We have the premiere of “Fierce,” the brand new single from Manchester duo KAZE (say that like KAH-zay). This exciting and inventive band first came to our attention by way of their first single and video, the startlingly original “Pinned On You,” which became our video of the month in August last year. “Fierce” is just as inventive. Though it begins with a conventional, piano-driven verse, it quickly builds to dramatic chorus, displaying shades of some of KAZE’s chief influences, including Steely Dan and Radiohead.
As the title hints, “Fierce” is an anthem of empowerment. Songwriters Graham McCusker and Amy Webber tell us, “‘Fierce’ is about finding your inner strength to finally stand up to people who intimidate and bully you. It’s about finding your power and your confidence to stand up to injustices.” Fortunately, the song does not fall victim to cliché, reiterating worn sentiments. It is one of KAZE’s great strengths that they can say something new about such a universal subject, just as they had a new approach to what, at its core, was a breakup diatribe in “Pinned On You.”
Despite a compelling flair for the dramatic, KAZE’s songs are streamlined and economical, filtering weighty prog into thrilling pop. Following up the debut EP No Filter, “Fierce” is further evidence of a promising artistic force.
Northern England has launched yet another pristine pop act, a three-piece called TV ME. Led by Thomas McConnell, the band returned to their Liverpool home this past weekent, at the end of a regional tour, just in time to celebrate the release of their four-song EP, A Broadcast From TV ME. At turns breezy and jarring, the EP mixes synthesized and organic instruments in a Harry Nilsson-meets-Brian Wilson-meets-Jon Brion Optigan blur, infused with some extra-modern electronic grooves. Dig it.
One of Atlanta’s very best hip-hop artists, Se’von is back with a new full length album, Stadium of Hearts. It’s truly a tour de force, with Se’von not just declaring his supremacy, but also proving it on a barrage of assertive anthems. He builds a modern pop masterwork upon the foundation of classic rap and hip-hop. Look no further than the opener, “Bang Bang,” in which he traces a lineage from LL Cool J to Kanye before shouting out, nationwide, his own booming voice. Se’von has good-sized clips of every song on the LP here. and you can listen to some full tracks below.
The closest analog we could think of while enjoying the new album from Beecher’s Fault, The Easiest Drug To Sell, was Talking Heads. Immediately, the mechanized groove of the opening track, “Moneymouth,” mirrors that of the Heads’ classic “Once In A Lifetime.” The rest of the song and album (at seven songs and just over 26 minutes, it’s technically an EP) is wholly original, but Beecher’s Fault’s meshing of electronic and precisely processed sounds with natural instrumentation, warm lead vocals and tight male-female harmonies (from vocalists Ben Taylor and Lauren Hunt) follows a blueprint created by that seminal NYC art rock band. The Easiest Drug To Sell feels carefully sequenced to invite in the listener, from that somewhat clinical intro through a flat-out rocking and gospel-tinged closer, “Life In This Light” (and doesn’t that title also just evoke the Talking Heads?), which we wrote about when it was released last summer. The lyrics match this flow, beginning with the despairing “Moneymouth” to that final song’s grand zen-like acceptance, via some ebb and flow anxiety and uncertainty on tracks like “Last Disaster.” You can hear the entire record at the Soundcloud link at the bottom:
Three prominent members of our artist community here at OurStage are featured in the new Spike Lee series She’s Gotta Have It on Netflix. Soulful R&B singer Shawndrell, winner of multiple chart awards on OurStage, had her song “Save Yourself” added to episodes five and six of the new show, which is a reimagining of Lee’s groundbreaking 1986 film of the same name.
Multi-talented New York artist Brittany Campbell, who plays the character Black Diamond in three episodes of the new comedy series, is featured on the soundtrack as well, with her 2016 single “Buzz” (watch her great video for the song, below).
Lee also selected Nikki Lynette‘s “My Mind Ain’t Right,” after personally inspiring and encouraging the singer and songwriter to begin a new phase in her creative life. When we spoke to her back in September, Lynette told us, “Spike is the ultimate storyteller, and he is always super excited about everything he is working on. Being around him made me feel like maybe I could be passionate about music again if I just told a story that would be bigger than me, the way Spike does.” (Read our full interview here.)