds, rocks, funks, dances, jokes, and arouses. It'll make you blush while you headbang and laugh aloud while you dissect the bizarre components of Kiddoo's kinkariffic lyrical musings. For new listeners who are just discovering the band through this review, well, quite literally, Welcome to Kiddoo and the Dude's Funky Freakshow!

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Still Standing
"Still Standing"

Sacramento Hip-Hop artist Mr. P Chill drops his latest album, Still Standing, on August 28. His 11th record in the past 13 years, Still Standing is a tribute not only to his fans but to his own longevity in the music business. And with a bevy of guest appearances and a nearly continuous touring schedule, Mr. P Chill shows he's not merely Still Standing, but also planning to be around for a long time to come.


Mr. P Chill's mic/star logo
would make a good tattoo, right?

The title track kicks off the record in inspirational form, an autobiographical tale of dedication and persistence. Immediately, Still Standing turn its focus from Mr. P Chill's own life story to those who helped create it, dedicated to "the most important people in his life": P Chill's impressively loyal fans. "You Got Me" is all about those people who have supported his career throughout its 23 years, coming to shows across the country and buying his music and merch. Specific shout outs go to the fan (or were there more?) who got a tattoo of his mic/star logo. That's part of the aforementioned "impressively loyal" vibe.

"When Words Won't Do (w/2Mex)" is the first single from Still Standing. It, along with "Time Machine" take on a more reflective, introspective tone, one that epitomizes P Chill's songwriting. It doesn't get more honest and real than Mr. P Chill. No ego, no pretentiousness. He loves rapping, has a passion for Hip-Hop, and an appreciation for artists who put their all into their music.

Joining Mr. P Chill on Still Standing are a few of his closer Hip-Hop family, including Lumis, J.Smo, and Mr. Hooper (formerly Crazy Ballhead). But standing out in the credits are 2Mex (of The Visionaries and Of Mexican Descent fame), Percee P (Stones Throw), and the legendary Spyder D.

Speaking on Spyder D's appearance, P Chill shared that he was "pretty stoked. [Spyder D] is credited with being the first rapper to release [an independent rap record] in 1980. Dude did the whole thing in the 80's, rocked with RUN-DMC, and was managed by Russell Simmons. Pretty cool working with a guy you listened to as a kid. So humbling..."

Beginning in late August, Mr. P Chill takes this album on the road, literally across the entire country. Audiences from Sacramento to New York City can see P Chill with tourmates Cleen and DJ Uppercutz.

For more information on Mr. P Chill, Still Standing, or his latest tour dates, visit mrpchillmusic.com.

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2
"2"

Churchwood is one of Austin’s best blues/rock bands, adding a unique aggressive twist to an otherwise traditional sound. While The Blues is typified by somber lyrics and repetitious structure, Churchwood’s album, 2, injects the venerable genre with adrenalin—amping-up traditional blues with a punk-inspired energy that melds the traditional with the contemporary.

On 2, Churchwood members Bill Anderson (guitar), Joe Doerr (vocals and harp), Adam Kahan (bass), Billysteve Korpi (guitar) and Julien Peterson (drums) don’t seem to have set out to make a polished album. 2 comes across instead as being made from pure musical pleasure. The riffs are punchy, the vocals gritty, and Doerr's harmonica as raw as it comes.

The opening track, “Duende,” has guitar riffs that feel like they want to dance their way out of the speakers. “Duende” doesn’t mess around—the track sets the tone of an album that means business. “Fake This One” carries itself well with Doerr’s half-howling, half-crooning “you telling me I’ve overstepped my bounds/I don’t jump too high for comfort and should come back down.”

“I Have a Devil in Me” is probably the most well known song, by virtue of the simple bizarre pool-aerobics video going viral. Doerr’s harmonica part goes perfectly with the songs explosive guitar riffs and Peterson’s driving drums. “New Moon” closes the record with the album’s carefree vibe, though paying sonic tribute to a more traditional blues style. The song is one of the album’s longest and more somber tracks, clocking in at over five minutes, but doesn’t slow down the album’s momentum.

Churchwood’s 2 cement’s their reputation as a blues-influenced band injected with energetic shots of rock and punk. 2 captures the band’s fresh take on the blues, making it a solid addition to Churchwood's discography and an album well worth adding to your collection.

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Pray Until Something Happens
"Pray Until Something Happens"

Testify is a reborn Christian rapper out of Prattville, Alabama whose second album Pray Until Something Happens continues to spread the word of God through Hip-Hop. Troubled earlier in life, Testify (Michael Anthony Warren II) turned his life around by using his musical talents to explore his own spirituality.

I had lost all hope until some friends took me in, and brought me to a Man to take away my sin. Testify initially tried to use his music to reach mainstream stardom. But after failing to reach personal glory through that means he focused his efforts on glorifying God, which has led to a whole different level of success—an internal fulfillment not possible without the faith he lacked earlier in life.

Pray Until Something Happens isn't merely a Christian rap album. Testify's production, rhymes, and flow hold their own with his secular peers. His grooves channel vibes of late 80s and early 90s R&B and Rap: fat bass lines not unlike Gangsta Rap's samples of 70s funk, with high-pitched synth melodies flying over the top. Not entrenched in a retro vibe, however, hints of Kanye's "Stronger" vocal-synth sound jumps into the mix in "#thePower."

Lyrically, there's no denying the Christian nature of the album. Testify puts God first from start to finish. But his message goes deeper, exploring real world issues that listeners of any faith (or none at all) can relate to. From "Self Defeat" to "Attitude Adjustment," Testify's songs address universal challenges faced by us all.

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Get It Got It
"Get It Got It"

Get it Got it is the ninth album by Baton Rouge rapper/producer Lady Cam. If ever there was a homegrown, grassroots artist, here she is. Lady Cam was discovered at home (by her mom) and does her own writing, performing, and production.

Divas and we crazy like, ballin' and we lady like, yep we get'n education, don't be scard to make me wife, don't be scard to make it right, take bad boys and make'm nice This album is driven by Lady Cam's rhymes. Her flow is strong and confident, drawing stylistic comparisons to rappers Eve and Trina. But style of delivery is where those similarities end. Lyrically, Lady Cam distinguishes herself from many prominent female rappers. For her, her songs center on confidence, respect, and living life right.

"Get It Started" kicks off the album showing off Cam's skills--her speed and delivery is crisp. "Holla" takes an introspective turn, revealing how and why music became an outlet at an early age. And the title track sets expectations for who and what Lady Cam is all about.

With Get it Got it continues to establish herself, communicating to listeners who she is and what her life's about. And her audience? Lady Cam's letting everyone know—her fans, men, and even haters—Lady Cam is back again, for the ninth time, making a name for herself.

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Live at The Belmont (Austin, TX)
"Live at The Belmont (Austin, TX)"

On Thursday night The Belmont hosted the first night of a 3-show residency by Nina Diaz, the singer/songwriter/guitarist/frontwoman of Girl in a Coma. At nearly ten minutes until showtime, the indoor venue was nearly at capacity.

The Painted Redstarts opened the show, and seemed a bit green. An up-and-coming young band, they’ve gotten some recognition throughout Austin due to frontman William Graham’s solo accolades. But onstage, Graham and guitarist Seth Jackson seemed tentative, looking into their microphones as if to avoid the eyes that filled the room.


The Painted Redstarts
Photography by Maurice

Their set got stronger as it progressed. Playing to a crowd clearly there to see Nina’s solo debut, The Painted Redstarts saved their stronger songs for last. “Curtains Wide,” perhaps due to its local airplay, energized both the band and the crowd. By The Painted Redstarts’ final song, The Belmont was packed—there was no moving from your spot.

For Nina, this solo residency marks a coming-out of sorts, providing fans their first glimpse of her true, authentic self as a musician and songwriter. Her musical career to date has been nearly a decade-long whirlwind. Nina joined her sister, Phanie, and Jenn Alva in Girl In A Coma at the age of 13. Joan Jett signed the trio to a record deal on the spot at a show they played in New York City’s renowned Knitting Factory. But with steady touring and recording since then, Diaz found herself as an artist without a substantial personal identity. With her GIAC bandmates currently on the road with their own new project, Fea, Nina gathered an all-male band to flesh out her solo work.

The moment the band took the stage, the crowd swelled in anticipation. She opened with an acoustic ballad, giving fans a taste of Nina’s unique voice and newfound solo artistry, with keyboardist Jaime Ramirez adding some delicate texture.

Credit to her band, they played not like a backing band at all. Their musicianship rivaled Diaz’ voice and presence, establishing themselves as an integral part of the music. The second song took on a more poppy twist, ending with Ramirez doing a Spanish rap. They slipped more than one cover song into the set (you’ll need to go to another show to discover which ones) and appeared to have a great time onstage.

While Nina’s voice helped define GIAC, her guitar playing at The Belmont showed that she has more talent in her arsenal than merely a pretty voice. And while an artist-gone-solo can oftentimes seem a bit lost or aloof without their regular band, Nina appeared completely in her element. Calm. Serene. And even having some fun. The audience fed off of her energy, embracing each new song as if they were longtime standards.

Nina Diaz will play two more residency shows at The Belmont: on June 18 with openers Little Brave (tickets for 6/18) and on June 25 with Hunter Sharpe (tickets for 6/25). Both shows start at 9pm. Tickets are $5 dollars in advance and $7 at the door. With the first show appearing to sell out day-of—and word of its success spreading—get your tickets quickly. The Nina Diaz solo project is not to be missed.

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Embers
"Embers"

I had a dream we were millionaires, but you didn't even care Melancholic? Harmonious? Deliberate? Impactful? How 'bout all of the above?

Embers is the third album by Unkle Bob, an indie rock quintet out of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the brainchild of singer/songwriter Rick Webster. The band's success seemed imminent as their first two albums gained critical acclaim, and their music made was placed prominently, including in ABC's popular drama, Grey's Anatomy.

But without a spark to keep growing the band's popularity, they split up and went their separate ways...until late 2013. Webster released a crowd-funded EP under the band's moniker that seemed to rekindle fans' interest in Unkle Bob's music.

Then over five days in early 2014, accepting Webster's invitation to record again, new and former bandmates reunited in a remote studio in Wales. The group breathed new life into one older studio demo and eight of Webster's new songs, resulting in the nine tracks comprising Embers.

The advance single, "It's Not Enough," is definitive UK in style, a veritable lovechild of influences along the lines of U2, Coldplay, Travis, and even poppy-yet-solemn hints of Morrissey.

Embers' mood is cool, rainy, and foggy, though the production and instrumentation plays crisp, bright, and clean. The album is beautiful—a multi-layered, wide landscape of sound.

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Where Do You Want It?
"Where Do You Want It?"

Lubbock is known for being the hometown of Buddy Holly. But the capital of the West Texas plains has produced another, more deviant, act: the raunchy, dirty country band known as The Beaumonts. Their sound can be likened to Hank Williams, Jr., but they take Hank's game to a whole other level. Their latest album Where Do You Want It? delightfully captures The Beaumonts' unique brand of honky tonk.

The riffs and rhythms on Where Do You Want It? are catchy and well played. The only thing that may be off-putting to some is the album's lyrical content—definitely not something to share with your grandmother when she hears of this other band outta the Texas panhandle. The band talks about snorting cocaine in "I Like Drinkin'" because, well, frontman Troy Wayne Delco enjoys getting high. In a catchier moment of "Love The Lord," Delco sings that you're “fuckin’ fucked” if you don’t love the Lord.

If you can get past the band's colorful humor, The Beaumonts are a highly entertaining listen. And, if not, you will give their record one spin and try your best to forget about it (though you'll likely be scarred for life).

Songs like “Deserve a Drink” could spin seamlessly on Sirius XM’s Willie’s Roadhouse station, with its pure country riffs and its subtle backbeat. When describing all that the band has been through, they sing that they feel they “deserve a motherfuckin’ drink” after telling the tale of a Honda CRV, toaster oven, and a wife who is no whore, all while waiting for their drinking buddies to come around. Then there's the ode to Toby Keith, calling Keith "the ugliest woman that I swear I ever seen," set against another catchy country tune that captures Delco’s knack for writing memorable country riffs.

Outside of the band's sound they would do well as a comedy act, with their severe, off-color humor. But at any rate, The Beaumonts have written themselves into Lubbock's storied music history: a lone wolf, easily pegged as Lubbock’s best dirty country band. If you've got an open mind and a healthy sense of humor, The Beaumonts will entertain and have you laughing from start to finish, as you wonder exactly what they mean when they ask, "Where Do You Want It?"

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14th & Nowhere…
"14th & Nowhere…"

The latest release from Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders is 14th & Nowhere…, a record full of great rock tunes that sound like they came straight out of a garage, but in a good way. The album is full of songs that are smartly written and passionately played, and will be adored by older rockers and the current generation. After listening to 14th & Nowhere…, it’s clear that The Rankoutsiders are out to write great music that connects with people. Playing music for over 20 years, Todd is no stranger to rock 'n' roll. After starting the Los Angeles group the Lazy Cowgirls in 1983, Pat is now back with a new band that plays solid rock and roll and performs with a passion that is hard to match.

The opening song “Carry’n A Torch” is a perfect opening track with its blistering guitars and punk rock feel. Pat has the perfect gritty and gravelly voice for fronting this type of band who seem determined to make everyone listen to the record more than once. Instead of feeling like the band is too old to be playing rock and roll, we hear a very colorful and modern take on the genre, which feels like we are revisiting the rock era of our parents. The group is out to honor their rock and roll ancestors of the fifties, sixties, and seventies, and they make their music explode out of the speakers with booming drums, crisp guitar solos, and a lead singer who sings like he’s giving his last performance.

“Small Town Rock Ain’t Dead” is a rollicking tune that still carries the same punch as the records previous songs. On this track, we hear a piano that adds a different dimension to the music. Still sounding like a rock track, its more laid back demeanor might feel a bit off putting since we are used to the band being so hard hitting by the time this track starts to play. “No End In Sight” takes a dramatic turn as we hear the band playing a more country and folk band that gives the band a bit of a softer edge.

While we have heard the band tear through eleven tracks without stopping, “No End…” allows the band to strip down and show a softer side of them that we never thought we would hear. The harmonica heard on the track gives the song a nice touch, as it gives the song a more authentic country feel. “One More Gas Tank Revisited” is the most punk rock track on the album. Its classic punk beat is a song that goes down as one of the album’s strongest songs. Every member of the band plays together perfectly, but mostly importantly “Gas Tank” shows that the band hasn't lost their edge despite having a front man that has been in the music business for over two decades.

If you are into good old fashion rock and roll, you can’t get much rawer than Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders as their music deserves to be listened to.

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Convertibles
"Convertibles"

With Convertibles, Chuck Inglish drops an album custom made for summertime. On a beautiful day, driving around with your windows down, you've gotta have something fresh coming from your speakers. Enter: Convertibles.

Whereas Chuck's duo with Sir Michael Rocks, The Cool Kids, embodied their Chicago and Detroit Hip-Hop scene influence, Chuck's move to California is evident throughout Convertibles. "Elevators" and "Swervin'" kick off the album with 90s-era G-funk-flavored bass powering the groove. But the album is far from 13-tracks of recycled Gangsta Rap backing tracks.

"Legs" featuring Chromeo was released as an early single. Its smooth vocal harmonies, sparse arrangement, and tight drum-and-bass pocket lay a foundation somewhere between Pharrell and Nile Rogers.

Convertibles is littered with guest performers who bring to the table a wide assortment of skills, from Jade's colorful vocals to Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger shredding, both bringing life to "P.R.I.S.M." Culling the skills of Inglish and company into a coherent album, Einziger also took on the Executive Producer role.

Any way you slice it, Convertibles is a party album that will keep heads bobbin' from start to finish. As a solo artist, Chuck Inglish establishes himself as the engine under Convertibles's hood. But this car is pimped out lavishly from bumper to bumper.

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Persistence
"Persistence"

Persistence is the latest release by long-time Sacramento Hip-Hop fixture, Mr. P Chill. Taking a great deal of pride in his "real hip hop" approach, Persistence rocks an old school vibe evoking beats and samples bringing to mind both late 80s Harlem and early 90s Southern California.

I'm like 40, how can I still be at it? But far from being a re-tread of rhymes already rapped, Mr. P Chill brings his game with a whole new level of socially conscious lyrics. "I Know That You Hate Me" expresses indifference toward judgment, blasts crooked promoters and bogus gangster rappers. "Thunder Clap" stresses progress, empowerment and change, calling out those who won't stand up for what's truly important.

In much the same way that Fat Joe or Heavy D used their size to its advantage, lyrically, Mr. P Chill keys in on his age, wisdom, and complete lack of concern for how his image is perceived. He calls out his own longevity, age, weight loss, and past financial woes, with "Promises" lyrics revealing Chill's overcoming of credit card debt.

i remember way back in the day, fresh was the style and the word to say

now it's all about having swag, flossing hard, popping tags, nah, man, i can't buy into that crap

i'm from the days of real DJs and hard raps, so let go of the drama just one time, just bottom line:

we all came to have a good time
But Persistence is about more than preaching the sermons of the Old School. Chill is also about finding happiness within yourself. While I initially hoped "Good Times" was an ode to the great Jimmy Walker sitcom, the 80s R&B / L.L. Cool J-esque smooth groove pokes fun at Macklemore and reaches back to Chill's own lyrical mentors.

Mr. P Chill also pays respect to his wife. Referring to "Mrs. P Chill," both "Promises" and "The Woman Beside Me" are the complete opposite of Hip-Hop's notorious and generalized misogyny. Chill loves his woman, and praises her so openly and personally in a way you just don't hear in music these days.

At times, "Persistence" seems to pay a bit too much homage to its inspiration. Some of beats channel a bit too much of a particular era—there's a fine line between channeling influence and taking the old and re-creating it in your own way. But then Mr. P Chill throws in a sample of Janis Joplin, and makes you smile.

His rhymes are intelligent and honest, as much as you want in any artist today. And Mr. P Chill's experience shines through. He's clearly been around and playing the musical game for years. Only now, he's not playing any more. He's creating out of a love and respect for Hip-Hop. For Mr. P Chill, his lifelong persistence in itself have been funneled into an aptly titled new album.

Persistence hits the streets June 3, 2014. Pre-Orders will be available on iTunes in mid-May.

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The 2014 Demos
"The 2014 Demos"

CalatrilloZ is a London-based epic metal group forged in the cauldrons of Hell. They bring melodic composition to the table that rivals Trans-Siberian Orchestra, with the chops and grandeur of Dethklok. The sound and the fury come together in the form of men who resemble the evil offspring of King Diamond and KISS.

The band's latest releases are in demo form—three songs that will ultimately comprise their next full-length album. But for the moment, "Origins," "Lords of Misery," and "A Glimpse at a Fool's Destiny" live on their own, impressive works that fuel a metal fan's hunger for more.

"Origins" channels Viking-rock orchestration and Yngwie-like shredding, with operatic vocals soaring across choral-infused choruses. "Lords of Misery" marches into a darkness reminiscent of Ozzy's "Mr. Crowley," but following the ominous intro leads you into a vocal display that would bring a smile to Freddie Mercury's face. "Glimpse..." takes us through a dark and stormy musical cemetery, continuing to bring forth CalatrilloZ's stellar musicianship, tight leads, and impressive vocals.

It's unclear both visually and sonically just what universe spawned Zahyin (vocals), Mobius (bass), and Count Viktor (bass). But they've come to London bearing their unique melodic gifts. Listen if you dare, and stay tuned for the still-to-come musical spirit animals (let's call them "songs") that CalatrilloZ has yet to unleash upon us.

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Gold
"Gold"

Imagine Ke$sha procreating with Kid Rock. Yeah, just think about that for a minute.

Scarred for life?

Some incarnation of the resulting progeny might be the outgoing, lively, and feisty HER. This charismatic southern belle delivers each of her tongue-in-cheek songs with its own unique happy-go-lucky style, but blending in Kid-Rock-like lyrics along the lines of "Betty Ford"'s diggity dang da digga dang dang ditty.

But if the Ke$ha-in-Detroit connection doesn't sit well with you, some other HER lyrics seem more the result of an orgy that includes Miley Cyrus, Amanda Bynes, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga. Sing along with HER discovery of a positive pregnancy test, getting an ill-advised "Tramp Stamp" because of an already-ex boyfriend, and her complaints about rehab. HER is certainly creative, yet still derivative; an entirely serious new performer who simultaneously seems to mock her contemporaries.

Stylistically, the title track of Gold is much more inline with her country roots—the panache of the Dixie Chicks, but with a modern pop attitude. So perhaps HER is the scarred-for-life musical child of all the aforementioned artists. But there's something about HER that keeps you listening. The stellar production helps ease the discomfort of hearing country-western steel guitar amist a pop-heavy cacophony of sound. All that said, HER Gold album is a helluva lotta fun.

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The Long Road
"The Long Road"

Hardship, endurance, and the struggle for success serve as inspiration for many songwriters, including the latest release by Vince Barnes and his band, Free From Gravity. "The Long Road" began in August 2010, when Barnes went to visit his mother Valerie who was suffering from stage three Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Wanting to uplift his mother after her diagnosis, he set out to write an acoustic ballad that describes the initial shock, the difficult journey, and the ultimate triumph in her battle.

The song opens with Vince’s acoustic guitar and wispy vocals, setting to sound the pain his mother is going through, while offering the comfort that hewill always be by her side. While the song is realistically somber throughout, as is the battle itself, Vince brings an upbeat feel to the chorus, filled with hope and victory.

"The Long Road"' is a touching song, touching on an all-too-common experience these days. If you find Free From Gravity's song inspiring, or think it may lend inspiration to others, it is available as a free download from the band's website (with sign-up): freefromgravitymusic.com.

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Not Afraid
"Not Afraid"

Not Afraid is the debut EP by United States of Oz, a young hard rocking trio from Gold Coast. Well, not that young—bassist Steven Dalouche and guitarist Jesse Murray are both just past the 20-year mark. It's their 1999-born drummer Daniel Miranda who plunges the group's average age into minor-hood.

But age ain't nothin' but a number for U.S. of Oz. Their heavy, garage-rock vibe on Not Afraid channels early Sabbath, both in a grainy production quality and rudimentary arrangements. Nothing extraordinary about U.S. of O. All they do is kick-ass, honestly and unapologetically, without the aid of smoke, mirrors, or post-production wizardry.

Not Afraid travels all around the musical genre map. "Gotta Get Out" channels a bit of Rage Against the Machine. "Renegade" is a bit more head-on rock, with its riff-based structure oddly moving through a veritable history of Ozzy Osbourne guitarist styles—fast riffs emulating Jake E. Lee on Bark at the Moon, harmonic screams a la Zakk Wylde, and a classical tidbit evoking Randy Rhoads.

If you're digging Not Afraid, keep an eye out for U.S. of Oz's latest EP, set for a 2013 release.

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Children of the New Revolution
"Children of the New Revolution"

Children of the New Revolution, the new album by Queensland's Zero Inn, is a fuel-injected melodic punk experience that shoots itself from a distortion-laden cannon and lands somewhere in a field filled with hard rock, metal, and punk. The opening track, "Injector," attacks with sharp riffs and leads, separating Zero Inn from other bands in a number of ways: the song (and album overall) is more complex than punk, more melodic than most hard rock, and angrier than most poppy punk.

Still, Zero Inn works catchy enough hooks into most every song. Fans can mosh like motherfuckers then, a split-second later, wax nostalgiac singing about those lonesome "Highway Lights." Children of the New Revolution might have just created its own sub-genre, giving the band's fans a true a heartfelt kick in the ass.

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Villa Borghese
"Villa Borghese"

The Maryland based quintet Harmonic Blue plays a original and solid combination of jazz, folk, with touches of blues and the experimental grit of R&B. Exquisite both structurally and lyrically—the band has drawn some comparisons to music heavyweights such as: Dave Matthews Band, Alabama Shakes, Wilco and Steely Dan.

Harmonic Blue's debut EP entitled Villa Borghese is a memorable display of musical talent and poetic emotion. Songs like “Silver Spoon” lyrically play with the listeners feelings and emotions, searching for honesty in one's self.

The track “Sturgeon Moon” eloquently unfolds with touches of soft guitar riffs, with a Steely Dan meets Kenny Wayne Shepard guitar solo. Simplistic drumming and beautiful lyrics weave perfectly throughout the song.

Easy listening and great guitar work.

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The Long Time
"The Long Time"

Elliott Wheeler is a Sydney based composer and producer who is classically trained, and truly a master of the art of music and any and all categories of involvement in creating the art. He has been working as a screen composer and producer across a broad spectrum of genres from studio releases to film, documentary, commercials, and theatre.

He has spent most of last year working on the soundtrack for Baz Lurhmann’s The Great Gatsby, collaborating with music giants like Jay Z and Jack White among other truly remarkable and notable artists.

Wheeler's most recent and excited work was the global release of his debut studio album, The Long Time, which features Wheeler along with hand-picked performers from his extensive work with some of the best Australian singers today. The album is very reminiscent of the early days of music, fashion, and cabaret. The concept of the album is truly amazing, each track on the album is inspired by his favorite scenes from Wheelers' favorite movies of the 60′s and 70′s.

Honestly, this album is dope. Whether you like smooth jazz, electronic, hip-hop or even folk music. The cross-genre wok here is amazing. Impressive.

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Child Above The Sun
"Child Above The Sun"

Ester Nicholson has seen it all and lived through some of the most unimaginable things even a twisted mind could conjure up. Having found God and a bright new outlook on life she felt it best to share her message and spirituality with everyone. She is an Agape-licensed, spiritual therapist, author, and performer.

Ester is an extraordinary artist who has performed with the likes of Rod Stewart and Bette Midler. She has been hailed as "a demonstration that no person is beyond redemption and that life-changing renewal is possible for everyone - regardless of personal history or current circumstance."

Her new album entitled Child Above The Sun is as Gospel as it is contemporary jazz or R&B. The album traces her extraordinary journey from soulless addiction to love and self-realization. A truly inspiring and emotionally charged performance by Ester that can captivate even the most grand pessimist.

Positive energy.

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Rebirth
"Rebirth"

Beto Hale was born in Mexico City and brings a Latin spark and a true ability to appreciate his latin roots in his music. Hale's brand of carefully constructed pop-rock has gathered comparisons to very notable industry icons such as: Peter Gabriel and The Beatles. He is a true musician and a master of multiple musical crafts, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Hale has performed with some of the industry’s most notable acts. Hale underwent a period of soul searching, and refinement when writing and co-producing his third album. He wanted to rediscover the simplicity of music and the emotionally driven, catchy pop-rock. His latest album is entitled Rebirth.

With half of the lyrics on Rebirth in Spanish, the album is a trip back through Hale's musical career to where it all started with a twist of latin spice and flare. Surely a refined collection of tightly arranged pop-rock with heartfelt lyrics—the catchy rhythms and uplifting lyrics provide the listener with an emotionally empowering experience. Certainly any listener can hear why there have been so many Beatles comparisons, whether it's within his crew of musicians who worked on the album or the light feeling of the Sgt. Peppers that courses through the album.

The opening track "Explosiones" is an uplifting anthem, musically it sounds like futuristic U2 with a Latin Bono. "Falling Down" is a track that lyrically captures the ears of the confused and downtrodden hearts, in a sort of Tom Petty-like manner. Standout tracks include "April" and "Fire Away" the two most Beatle-esque songs, about love and reaction. Rebirth has something for everyone if you can break the language barrier or are not easily turned off by songs not of your own native tongue. If you cannot break that barrier you will have a tough time with this album, however I would encourage a listener to stay open-minded and respect Beto Hale's musicianship and knowledge of his craft.

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Ash Wednesday
"Ash Wednesday"

Richmond, Kentucky is the birthplace of legendary frontiersman Kit Carson, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, and the cool logo'd University of Richmond Spiders. Sharing a hometown with this crew is melodic pop/rock band, Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday's straight-forward sound approaches a Southern-tinged Goo Goo Dolls's vibe, with frontman Zach Barnett's vocals embracing a smoky, emotion-packed tone akin to Johnny Rzeznik. And the music? The band's sound is nothing if not radio-friendly.

If the band's recordings have room to grow, it's in the realm of production. While the engineering and production of the ten tracks they currently have streaming at Reverbnation is solid, the recordings leave something to be desired in their fullness. Perhaps some additional mastering would get Ash Wednesday to a radio-ready state that their songs deserve.

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Diamond In A Rock
"Diamond In A Rock"

At first glance, The Smith III don’t look old enough to be musicians, let alone aspiring ones out to chase their dreams of making music full time. This family band made of up of siblings Jalyka age 11, Daylk age 9, and Alyk age 6, have potential despite their young ages, with their own brand of kid friendly music that tackles such subjects as bullying and living in a single parent home. Since both topics are relevant to the latest generation of kids, The Smith III will find a young fan base who can relate to their message without the need for pushing the envelope like many adult artists today.

Born in West Palm Beach, Florida, oldest Smith sibling Jalyka showed a love of performing not only in music but in acting and modeling as well. Believing that their daughter did not have a future in performing, her parents wanted to steer her toward a focus on her education. However, their daughter’s persistence paid off, and eventually her parents supported her ambitions. A short time later her younger brothers Daylk and Alyk followed suit in convincing their parents that they wanted to pursue their dream of playing music.

Their latest single “Put A Stamp On It” from their debut album Diamond in a Rock has an R&B sound that speaks about going after the things you want—if you want something you “should put a stamp on it” in order to ensure success. A nice homage to Beyoncé's marital-oriented anthem.

While the group has a ways to go toward musical maturity, their effort in making sure their passion shines through is notable when listening to their new record. “Won’t Let You Break Me," a song about eradicating bullying, shows Jalyk's ability to carry a tune. And her voice will only get better with maturity and experience.

While it is clear that The Smith III love music, the road to success may not be an easy one given their present ages. With the passage of time, practice, and dedication to their love of music and performing, the Smith III will position themselves to have a chance at success.

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