Single Review – Nataliya Nikitenko – Oil & Water

With a sound as striking and bold as her aesthetic, pop singer-songwriter Nataliya Nikitenko is releasing her debut single, “Oil & Water,” on December 18th. While this may be her first single release, Nataliya is no stranger to the music industry. Lauded for her work on hit singles by artists like Little Mix, Anne-Marie, A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Tori Kelly, and more, Nataliya has spent the last few years honing her craft and is now ready to step out from behind the scenes.

“Oil & Water” is a beautiful, cinematic pop ballad that showcases Nataliya’s rich vocals and notable songwriting prowess. Explaining the inspiration behind the track, she writes,

“Oil and water will always separate. No matter how hard you try. Deep down I knew that about the relationship I was in long before I was out of it.” 

Born in Ukraine, raised in Australia, and now settled in Los Angeles, Nataliya Nikitenko, byname of Nataliya Phillips, has lived a life rooted in the arts. Growing up, she was a national ballroom dance champion and was singing and dancing in state and national competitions, telethons and live performances with her performing arts school. As a teen, she became a regular cast member on the Australian TV shows ‘Trapped’ and ’Castaway.’ Her success as an actress led to her decision to move to Los Angeles, where she continued to pursue creativity in all its forms. She eventually chose to focus her attention on songwriting and signed her first publishing deal with Kobalt Music.

After penning songs like Little Mix’s “No More Sad Songs (ft. Machine Gun Kelly)” and “Heavy” by Anne-Marie, among other hit singles, Nataliya took a step back from songwriting for others, put a pen to paper, and explored what her own artist project would look like. She went back to basics, relying primarily on her vocals and accompanying piano, and began to bare her experiences, pain, and strength, resulting in her first single, “Oil & Water.”

This track is just one of the most haunting and beautiful I’ve heard this year. Having read through the press release a few times, I had to go re-read a few parts and think for a moment the tracks Nikitenko has written because ‘Oil And Water’ is definitely in that same vein as those previously but with this, she has her voice right here for the whole world to hear and I don’t know if we’re ready for what will be a powerhouse of a performer. What comes together in the final third of a track are the vocals of someone you can imagine singing this to an audience and when we hear that live, it’ll be such a powerful one, we won’t be able to ignore for a second.

It’s her devotion the track has not just to the lyrics but the music which is just so very haunting almost as if it’s similar to a ghost story in a way the atmosphere plays out and the evocative imagery that will come to mind makes it all the more beautiful to be listening to.

Rating: 4/5

Check out ‘Oil & Water’ Below’ and you can listen to the track via Apple Music and Spotify.

Introducing: Covey

Tom Freeman, the Brooklyn-based British artist and musician known as Covey—has had a weird year. He did a Tour To Nobody, playing shows in rural locations across the American northeast for, well, nobody. He recorded the audio and video, turning the audio into a record, and using the video to launch a series of TikTok videos.

The latter started to find its audience, but it wasn’t until Freeman started posting videos about his upcoming album Class Of Cardinal Sin that fans truly began to respond. Suddenly, the videos were lighting up––this intro video alone has over 18.8M views. Only a few weeks later, Covey had amassed over 1 million followers on the platform, each tuning in to learn about (and swap theories concerning) the increasingly intricate semi-fictional universe Freeman is building through the record.

Today Covey shares the debut single from Class Of Cardinal Sin, “Cut On The Crease.” It opens the record with a humming vein of neon synth before Freeman’s guitar stirs, building and then giving way to marching snare and bass that explode in a trumpet-laden climax. 

“Benjamin and Gabe’s stories were the first two in the TikTok series so they laid the foundation and Suzie’s story wrapped it all up whilst finally providing an explanation for all the deaths, so it felt natural that these were the characters we chose to bring to life in the music video.” says Tom Freeman.  “Plus these characters were some fan favoUrites. I’m excited for fans to see the stories told in this totally different medium and couldn’t be happier with how it turned out, the personalities definitely come across in the video how I intended them to and how fans have come to know them. Through all the lore, fan theories, cosplay and fan art, the character identities have only gotten more and more vivid, so much so that they began to transcend their small toy bodies even before this video.”

The cover of Class Of Cardinal Sin features a diorama depicting what, at first glance, appears to be a simple class graduation photo, complete with a blackboard with white lettering at the front. Upon inspection though, the classmates are in disrepair. Some are missing limbs; others are casting satanist spells; and most have a human body beneath the head of a creature. Still, they’re dressed and arranged like students, grotesque and miserable.

Freeman created the scene from top to bottom: he ordered the figurines, Frankensteined them to make new ones, hand-painted them all, and arranged them into the class photo. Each figurine is a character with a lengthy backstory, and most collide with the other characters in the photo.

“High school was such a shitty time for me and I always saw it as aiding so many parts of what went wrong for me as an adult, problems I have to this day,” says Freeman. “Class of Cardinal Sin is the place you are when you’re in high school, and you graduate from all of those things into adulthood, but because of all the troubles that you experienced, you graduate to have all of these problems. ‘Congratulations, you got your degree in depression and anxiety.’ I thought it was a fun concept.”

Freeman chose the name Covey after the street on which he grew up in England. There, dealing with a fractured family life, Freeman found comfort in a cassette of Enema of the State and miniature painting of WarCraft figurines. “I came from a broken home,” he says. “Me painting those miniatures and doing those hobbies was definitely a huge escape for me.”

The home, the class photo, the songs: these are all part of a network of synapses that comprise Class Of Cardinal Sin, refracted through Freeman’s acerbic, wrenchingly sharp storytelling. This storytelling is backed by major-key melodies realised on acoustic and electric guitars, bass and warbling keys, percussion that shifts from gentle to titanic. 

Class Of Cardinal Sin is that rare, comforting object that smashes the depressing-but-delightful button in the brain that trauma-rock seems always to be pawing at. Manned entirely by Freeman, Covey courses through brash, bright indie rock, riotous folk-punk, giddy pop-punk, and serene Midwestern emo. It’s a gnarled, endearing, acute patchwork, recalling the best bits of Neutral Milk Hotel, The Mountain Goats, Death Cab For Cutie, AJJ, Elliott Smith, and Blink-182. Upon relocating to the US and landing in Boston for school in 2010, Covey was eventually conceived and managed to connect to listeners through Freeman’s own brand of folk-rock which drew inspiration from artists like Neutral Milk Hotel, The Smiths, and Nick Drake. Since then, Covey has gone on to release 2 full-length albums which have received praise from publications such as Paste, The Wild Honey Pie, Allston Pudding, All Things Go, PopMatters, and The 405, which noted Covey as “one of the more intriguing indie folk-rock projects of the past few years.” Covey has shared the bill with nationally touring artists such as Hozier, Briston Maroney, Summer Salt, and Vagabon. 

Check out the Cover Art and Tracklisting below.

1. Cut On The Crease
2. 1991
3. Why Am I Alive?
4. Four Dollar Sandwich
5. Sam Jam
6. Point Mutation
7. Crooked Spine
8. Local Anesthesia
9. Sound Of A Gun
10. Marzipan Pills

Pre-Orders for ‘Class Of Cardinal Sin’ are available via Covey’s Online Store.

Canadian Retrowave Artist Riotron Delivers Surprise Holiday Single

With over 13.5 million streams for his wonderfully weird ‘I’m Sorry’ video featuring actor/comedian Tom Green (watch it here), over 8 million views for his high concept “Dark Highway” clip, and acclaim for remixes by Wuki and Black Caviar, Canadian retrowave pop artist Riotron returns with a surprise holiday single titled “Silent Night Angel.”

Riotron’s Jeff Fettes says, “For me, the holiday season is magical, but also intense and full of surprises. This is my version of a carol.”

The brainchild of singer/songwriter Jeff Fettes, Riotron is an electro-pop project from Winnipeg, Canada that combines elements of 80s synthwave, EDM, and even some jazz into a unique sound. The name is derived from the hit song ‘Rio’ by Duran Duran and the 1982 fantasy sci-fi film Tron. Look for more music and stunning visuals from Riotron coming soon.

Stream Riotron’s New Holiday Single, ‘Silent Night Angel’ via Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal.

Sizzy Rocket Covers Green Day’s ‘Brain Stew’ Live From An Abandoned Theme Park

Recently, Sizzy Rocket teamed up with Moment House to create an unforgettable virtual concert experience. The virtual concert, titled ANARCHY: COME TO LIFE, was shot in one continuous take at the abandoned Lake Dolores Water Park. Today, Sizzy is releasing an explosive cover video of Green Day’s “Brain Stew,” which she performed as a part of last night’s virtual concert.

Sizzy Rocket’s third studio album, ANARCHY, was released earlier this year to rave reviews from fans and tastemakers alike. The 10-track album has been praised as “an in-your-face sucker punch that captures the swinging pendulum of heartbreak” (PAPER), “a rebellious collection of pop/punk/grunge/hip-hop/genre-blending tracks” (PRIDE), and “genre-blending, Spotify-era punk” (Subvrt Magazine). During a period where touring has become temporarily obsolete, the one-time event marked a chance for fans to see ANARCHY performed live from the ultimate punk dreamscape.

ANARCHY: COME TO LIFE was made possible by Moment House, a new live-streaming platform created last year by students/graduates from the USC Jimmy Iovine & Dr. Dre Academy for the Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation, and backed by top tier Silicon Valley and music industry investors, including Scooter Braun, Troy Carter, and Jared Leto. Its intention is to create special, ticketed experiences (Moments) for artists’ fans, no matter where they are in the world. This year they have hosted performances by artists like Halsey, blackbear, YUNGBLUD, and Omar Apollo. 

Napalm Records Expands Rock & Metal Empire with Acquisition of SPV

Internationally esteemed heavy rock and metal record labels Napalm Records Handels GmbH and SPV GmbH are pleased to announce that they have joined forces, combining decades of renowned expertise and passion for music, their artists, and those who inspire it all – the fans. Napalm Records’ acquisition of SPV was completed at the end of November 2020 and represents a logical step in the Austrian company’s global strategy. 

Long-established company SPV, founded in 1984 by Manfred Schütz, along with its current subsidiary labels such as Steamhammer (featuring a roster including Sodom, Running Wild, Magnum, Axel Rudi Pell, Rage) and Long Branch Records (featuring artists such as  Agent Fresco, The Intersphere, The Hirsch Effekt, Silvertomb, A Pale Horse Named Death), is now part of the Napalm Records family. The company’s current location in Hannover, Germany and the SPV team around Managing Director Frank Uhle will maintain their structure and, in regard to new distribution partners and labels, be expanded in the future.

Napalm Records CEO Markus Riedler states:
“The continuation and expansion of SPV GmbH as a distributor and the strengthening of the in-house labels are our major priorities. We will combine all forces, and link them with the power and worldwide network of Napalm Records in order to positively shape the future together. The employees of SPV are music-savvy, extremely experienced experts who are needed, now more than ever, to survive in these turbulent times on the international market. Together with Managing Director Frank Uhle and his team, we will seize the opportunities that currently present themselves and face the ever-growing challenges that the modern music market brings with it. In the ever-changing music landscape, we will continue to deliver our strong digital setup alongside our partners The Orchard, and also continue to provide strong physical product distribution for both our retail partners and the fans worldwide via our mailorder stores.
We have purposefully launched and implemented this major project under difficult conditions in 2020. This was a great team effort, for which I would like to thank everyone involved, in particular to the attorneys Prof. Pascal Charles Amann (Napalm Records) and Joris Brand (SPV). For Napalm Records, this acquisition is without a doubt an extraordinary, historic moment!”

SPV Managing Director Frank Uhle adds:
“With Napalm Records, we have found a synergistically perfect partner for our artists, bands and labels. The international setup and the additional reach and power of Napalm‘s marketing capabilities mean an important upgrade for SPV in tackling future tasks. I look forward to working with Markus Riedler and the affiliated teams to further strengthen and expand our position in the market.”

Drones Release New Single ‘Epitaph’

Drones’ forthcoming album ‘Our Hell Is Right Here’ is an extremely personal journey for vocalist Lois McDougall and the latest single to be revealed from the record is no exception. “‘Epitaph’ is the emo anthem of our new record,” says McDougall. “The umbrella term ‘mental health’ is so widespread and complex that it can be hard to pinpoint the exact problem that one person is experiencing. That’s why conversation is so important to try and unwrap the layers of each individual‘s struggles. Personally, I’ve done a lot of exploring over the last few years to try and find out which wires are crossed for me and since writing this song I have finally found some appeasing answers. A diagnosis can really help free you from the spiraling mess that depression can cause, and writing Epitaph was just one step of that process for me.”

Crammed with high-octane punk anthems, ‘Our Hell Is Right Here’ will be released February 12, 2021 via Thousand Islands Records in North America with Lockjaw Records releasing the full length in the UK. 

“It’s been a pretty rough ride for the past couple of years,” says vocalist Lois McDougall when looking back on the journey the band have been on to get to this point. “But I struggle with claiming my problems and sadness as valid because they are disproportionate to the danger and loss that many face every day. It got to the point where I was almost ashamed to write songs about my own life. However, I’m learning that personal care and self-worth is not something to be diminished. There are songs on this album that I had to write for my own therapy. Whilst writing this record, I went through a divorce, lost a family member and was battling with my own mental health. At the same time, it felt like the world was falling apart. ‘Our Hell Is Right Here’ is the product of my experiences over the past few months. There’s a lot of sadness on this record, but I can now look back and celebrate who I have become in spite of it all.”

The album’s title track ‘Our Hell Is Right Here’ – an emphatic condemnation of abuses of power, featuring a guest turn from Petrol Girls’ Ren Aldridge – is out now too. And a further album track – ‘Josephine’ – was also released several weeks ago. It’s another deeply personal journey with McDougall, addressing her past unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Its accompanying music video features intricate models of each band member, crafted by animator William Davies, embarking on a journey to another world.

Since their inception, Drones have been building a name for themselves with their powerfully energetic live shows and unique punk-fueled post-hardcore stylings. Their highly-conceptual debut album ‘Exiled’ was released in 2018 and packed a punch. From playing underground squats to appearing on festival stages, Drones are more than ready to hit the road again when the current climate allows. The band have already supported the likes of Marmozets, Neck Deep, Gallows, Funeral For A Friend, Mallory Knox, Young Guns and H2O, as well as playing Download festival and packing out their own headline shows.

Pre-Order Drones Record ‘Our Hell Is Right Here’ via the following link.

Stream ‘Epitaph’ below.

Hail The Sun Share Reimagined Versions Of ‘Falling On Deaf Ears’ & ‘Secret Wars’

Today, Hail The Sun shared the final two tracks in their Reimagined series, “Falling on Deaf Ears” and “Secret Wars”. The band shines a new light on each track, taking these heavily technical songs and turning them into beautiful acoustic arrangements. Working with producer Allen Casillas (VIS) on Reimagined, the project first came to fruition through the band’s Patreon. You can stream the full Reimagined series here now.

Hail The Sun have been keeping busy throughout 2020, spending most of their time working on the follow-up to 2018’s critically-acclaimed Mental Knife, set for release next year on Equal Vision Records. On the upcoming material, the band promises a larger sound that blurs genre lines as well as some of their most personal lyrical content to date. Fans should stay tuned as 2021 is set to be another big year for Hail The Sun.

Speaking on Reimagined, guitarist Shane Gann stated:

Both songs center around debatable topics; “Falling on Deaf Ears” is about questioning religion, whereas “Secret Wars” is about questioning those in positions of power, namely those who hold office. Each song is extremely close to our hearts, since as a band, we believe in taking nothing at face value. While we are in no way anti-religion or anti-government, we are also not comfortable accepting all that we are told, and considering how much goes on behind closed doors, and how much abuse of power has taken place throughout history, we like to promote a message of healthy skepticism. 

Check out ‘Falling On Deaf Ears’ below.

And Here’s ‘Secret Wars’.

You need the full series? Here’s the link.

Introducing: Burning Pools

Burning Pools, the new band led by former Smashing Pumpkins bassist Ginger Pooley, has been long in the making. She and husband Kristopher Pooley had been demoing songs showcasing Ginger’s penchant for empowering protest lyrics clothed in pop hooks, when they decided to reach out to guitarist Max Bernstein. He promptly added some tracks with a sub-octave fuzz permanently in the “on” position. Instantly, the three decided that Kris (a keyboard player by trade) would dust off his drum kit as this was not a synth operation —and a band was born.

The band’s three members share a long list of studio and touring credits and collectively have worked with rock legends like Tom Morello, Siouxsie Sioux, Slash, Morrissey, Liz Phair, Scott Weiland, Tegan and Sara, and bands like Jane’s Addiction and Weezer. They’ve also had their hands in the pop world, though it is clear that its influence is positively nil. Their unique brand of noisy power-pop with doomy riffs charts a different sonic course, harkening more to the loud drum and guitar squalls that Kris and Ginger experienced as newlyweds on Smashing Pumpkins tours.

Their latest single “Woman” is a universal song about the power of women and the daily fight they face for equality. Ginger, the singer, sings from a place of power and defiance. She has faced many of the challenges that women deal with everyday in our patriarchal society and dares her challengers to bring it on. In the second verse she writes from her personal hardships. Hours after giving birth to her daughter, she was tasked with the responsibility of planning her own mother’s funeral, who passed away while Ginger was in labor. The males in her family were not up for the task, leaving her to both create life and bury life in the same week. These events had a profound effect on her. Though traumatizing, it helped her understand her power more deeply. The line, “Don’t you know what I can do?” is both personal and universal. Coming from a place of experience it also speaks to the antagonists women face everywhere around the world everyday. According to Ginger, this song proclaims, “I am strong. I am powerful. I can do anything. Don’t mess with me. I am Woman.”

Bands like Burning Pools are supposed to play shows — and to the list of the world’s upended plans of 2020 we add the dream of taking these songs beyond streaming platforms to the stage where a power trio can actually be one in real time. For now, Burning Pools will be releasing singles from their forthcoming EP.

The video is just dark Punk through and through and empowering for the times to reflect what society might coming to all the while still with music in the world, there’s always hope. It’s no secret that some of the best music come out in the times such as this right now and Burning Pools might just be the most exciting act that’s come to my attention to close out the year. Expect big things from the unfiltered huge Bass sounds of Burning Pools in the near future.

Check Out Mayday Parade Perform ‘I’m With You’ From Decatur City Church

Last year Mayday Parade released the beautiful track ‘I’m With You’.

This is what it sounded like.

Well now, Derek Sanders (Vocals) and Jake Bundrick (Drums) visited the Decatur City Church in Decatur, Georgia for a piano-led rendition of the track.

It’s so so beautiful. Check it out below.

Beartooth Release Remixed & Remastered Version Of Their ‘Aggressive’ Record

In 2016, Beartooth released their phenomenal record ‘Aggressive’. In Between their pounding debut ‘Disgusting’ and their rowdy ‘Disease’, it’s one track that elevated the band to the next level.

Last week the band released a brand new remixed and remastered version of the record on Vinyl, and you know what happened? It SOLD OUT immidiately.

And now due to popular demand, the version has been added to streaming services.

It sound bigger, badder and bolder than ever before.

Check out the new record below.

In addition to this news, Shomo confirmed the bands new record is confirmed to be finished!