Time For A Change

Yes, I know, this has been a while in coming.  A few in the indie world knew this was coming, and I’ve written and rewritten it a dozen times.  Quite honestly, there is so much to be said on this subject that I briefly considered writing an entire book on the subject.  Instead, I’ll subject you to dribs and drabs over the next few months.  The root of the issue presented here is that the entire music industry needs to change.

The deeper I plunge into the world of independent music, the more I am astounded by the antiquated and absurd rules in place, touted as there to ‘protect’ the artists, when in fact they hinder the artists’ ability to successfully market their music.  The rules exist at many layers, but there are a few that deserve special mention.

The Publishing Rights Organizations.    Here in the United States, these would be ASCAP, BMI and Soundstream ,most notably.  Their stated purpose is to protect the rights of composers and musicians by requiring licensing for public performance or purchase.  On the surface, a very noble endeavor, but as you dig in deeper, you see that the terms of that licensing benefits neither the artist or the consumer.

To give a little history, ASCAP holds the record for the longest running antitrust consent decree in US history.  Dating back to the 1940’s, it sets in place guidelines that no longer pertain to the business as it is designed today.  Over that 70 years, royalties have fallen far behind the pace of inflation, having only been adjusted twice in the span of that time.  It is no wonder that artists receive nothing close to meaningful compensation for the broadcast of their music.

In addition, the PRO’s have put in place ridiculous rules that hinder those trying to showcase music.  BNI requires a station’s website to close when playing music over the internet.  I find it hard to understand how this affects the performance of music.  Is it their position that you cannot multitask while listening to music?  Internet stations are limited in the amount of time they may use and the quantity of music they may play over a period of time.  Internet stations may not take requests and play them immediately, according to the terms of the licensing in place with the PRO’s.  All of this, by the way, is not in place for terrestrial AM and FM stations.  Collusion?  Possibly.  Creation of an environment that creates competitive advantages for some?  More than likely.

And I have yet to talk about the disadvantage of the artist in these scenarios.  In previous articles, I’ve discussed the economics of having your music on services such as Spotify.  For most emerging musicians, the financial results are abysmal.  More on that later.  The proliferation of ‘free’ music has lined the pockets of advertisers and content providers, but done nothing to compensate artists appropriately.  And the PRO’s sit back silent on the subject, while collecting their fees.  Where is the advocacy for the artists they claim to protect?

In short, the PRO’s need to come into line with the 21st century.  Just because technology allows for the free streaming of music does not make it right (use the movie industry as an example).  We have conditioned the American consumer to believe that access to music at no charge to them is an unalienable right.

The Music Streaming Services.  Here is where I really start losing my mind.  Services like Spotify and iTunes are creating another uncompetitive market, and doing so by throwing around the power of their scale.  Paying pennies on the dollar for downloaded music to the artist, they have created a pricing structure that is financially unfeasible for the artist, and unlikely to be duplicated by new players to the game.

Spotify and iTunes add nothing to the creative or entertainment process, as most radio does.  They are simply huge repositories of music, many times played for free by their customers.  Those they do charge typically pay $10 a month for unlimited music.  Do I need to remind anyone that $10 would not have covered the cost of a single album thirty years ago? And yet, because technology allows it, we have an environment where my cost per album can be a penny or two, depending on my listening habits.  I have access to an exhaustive library of music.  Artists are forced to list their music on these streamers because ‘everyone else does it.’  And for most, it is charity work.

Regardless of an artist’s wish to put their music out for free, iTunes still charges 99 cents for that download.  Let’s examine this for a minute.  The artist is willing to give away the music at no charge, but Apple still feels the need to exact a 100% profit from the consumer, at the same price as it would be if they were paying the artist.  However, ‘paying’ might be a little too strong, as the artist is lucky to get more than a couple of cents from that iTunes download.  The scale of economics is clearly not slanted to compensate the artist for their work, and totally structured for the benefit of the corporate machine.

Fortunately for those of us looking for great new music, the true musicians do not make money the primary concern, and continue to provide us with a vast wealth of incredible music.  However, their willingness to look the other way does not make it right.  The machine needs to change, or more accurately, the current machine needs to be dismantled and replaced with one that benefits both the artist and consumer.  One that allows for the ‘discovery’ of new music, and does so in an environment where the talented artist is able to flourish.  Unfortunately, that day may never come, unless we force the change.  More on that next time.

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Coz, The Slacker

If nothing else, it’s time for a few updates.  I have been pretty much MIA for the last few weeks, both here and on social media.  I have been personally disappointed with myself for appearing to bail out on the musicians I have come to know and love, and it has frustrated me to no end to think that I was letting folks down.  As I announced almost a month ago, I joined the staff of Music Mafia Radio as an on-air ‘personality’.  It has been many, many years since I’ve been behind a microphone with the intent of entertaining people, and I’m still settling into my new role.  The most entertaining (and frustrating) aspect of this new adventure has been watching myself struggle a bit with the technology.  Entertaining, because technology is what I do, and the stupid mistakes I was making were enough to make me laugh.  Frustrating, because I have run into some technical issues that have impacted the quality of my shows.  The good news is that it all appears to be behind me (fingers crossed) and I can get back into the swing of things.  I took this on with the promise to myself that nothing else I was doing would suffer.  Unfortunately, things did suffer for a couple of weeks, but everything is back on track.  Be prepared for the renewed onslaught of social media posts.  I am back!!

I do need to take time and thank the staff of Music Mafia Radio for the awesome support they have provided me with.  Working with a group of people that I’ve never laid eyes on is something completely new to me, and they have been wonderful in dealing with my somewhat eclectic (okay, maybe not somewhat) personality.  Kim and Rose are doing incredible things with social media and the musicmafiaradio.net website.  And I would be lying if I didn’t admit to a deep admiration of Rick Landstrom.  In addition to being one of the most entertaining people on the internet, his passion and drive to not only take the station, but the entire indie music movement, to the next level is incredible to watch.  I knew going in they were passionate about indie music, but it has been amazing to see that passion behind the scenes in action.  It is a non-stop enthusiasm that is extremely contagious.  Now that I have all of my technical issues behind me, I can’t wait to be able to jump in and do my fair share!

And so, the adventure continues.  I am back out on the trail, looking for even more great music to discover, share, and persuade people to try out.  Now, I have the added pleasure of being able to play some of that great music for the entire world to hear, which brings me to my big ask of the musicians reading this.  Music Mafia Radio is always looking for the best of the best, and many of you reading this fall into that category.  The station currently runs on a ‘submission only’ basis- we only play the artists that have submitted their music.  If you’re interested, head over to musicmafiaradio.net and hit the “Contact” link for information on how to submit your music.  There are some of you I am dying to play on the air!!

Coz

Follow Cozmic Debris on Facebook and Twitter (@DebrisCozmic).  Be sure to tune in to Cozmic Debris every Tuesday and Thursday night at 8:00pm Eastern, exclusively on Music Mafia Radio.  Also, tune into Rick Landstrom every Monday, 8:00pm Eastern, to hear the results of the Musc Mafia Radio Top 30 LIstener’s poll.  Visit http://www.musicmafiaradio.net to hear the show and learn more about Music Mafia Radio. 

 

An Announcement From Coz

When I started on the musical adventure that is Cozmic Debris, I was ill prepared for what the journey would entail.  The time commitment is, at times, daunting and the very high expectations I’ve set for myself have frequently seemed unattainable.  However, the blessings have far outweighed the nuisances.  I’ve come to not only love the indie music scene, but I’ve made many connections that are blossoming into true friendships.  I’ve become obsessed with sharing every last bit of great music I can find, whether it be through social media or here on the blog.  In short, I’ve become a huge indie music addict!

For the last month or so, I hit one of those plateaus that are to be expected in an endeavor like this.  Growth occurs in spurts, and in between are flat periods of little or no growth.  Those times can be discouraging, and during a few of those periods in the past, I quite honestly found myself questioning my own effectiveness in doing the best possible job of bringing indie music to the forefront.  Obviously, I never threw in the towel, as I’m probably doing more at this point in time than any other point in this project.  I survived them all and grew stronger because of them.

This current time of flatness has taken on a much different form.  I’ve spent the time looking at what I’m currently doing and trying to figure out what I can add to the mix to take Cozmic Debris to the next level.  What could I do to bring even more visibility to the great and amazing talent that surrounds us?  All I had to do was reach out to one of those previously mentioned connections/friendships and ask a single question to find the answer, which leads to the announcement I have to make.

Earlier today, I officially joined the staff of Music Mafia Radio.  There’s still a lot of work to figure out exactly what that is going to look like, but we have it on a fast track to make it happen quickly.  I’ve committed to do some programming, and it only makes sense for me to help with their social media exposure (after all, that’s what I do).  I am excited beyond words at the opportunity, which is balanced by the anxiety and nerves associated with getting behind the microphone and doing live programming.  In my head, I know exactly what I want it to be, but the next week or so will be dedicated to shaking off more than a few years of rust.

For those not familiar with Music Mafia Radio, it is one of the most entertaining internet radio stations/podcasts out there that are exclusively indie, hosted on spreaker.com.  On top of that, the format includes all styles and genres of music, much like Cozmic Debris.  But most important to me is that the station has personality.  It is not one of those mindless automated playlist ‘stations’ that litter the internet, and it is not just someone simply announcing songs and then playing them (lather, rinse, repeat).  Instead, the approach of owner/personality Rick Landstrom is to recreate what I call the Golden Age of FM radio(1970-86), where the content between songs was as entertaining as the music itself.  However, the focus of every show is the music itself, and the support given to the artists in their catalog is a delight to watch.  They heavily promote artists, both on social media and their webpage musicmafiaradio.net.   The mainstays of their programming are their weekly Top 30 fan poll countdown and a series of artist interviews that allow musicians a great forum to discuss their music and give fans an insight into the world of the independent musician.  Both shows are wildly popular with fans and artists alike.

Broadcasting on Spreaker also gives them the unique ability to have an active group chat going on during their shows.  This chat provides yet another avenue for fans to interact with musicians, as it is common for both to be present on any given night.  I’ve personally witnessed artists planning collaborative works in the chat.  It adds an entirely new aspect to the ‘radio’ experience, one that is creating a true community of fans and artists.  And it is this sense of community, along with the pure entertainment value of the shows themselves, that made my decision to join the team a no-brainer.

Helping to grow the station is my number one priority.  Providing additional airtime throughout the week devoted to playing more indie artists is also right at the top of the list.  This is a pretty big jump for me, but it’s one leap of faith that I believe is an important next step in the evolution of Cozmic Debris.  Prayers that I don’t fall flat on my face are greatly appreciated.

I’ll share more details here as they become available.  Now it’s time to hit the studio and brush up just a little.  At least I don’t have to deal with splicing tape this time around!

For more information about Music Mafia Radio, visit musicmafiaradio.net.  The weekly Top 30 Countdown airs live Monday nights at 8:00pm Eastern Time on spreaker.com. 

What’s Coz Listening To This Week, Volume 2

Okay, I promised a new Soundcloud playlist, and here it is. As I look at it, I was definitely in an 80’s alt rock/ 90’s pop frame of mind for most of it, but you also find a few other gems in amongst the rest. Hope you enjoy!  30 incredible artists, including:

BATTS
Jeaux London
Nigel Brown
Essential End
Color Theory
Sariah
Riff Reign
Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors
Biotin Babies
Dandelion Charm
Future Generations
Matt Mercer
Tamanie Dove
TeamMate
Plevyak
Catholic Action
Traffic In My Head
Sub-Radio
Red Light Effect
The Japanese House
HYPERDOSE
Wide Eyed Boy
The March Divide
Josh Taerk
Kill For Eden
Meadowlark
Ballerina Black
The Aces
Fizzy Blood
Kylie Hughes

 

What’s Coz Listening To This Week?

Something a little fun to start the week.  I may do a Soundcloud and Reverbnation playlist later in the week as well.  Don’t fret if you didn’t make this week’s playlist- I’ll be changing it up every week.

Want to know what Coz is listening to this week on Spotify? It’s just two hours of some of the greatest indie music on the planet! You’re crazy if you don’t check it out.  Search for “CozList” on Spotify or click the player below.

Included are songs by:

Adam Strelow
The Band of Heathens
Matt Maloof
Charlie Millikin
460 South
Adam Stern
Blue Helix
Dave Jordan & The NIA
Che Orton
Doctor Paul Constantine
Zack Walther Band
Black Cadillac Kings
Ships Have Sailed
The Pussywillows
Swampbox
Kylie Nicole
Raftree
Saint Luke’s Drifters
Chase Walker Band
Jefferson Coker
Cliff Wheeler
The Puss Puss Band
Camryn
Almost July
Fickle Friends
Massive
Royal Canoe
Flowers in Syrup
Near Deaf Experience
The Grizzled Mighty

The Rock Star Lifestyle

Ladies and gentlemen, church is now in session.

Imagine being a talented drafting engineer, possessing the highest level of skill possible, responsible for some of the most talked about work in your field.  How would you survive if all of your works were readily available on the internet for free, while the company you worked for (who is not paying you a dime) was raking in millions from the sale of your work?  Would you take a day job to support your passion, or would you simply stop doing it because it was not financially viable?

I’ll take a lot of flack for that last paragraph, with many saying that my example is ridiculous and not credible.  A drafting engineer would never have to work for free, that’s preposterous! To those that think it silly, replace the words “drafting engineer” with “indie musician” and let me know how ridiculous it looks now.  What it becomes by making that replacement is the real world, at least for the indie musician.

The current economy of music is built on an archaic and outdated model.  The perception of the arts in general in modern culture presupposes a false sense of entitlement by the patron (a term I use very loosely here) to have unfettered and free access to whatever art form they seek.  The societal view is that because it is art, it should be produced for the public consumption, purely as a labor of love.

Newsflash, folks- love doesn’t pay the rent.  Go to the local grocery store and let me know how many pounds of ground beef you can get for love.  Go to your bank and ask what the currency exchange rate is for love to dollars.  For the very large majority of musicians out there, the bills are paid by some other endeavor that takes valuable time away from the creative process.  For some, the decision to live on that razor’s edge between subsistence and poverty is consciously made to be able to devote as much time as possible to the art.  The public’s image of a musician is often a Mick Jagger or Michael Jackson, living a rock star, jet setting, opulent life.  For today’s musician, nothing could be further from the truth.

Now, I’ll get even more pushback for that last little bit, mostly from the musicians themselves.  That pushback is justified, because to the great majority of them, it is the love for the art form itself that drives them.  Honestly , that is the only reason they should be doing it.  But, the love of the art should not be construed as something that should be done for the greater good out of some sense of social welfare.  It comes at a price, and that price should not be the sole responsibility of the musician to bear.

In 2015, Spotify reported $2.1B in revenue.  In 2015, Spotify reported paying out $1.8B of that revenue to the record companies.  Not the artists, but the record companies.  From there, the artists were at the mercy of the record company to receive whatever small percentage of the total pot that is called for.  For an independent artist to earn $10 for an album on Spotify, a single user would need to stream the album around 1200 times.  That’s listening to the album once a day, every day for almost four years! Keep in mind that the independent musician has spent many thousands of their own dollars to produce said album, meaning that millions of song streams are required just to break even.  The system is clearly broken.

I regularly hear of musicians, whose quarterly or semi-annually check from the performance rights folks comes in under $5.00 for everything available to the public. Interesting to note that the great bulk of the revenue is not sitting in the pockets of those who provide the service (Spotify), or those that created the art (the artist).  God forbid if someone were to recommend advertising between songs to help either end of the spectrum get their fair share.  The public demands immediate, continuous, uninterrupted, unlimited streaming of every song known to mankind, and will very loudly protest the $9.99 per month subscription fee required to get such a service.  In their minds, it should be free.  The public forgets a time not all that long ago where that $9.99 wouldn’t have even purchased a new release album.

There are many evils in the music business, some more horrible than others.  But, I contend it is public perception and the accompanying lack of education that is the most dangerous pitfall out there for any independent artist.  We must change the way society views our artists.  They should be held as a priceless treasure, valued for their positive contributions to society, and not as some throwaway commodity that isn’t worthy of our real patronage (in the true sense of the word this time).  Think about that the next time you pass by an artist’s merchandise table.  That CD you buy could literally be the difference between eating and not eating that night for your favorite musician.  That may sound rather dramatic, and doesn’t apply in many cases. But it is a sad reality for more incredibly talented musicians than it should be.

Okay, I’m done ranting for now.  No promises on how long it will last.  I leave you with two simple questions.

What would life be like totally devoid of music?

Are you willing to truly support the artists who bring a smile to your face?

 

Album Review: Fred Chandler Music, “Tekno Teq”

As musicians, there are those people we cross paths with that leave a lasting impression, and mold us as a person and a musician.  For me, Fred Chandler was one of those people.  Fred and I go back more than 40 years, pretty much starting in the business together.  Easily the most talented guitarist I ever played with, Fred Chandler has the amazing ability to take anything with strings and a fretboard and create beautiful music with it.  Technical proficiency combined with emotion that reaches the root of any song he performs, Fred draws his audience in with a God-given ability that very few possess on this planet.

With all of that being said, I was eager to hear Fred’s new album, “Tekno Teq.”   I sat down, waiting to be taken on a musical rock journey, with screaming guitars, riffing bass and a rock drum beat worthy of moving your body to.  I was expecting him to show the world his technical proficiency as a player.    I couldn’t have been more wrong and further from the truth.  Don’t get me wrong, he absolutely kills it with every instrument he picks up.  Instead, I got a look into the mind of a composer and orchestrator, hearing and feeling my way through the album song by song, seeing the world through his eyes.  To make that kind of complete connection with recorded music is rare, and this album is the perfect vehicle for anybody willing to take a wild musical ride.

“Tekno Teq” defies categorization, as it literally covers the gamut of musical styles, often falling into an area of alternative orchestrated music normally reserved for artist like Frank Zappa.  From “Satin Dreams’, a jazzy song with some great old school disco hooks and fun solo trade offs between Fred on violin and guitar and saxophonist Ric Santiago, to “Punkass Funkass”, which has a sound and feel reminiscent of classic Parliament, Fred and his crew take us all over the place musically.  As I listen to him vocally, I am always drawn to the image of a young, defiant Neil Diamond, with that richness of sound and emotional presentation that connects the listener to the message.

The thing that keeps drawing me back to this album is Fred’s command of orchestrating the arrangements of each song.  Instead of going with the tried and true instrumentations for the style he is trying to emulate, he takes things to an entirely different level harmonically, building in new layers of sound that perfectly complement the melody.  Each song moves in so many directions underneath, yet it is all perfectly balanced and creates a very cool sound seldom heard in today’s commercial world.

Fred has a long and illustrious career as a performer, and a reputation for being one of the best string players on the planet.  “Tekno Teq” now establishes Fred as a composer, and does so with power and conviction.  For the lover of original and creative music, it gets no better than this.  Don’t pass it up.

 

For more information about Fred Chandler Music, and to purchase his latest album, “Tekno Teq”, visit his website at http://www.fredchandlermusic.com. 

New Song Releases

I haven’t done this in a while, and I promise to do it on a more frequent basis.  There is a ton of great new indie music being released, and what follows is just a very, very small sample.  I decided to make it a little easier for the reader to find these artists by actually including the music in the article.  Do them all a favor by checking them out, becoming a fan and buying their music.

Static in Verona, “Madeline”  The latest from Chicago alt pop sensation Static in Verona.  High energy, feel good greatness that makes you want to move and hit the replay button over and over again.

 

 Red Light Effect, “Full of Nothing”  Reminiscent of their last indie hit, “Phosphorus”, “Full of Nothing” continues in this band’s tradition of providing driving alternative rock with great hooks.

 

Camryn, “Glow”  More alt pop from LA artist Camryn.  Great minimalist instrumental tracks (acoustic guitar in a pop song), strong vocals and flawless harmonies make for a very unique and satisfying sound.

 

Melissa Ramski, “Masquerade”  A little change of pace, as I move to a Nashville staple.  Everything you would hope for in a country hit- sexy outlaw country vocals, great instrumentals combined with a flawless mix.  This is the new sound of modern country.

 

Wide Eyed Boy, “Loving You Is So Easy”  An old school funk style groove with some great modern twists.  Soulful alternative rock at its finest!

 

Almost July, “Growing Up”  New England sensation Almost July with their latest alt pop offering.  Please explain to me why this isn’t being played on every pop/dance radio station on an hourly basis!

 

Diamante, “Coming In Hot”  The long awaited new release by Diamante.  A little hard rock, a little pop, a whole lot of pure party music!

 

Tamanie Dove, “Dance In The Rain”  One of indie music’s most versatile vocalists, Tamanie goes back to her roots here and provides us with a wonderful old-time country waltz.  

 

The March Divide, “Tired Voice”  With a real fun feel of being on a sunny beach somewhere, another great alt indie hit from March Divide.  I love the real light instrumental arrangement, which allows the vocals to be the showcase of the song.

 

Fickle Friends, “Glue”  Easily the best pop group you have never heard of.  Precise arrangement, driving beat, tender yet powerful vocals all make for a dance hit sensation. 

 

Massive, “Calm Before The Storm”  Transport yourself back to the golden age of stadium rock with this new release by Aussie rockers Massive.  All the makings of a new rock anthem.

 

Concert Review- Saint Luke’s Drifters

Living in Colorado Springs, I don’t have many chances to catch a truly hot show, without dealing with the hassle of traveling in and out of Denver (which sucks) and the extremely late arrival time home when coming down from Denver (I need all the beauty sleep I can get).  It took a recent trip to Nashville and an accompanying road trip to Knoxville, TN to finally catch one of indie music’s truly hot acts- Saint Luke’s Drifters.  SLD recently played a set for the WDVX Blue Plate Special, and we were lucky enough to catch some incredible music live.

For those not familiar, Saint Luke’s Drifters is an eclectic collection of Tennessee area musicians, covering a wide variety of country and rock backgrounds.  Guitarist and vocalist Kenny Clark, bassist and vocalist Mitch Laney, drummer and vocalist Scott Kirk, and guitarist Johnny Beemiller bring a ton of musical experience and talent to the table. Despite their differences in backgrounds and playing styles, the band comes together perfectly to create an outlaw rock sound that even the legendary masters of rock would kill for.   Their grass roots Americana sound is one full of energy and passion, and their 2016 release, “Trials and Tribulations”, perfectly captures the personality of this band.  Recently named 2016 Artist of the Year by Music Mafia Radio, SLD has a reputation for putting on a killer live show.  They did not disappoint.

The WDVX Blue Plate Special is a weekly show showcasing regional and national independent talent.  Hosted in the Knoxville Visitor’s Center, it is a small and intimate venue, not the type of place you would expect to find a band known for its habit of turning up the volume.  However, the band did an incredible job of controlling the volume without sacrificing their overall sound, filling the room with great music without blowing the windows out of the place.  Playing multiple selections off their current album, including “Long Weekend”, “Battle of Wounded Knee” and “Heart of Stone”, they had the entire crowd rocking in their seats (and me singing along on more than one occasion).

With indie music, my biggest fear is always that the tricks and techniques used to record an album can’t be recreated in a live environment, leaving the listener with a stripped down version of their favorite songs when seeing a group in person.  My fears quickly dissipated within minutes of them taking the stage.  I was greeted with a mix and a full, rich sound that actually put the album to shame. The vocals were crisp, with full, in tune harmonies (extremely important to me), and the instrumentals were crisp, with each instrument easily heard in it’s own space.  Screaming guitar solos from both Kenny and Johnny were spot on and added a whole new level of greatness to the performance.  In essence, I was presented with a live product that very few well known acts would be able to reproduce in a similar environment.  Most importantly, the fun the band was obviously having on stage quickly consumed the audience.  Their energy on stage is infectious, and it quickly filled the room.  They left us longing for even more.

If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend Saint Luke’s Drifters as “must see music”.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

 

Saint Luke’s Drifters latest album, “Trials and Tribulations”, is available on Spotify, Reverbnation, iTunes, as well as many other online music retailers.

To learn more about Saint Luke’s Drifters, visit their website at http://www.saintlukesdrifters.com.

 

Album Review: Kylie Nicole, “Stay”

The dream of any blogger, social media influencer and lover of music is to find themselves in the situation of experiencing a brand new talent on the music scene that has the “it” factor.  To do your thing in a way that helps these obscure artists find some measure of success and help them grow their circle of exposure.  For me, having done all this for a short 6-7 months, I thought it to early for this to happen to me.  I was wrong.

Long story short- we took a night to drive down to Franklin, Tennessee to attend a Songwriters Showcase at The Whiskey Room Live, a bowling alley lounge that livestreams their showcases on the internet.  Three artist an hour, taking turns on the stage to play some of their own music.  Honestly, I had gone down to listen to Cletis Carr, a wonderful Australian musician I have been following for some time. In Cletis’ trio of musicians was this young lady in her twenties, stuck between two old guys.  Her name was Kylie Nicole.

Kylie Nicole Feltenberger had an unorthodox upbringing, growing up in a military family that moved frequently throughout her youth.  Now in her twenties, “Stay” explores the emotions of life as seen through the eyes of a young adult musician.  Most of the songs deal with the subject of love and relationships, and do so in a way that draws the listener in and connects to the feelings we have all experienced.

“Stay” is Kylie’s sophomore offering, a five song EP with a fantastic sound.  The title song showcases and highlights Kylie’s talent as a songwriter and singer.  The words beautifully capture the emotion of that one relationship that had the “it” potential, but faded away into something less perfect, less desirable.  The mixed emotions of this situation are perfectly captured by her sweet, thoughtful and moving vocals.  “Third Degree Burns” is what new contemporary country should sound like.  Her voice hints at a measured power that is very hard to come by, and it is backed by a powerhouse of sound that beautifully complements everything she is trying to accomplish vocally.  “Driftin'” has an island feel to it and works on so many levels, a fun song that causes arms, legs and heads to move to the beat.

From a production standpoint, this is as clean a mix as you can expect from a new artist, easily rivaling what you hear on commercial radio.  The balance is spot on, and the quality of musicianship behind the vocals is top studio quality.  Produced by Jeff Feltenberger and Jason Shaffer, with mixing and mastering by Shaffer.  The solo guitar of Dustin Douglas on “Hurricane” cuts through with the driving hard rock sound which is finding its way into today’s country music, and the Lap Steel and Dobro work of Alan Starner adds incredible depth and layers to “Stay”.   Combine all this with a very solid rhythm section of Ron Simasek (Drums), Jeff Feltenberger (Guitar) and Steve Feltenberger (Bass) and you have all the makings of a top rate sound, certainly worthy of mainstream attention.

But, the focus should be on the songwriting and singing of Kylie Nicole.  An incredible talent, and someone to keep an eye on.  I know I will.

Coz

“Stay” is available on Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music, and Kylie Nicole will soon be featured in rotation on Music Mafia Radio.