Artist Showcase: Corina Corina

Oakland, California native Corina Corina (@CorinaCorina_) has demonstrated she’s a fierce player in today’s independent music scene. Having resided on the other coast in Brooklyn, NY, Corina is well on her way to garnering attention from the mainstream with her angelic, soulful voice and genuine songwriting. Having two full-length solo records under her belt in under half a decade along with an acoustic blues side project demonstrates Corina’s strong work ethic and dedication to building her brand with her musical talent being the driving force.

Corina Corina’s 2012 debut The Eargasm is a melting pot of pop, hip-hop, and R&B goodness mixed into an LP worthy of the paying public’s attention. A video was made for the first track ‘The Familiar’, which would fit right in on the I Heart Radio’s Top 40 playlists alongside offerings from the Iggy Azaleas and Demi Lovatos of the world. Corina Corina’s main focus musically is providing beautiful vocals on the album’s bevy of upbeat tracks that match the instrumentals like a glove. In addition to The Eargasm’s up tempo songs, she carries herself quite well on the record’s ballad ‘Royalty’. It is crystal clear Corina can write, produce, and perform across multiple genres and with this record in the right hands and heard by the right ears, she should have a career in the industry in some capacity for decades to come.

Co-produced by the highly regarded Willie Green, the album is riddled with tunes worthy of airplay on Top 40, hip-hop, and R&B stations. The key is these tunes have substance behind them, which cannot always be said for the major label offerings of today. ‘The Wrong Direction’ is a warning to females to avoid the pratfalls of the mainstream media’s images of women. ‘Baby Don’t Sell Yourself Short’ are words of wisdom as advised by Corina’s father, but the lesson is one that everyone can relate to. These two tracks along with the album’s first and last songs have the greatest potential of taking Corina over the hump from underground to the next breakout star. On the other hand, much like other underground artists, without major label support Corina has the creative control that other artists sometimes lose. Writing, producing, and recording the record sans corporate backing led to a fantastic debut effort that indie music lovers need an earshot of.

Corina Corina’s sophomore effort, The Free Way, dropped last year and was bankrolled by the public through an Indiegogo campaign. Much like her debut album, Corina and Willie Green served as Executive Producers maintaining that creative control and authenticity that can be lost with major label involvement. Although many of the record’s tracks have potential for airplay at Top 40 and R&B stations, The Free Way’s standouts are ‘When I Say’, ‘Time’, and ‘Last Night’. There is something for everyone on this album and casual fans of pop and R&B will not be disappointed.

Consumers can expect smooth collaborations, tight hip-hop beats combined with on-point raps, upbeat tunes to get dancers in the mood to move, and lyrics from the heart and mind that have a purpose. Combine these elements with Corina’s angelic vocals and pop music lovers will get something that holds up to the mainstream offerings of Taylor Swift and Charli XCX. Give independent music lovers credit as their support in making this record a reality contributed to the ability of Corina and Green to create the kind of record they wanted to. This cohesive duo gave it the basics to make it professional, yet not overproduce it nor include soulless, hollow songs just to fill quotas.

Corina Corina continues to tour all over the country in support of her two brilliant works, however, she is also involved in the two-piece act Max Caddy. In fact, the final tune on The Eargasm titled ‘Me and Those Dreaming Eyes of Mine’ is a Max Caddy song included as a bonus track. Do not let this artist’s pierced and tattooed exterior fool you. Corina has come to play as a pop, hip-hop, and R&B artist and with the ability to write and produce material it makes her a valuable asset in an industry that is not always known as female-friendly. Being multifaceted and having the results to back it up gives Corina leverage to do things on her terms, which is a win for music, artists, and fans alike.

*Photo by Gubi Chiriboga and courtesy of corina-corina.com.

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Critique: Midnight Coast Deserves to be Heard Coast to Coast

Released two years ago, Everything In White by Columbus, OH-based then-quartet Midnight Coast (@MidnightCoast) is a fantastic ride from start to finish. With such a polished recording under their belt, the band’s future looks extremely vivid. Despite the group citing Coldplay and Ben Folds as artists who influence them, the group has put together thirteen unique tracks that stand on their own merit. Some of their songs hint at piano-heavy group Keane as an inspiration, which is certainly a compliment. It is only a matter of time before the foursome’s hard work pays off and they get a brighter spotlight placed upon them along with an opportunity to tour throughout the country.

The instrumental first track ‘Drive’ clocks in at less than two minutes and should be part of an action movie trailer. The short, but sweet work of keyboardist Matt Stephan, drummer Kevin King, and guitarist Kevin Murray is a stroke of genius. If the band elected to add two more minutes to it, ‘Drive’ would be one of the rare instrumentals to become a Top 40 hit. The record’s second tune, ‘Runaway’, is the most reminiscent of Ben Folds’ influence on the group. Lead singer Liam Kirkpatrick’s vocals are on point and fit the song to sheer perfection. If Midnight Coast had a record deal in place, ‘Runaway’ would be one of the album’s standout singles with a chance of peaking high on Alternative charts.

The title track is the type of song that would fit right in on a serious indie film’s soundtrack. ‘The Hunter’ would have a fighting chance on the Adult Top 40 stations with its fusion of Ben Folds, Tori Amos, and Train from beginning to end.  ‘Brain Kicks In’, which is the final tune on the album, is the surefire gem that with the right backing would be the band’s best bet at a mainstream Top 40 hit. Kirkpatrick, King, Murray, and Stephan fire on all cylinders and save the record’s best song for last. It is a brilliant way to cap off a disc that has quality musicianship from start to finish.

Midnight Coast is a band that has been in existence for half a decade and they have paid their dues long enough. In short, the band has demonstrated in recording and in concert they are worthy of larger recognition for their talent. The band released an album that is not the flashiest in the industry, however, it holds up well compared to higher budget albums from their influences. While they would fit in on a bill with the likes of other local groups Truslow and Nick Tolford & Co., this now five-piece act deserves a chance to be heard from one end of America to the other and beyond. Now with bassist Nick Ewan in tow, it is only a matter of time before this unsigned group’s day will come and they have the success Red Wanting Blue, Twenty-One Pilots, and Watershed have had coming out of the capital city.

*Photo courtesy of the band’s Facebook page

Artist Showcase: Pseudoname (presented by DX Entertainment)

Pseudoname (@PseudonameBand) is an American musical act that is the brainchild of A.J. Gatio and Zac Ingle. Founded two years ago in Cincinnati, the duo has quite the following for an independent musical group on Twitter alone. Having over 5,000 followers among various sites is a good start and the group is just going to bring in new fans as they start to play live. Right now on ReverbNation, Pseudoname is the 20th ranked Alternative act in Columbus, OH. It is because of their solid originals and brilliant covers that they get to show what they have on the live stage on Friday, October 24 at King Avenue 5 in Columbus (just two miles southwest of the Ohio State University campus).

Along with ReverbNation, Pseudoname’s music is available for indie music lovers’ pleasure at multiple sites.  The group posts several of its tracks on YouTube with lyric videos.  “Fly” is a radio-ready track that is among the elite tunes in their repertoire. “Black Dress” is another track that is available for listening on YouTube in addition to the Summer Single Series on Bandcamp. The two-man band is also superb at performing other band’s singles.  English band The 1975 had a hit in the States earlier this year with “Chocolate”, however Pseudoname’s version is right on par with the major label act’s version.  “Robbers” is another well-done cover that hopefully will make the band’s playlist next month.. All of their tunes should be a hoot to hear live and in living color.

Pseudoname has other tracks available for one’s listening pleasure as part of the EP Good Love Is On the Way, which is an iTunes exclusive. The five-song album was released this past spring.  Perhaps tunes from this record will be part of their arsenal in six weeks. Also included on the October 24 show is throwback / electronic soloist Nick Frye and an act to be named later.  It is bound to be a fun night of independent music for the low price of $5.00 with a 9:00 PM showtime.  Bring your friends and bring your wallet to the party before celebrating a Buckeye football victory the day after.

Artist Showcase: Truslow (presented by DX Entertainment)

TRUSLOW 2

Truslow (@TruslowMusic) is an American quartet based in Columbus, OH. The band consists of lead vocalist James Truslow, bassist Andrew Lee, guitarist Sean Mackowski, and drummer Matt Myers. The group is among the fastest rising in their vicinity with nearly 2000 fans on Facebook and a slot as part of the much-hyped Fashion Meets Music Festival. The Labor Day weekend-long event faced controversy when then-headliner R. Kelly was met with backlash and he was ultimately fired from performing.  Given the fanfare of the entire festival, expectations will be high for all artists involved.  Based on what’s been heard from Truslow, these guys will bring their best to the stage on Friday, August 29.

For any independent artist, publicity is extremely important.  Having near 3000 fans spread out among multiple social media sites for a local band is commendable.  This band is young and the sky’s the limit for them.  From what’s been heard on their new EP Hurricane thus far. this group should have a record deal and score Top 40 hits sooner versus later. “ADHD” is already scoring airplay on Radio U, which is a station based locally but reaches a nationwide audience.  New Albany’s New Hollow managed to score a hit this year and hopefully Truslow will follow suit. “ADHD” is poppy with enough of a rock crunch to fit in with the likes of New Hollow, 5 Seconds of Summer and R5. The title track to Hurricane starts off like a ballad, but picks up the pace. It is a track that shows the versatility of the band. James Truslow’s voice is going to make the ladies swoon. This Friday is sure to be a fun evening for those who attend the group’s set at the Fashion Meets Music Festival.

In two months, Truslow will be on a bill for DX Entertainment’s first ever show with their set sandwiched between headliner They’re Coming They’re Coming and opener Something Keen.  This will occur at King Avenue 5 (approximately two miles from Ohio Stadium) in Columbus, OH on Friday, October 17. Admission is $5.00 at the door and it is a solid lineup from top to bottom.  For those who live in the area, there is no excuse not to come and see these artists play.  To get a taste of what Truslow has to offer, please check out the lyric video for their new single “ADHD” below.  You’re welcome.

Artist Showcase: Waking Jordan

@WakingJordan is an American quartet consisting of Kelly Potter, Kaleb Aaron, Steven Kent, and Trent Koritansky. The Boise-based band formed in 2011 and is building quite a nice social media fan base.  Word is they put on a really good live show, so the more gigs they play the larger the word of mouth will be, hence increasing the turnout each show.  They are building attention with music lovers, but it is now time for record company Executives to take note as this group is the real deal. The band has release two records without major label help, but with their talent if they had that kind of support they would definitely live up to the hype.

Waking Jordan is obviously serious about delivering solid tunes with crisp production.  Off of their 2013 release Here or There, “Mr. Right” and “Bury Me” pure pop bliss reminiscent of another DIY band with a grassroots following. Think of the Idaho four-piece as the Red Wanting Blue of the Northwest. The song featured in the video above is ready for the Top 40 charts and allows singer Kelly Potter to demonstrate some Macklemore-like skills.  This song deserves to reach a worldwide audience and licensing in motion pictures and television programs should not be out of the question if the circumstances are right.

The group is all about the music, but they also have hearts.  On ReverbNation, the band has partnered with Love Hope Strength to donate a portion of their download revenue. The Temporary Home Foundation is another non-profit organization Waking Jordan is involved with. This is a charity that provides housing and self-improvement opportunities for 18-23 year-olds after they have outgrown the foster care system. It would be excellent for the band to have a chance to make enough revenue to not only tour, make more records, but to provide a fraction of their proceeds to their charities on an ongoing basis.

The group is well on its way to going places, literally and figuratively.  They have sponsors for their upcoming tour and their next listed gig is on Halloween and then they embark on playing several gigs on the west coast in November.  Waking Jordan is showing that they are doing all the right things, but it is time for big wigs to take notice and give this foursome the international stage they deserve.  Those who love quality music should be hearing things from Waking Jordan for years to come.

Critique: Sunroof’s ‘Stargazing’

Sunroof (@SunroofMusic) is the moniker of 20 year-old solo artist Jeff Simpson. The Bozeman, Montana resident receives high marks for his first ever LP Stargazing. Given the top-notch quality of the record from beginning to end, it is clear as crystal Simpson put his heart and soul into making this album. In fact, he wrote each song and handled the production, mixing, and mastering of Stargazing himself. Note to note, the album sounds like it was done by one of the greats like Trevor Horn, Glen Ballard, or Tom Lord-Alge.

‘Time Travel’ is a great opener that is reminiscent of Erasure’s brilliant sounds. Although it has that 1980s vibe about it, it sounds fresh and demonstrates an Owl City influence. The title track is a hybrid of The Postal Service meets Thirty Seconds To Mars.  Three tracks are ready to rule radio and with proper label support, they would be surefire hits. ‘Etherea’ that makes you wonder what if Ben Gibbard and Ellie Goulding teamed up. It is that much of a ingenious tune.  ‘Brave’, which features SayWeCanFly, has a video made for it and here’s hoping good press leads to it going viral. Lastly, ‘You and I’ is very marketable and this is where Sunroof comes off as a crossover star. This tune could attract listeners at Alternative, Hot AC, and Top 40 radio stations. Electronic-influenced artists Phantogram and Broods are enjoying success, so it is the right time for Sunroof to get himself out there and get a piece of the pie.

For a limited time, Stargazing has been made available to download for no cost at Sunroof’s Noise Trade page. Simpson has carved himself out a great first full-length effort that has multiple tracks that could be licensed to soundtracks, commercials, and sports montages. All the tunes are worth of a listen and with the right marketing, the album should generate a buzz for Sunroof for years to come.  This should be a huge year moving forward for him.  Not bad for a limited budget DIY record from a 20 year-old solo act from Montana.

Artist To Watch: Caleb Hawley

Caleb Hawley (@iamcalebhawley) is an American singer-songwriter currently calling Harlem, NY home. He is college educated with a degree in Jazz Composition, but his musical skills go well beyond the average person’s perception of jazz. He is a hybrid musician crossing barriers and winning audiences over with his arrangements of popular covers and his brilliant blend of genres in his original tracks. He definitely has the credentials to back up his works, having won two songwriting awards in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Hawley plays the music game well in that he is active in social media and the Internet in general. On YouTube, several lyric videos are posted as well as raw live performances. One of those gigs is posted above for one’s listening and viewing pleasure. Several of his tunes are available to check out via ReverbNation and NoiseTrade. Some of his stronger tracks include “Bada Boom Bada Bling”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, and “Would You Even Try”. All three of these tunes could easily light up the Hot AC and Top 40 charts with the proper backing. This shall come in due time as Hawley deserves a chance to be heard by the masses. From what has been displayed thus far, he has something of substance to contribute to the current music scene.

For those who like what they have heard in digital format, Caleb Hawley is listed as having a live performance on Friday, May 30 with Julia Haltigan at the Rockwood Music Hall in New York City. Hawley fans who can not make that show should not fret because if they continue to support this prolific performer, his fan base and resources will increase leading to more touring opportunities. Hawley is the real deal and has more than proven himself as a rising star in 2014 and years to come.

Artist on the Rise: Sunroof

Sunroof (@SunroofMusic) is an American musician who is self-described as playing electro-acoustic pop-rock. Montana resident Jeff Simpson started the dream in 2012 playing live shows within that year. Fast forward to 2013 and Sunroof made tracks available for sale at iTunes and other online retailers. Given the quality of what he has released so far, it is crystal clear this artist is on his way to having a very successful career.

“Brave”, the song featured in this video, is not a cover of the Sara Bareilles hit, but a track with Sunroof’s own unique acoustic poppy spin. It is a track that with label support, would have a chance to crack the Adult Top 40 and Hot AC charts. On his official Facebook, page he lists Ed Sheeran, Secondhand Serenade, and Owl City as influences. The Owl City-esque single “The Treehouse” is an inspiring, uplifting song for the upcoming season that the entire family can enjoy. “Atlantic Dreams” has legs as a dance club smash and mainstream pop hit with an Ellie Goulding vibe attached to it.

Although Sunroof’s 2014 touring plans have not been revealed as of yet, but he has the look, the sound, and the drive to be a success this year. He may be without a record deal now, but if the right people get an earshot of what he has offered thus far, it will not be too long before Sunroof has inked a contract. Remember the name and remember the tunes as there is a feeling Sunroof will make an impact in the music scene for years to come.

New Hollow Is The Future and The Future Looks Good

@NewHollowBand is a trio comprised of Mookie Clouse, Chad Blashford, and Evan West who have just inked a deal with Epic Records, the former label of Flickerstick, Michael Jackson, and Bliss 66. On their Facebook page, New Hollow mentions The Smiths, The Naked And Famous, and HAIM as some of their influences. On what should be a surefire Top 40 Pop and Alternative hit “She Ain’t You”, the group channels successful young-but-veteran band Lifehouse. “She Ain’t You” won the Breakthrough Song Of 2013 Award from Sirius XM’s The Pulse. Based on that song alone, the band should have an excellent 2014 with all new ears hearing their tunes.

New Hollow’s success started several years ago with three consecutive trips to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Sales Chart, all with minimal to no radio airplay. This goes to show the superb marketing the band has been fortunate to have. Now that the group has a deal with Epic, will this translate into full-length CD sales? Only time will tell. It is the one thing that has plagued young bands in years past. Those groups might have had a song or two that received some heavy play on the music video channels and the radio, but the tracks did not resonate with enough paying consumers and the group loses its contract. Sales, sales, and sales are the name of the game these days and these blokes know how to play it.

A sense of the pride about New Hollow is that this is considered a “local” band. Their hometown of New Albany is a Columbus suburb in central Ohio. There has been a bevy of great talent to come out of the area. Watershed, Willie Phoenix, Howlin’ Maggie, Frostiva, The Sun, and Sean Benjamin are just a handful that come to mind. In this day and age, these young men have the best chance to succeed with all the various means to make money. There was no YouTube and iTunes when some of these artists were making their way through the scene. Here’s to New Hollow’s success in the past, the present, and a very bright future based on what has been seen and heard thus far.

Can-Am Connection 2.0 Should Have A Giant Year

Big Little Lions (@BigLittleLions) are a duo made up of a native Canadian and an Ohioan and expectations are high in 2014. Helen Austin and Paul Otten have displayed a mere taste of what is to come in the next several months and it is pure radio gold. If record companies and Music Directors know what is good for them, they will strongly consider giving this tandem the spotlight they have earned.

For instance, the song “This Road With You” demonstrates the group’s ability to pull off a Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros vibe with significantly less personnel. This twosome’s folksy pop tune would fit right in with other Adult Top 40 acts such as Boy, Walk Off The Earth, Rusted Root, among others. One ought to really take notice of the song featured in the above video as “The Way Home” is a brilliant track that, with the right kind of promotion, has the legs to breakthrough as a Hot AC smash.

Big Little Lions are off to a great start with over 16,000 Twitter followers and a #1 ranking in Canada on ReverbNation. Look for their record Paper Cage featuring both masterpieces and then some. This team of Otten and Austin is bound for some huge things and listeners will be grateful for being part of the ride.