Name: Adam Bernard Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States About Me: Music journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie artists. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome. See my complete profile
Summer is traditionally a fantastic time of year for music. There’s something about the combination of it being concert season, the weather being beautiful, and a general sense of freeness that makes you want to crank up the volume. For this edition of Five Albums in Five Minutes I have releases from hip-hop artists Klokwize and CookBook, an electronic dance effort from Blaqk Audio, something to rock out to by Tonight Alive, and a soulful submission from Mozella, for your volume cranking consideration. As usual, this column only focuses on the best of the best, so there’s no negativity here, just great music for you to check out.
Klokwize Hood Hippie Release Date: May 22nd, 2012
Do you remember the group Shwayze, and their 2009 hit “Buzzin?” Do you remember thinking it was pretty cool, but you certainly wouldn’t mind if the emceeing was a little better and the music had a little more to it? I realize I just painted a fairly specific picture here, but if you’re one of the folks who can see that picture, and like the concept, you’re gonna love Klokwize, and his album Hood Hippie. Klokwize could easily be described as a “cool cat,” and with his gravelly voice he spits rhymes about nearly every aspect of life, from the good times to the bad, and he does so while being backed by an impressive band that bridges the gap between the beach vibe of a Shwayze, and the hard rock vibe many hip-hop bands have. Hood Hippie is the kind of album you can spin every day and not get tired of. Whether you want it as background music, or to pay attention to the lyrics, it can serve either purpose, and you’ll enjoy it either way.
Blaqk Audio Bright Black Heaven Release Date: September 11th, 2012
I was a huge fan of Blaqk Audio’s first album, CexCells, which was released back in 2007, and was wondering if we were ever going to get another release from them. As a side project of AFI duo Davey Havok and Jade Puget, I honestly thought it could have been a one-off, an experiment never to be revisited again. Thankfully, they have finally given us a follow up with Bright Black Heaven. The vibe of Blaqk Audio is still what I like to describe as what the musical baby of Depeche Mode and Alice Deejay would sound like. They feature late 90s/early 2000s dance production, sometimes diving into darker soundscapes, with really crisp vocals that can border on haunting whenever Havok decides to turn that emotion on. The music is really incredible, and unique in today’s scene. It’s definitely worth your listening time.
Tonight Alive What Are You So Scared Of? Release Date: February 14th, 2012
I can’t remember the last time I played an album every day for a week straight, but that’s exactly what I did after picking up Tonight Alive’s What Are You So Scared Of?, and the acoustic version of the album, at this year’s Warped Tour. The Aussie band faces inevitable comparisons to Paramore, but that’s OK, cuz Paramore’s a badass band, and so it Tonight Alive. Tonight Alive might actually actually rock a little harder than their American counterparts, and lead singer Jenna McDougall is a personality filled frontwoman who can get a listener to rally with her with every word she sings. Topically, What Are You So Scared Of? doesn’t stray very far from the pop punk staples of growing up, and relationships, although there’s one heartbreaking song titled “Amelia” about a friend of theirs who passed away. The continuity with the rest of the pop punk genre isn’t a bad thing, though. We need music like this so we can shout out our emotions, and Tonight Alive makes the perfect songs to do that to.
CookBook The Smell of Success Release Date: July 31st, 2012
I wish there were more artists in hip-hop like CookBook. He’s a good dude in real life who doesn’t change one iota in his music. There is zero posturing on The Smell of Success, although there is a scratch-n-sniff CD for those who get a physical copy. A veteran of the group LA Symphony, CookBook is unafraid to show his emotions, and on The Smell of Success he address everything from dealing with the passing of his father, to questions regarding faith. There are plenty of party jams, and good time songs mixed in, as well, and even a few notable guest appearances from the likes of Chino XL, Open Mike Eagle, and Guilty Simpson, to name a few. The really great thing about CookBook’s music is that he rhymes in such a way so as to make sure the listeners understands every word he’s saying, which is good, because sometimes those words are pretty important. Of course, sometimes they’re about having fun, but we all need fun, too.
Mozella The Brian Holland Sessions Release Date: July 24th, 2012
Mozella’s The Brian Holland Sessions is the very cool collaborative effort between soulful singer Mozella and legendary Motown songwriter and producer Brian Holland. The result is an album of ten songs that mix modern adult-contemporary pop with classic Motown and feature old school vocals that are vaguely reminiscent of Duffy (who deserves to be way more famous than she currently is). The entire album sounds like it could be from another time, and this works to really transport the listener and engulf them in a vibe for the full 37+ minutes of its runtime. When it’s over, and you look around your surroundings, it’s almost a disappointment to see you’re in modern times. That’s how effective The Brian Holland Sessions is at altering your reality. It’s such a cool project, and even if you’re perfectly happy living in 2012, you’ll enjoy the momentary trip back in time.
B-Listers are a select group of artists that were featured in my Artist Of The Week series that ran every Monday from April of '06 to April of '11. All of these artists have two things in common; extreme talent, and a flight path far too under the radar for my liking. They took on the title of B-Listers as they embraced being featured by me, Adam B. Check out the AOTW Archives for all the interviews.