Pressures is the new album by Avid Light available now.
Avid Light releases an irresistible new album Pressures.
They grew up playing together in their church. And now they have a new album out. Pressures was released late October. Their sound is wrapped in beautiful melodies and anthemic harmonies. It is alternative rock in the style of bands like Muse, Coldplay, The 1975, Switchfoot, and Radiohead. In their quieter moments, their atmospheric sounds is comparable to Sigur Ros.
Pressures opens with Fear with sweeping chords and the tidal waves of sounds in the chorus part. Singer Chase Castleberry has awesome pipes especially when he hits the high notes with intensity and also sing in heartbreaking nuance. Fade Away is a potential radio hit as it is great to sing to. I found myself singing along and even though belting is not my strong point, it is really fun to do it with this song. I noticed that the guitars have luminous sound courtesy of Tanner Terhune. Strong Enough to Last is another fave ballad. I like the robust drums of Colton Baum. Journey has that soft intro that sounds like church bells but the beats catch you by surprise. It’s really awesome. It’s a nice track move your body to. And yes once again Castleberry steals the show with his amazing singing. I don’t know how they make it, but every song is catchy. I think you can play their record everywhere and get a positive response from people. Like they would say ” hey I just listen one time and I already memorize the melody.”
Walls has an operatic rock quality. It is due to that melodic line from the guitar that repeats all throughout the song. 110 has a warm cello and strings. The song is wrapped around the acoustic guitar. The poignant subject is further enhanced by the melody that reminds me of the sky lightening after the rain. This is the band’s masterpiece in my opinion. Ethereal instrumental sounds gather in Dream of Fire. Like wading a pond steeped in flowers under the noon sun, this song shines brightly with each listen. Rise and Fall is typical mainstream rock. Not really my favourite but I am sure it will appeal to people who are into complex rock melodies.
I like this band. Next assignment is to listen to their Christmas album!
Following the release of the senseless ep, Justin Griffith a.k.a. GOAT took my request for an interview. I admire how he handles his musical career and how he inspires other people to be passionate with what they do. His music is a fusion on Hip Hop, Alternative rock and Pop. Other than giving us tips on how to stay buoyant in the seas of challenges that face independent artists, he also gives us a glimpse into his project H4. You will learn about it as you read along.
1. How did you come up with the moniker GOAT and what’s the meaning behind it?
When I was around 8 years old, a childhood friend gave me the nickname GOAT. After watching Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, there’s a part where they say something about a “gnarly ole’ goat dude.” We started calling each other that and it stuck to me. For a long time, my friend Brent was the only person that called me that. I began playing in bands with him years later and the name spread. Back in probably 1998, I came up with an acronym for it – Grades Of Absolute Truth. So I didn’t choose goat, it was given to me and I gave it meaning later. Within the last few years, I noticed how many people think of evil things when they think about goats, which is completely deceiving regarding my music. That’s when I really started pushing the branding of Grades Of Absolute Truth more.
2. Can you tell us about your latest release and video?
Our new project, the senseless ep, is almost anaural social experiment. After recognizing my life was out-of-control and unhealthy, I decided to design a customized 40-day cleanse based on my weaknesses. I committed to specific diet restrictions and water intake, but also refrained from touching people, intimacy, listening to music, watching TV/movies, documented how many times I visually admired women, and more. I needed a change for myself and I wanted to build an inspirational bank to write from. We’re constantly on sensory overload and things bombard our senses every minute – marketing, advertising, entertainment – all targeting your cravings. I wanted to cleanse myself of some of that. I wanted to get back to the roots of what I feel like lifeshould be about. Less clutter, more substance minus substances.
Photo by Danny Duran
After I completed the senseLESS Cleanse, I designed five 48-hour self-induced experiments aimed to deaden one sense at a time. For example, I blind-folded myself for a weekend. It helped me appreciate my blessings more. The songs from the senseless ep are directly inspired by these experiences.
Our new video, “Hands Around My Throat,” is a story of struggle and addiction. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol, sex, food, or whatever…we all have vices. Once something has you by the throat, you’re finished until you make a decision to fight it. If you defeat it, you can’t ever let that issue out of sight because it’ll sneak back into you. “Lost in the darkness” is a phrase repeated throughout the song and Director Teddy Cool played with lighting and shadows to back that up. Glimpses of hope appear in the lyrics and the occasional shots with the bright white background drive that home. Roger Charo was in charge of editing and special effects – his post-production work blew me away. Lourdes Mabel did an amazing job of personifying struggle. We’ve heard several people comment on how creepy she played her role and that’s exactly what we were going for. If you don’t pay attention, you’ll miss Double J sporadically appearing in the shadows behind me. I also have to give a shout out to Jordan Palmer of JP2 Photography for makeup and Joel Salazar of Too Fresh Productions for putting in work behind-the-scenes.
3. How’s the music scene in Dallas these days?
It’s on a slow and steady incline. There are struggles like anywhere else, but the talent is thick here. I’ve read and heard that many critics feel like Dallas doesn’t have a sound. I see that as a strength. On the other hand, I’m definitely not a representative of mainstream thinking. I want diversity and multiple flavors to taste. This is my home, so I fully believe in what it can become. On any day of the week, there’s multiple shows to choose from.
4. You also play the guitar and other instruments, right? What other musical things do you do?
Yep, my first love was the guitar. I grew up listening to and idolizing musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Slash from Guns-n-Roses. That’s where my passion for music began. Then it slowly progressed into learning more about writing, singing, bass, piano, drums/percussion, sequencing, and production. Honestly, I’m just attracted to anything that has to do with music…it’s my life.
5. How challenging was the recording of the new EP compared to the rest?
The most challenging part of recording the senseless ep was the fact that Double J & I are both crazy perfectionists. That’s a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because now that it’s complete, it’s exactly how I envisioned it to be. It’s a curse because it took so long for us to agree that it was finished. With that said, I’ve never been so ready for that release date. With past projects, there were always things that I wish I had done. Not with this one, it was time.
6. You are also doing merchandising. I have seen the T-shirts and other things. Do you think this is necessary for artists in terms of propagating your ideas, style and brand?
Yes, I absolutely think it’s necessary. When someone believes in what you do enough to wear it across their chest, that’s powerful. That’s always been one of the coolest things people can do to support us. Because of that, I make it a consistent priority to release fresh and comfymerch – baseball tees, hoodies, thermals, t-shirts,racerback tanks, boy shorts,coozies, stickers, and more. Plus, it has opened the door to collaborate with visual artists and pushes usto be creative in another way.
7. What are the causes that you are passionate about?
Overall, I feel like we all need to lend a hand when we’re able to. Back in 2008, I foundedH4 (Hip Hop Helps Heal). It’s a non-profit collective built on the love of hip hop culture, where egos are left at home and the people involved become selfless. With close partnership with The Intelligent South, BumTheary,ArtLoveMagic, and more, we pledge to throw benefit shows annually to aid specific concerns of the community. We’ve raised and contributed thousands of dollars to organizations, such as Genesis Women’s Shelter, Toys For Tots, American Lung Association, National Breast Cancer Foundation, the Susan G.Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Salvation Army, and Children’s Medical Center. No one involved in our shows gets paid a penny and all profits go directly to the charity we chose. Hip hopfrequently has negative connotations attached to it, but we try to disprove that mentality the best we can.
8. What’s the best thing about playing live and meeting your listeners?
Playing live is an addiction and I go through withdrawals when I go long periods of time without it. Feeling the energy and connecting with people in the moment is amazing. When a listener tells me that a song has helped them through a tough time in their life, that’s one of the best feelings in the world. Music has always been a form of therapy for me. So when someone can relate to something I went through and it directly helps them, I think of it as turning something negative into a positive.
9. Who is your mentor?
I’ve never had anyone that I’d call a musical mentor. There are people that I’ve learned from, but only for short periods of time.
Dr. Paul Tucker and Dr. David Schwarz were two professors I learned a great deal from while studying music at UNT, but I’ve also learned from collaborating and consistently working with other lyricists and musicians. The internet is something that’s really contributed to my growth, but it’s probably stunted it in ways too. Tom Jackson, Derek Sivers, and John Oszajca are a few industry leaders that I’ve been following online for a while. They put amazing info out for indie musicians.
10. What’s your message to your readers?
I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to hear what I’m about. Please feel free to hit me up anytime, it’s always cool to connect. You can also sign up to get 7 free songs on my site. Check out the LIVE IN YOUR LIVING ROOM page while you’re there too!
For those who like listening to Sleepthief, Conjure One, Delerium, Blue Stone etc.)
Like its mythological name Longing for Orphues is a grand vision by Texas based musician Derek Smootz. This is his alter ego-the other one is a traditional Irish musician. The transporting melodies and use of studio genius to manipulate sounds are what makes the album Somnia an exciting release. The word itself means “dreams’ in Latin.
According to composer Derek Smootz: These are songs of dreams, of the night sky, of hopes and fears, of love lost and love found. These are songs about the beauty in a sometimes not-so-beautiful world.
Fire opens the album with its fiery instrumental and vocal beauty. The voice of Rebecca Smootz is further enhanced by harmonization. When she hits the high notes, she reminds me of Scottish singer Liz Fraser. The piano lines breathe all throughout. There are stops or pauses which makes this song spacey and relaxing.
Airy synth lines introduce Shine. I love use of reverb and echo. These effects are used tastefully. Like images paintings in watercolor the sounds melt and merge creating a diaphanous layers of atmosphere and imagination. Lisa Alexander lends her beautiful voice to this song.
Theremin-like sounds embellish The Walk. It has a marching tempo. “ I will hold you close until the stars and planets all turn to dust..and at the end of time there will just be us”. tThe catchy chorus rolls over and over again. This is definitely art pop at its best. Once again Rebecca Smootz perform the vocals here.
The Sea has evokes that feeling of suspense. Michelle Haché has a voice with lyric soprano quality. The electronic keys pulse all over this track that calling to mind sea bubbles bursting at the surface of tides. This track has an underwater feel. Makes me think that being enchanted by mermaids probably feels this way.
Then transport us to alien realm. I envision a huge flying saucer landing with colorful lights creating an aurora borealis effect. Derek Smootz is a synth master. He knows the kind of sonic combination that draws a feeling of the moment. The voice of Heather McCrocklin is washed in delay and echo creating an otherworldly listening experience. This is something in electronic music that no acoustic music could ever reproduce. There is that droning sound around 3:00 of this track. I think I saw whales and space ships while listening to that amazing drone sound.
The voice of Rebecca Smootz is back in Sand. It is a song about longing. Spiritual longing that is. “Endlessly I seek horizons”. I find myself relating to this song more and more as I listen to it several times. Derek doesn’t use the same synth effect in each track. He always brings something different in every track.
The introduction to Ghost has that of an old vinyl record with scratches. This song is about letting go. Karlyn McCutchan has a voice filled with empathy and angelic warmth. Only those who have undergone loss will understand what it means to be a ‘ghost”. But songs about loss and letting go are powerful because they are about polarity and change. “ I am so tired of haunting these walls and we have nothing left to say”. These words echo something deep and personal to me. And then “Let me go, let me fade away like a shadow into night” becomes total release.
At the Ending as the explanation in the liner notes: A glance behind. I realized even before reading that brief explanation in italics above that Somnia is actually about our life cycle. These are things we go through until we become who we are. Derek Smootz sings in this track. The only male voice in the company of female voices. How brave of him to sing about looking back with complete understanding. Very few of us can look at our past without anger or pain. “ As the last sunset and twilight dance , we will be the last falling leaves.” Fragile scenes caught within a song.
Broken Down is about mending. Once again we are warmed by the beautiful vocals of Meredith Ruduski amidst the swirling synths, electronic beeps and beats. “ I am bound to the earth and I watch you fly”. We are broken down when someone leaves us and while we have stages of grieving this song does it beautifully. Songwriting is indeed a beautiful and artistic way of expressing emotions. It might not be a process that can heal us but something good comes out of that art-so that others can bask under the light of its beauty.
Ivory Towers closes this album. You only realize the power of thine own self once you have been through the rough times. This is a song of experience and redemption. Nothing in life remains permanent. The only thing that’s permanent is your own self. The lovely vocals of Rebecca Smootz is like an expert hands of a healer. She reaches out into that part of our soul that is still pure and trusting despite the loss and pain we experienced falling out of love.
Somnia is an album that satisfies all aspects of emotions and moments that we go through in life. You can see that this is a perfect soundtrack for those moments: moments of discovery, ecstasy, loss and healing. Like a good karma, Derek Smootz showed me the beauty of life’s wisdom told in the form of an album. And that album is Somnia.
Known by the monicker b3nny in the Danish electro scene,Benny Bomstærk started learning the drums at the age of 7. He has involved himself in music for the past 20 years. It is only now that he is taking a course in the music conservatory and applying his self-taught technique along with Music Theory. His style isn’t what you would normally call ‘catchy’ or poppy but there is something within the atonal melodies and complicated beats that will drive your psyche to respond. Such primal reaction to his music is brought about by his own personality. He values subtlety and as a result, he is a type of musician who says a lot in between scales and beats.