Archive for the ‘Soul’ Category

Kovacs is the name of baldy-rocking Dutch songstress Sharon Kovacs.  After the initial success of her 2014 EP, My Love, Kovacs released full length albums Shades of Black (2015) and Cheap Smell (2018), as well as several successful singles.  In 2022, she whet the European public’s appetite with four of the album’s tracks as singles (“Not Scared of Giants,” “Bang Bang,” “Fragile,” and “Goldmine”) before dropping the her third full length album, Child of Sin, in January 2023.  In a departure from her more poppy and trip-hoppy releases this past decade, Kovacs seems to have found sturdy footing in a more classical approach.  Co-written with producer Jonathan Quarmby, Child of Sin becomes an unmissable piece of art and drama.

Kovacs winnows down the guts of her stories into their most raw and pure form, and bejewels them in tinkling instruments and jaunty arrangements that center the beats of her storytelling.  There is no extraneous detail, no unnecessary layer, no excess that draws away from the white-hot heat of her bluesy vocal.  That voice!  On tracks like “Goldmine” and “Bang Bang,” she dances on rhythmic tip-toes like a Liza-esque chanteuse, breathing self-possession and ambition into every beat.  More sensitive tracks like “Fragile” and “High Tide” may recall an Amy Winehouse type of flesh.   But her pain isn’t necessarily sacred.  The choices of rhythm sound at home in a cabaret, draped in fabrics, which makes it fun and apt for repeated listens. And for all its pain, Child of Sin is transcendent. Kovacs is reliving the agonies of her youth and emerging, victorious.

The best draws of Child of Sin are the little grotesque details that become brain food for the visual listener.  “Fragile” has its own unique body horror, illustrated through her “porcelain teeth” and her body “decomposed til’ only dust is left.”  “Bang Bang” happens in the heat of the moment until you catch the premeditated detail of the plastic sheet.  Kovacs becomes her own “Love Parasite” after sensing her urges “crawling around my insides, multiplying in the dark.”  It’s this kind of attention to detail that gives her tunes their magnetism and helps expose her core. She is clearly having some fun with it all, like her own personal season of American Horror Story.

A tiny detail of hand-biting in “Goldmine” illustrates Kovacs being subjected to what might be the dominance of men withholding her cash and suppressing her talent.  Similarly in finale “Mama,” Kovacs gently rejects the overbearing maternalism from an apologetically cloying parent: “ain’t like it used to be, when I would hold your hand, and wobble on your knees.”  Kovacs unchains herself from the weights others use to restrain her, both personally and musically. “I’m controlling everything now, independently.” she says in her press release.  “Music, videos, costumes, set design, make-up, even the look of the record.”  The result is as addictive as it is gut-twisting, and wall to wall enjoyable.

Title track “Child of Sin” features a duet with Rammstein giant Till Lindermann singing from the core of the earth, telling a dual story of youth and pain.  While the story has just enough detail to leave the listener wondering about the ugliness of the protagonist’s origins, it creates just enough visual to leave me hungering for a spotlight and a sequin dress.  Kovacs, fellow baldy queen, write us a musical.  I can only imagine what you would do.

Kovacs InstagramKovacs Website Kovacs Youtube

Jem debuts “Love Me Or Lose Me”

Posted: November 30, 2022 by Kat Meow in Jazz, Jem, London, R&B, Soul

Jem is an English artist hitting the British jazz pop scene with her EP, Love Me or Lose Me.  Motifs about forbidden love come through Jem’s rich tones and smooth jazz rhythms in its four tracks.  The EP starts with “Juliet,” which introduces the more self-conscious and exploratory parts of starting a new relationship.  The red flags are waving throughout – the overthinking, the doubt, the blinders over the lover’s flaws, but that’s par for the course if you’re getting drawn in by a Romeo.  “Falling 4U,” featuring Tomi Balogh, romanticizes the falling with some 00s-type R&B flavors.

A standout track for is “1.18,” where our Juliet is caught in her thoughts in the wee hours of the morning.  Smooth rhythms with spoken-word vocals lament a deep insecurity from an unsure love.  All those red flags from the first two tracks come to a head here.  Sweet and strummy guitars illustrate that frustrating feeling of uncertainty.  It’s hard to know if her lover is giving her the runaround, or if she’s giving it to herself through that endless process of thinking and rethinking into eternity.  What strikes me is how often I’ve been down this road, and how many friends I have watched spiral, asking “what are we?”  Maybe needing to ask is the biggest red flag of all.

Jem’s voice and keys fit with the shift to cold winter tones.  Final track “Fingertips” tinkles this warm EP to a close.  A solid effort from this London-based newcomer.

Jem TikTok  ★  Jem Love Me Or Lose Me EP  ★  Jem Instagram

Trying to write while neck deep in the grind means sometimes good tunes fall through the cracks. Here I’m going to offer my inbox some relief while sharing worthy musical goodness with you lovable clickers. Five tunes not to miss coming right up!

Opeongo – tragedy

Artwork by Patrick Decourcy

Opeongo’s voice is so uniquely clear that it paints “tragedy” in bold colors.  His tone is sweet and vaguely nasal that it feels like Steve Harley, making “tragedy” feel very glam. It nods so good and demands your attention.  The lyrics tell a grim story of Canadian-indigenous genocide, but end in the potential for hope as voices like Opeongo’s try and remember history so it never repeats.  It’s gorgeous and sorrowful, and that voice will stick to you.

Listen to “tragedy”Opeongo FacebookOpeongo Bandcamp

Down With Space – We Were Strangers

“We Were Strangers” has a post-punk drum flavor and an electro agenda.  The chorus has that kind of foot-stomping energy that is completely magnetic.  The result is a pop tension that feels a lot like 1am with four drinks in the gullet, about to make a very exciting bad decision.  Vaguely nostalgic, exacerbated by the video’s visuals as the viewer perpetually leaves everything behind. There’s just something about that combination of tones that is so compelling.

We Were Strangers VideoDown With Space InstagramDown With Space Bandcamp

Lydia Persaud – Good For Us

Soulful, smooth, and cool as hell, Lydia Persaud’s “Good For Us” is the flavor of self-care and new clarity. Simple rhythm and delicate guitar let Persaud’s voice wash over and cleanse the soul as she sings the praises of time away from one’s lover. The video sees Persaud smudging away the bad vibes and spending some much-needed personal time with her besties. Send the other half out for groceries and roll out the bath bombs to melt into this one.

Good For Us VideoLydia Persaud InstagramLydia Persaud Bandcamp

John Orpheus – House of Cards (Radiohead Cover)

It’s hard to top an original, but John Orpheus gives and old favorite new breath in his Afro-pop cover of Radiohead’s “House of Cards.” Capitalizing on the original’s minimalist percussion, Orpheus adds delicate Caribbean rhythm that gives the song a new optimism. His vocals feel a bit like Phil Collins at moments. Refreshingly honest, video director Patrick Hodgson illustrates the tune with images of real couples in love, from the joyful to the mildly erotic, which capture the (often underrepresented) love shared in a long-term relationships.

House Of Cards by John Orpheus VideoJohn Orpheus InstagramJohn Orpheus Bandcamp

Agath Christ – Blood

It starts like a post-punk electro tune until the beat takes on this off-kilter syncopation that rests on the border between darkwave and electro jazz, if there is one. Noisy and tense, “Blood” is trying desperately to break through the weighted chains of our algorithmic technological oppression. “Blood” is visceral, and stressful, and so very easy to connect with if you’ve ever felt overburdened by the world as it has been engineered. Visuals show (what I interpret as) sufferers escaping their homes to find the last vestige of land free from the looming pressures of technocracy, only able to find rest by laying in the woods in snow. I get it – screens can start to feel like prison walls. Engage with this one.

Blood VideoAgath Christ InstagramAgath Christ Bandcamp

Try ’em out! Let me know what you think in the comments or hit us up on Instagram.

This one is a smooth head-nodder by way of Algerian-born Canadian Aladean Kheroufi. Like a Beatles grandchild, “Love…” is declaration of peace. It’s a roadmap to agape, or universal love – the kind of love that would heal the world. With its latte-smooth vocals and downtempo soul sound, Kheroufi brings us back to a feeling when it seemed like love among humanity could really defeat all evil. It makes this song a welcome respite from the world. The video combines fuzzy film filtering with pleasant scenes from Kheroufi’s life, evoking a wistfulness for a time before… you know. Check out the 60s motifs and funky b-side “Every Girl.”

Aladean Kheroufi Bandcamp

Aladean Kheroufi Instagram