It Came From ReverbNation - The Ripple Music-ReverbNation Playlist Part 1

Welcome waveriders.  Once again the good folks at ReverbNation asked us to participate in a promotion for their millions of bands and artists.  Who ever was interested had 30 days to submit one song to us.  I then promised that I'd go through each submission and write a quick line about the 25 that caught my ear.

1052 artists submitted from all genres.  Originally, I only wanted to review heavy rock stuff, you know, Ripple Music record label kinda stuff, but wouldn't you know it, I simply fell in love with some of the voices, songs, craft and melodies of some very surprising (to me) submissions. I don't really like country, yet a country singer named Maggie Baugh grabbed my ears and refused to let go. I've been bored with too many emo-ish singer songwriters and intended to skip the whole scene, but a 17 year old phenom named Charlie Leavy was way, way too talented to ignore.  Not looking for any indie, folk or alternative yet you'll find amazing songwriters/performers like Van Wild, Flora Cash, and Sirsy on the list.   And despite the fact that ReverbNation ranks submissions by how many fans, facebook/followers they have, etc, I intentionally ignored those rankings and often started at the bottom of the list where heartfelt soul like Rodney Hubbard were just waiting to be found.

In fact, I found so many surprises that I had to petition to increase the acceptance from 25 to 29. Simply couldn't let any of these go.

Its a very mixed, eclectic playlist for all kinds of moods.  In other words, it's what the Ripple Effect is all about.

My apologies to all the others who submitted.  Some of these cuts were brutal for me.  Once I got the list down to about 100 the process trudged to a snail's pace.   I wanted to keep them all, but simply couldn't.

So, without further ado, the Ripple Music ReverbNation playlist, part 1.  Part 2 plays next week.

Dream Aria - Gypsy Heart

Dream Aria is well known to us at Ripple, having reviewed their debut LP so, so many years ago.  With "Gypsy Heart" they do what they've always done so well, combine heavy rocking riffs with exotic textures of Eastern instrumentation and angelic female lead vocals of Ann Burstyn.  Delicate momments of pop melodies merge with some chugging riffs to set us off on a magic flying carpet of mysterious rock.

Van Wild - Cherry Tree

Every thing about this songs screams to me that it should be a hit.  If Ripple put out music like this, I'd sign her in a second.  Stunningly beautiful, blessed with a voice that is instantly captivating, and a song that has melody, rock, and a damn fine vocal hook.  A bluesy, rocking swagger of pop/rock perfection.   I've heard more from Van Wild, and it's all just as catchy, some rocks more, some a bit blusier, and all good.  If Alannah Myles can have a hit in 1989 with Black Velvet, then Van Wild should be a can't miss.  Any A&R people out there?   Snap her up quick and come thank me later.

Flora Cash - I'll be With You

A starkly beautiful, spartan duet of indy folk that is mesmerizing in it's melodic grace.  Shpresa and Cole's vocals intertwine and elevate and float and harmonize and it's all just so damn good.  Sure, it's in the Mumford and Sons vein, but nothing about this tune sounds like it's a "jump on the bandwagon"  attempt at a hit.  It's so heartfelt and swings wtih it's own natural grace.  And when her vocals come in following sequence with his, the juxtaposition of their two tones grabs me somewhere visceral.  Lovely stuff.

Charlie Leavy - The Way Life is

Man, did I freak out when I found out that this stunning talent is only 17 years old.   Man, the voice, the songwriting, the music, it's all so mature, so age-weathered, so, so  . . . so damn perfect.  It might seem trite to hear a 17 year old sing "this is the way life is" over a light blues beat, but nothing here seems forced.   There's a wisdom to her, a seeing well beyond her years.  Best of all,  I could listen to Charlie sing for hours and hours.  Her tone reaches all the right place with a deep honesty that belays her years.  And what a damn catchy melody.  Wow.  Again, if Ripple Music put out singer-songwriter stuff, she'd be signed today, or rather, yesterday.  Can't wait to see where she goes with her music next.

Devilstrip - Go

Now, before you think I'm going soft, let's break the playlist with the first of our rockers.  Perhaps not as heavy as you might expect from me, but Devilstrip manage to find that perfect balance of heavy rocking riffs, gruff vocals and accessible melodies without ever drifting into taboo-Nickleback territory.   When they riff, they riff, when they're tuneful they're tuneful.  The the hook of "Go!" simply works.  When they blast that in there, I go to where the rock is.

Mark Stone & The Dirty Country Band - Whiskey Talkin'

Let's keep it heavy now.  Not in volume but in tone.  Mark Stone may call his band the Dirty Country Band, but this ain't country.  It's downright dirty and gritty southern-fried blues rock.  Less Hank II and more like Ripple favorites Wes Ford and the Foundry.  Big guitars, whiskey-stained vocal chords, chapped leather, biker chains and tattooed babes.  Cigarette smoke hangs heavy over the bar, brass knuckles fill the pockets.  Bad decisions are made and lips get bloodied.  Join in on this bar fight.

Sirsy - Cannonball

Holy crap, did this one grab me.  I haven't been so hooked by such an obviously poppy song since the time I first heard groove rockers Modern Science.  Cannonball, well  . . . it bowls me over with it's poppy hooks, "Baby" choral break, thumping back beat and funky guitar work.  Melanie Krahmer's vocals are perfectly set for the song with enough tone and edge to make sure the song never descends into pop fodder, but stays meaty and juicy.  Meanwhile, Rich Libutti (the band is only a two piece) never loses sight of the funk, freaking it out on his guitar.  Put this one on and just feel the groove.  My ass is already out of the chair.   Don't watch . . . .

Mongrel - Consumed

You're gonna think I got a thing for female vocals, but that's not usually the case.  Just a bunch of talented women jumped to the front of my listening.  Mongrel are no exception.  You want to rock?  You're still swinging your ass to Sirsy?   Well, keep that ass moving but thrust some head banging into the mix.  Riding a charging, near industrial riff, powered rock and roll beat and a punked up attitude, Mongrel rage with all the fury their name would suggest.  Jessica sings with a touch of snot and anger in her throat as the boys rage all around her with a blitzkreig of guitars. And they never lose that open door where even non-metal fans can jump in.

Maggie Baugh - Midnight Train

Now this is country through and through.  And like I said, I don't like country.  Or at least I didn't think I did.  So let's refine, let's make it clear that I don't like bad country but damn if there's more country out there that's half as good as Midnight Train by Maggie Baugh then you can just go ahead and sign me up.  Starting off with that loose strung guitar, then that mournful violin (or I guess I should call it a fiddle) it all builds until Maggie comes in to join the fray.  And damn, if she doesn't have one of those voices that just makes me want to shake and quiver.   Tuneful, forceful and it cracks and squeaks in all the right places to add a ton of nuance to her singing.  I had the melody stuck in my head for days after hearing this the first time.  And best of all, it's got a bluesy soul all playing out over some beautiful guitar work and that damn nice vio--er.. . fiddle.  Suddenly I'm a country fan.

Big Red Beaver - Goat

Back to the heavy.  Need something to clear Maggie's voice from the earworm canal in my brain, and Big Red Beaver should do nicely.  I'd just been hearing a little about these heavy, stoner, sludge rockers recently when they submitted this song and I was damn thrilled to learn that they're local for me.  After hearing Goat, I know I'll be checking them out soon.  If they bring it live half as hard and heavy as they do on this track they'll be a treat.  Dragging their primal asses out of some tepid southern sludge swamp, full of searing guitars, truck stop vocals, haze and fuzz for days, and a bone structure of pure post-Sabbath heaviness, Big Red Beaver are a big red furry heavy treat.

Element A440 - Porn Star

I knew I was in for a sleazy, industrial sexfest when Porn Star started with the quote, "Excuse me, I don't mean to bother you, but would you mind slam fucking me about an hour."  Yes, sets the tone well for this orgy of singed synths, spewed riffs and body-fluid drenched beats.  Element A440 follow in the semen-soaked, tenderloin streets of NIN, Rammstein, and Marilyn Manson, with electronics flaring, guitars penetrating, bass probing and vocals gargling all within a sex-adled, drug-fueled haze of decadence. Porn samples litter the song like discarded sex toys.  So, filthy, you'll need to bathe after each listen.  And you can dance to the whole damn thing.   Really, does industrial grind get any better than that?

The Black Cross Brotherhood - Hillbilly State of Mind

Since we're raging, let's keep it going.   Pure southern metal, all belched fire and brimstone from The Black Cross Brotherhood.  Howitzer aimed guitars fire away mercilessly at my brainstem while the boys unleash an armies worth of terror from the regiments of Down, Metallica and even the Black Label Society.   Vocals are thick, but clean enough to not be off-puting and the guitar work never lets up.  Perhaps surprisingly enough, coming on the heals of the dance freak out that is Element A440, hearing The Black Cross Brotherhood serves to show the uninitiated that true metal can have a killer groove as well as adrenaline, and damn it, you could actually swing your ass to this.  It wouldn't be pretty, but you could do it.

Cosmic Shakedown - Carrying On

Ok.  Ears bleeding.  Need to calm it down a touch.  But not too much!!  Cosmic Shakedown, as their name implies bring on a comet-dust trail of post-70's psychedelic rock and some heavy space jamming.   A certain acrid smoke drifts and trails around the electrifying guitar leads, pulsating bass and soulful swing.  Hendrix lives here, as does Zeppelin, and a universe of guitar gods and spaced psych legends who came before them, and Cosmic Shakedown distills their essence into their own purely unique sludgy groove of  Southern Psychedelic Stoner bliss.  Lava lamps pump away.  Incense burns.  The cosmos await . . .

Xzile - Around the World

Now for what may be the biggest surprise, but a perfect ending to this playlist.  A nice calm down but keeping that essential beat going . . . gently into the night.   Xzile caught me with his even flow, and strong tone.   A cool sample and smooth vocal line brings us in and runs throughout that is totally chill, while Xzile does this thing over the top.  I don't listen to a ton of rap/hip hop but when I do I want beats, intelligent lyrics, and a smooth beat.  Xzile brings all that.  Now the lyrics may not be what you'd want to play to your toddler for a bedtime story, but they're real not fake.  Nothing feels forced here, and the song is all about the beat, the flow, and the sample.  Not a producer-driven calamity of noises and manufactured hooks to try to make a few bucks.  I can't help but feel that if I ever met Xzile, he'd have a story to tell and the scars to back it up.  Real.  Gritty.  Smooth.   A perfect end to our night.



Mark Stone said…
Thanks for the review on Whiskey Talkin' I definitely appreciate it!!!