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Julia McDonald - Gravity (2016)




Written by Jay Snyder, posted by blog admin

A 6-track indie/pop/dub spectacle is the fruit of Julia McDonald’s hard musical labor.  The songstress writes her own material and, at 19, is chasing and reaching her artistic goals with immense hunger.  This sweet vibration emanating from these six songs definitely have the pop hooks to catch a lot of ears, but those who listen closely will hear some other sounds developing in her arsenal that sets her apart from the crowded pack. 

The title track is all about feeling and how to build on it; beginning as a lone keyboard/vocal arrangement that benefits from an acoustic interjection or two, as the structure of the song congeals digital beats push the chorus to great heights and everything settles into place. It showcases McDonald’s talent for wringing all that she can out of a vocal melody or musical arrangement.  “Games” shifts the EP into a slinking, snaking groove that employs energetic guitar lines, snappy drum programming, lush synthesizer melodies and a prominent lyrical hook.  The way Julia makes quick runs through the verses and slower, more direct phrasing in the chorus craft a catchy number with multiple personalities agreeing for the good of the song.

Halting the tempos and going for a sing-song winner, “Pretty Committee” is all line and hook. Nothing sinks it. Undulating, swooping bass lines, minimal percussion and speckles of keyboard provide a compelling set-up in the verses before the chorus serves up a firm melody.  It’s pop without the pretense and instead of placing its chips on above-average hooks that bring pay-off in the chorus.  Elsewhere, “No Good for Me” features the most enticing vocal parts on the release while “Something to Talk About” equally balances the rock format with FM radio accoutrements and the beat-laden, digital dive of “Simpler Things” provides an atmosphere completely appropriate for its closing status.

Though the strength of the material leaves you wanting more songs and sometimes the production needs a little more push, Julia McDonald has dropped an awesome introductory record in Gravity.  She is already receiving deals from major television companies and getting her music played on radio stations across the country illustrating just how kinetic and catchy this 19 year old’s songs are.  Hopefully a full-length recording is on the way because McDonald has proven that she is more than able to stretch her songwriting to fit several different musical molds.

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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…