Situations like this make me feel extremely fortunate to have such talented friends. Check it: many moons ago, I got an email from my Urbanizm labelmate JM with some song demos he was working on. One of them, “likeflying.mp3,” particularly caught my eye (well, my ears) due to it being super-chill and better than anything I ever could have written. Fast forward a few years and Joshua has released Waveform 4, the fourth album in his Waveform chipdisc series – complete with a vintage SNES-sounding, enhanced and completed It’s Like Flying. Without hyperbole, I’ve enjoyed every song on every Waveform EP, but (perhaps due to my “history” with it, or simply cuz it’s that good) It’s Like Flying is my favorite song of them all.
PURCHASE: JOSHUA MORSE – IT’S LIKE FLYING
Given that SmoothedOut started as a venue to showcase stuff I’m listening to, I’m always (pleasantly) surprised and flattered when I receive info from artists and/or their camps requesting be featured. Tess Henley was one of those cases, and now we’ve got Georgia-based singer DiiJai. Between hosting radio shows and even appearing at the Democratic National Convention, he’s got a hell of a resume; more importantly – as By Myself proves – he’s got a ton of talent too. This DeRon Woods-produced jam has got a modern spin on the early-90s-R&B sound, and has a great message too. I’m glad DiiJai’s team reached out to me, otherwise I may not have found out about him. Be sure to listen to the EPs and mixtapes on his Bandcamp page, and be on the lookout for his next EP, C.O.L.O.R.S.
PURCHASE: DIIJAI – BY MYSELF
I can’t believe it’s been just about a year since Lydia released her (awesome) CAESAR album. Since then she’s been all over the place and making a big name for herself. And while I’ve dug the St. Louis music video that’s brought her so much notoriety, this is the video I’ve been waiting for. Lottery‘s got an upbeat feel to it that the video enhances, and – like I mentioned in the CAESAR write-up – when LC sings, she has the ability to make you feel what she’s talking about, which you don’t get from a lot of singers.
If you haven’t done so yet, do yourself a favor and download the CAESAR album. Maybe if we’re lucky, we’ll even get another video or two from her!
PURCHASE: LYDIA CAESAR – LOTTERY
When OC ReMix drops an arrangement album, you already know there’s bound to be a ton of great tunes on it. Final Fantasy VI: Balance and Ruin is no exception. On A Glimmer of Hope (one of a few album tracks that I’m sure will get some shine on the site). my friend and labelmate JM joins forces with Jeff Ball and Laura “Flute Link” Intravia to bring the chill factor to ‘Searching For Friends.’ The e-piano is a homerun here, and when it’s combined with Jeff’s violin and Laura’s flute skillz, you’ve got what’s come to be my favorite track on the album. I wasn’t terribly familiar with Laura’s talents before this project dropped, but she’s got a new fan in me.
Like I said, there are sure to be more Balance and Ruin songs hitting the front page sooner rather than later, but until then, I strongly recommend copping the whole thing (for free!) at http://ff6.ocremix.org.
So, if you couldn’t tell from the last couple times I’ve written about her, I’m a big fan of Tess Henley. So naturally, I was all over her High Heels & Sneakers album when it was released. I’d say the best quality of this whole album is the sense of fun it exudes; that is, when you listen to it, you can really feel that Tess and her band are having a genuinely good time performing – and isn’t that what music is about?
It’s a challenge to pick just one track as the standout – Daydreaming and From the Get Go, which I’ve covered before, are both featured on this album; in addition to those songs, I did find myself vibing extra hard to Who Are You (which seems to be the next single) and Above.
Here’s the bottom line: If you like great soul music with a positive vibe to it, cop this album. If you’re the type that prefers artists with a co-sign, Dice Raw from The Roots vouches for Miss Henley. Honestly, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you DON’T get this.
PURCHASE: TESS HENLEY – HIGH HEELS & SNEAKERS
Seriously, Dale North can do NO wrong. Silly lyrics notwithstanding, Persona 4 already has an incredible soundtrack (seriously, just listen to the original song Dale remixed), but Mr. Destructoid definitely turned it up as he’s done time and time again. Maybe some more Persona love is in the future?
So am I just going to move on like the last 3 months of inactivity never happened? Yes. Yes I am.
There are more important things to talk about, like Tess‘s new single, From the Get Go. I’m still in love with the sound that Tess and her band have put together. It’s kinda old-school, but still kinda fresh and new. If this is your first time getting to know her, I HIGHLY recommend checking out this song as well as her previous single, Daydreaming, then joining me in watching her journey to success.
PURCHASE: TESS HENLEY – FROM THE GET GO
STREAM / DOWNLOAD: LYDIA CAESAR – ST. LOUIS
If you’d told me earlier this year that Lydia‘s CAESAR album would have been released for almost three weeks before I posted it, I’d have thought you were nuts…but embarrassingly enough, that’s what happened. =(
It’s not a surprise that Lydia is one of my favorite singers: her song Masterpiece was the first song I featured on this site, she’s allowed Torae to make a SmoothedOut quality track, and her #7DaysOfCaesar campaign was the most consistently that I ever updated the site. All those songs/features/videos have lead Lydia to what all singers look forward to: the debut album. LC has put together a hell of a project; she tackles a series of different styles (you can hear rock, blues, hip hop, and gospel vibes mixed in with her standard R&B fare), but she manages to have them blend without giving the album a pretentious “listen to me, I’m so diverse!” kinda way. Her singing and songwriting is top notch on CAESAR as well; not only does she have a knack for not just singing really well, when she’s really feeling what she’s singing, she lets it out to where the listen can feel it too…I’ve found that to be one of MJB‘s best qualities, so Lydia’s in great company. As for standout tracks, there are a few, but I’ll showcase two: Lottery, the album’s first single, has a contemporary vibe that the “radio” crowd can get into, and St. Louis…well shit, just listen to it.
There’s CAESAR, ladies and gentleman. Lydia hit a homerun with her debut, and is sure to keep her fans satisfied until the next time she’s at bat.
STREAM / DOWNLOAD: LYDIA CAESAR – CAESAR
I like when random people follow SmoothedOut on Twitter. Tess was one of those random people a couple weeks ago, and when I decided to check out her website, my mind was definitely blown. She’s got an old-school style that I can definitely rock to, and the fact that she’s relatively low-key with such talent is actually quite scary. But then again, if she wasn’t so low-key, she might not have found my little site here, so everything works out! I’m looking forward to what else Tess has planned for the future.
PURCHASE: TESS HENLEY – DAYDREAMING