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Samantha Leon - s/t (2017)




Written by Kevin Webber, posted by blog admin

The debut EP from Samantha Leon comes with “Bright Yellow Shoes” and there are two versions of this and five other epic tracks to wrap your ears around. It’s a pop sensation with inflections of R&B and rap, intertwined together for some appealing melodic and occasionally beat-driven songs. She is from the NY area and keeps her influences in her back pocket, some of them you can clearly make out and others not so much. But this is one big way to start, because she weaves magic all about each of the songs. There isn’t much holding back either, some of it sounds like she’s been around for thirty years or more, and some of it lesser, but it hits right between the old and the new school.

“Bright Yellow Shoes” opens and closes the disc with a perfect way in and out, surrounded by some peaks and valleys. The opening version gets the whole vibe going and there is nothing substandard to follow. If “High” is not your glass of wine, then there is always the following “Run Away” which I find to be the best track. Opinions vary but for my money it flows better than the rest, but they are all not far behind. This can be said about any of them, but that is my call’s perception. I find it the most epic songwriting effort and delivery.

“Perfect” is another title worth mention, as it gets deeper, with a spot from Danny Matos, and he nails it spot on. This track, along with the opener and the former are worth the price alone but if I had to mention the lowest point for me it would be “Hello, Goodbye.” But even that track has compelling elements to be fair. The disc rides along with the songs featuring not only great vocals but tons of fine playing too. It’s just worth giving them all a take for what they’re worth. Maybe your highs and lows will land in different places. It’s all good either way, and it’s only her first of what will be many paving stones.

“Bright Yellow Shoes (Full Band Version)” is a slinky and softer version, but plays more off the former of the same title. It serves to get what you’ve already heard, more inside your head, and it works. Samantha Leon has much going on and if you like older soft rock artists kicked up by more contemporary artists like Adele, you’ll get it. There’s a lot to enjoy on this debut, and even though some of it contains strong language, it’s done in the best taste possible. If it is something that stays with her as she rises, that is yet to be heard. But it doesn’t take away from all the other qualities on often including the melancholy closer with some fine guitar called “Glad/Sober.” It comes recommended for that too.

Grade: B+

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Swirl’s recent video for their single “Rise Up” highlights all of the qualities that brought the band to the attention of Ditch Day’s producers. The popular movie highlights three songs from the Southern California four piece and represents some of their biggest exposure yet. It follows on the heels of their self-titled release and the songs selected for inclusion on the film soundtrack represent the quality of that release quite well. The band consists of lead singer Alfred Ramirez, guitarist Duane “DT” Jones”, bassist Shane Carlson, and drummer Brian “Bam Bam” Jones. Their vivid and muscular hard rock veers into outright metal at certain points, but Swirl never goes in for the mindless bash and thud sound so common to lesser bands in this genre. Th…