Now that the LA Music Critic Awards for the first half of 2017 have been put to bed, we can begin looking at submissions for the second half. With the exception of Maita’s Waterbearer, these albums will be considered for the second half awards, even though they were technically released in June 2017. They were unfortunately overlooked in the nearly 100 submissions for the first half, so we are giving them a fresh look now.
Artist Name: Maita
Album Name: Waterbearer
Label: Maita Music
Track Listing: 1. Kinder Than Most; 2. Geography; 3. Too Tired to Love You; 4. Burned Out Has Been; 5. Waterbearer
Review: Maria Maita-Keppeler is one half of the Americana duo The American West, but also is the lead singer of her own band, Maita. Her short five-song EP is a breath of fresh air in the female singer-songwriter genre, and bodes well for this budding artist. Her voice is haunting like Gillian Welch and Shannon Hurley, and is perfectly suited to the lyrics she has skillfully written. All five songs are perfect for a chill afternoon or night, enjoyed with a beer or wine, while the listener contemplates the meaning of life. Give her a listen and let us know what you think.
Recommendation: We definitely think this one is a keeper and recommend you Get it for your collection.
Artist Name: Scarlett Taylor
Album Name: III
Label: Borderline Musick
Genre: Alternate Pop
Track Listing: 1. I can Fly; 2. Children of the Sun; 3. Concrete Angels; 4. Orphan; 5. Unborn
Review: We reviewed her second album, Churches, last November. What we said then still goes, but Taylor continues to work on her style, and the lyrical content has gotten better. She is still not a radio friendly artist, but her music makes you stop and think about the issues she is addressing, and her unique musical background provides the perfect foundation for her truth. This album is dedicated to those who suffer from addiction, and the toll it takes on them and those who love them. She also continues to make interesting music videos that bring out the darkness in her music, and we think that she still has a lot to say. Our favorite cuts are “Children of the Sun” and “Concrete Angels,” and the music video for the latter is definitely worth checking out.
Recommendation: If you like your music dark, disturbing but relevant, than you should Get this album.
Artist Name: Garrison Starr
Album Name: What if There is no Destination
Track Listing: 1. Put Your Weapon Down; 2. Hollow; 3. Easy Mark; 4. All About You; 5. The Lucky One; 6. Tough Girl
Publicist: Red Boot PR
Review: From the opening notes of the powerful protest song, “Put Your Weapon Down,” it becomes quickly apparent that this is no ordinary indie artist. Starr is a woman on a mission, with a dynamic story to tell and a lesson to teach. Her voice is throaty and unique, carrying the truth of her words deep into your consciousness. Her musical background is simple but provides the necessary foundation for these liberating words. Starr is an indie artist who has come full circle, and is content in her DIY “indieness.” But that doesn’t mean the world is not taking notice of her music and her message, as indicated by her recent participation as part of Amy Pohler’s Smart Girls. We love everything on this EP, but especially “Put Your Weapon Down,” which was Starr’s response to the Pulse tragedy in Orlando last June. Stop and smell the roses while you listen to the wisdom of these songs.
Recommendation: This one is a total no-brainer. You NEED to Get it, now!
Artist Name: Vacant Home
Album Name: Reflect, Respond
Label: Mutant League Records
Genre: Post Hardcore Rock
Track Listing: 1. Lament; 2. Bliss; 3. Inner Peace; 4. Shiver; 5. Back Bay; 6. Reflect Respond; 7. Heirloom
Publicist: Earshot Media
Review: Vacant Home comes to us from Perth, Australia. Their music starts out as great indie rock, with stirring guitar riffs and pounding drums, providing a nice musical interlude. But then the Screamo vocals come in and the serene mood is lost. This is definitely an album for hard rock lovers. There are moments when the lyrics are sung, but they are lost amidst the angst and the screams. It is apparent that this bad is pissed off and wants the world to know it. Were it not for the screaming of the lyrics, we might actually be able to understand their message. Nevertheless, their instrumentation is strong, and make it worthy of a closer listen.
Recommendation: This is another artist that is not radio friendly. However, if you can understand the screaming, and like that kind of music, then this is a strong effort. For the rest of us, just Forget it.