Archive | November, 2015

Hot Cover of Hotline Bling

29 Nov

Donna Missal, a talented musician, is flying solo these days, and her recent cover of Drake’s hit song “Hotline Bling,” proves that she can stand on her own just fine.

The harder edged cover elaborates on the melody, with thumping percussion, electrified guitar, and a heavy beat. It all comes crashing together in an explosion of raw talent and musicality that is hard to match in the industry. Missal is a modern day Etta James, laying her soul out for all to see. These may not be words that Missal has written herself, but she sings them with such conviction that it’s hard to believe this isn’t the original version.

Embracing her rock approach, with throaty riffs, Missal takes a hip hop track and brings it to a whole other level. It’s like The Black Keys and Arctic Monkey’s got together with Missal to create a cover that is superior to the original in every way. Though it is clearly a modern song, Missal’s vocals help give it a retro vibe, along with Etta James, large doses of Janis Joplin are also heard.

It all culminates into a firework of sound that goes off after Missal builds up the second to last section leading into the final round of the chorus. Trust me when I say that once you’ve heard this version, you’ll never hear “Hotline Bling” the same way.

Discography: “Keep Lying” (2015)

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Crooked Notes

22 Nov

“Crooked Cop” by Beverly is a tune that is subtly retro. The light twang of the guitar sets up the rest of the track that has hints of the 80s, but never so blatantly that it overpowers or distracts listeners from the superb song.


With its dreamy, lush, vocals it is a bit reminiscent of the feeling listeners get listening to Roxy Music’s “More Than This.” It has a jangle to it in its instrumentation, and the lead singer switching off between her higher and lower registers helps the comparison to “More Than This” become even clearer.

But the vocals alone also have a wispy feeling to them, think the Bangels “Hazy Shade of Winter.” There’s no doubt about it that this song has the 80s written all over it. The track itself is about a relationship that is like a crooked cop in that it isn’t what it seems. The world is not black and white, sometimes what appears to be good is actually hiding an ugly interior, and that makes the world very grey which I believe this track is exploring.

If you’re looking for good modern made indie pop that fits in today’s music world, but also could comfortably find its home on an 80s hour on a popular radio station, check out “Crooked Cop,” and be delightfully satisfied.

Discography: Careers (2014).

Official Website:


Retro Done Right

15 Nov

Shannon and the Clams “Done With You,” couldn’t be more retro if it tried, but with lead singer Shannon Shaw at the helm, with her raspy and cutting edge voice tearing apart her heart, the tune also carries a raw quality that catapults it into modern territory.

The song itself is mainly the simple chorus repeated over and over again. Yes there are verses, and it is on those verses that Shaw and the modernity of the track come out to shine, but it’s the chorus that is the main feature. With lots of drawn out notes and a slow ballad beat that seems straight out of the 1950s, the song shares a bit of resemblance to The Skyliners “Since I Don’t Have You,” but with a much more simply constructed concept.

The wailing in the background behind Shaw’s masterful and soulful verses help bridge the gap between two very different eras. Play this for someone who grew up in the 50s and they will probably wonder why they don’t remember this song. It’s that good and that authentic.


  • I Wanna Go Home (2009)
  • Sleep Talk (2011)
  • Dreams in the Rat House (2013)
  • Gone By The Dawn (2015)

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Music Lessons

8 Nov

Jenny O’s “Learned My Lessons” is a combination of many 60s influences. Her voice lends itself to the girl groups of the times, particularly The Dixie Cups when they made famous “Chapel of Love.” It’s got more of a twang to it, but you can’t ignore the same sweetness in O’s voice that The Dixie Cups have.

However, it is a particular duo from the 60s that it seems O has drawn the most inspiration from. Simon and Garfunkel’s “Feeling Groovy,” was light and made listeners feel gooey inside as their hearts warmed over. Just as the duo sang about their happy state of mind with lyrics such as “let the morningtime drop all its petals on me /life, I love you, all is groovy” O sings and imparts her wisdom on how you can live a happy life too “so be thankful and speak your mind/give love to the treasures you find/when you can, try to be on time/and you’ll be happy for the rest of your life.” It is impossible not to have the biggest grin on your face when you listen to this song. It’s the type of track that just makes you feel good all over, like “Feeling Groovy,” and for Jenny O to bring that vibe and 60s sound to a modern audience is a thing of beauty. One thing is for certain, “Learned my Lessons” is definitely groovy, and I think Simon and Garfunkel would approve.

Discography: Automechanic 2013

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Spirit of Retro!

1 Nov

With the sound of rain splashing throughout “My Poor Stupid Heart” by Sweet Spirit, the tone is set up for one masterfully crafted retro heartache song.

Minimal instrumentation, whistling and some rattles let lead singer Sabrina Ellis shine vocally. The harmonizing featured in the track, as well as the content, is on par with The Everly Brothers, specifically “Brand New Heartache.”

It is quiet and unassuming but also packs quite a punch, from the blunt title to the twangs of sporadic electric guitar at the end of the song. In the same vein as many heartbreak ballads of the 50s and 60s one can see the retro influences plain and clear. There’s a Ronnie Spector feel in Ellis’ voice, strong but easy on the ears, but also a female Everly Brothers take.

The different and more unusual varying instruments come together to form a cohesive piece and help make the track all that more memorable. It’s not something you hear every day, not even in the retro inspired community. With simple, relatable, lyrics, Ellis’ spot on vocals, and original instrumentals (not to mention that rain) “My Poor Stupid Heart” has positioned itself as one of the top songs of 2015.

Discography: Sweet Spirit (2015).

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