POP & ROCK SHORT TAKES
by Rudy Palma
Halsey, Maniac (Capitol Records, 2020)
Ashley Frangipane (aka Halsey) is a New York-based pop/indie-rock singer and songwriter. Her blend of electro-pop and pop-rock is in full bloom on her 16 track, third full-length album titled, Manic. Ranging in style from angst-filled reverence to pop-sugared goodness, Halsey is powerfully poised with an adorned voice of masterful control and variance, mixed with just the right amount of rebel to pull off a darkly angered style of writing. A must listen, Halsey might not be a full-tilt Maniac, but her music is undoubtedly cult worthy.
Kate Vogel, The Grave (Laurel Street, 2019)
Nashville singer-songwriter Kate Vogel is back with a new single “The Grave,” a poignant tribute that pays homage to her best friend, who died tragically in a car crash. Vogel pulls back the veil on an achingly painful experience by navigating through it with stripped-down instrumentation and introspection. Vogel digs deep on this one, ebbing and flowing the delicacy of sorrow. Her voice is filled with sincerity and resonates with a beauty that certainly pays tribute to a seminal person in her life, take all too soon. Vogel is the kind of singer you can instantly relate to; her voice is dripping with candor, and her ability to convey a lyric is a cornerstone to her already burgeoning success.
Love Ghost, Let It All Burn (Self-Released, 2019)
Los Angeles group Love Ghost is a hard-hitting indie alternative-hard rock band. Their latest single “Let It All Burn” is a fiery cut that is represented well by lead singer Finnegan Bell. A post-apocalyptic rock attitude lines every cavern of this rebellious tune. Produced by the legendary Danny Saber (The Rolling Stones, U2, David Bowie, Marilyn Manson), Love Ghost understands the perils of real-life and its struggles. The track is evidently catchy and filled with crunchy affected guitars, but what is most alluring is the use of keyboards and voice to colorize the track. What I also liked about this group is the social consciousness, for three years running, they have been feeding the homeless on LA’s skid row. All proceeds from this song will go to their work with the homeless. Now that’s music with a cause.
Jeffrey James, Downtown (Sevro Records, 2020)
Jeffrey James is an R&B singer based in Nashville. His contemporary sensibilities offer a straightforward style with meaningful writing and a commanding voice. James is releasing a single titled “Downtown” from his impending EP, East London. James has a sensuous voice; it resonates with an unassailable resolve. He is the focal point of this single, with simplistic rhythmic accents that keep his voice front and center. The underpinning of synths creates a wonderfully sparse canvas for James to paint upon, and with his voice, it is all the track really needs. It’s certainly time to go “Downtown.”