The Pretty Reckless released their fourth studio album on February, 12, ending a several year wait for new music. Titled Death By Rock And Roll,” I knew that I and fans of The Pretty Reckless would not be disappointed. With 12 tracks, an average length of four and a half minutes per song, and features with Tom Morello, Matt Cameron, and Kim Thayil, Death By Rock And Roll is here to provide us with an incredible amount of rocking out.
The album kicks off with the title track, which we are all familiar with as it was released as a single previously. Somehow this means that “Death By Rock And Roll”may end up being only one of your many favorite songs on the album. So get excited.
Mixing soft, haunting melodies and tolls with headbanging drums and guitar solos, the music of Death By Rock and Roll is going to stick with you. Constantly touching on themes of life and death and with passion emanating from all of Taylor Momsen’s vocals, the album tells a story and could easily be the soundtrack of its own movie.
The Pretty Reckless graces us by turning it down for a couple of songs. One of them is “Got So High,” which both makes you want to cry and scream the lyrics joyously at the same time. And then they throw in a little interlude with “Broomsticks” that’s a little Halloween fun and sets us up for “Witches Burn.”
So what’s worth living for? And what’s worth dying for? Is it love or rock and roll, or is it nothing at all because the world is so messed up? Take a listen and you might find out for yourself.
Take a listen to Death By Rock and Roll,and then join me in impatiently waiting for The Pretty Reckless’s rescheduled tour dates to finally happen.
Nightly, an alt-pop band based in Nashville, released an EP today that re-imagines a few songs off of their previous album night, love you. which came out last year. This alternative EP shares the same name, so don’t get confused!
The tracks on the EP include a stripped down version of “Not Like You,” acoustic versions of “So Sly” and “Summer,” and a live version of “Older.” To the average listener, these alternative takes might not sound all that different to you. “Summer (Acoustic)” is the one that stands out the most and invites you to learn how to play the song on the guitar. But upon a couple of listens, you may grow to really appreciate the nuances between versions, especially in “Not Like You (Stripped),” just as we did.
If you’re already a fan of Nightly, you’ll be disappointed that there are no new songs, of course. But if you’re new to Nightly, night, love you (alt ep) might be the perfect bite-sized introduction to the band you need! And then you can dive headfirst into the rest of their discography, starting with the album night, love you. We know we’ll be following them and waiting on more music!
Rising Pop artist LIVVIA is an artist to keep your eye on. You may have heard her previous hits in the last few years – “Damn,” “OXO,” and “Parachute,” or maybe you recently saw her opening for the Jonas Brothers on their Happiness Begins Tour. But if you haven’t, now’s your chance to get on board! The up-and-coming star put out a new single called “Monster” a few months ago, and we finally got to chat with her about it.
CROWDSURFER MAG: Your latest single “Monster” came out back in October, and I loved the music video so much I had to talk about it. When did you decide you wanted to make it more of a film? And would you want to make another like it in the future?
LIVVIA: I’m so happy you loved it! It’s my favorite creative accomplishment to date. I would absolutely love to do another video of the sort. I’m always involved in the behind-the-scenes aspects of my music videos and visuals, but this was my first time officially directing. It turned out almost exactly — even better — than I hoped and planned. I decided to make it more of a movie when I thought of the murder mystery storyline. The opening scene that sets up the story came to mind instantly. The amazing cast — Chris Pang, Skyler Samuels, Lukas Gage, Michele Selene Ang, Emily Tosta, and Deric Augustine — brought it to life so incredibly. It was an honor to work with them. I’m such a fan of them and their work.
CSM: Did you help with making the storyline of the murder mystery and how everyone was going to disappear?
L: Yes! I planned the entire storyline and wrote a script that followed the lyrics line-by-line. I went to the location two separate times before our shoot date and filmed reference shots on my phone of camera movement for the scenes.
CSM:Tell me a little bit about the inspiration for “Monster.”
L: We wrote this song at a writers camp in Nashville last year. It’s about people who try to twist the story to make you look like the bad guy, when the true villain was the wrongful accuser all along. I want this song to encourage people to let the truth speak for itself and not allow someone else’s stories to make them question their own character. Trust your instincts, and if others are determined to fall for the facade, trust that all will be revealed in the end.
CSM:You released another single and an EP in 2020! Which one of those songs is your favorite?
L: “Monster”! My favorite always tends to be my latest release. And I’m always excited about the next thing.
CSM:And now it’s 2021! Did you make a New Year’s Resolution?
L: A couple years ago, I jumped in the water right after midnight after some convincing and jokingly made a resolution to jump in a body of water whenever the opportunity presented itself. It turned out to be the best resolution and I repeated it the following year. I like resolutions that are fun like that, but also good metaphors. This year, I think we should all be gentle to ourselves. My main resolution is to learn what I need to learn from all situations that arise — and those from the past — so I can move on fully.
CSM:Can you tell us about any upcoming music you have for us?
L: There is a collaboration in the works! But I can’t reveal my collaborator yet. I’m so excited for you to hear it.
CSM:What kind of impact do you want to make with your music?
L: I want to inspire and empower as many people as possible with my music, tell stories people can relate and aspire to, and be a part of the soundtrack to people’s lives.
CSM:I know things are still up in the air because of the pandemic, but what are your goals for this year?
L: I have a secret project I’ve wanted to take action on for a while and I’ve used this time to take significant strides in the direction of that goal. I hope to make as much progress as possible this year.
CSM:I’m hoping we’ll be able to get back to touring soon… so while we’re thinking about that, do you have a favorite memory on tour?
L: Too many to count! I feel so lucky that the last thing I did before lockdown was open for the Jonas Brothers on their Happiness Begins Tour. I’m so grateful those dates weren’t canceled. Being a part of that tour was beyond a dream come true. I am a huge Jonas fan myself – they’re some of my favorite people, and I absolutely love performing for an audience of Jonas fans because I feel so comfortable. It feels like I’m there with a bunch of friends because we’re all Jonas fans.
CSM:Anything else you want us to know?
L: Feel free to reach out @livvia! I love hearing from everyone! And I would love it if everyone reading this would go watch the “Monster” music video. I couldn’t love it more.
Artist to watch Bri Zoli is new to your Spotify playlist, but she’s not new to the stage. She’s a classically trained flutist and vocalist who has performed across the globe and has finally put out music she can call her own. She released her first two singles last year, and her angelic voice and emotional melodies are here to stay. We were happy to get to talk to her at the start of this new year!
CROWDSURFER MAG: You put out your first two songs ever in 2020 –
BRI ZOLI: What a year, what a year.
CSM: Exactly. But how does it feel to be releasing music?
BZ: It’s great! I’ve been working on music for years and years. I just felt like the time was right for me in 2020. I felt like I was able to finally super focus on my music and it just felt like the right time to put it out for me, personally.
CSM: And “Lullaby” is your most recent single. What was the inspiration for that song?
BZ: So the vibe of that is definitely different from “Your Eyes Only,” which is my first single that I put out in June. “Lullaby” is kind of like a haunting, whisper-type track. It’s a vibe that I feel like I’ve been wanting to create for so long and I never knew how to put it into words. I think with “Lullaby” I really wanted to get out that poetic, melodic, haunting song, and I think we’ve really kind of hit the nail on the head there.
CSM: We watched the music video for “Lullaby,” too! You’re also a model, so how did having that experience play out for you in your music video?
BZ: So my boyfriend is actually a photographer and videographer. We met on a shoot a couple of years ago, so we’ve been collaborating on shoots and videos just for fun throughout the years. So obviously I was like, this is perfect, we can just do our thing, but it’d be music video! But the thing no one tells you is it’s so much work! I did all the post-production myself, so I was like, this takes so much time! But it was an amazing experience.
CSM: We’ve been talking to so many people this last year who decided to learn how to do everything themselves!
BZ: You kind of have to these days! We have all the things we need to be able to do it, so why not just do it all?
And continuing to speak of skills, you not only have modeling experience, but you also grew up in music! How has that influenced your songs today?
BZ: So I grew up classically trained in flute and voice, and it was like my whole life. I think growing up in that world – I was in an orchestra and just playing with the world’s greatest composers and constantly being around that kind of music – I think it really
influenced me, and I think that also influenced “Lullaby” in those beautiful, harmonic big choruses and all the instrumentals that went into that. I think my personal style is very much emotional in that way, so I really appreciate all those lessons and just constantly being around music because I think it really helped prepare me for being an artist.
CSM: What’s your writing process like?
BZ: If I’m just doing something about myself and I’m inspired, I’ll sit at the piano and just play something and then melodies come to me. I rarely start with an idea first, it’s kind of like “this sounds cool” and then I’ll do a melody and then whatever comes to me. And it’s kind of the same when I work with producers!
CSM: How did you stage name come about?
BZ: So this was something that I was literally harping on for years! For me, my stage name has to have a meaning and make sense. I wanted to keep “Bri” because you know, that’s my my first name,
but I didn’t want to use my last name. So I’m Hungarian, my mom’s a hundred percent Hungarian, and she was gonna name me Zoltana because her father’s name was Zoltan. And I’ve always loved that name. And I was like, Mom, why didn’t you name me that, that would have been so cool! And my nickname would have been Zoli, which is what I decided to be the second half of my name. What could be more perfect to honor who I could have been and can be?
CSM: Did going through quarantine and lockdown and all of that help you grow in your music?
BZ: Absolutely. Being able to collaborate virtually with other artists has actually been amazing, and having that time I wouldn’t have had before, I’ve been able to focus so much more. I feel like this year I probably wrote more songs than the last couple of years!
CSM: What can we look forward to from you this year?
BZ: So I have my third single coming out soon, it’s going to be called “Faling.” It’s going to be different from the first two, it’ll be grungier and moodier, I’m really excited about it. And then after that my EP will probably be coming out in late 2021!
CSM: I’m excited for that! Did you make a New Year’s Resolution?
BZ: I think to be not as hard on myself, to stop overthinking things, and just go with my creative process. If I write something, and I like it, it’s better to just put it out in the world than to refine it millions and millions of times.
CSM: I think we could all use a little more of that mentality. If you like it, go for it! I saw you joined the Game of Thrones bandwagon, even though we’re all off of it?
BZ: I actually really love it! The funny thing is I watched the finale first and I was so confused, I was like, why do people like this? But now I’ve started from the beginning and I totally get it. So that will be my 2021 guilty pleasure.
Well, thanks for taking time to talk to us today!
BZ: Thank you so much!
Take a listen to “Lullaby,” and keep your eyes out for Bri Zoli’s next single!
Alt-pop artist Spencer Sutherland released his EP titled Indigo last Friday and gave us a music video for the title track. I really enjoyed the style and direction of his music video for the previous single “Wonder,” so I was excited to watch and get another taste of this EP.
The location of the video is the same as the cover of the EP: a barren desert landscape. The space behind Spencer is colored purple, the sky a bright blue crossed with flashes of lightning, and the corners in the foreground are tinted with pink. Spencer struts down the dirty path in pure white shoes, passing objects of affection along the way. While the concept of the video is simple and is taken in one shot, it never gets boring to watch because Spencer’s performance, movements, and emotions keep you intrigued.
I also want to note the several seconds of black at the end and commend this editorial decision because YouTube’s autoplay can be detrimental to the viewing experience. The black gives you time to absorb and appreciate the artistry that was put into “Indigo.”
Check out the link to the video below, and then continue on to listening to the rest of the EP. And Indigo isn’t the last of the news from Spencer Sutherland. You’ll be able to see him starring in Afterlife of the Party, an upcoming Netflix film slated to come out in 2021.
Areli Castro, better known as KiNG MALA, released her debut EP GEMiNi this month. After several singles were put out in the last two years, we finally have a collection from the alternative soul artist!
“I realized that as different as each song is, the whole EP is just 2 sides of the same coin playing out over and over again, 2 versions of the same character. So that is the reason I chose the name gemini, to represent the balance and chaos between two halves of the same thing,” says KiNG MALA. With that as an introduction to the EP, I was more than ready to dive in.
If I had to pick a favorite, it would be “If I Try to Find You,” which was released as a single earlier this year. The song weaves us through mellow verses with a simple beat but overlaid with haunting background vocals, and then erupts into a passion-filled chorus.
We get three songs on the EP that we haven’t heard before: “B4U,” “Give Me,” and “Funeral.” In all of the songs KiNG MALA shows us her badass, confident side, but then flips and shows us someone who wants to stay home or escape the life she’s living. And while both of those sides seem so different, she shows us that in life and in music, they are in balance.
I’m a few days late to this review, but Miley Cyrus’s new album requires some time to sit with to take in the full effect. Plastic Hearts is one surprise after another: with a ballad taking the #3 slot, absolute icons joining for features, live covers, and a whopping 15 tracks. Buckle up, let’s go!
The first song, “WTF Do I Know,” kicks off the album with an anthemic start. Only a few seconds in I was begging that the rest of the album be exactly the same. Miley has already proven she can remake herself and jump between genres time and time again, but I was hoping one day she would bring more rock influence into her music. And she delivered.
Timeless is a word that comes to mind when listening to this LP, and I can surely see us jamming to some of these tracks for years to come. It’s a rare day when I suggest songs for my dad to listen to, but I know we will both be playing the air drums in the car to “Night Crawling” featuring Billy Idol.
The latter half of the album really slows down though, and that was initially a little disappointing to me. I still like the songs, but I wanted more rock ’n roll, more angst, more songs that feature Miley’s incredible vocals that you can hear in her live cover of The Cranberries’s “Zombie.” Am I the only one who was expecting something a little more exciting out of “Prisoner,” her song with Dua Lipa?
But guess what? Miley does what she wants, and her music is primarily for her. And I applaud that. And I will scream from the mountaintops in support of topics she covers: about sexist double standards, about how being LGBTQ+ is normal, and about being unapologetically herself and loving it.
You’ll find me later learning to play “High” on the guitar and being thankful that Miley was able to salvage the music that was lost in the fire that burned down her home in LA.
It’s a foggy October day and pop artist katie MAC and I grab a table outside of a coffeeshop in Nashville. While we wait for our teas to cool down to a reasonable temperature, we have plenty of time to discuss her new EP Self Sabotage. It’s been months since either of us have had an in-person interview, and we both laugh about how we aren’t sure how to do this anymore, but we take a stab at it anyway.
CROWDSURFER MAG: Your EP just came out this month! How does it feel to have your second body of work out there?
KATIE MAC: It’s different than the first for sure. To have the songs out felt like a turning point, like a change in the chapter, more personally than musically for me. It felt very cathartic and satisfying to finally have those songs out for other people to listen to.
CSM: What does the EP mean as a whole to you?
KM: It felt like an examination of self. I felt like my first album was very outward looking as far as my relationships with other people, whereas this entire thing felt like a step back and kind of an introspective examination through the lens of the way that I interact with other people.
CSM:Why did you pick “Self Sabotage” as the title track?
KM: I think when I finished that song, I was like, wow this is the phrase that feels most true to me in this phase of life. And then I started putting the project together and realized I had been creating that as a theme in my writing without even knowing it. So it just kind of clicked and made sense for that to be the title track.
CSM: So we know the title track, but do you have a favorite track?
KM: I do this thing where I am most obsessed with a song for a couple of days and then I hate it for a couple of days and then I like it again. So it changes. But currently, my favorite is the last song, which is called “Worried About Me.” I think I like it so much because I made it with my two best friends here. It’s special to me because it’s not about boys or whatever, it’s about my relationship with myself and with my work and my career.
CSM: Self Sabotage follows up your album Tears Like Glitter. You said the content has changed since the album, but what else has?
KM: Tears Like Glitter felt like coming of age for me. Now, as more of an adult, I feel like there’s a sense of maturity in this one that was missing from the first one. Sonically, it felt like the sounds on Tears Like Glitter are very similar to this one, it’s just that Self Sabotage feels more exploratory. That willingness to try new things as far as production and vocals and is unique and characterizes me as a person
CSM: Tell me a little about your writing process.
KM: For me, it changes depending on the song. But it almost always starts out with an experience that happened to me or someone I’m close to. And then we either start with a title or phrase or melody, and if it’s just me writing, it’s usually a thirty-minute process and then a song just comes out. But when I’m with really talented writers and producers, we take our time and mold the story, and we’ll normally get the track ready the same day we right the song. A lot of times that’s the only day I’ll be in the studio for the song, and it’ll just be done at the end of the day.
CSM: Do you have a preference? Writing by yourself or with producers?
KM: I don’t have a preference! I think there are some stories that come out better when it’s just me because I’m not afraid of anyone’s opinion of what I’m saying. But then being in the studio with people I love and respect is so much fun and we get the most awesome ideas I’d never be able to come up with myself.
CSM: What kind of impact do you hope to have with your music?
KM: What I always come back to is I would like to make people feel less alone in the way that they experience things. If I can make people feel they can express what they’re feeling and that they’re not alone, I think that I’ve done my job.
CSM: So you’re from Kansas, and obviously music brought you here, but why Nashville?
KM: I really wanted to move to California when I was 17, but my parents wanted me to go to college. I hated all the places I visited, and then we visited Belmont University. We got there and I loved the school, I was like, you’re telling me I can spend four years learning to write songs? Sign me up. And I never looked back.
CSM: What’s next for you?
KM: I have some collaborations coming up that I’m really excited about!
CSM: We’ll keep our eyes out for those! And, it’s October. Do you have a favorite Halloween movie?
KM: Ok so apparently Halloween movies is a genre, and I didn’t know this. I think I’ve seen maybe two Halloween movies in my life. My roommate is making me watch Halloweentown tonight, actually.
Dallas-based musician Barret Turner has been writing music for many years but has only recently begun releasing the tracks. We’re excited to introduce you to his songs! Read on to learn about Barret’s latest single “Always You” and everything he has planned next.
CROWDSURFER MAG: Your latest single “Always You” came out last month. What does this song mean to you?
BARRET TURNER: I made it a long time ago, and it was about my friend’s mom battling cancer. I brought I back with the newer stuff I make, and now I feel like it represents his journey after his mom passed away. I feel like he kind of lost himself and now he’s getting back to who he was.
CSM: We’re fans of Will Jay, so we were excited to see him featured on this song. How did bringing him onto the project happen?
BT: I sent him an email! I sent him six songs, and he said he wanted to work on “Always You.” He was super easy to work with, we’d send each other lyrics and melody ideas back and forth, and that’s how the song came about. Quarantine hit so we had to do everything over email.
CSM:It’s so wild that this all had to go down over email!
BT: Yeah, and I wish it wasn’t like that, but I was like, man I’d love to work with Will Jay, he’s so good. So I feel very lucky that he accepted the offer.
CSM:“Always You” follows up “On Purpose” which came out one month earlier. Can we expect another song this month?
BT: I’m putting a song out every month! October 30th is the next one called “Never Stood.” It’s different than the other ones, it’s more vibey, chill-in-your-car-at-night kind of song.
CSM:“Always You” and “On Purpose” are both very emotional. What’s your writing process like when turning these personal stories into music?
BT: I like to write at night, and I’ll get an idea in my head and start dabbling with that. I normally start with the piano chords, and I’ll start building off of that. I like that epic, kind of sad build up towards the end that’s inspirational.
CSM:We all like sad songs! Who are your biggest inspirations in music?
BT: I always liked Martin Garrix and how his songs are kind of chill but at the end your brain is just mash because you’re so involved with the song. I also really like Hootie and the Blowfish. It’s a totally different type of music but it’s very emotional and real.
CSM:So you’ve got more singles to release, and do you have anything else in store for us?
BT: Yeah when I put this next song out I’ll have the lyric video and another music video for that. And then, next month, same thing. I’d like to play show but obviously that’s not happening right now!
CSM:Whoa, that’s a ton. How are you managing to get all of that out every month?
BT: I usually have someone do the lyric video, but I’ve been making the music videos myself, and It’s hard. It’s a learning curve, and it’s a lot. But it’s kind of fun, too, because it’s rewarding when it’s done!
CSM:What’s one of your goals for 2021?
BT: I’ve been trying to get all of my songs finished and getting them out is really the only goal right now. Just trying to keep going up! There’s no plan B right now, it’s just this, and I’m excited about it. I just don’t want to one day be old and say “damn, I never even tried.”
CSM:Last question, even though holidays are weird this year, do you have any plans for Halloween?
BT: No, I’m sure I’ll do something though! This weekend I’m going to the Chiefs game.
CSM:Wait, you’re in Dallas but going to the Chiefs game?
BT: Oh yeah, my grandpa played for them so it’s a family thing.
BT: Yeah, he played in the first Superbowl. And a lot of the songs I made . . . I lived with my Grandma for a year and a half, and I was making these songs and she would listen. And then she passed away, and the Chiefs went to the Superbowl the next week and won it. We went to the game and it was the best thing I’ve ever been to. It felt like she was there, you know?
Here’s a duo to pay attention to. Sound Of Kalima is made of up Pete and Sal, two young musicians from Vancouver. They captured the USA’s attention with their single “Wild Trash,” an urgent commentary on the destruction of our planet. Self-described as having “no respect for the limitations of genre,” Sound Of Kalima is here to give us electronic music that holds a human element. Today, the duo released their latest, “6789ten.”
“6789ten” is a song filled with variety. The electric guitar and percussion make you want to jam, there’s prevalent anger, and yet some element makes you want to dance. The refrain of “6789ten” is easy to get stuck in your head, but my favorite part of this song are the verses. The melodic contrast with the chorus grabs your attention and the lyrics run deep.
In this world I’m not an equal / that’s not heartbreak to you, why should I bother?
“Wild Trash” showed us that SOK isn’t afraid to write about controversial topics, and “6789ten” is no different. The lyrics address prejudice based on skin color, racial injustice, and lack of faith in the system, and the siren that seemed like a fun sound effect on first listen takes on a new meaning as you pay attention to the words.
I’ll be keeping tabs on SOK, eagerly awaiting to see what they have to say next. Until then, take a listen to “6789ten.”