Keeping It Real (ft. Sera, Waiting For Smith and more)

After a week’s break from Keeping It Real – apologies all ’round – we’re back with tons of interesting and exciting bands! In this week’s KIR instalment we range from rock to folk to pop – something for everyone! So, take a moment and check out our melting pot of music.


WAITING FOR SMITH – ‘LINES OF LOVE’

If you enjoy those inspirational films where something comes out of a bad experience, then you will love the backstory to Waiting For Smith

Originally working as a ski instructor in the French Alps, Harry Lloyd broke his back in two places during available training. Wondering whether he would survive the helicopter trip to the hospital, he decided that if he survived he would dedicate his life to music. Good news: he survived. After spending one year recovering and learning to play the guitar, Harry Lloyd become the folk artist Waiting For Smith.

Produced by Gavin Goldberg and Andy Wright, ‘Lines of Love’ is a refreshing single with catchy riffs and honest vocals. Inspired by a plea for someone to hold on during challenging times (all via a long-distance phone call at Kings Cross), the track is sensitive and sentimental. What I find particularly endearing is the tone of Lloyd’s rather warm vocals. Despite being charming, the simple vocals demonstrate a degree of vulnerability, sincerity and desperation. Proof that a compassionate ear can make a difference.



MARSHA MARSHA MARSHA – ‘INVISIBLE’

Derik Toy began his musical journey in San Diego, California, performing as a bassist at, well, any place that wouldn’t throw him out. A bassist turned producer, Toy superbly held down the back-end of artists like Dakoda Motor Co., The Surfers, Polyester and the Funky Love Bomb. While working in a studio increased his love for production, this father of four continues to compose music with his solo project Marsha Marsha Marsha.

Performing with various session artists, Toy recently released his single ‘Invisible’ – an upbeat alternative rock track with catchy riffs and dynamic vocals. An insightful single, the concept of the track sticks with its name exploring feelings of isolation and being invisible. Guitar-driven with aggressive vocals, the single easily expresses the fear and frustration felt by individuals who feel secluded. The fun bit is while ‘Invisible’ has a sombre concept, the buoyancy makes it an addictive toe-tapping banger.

“Invisible’ is about looking at blank faces looking back at you and realising that they have no idea who you are. It’s about being unable to be seen by those around you.” – Marsha Marsha Marsha on ‘Invisible’



SILLA DREAM – ‘THE SILENT TREATMENT’

Hailing from Denmark, Silla Dream is Markus Hodal Drag’s rebellion against mass production, business strategies and perfectionism in the 21st century music industry. Formed in mid-2019, Silla Dream is a relatively new project inspired by acts like Skating Polly, Placebo, Destroy Boy and Nelson Can – most evident in the single ‘The Silent Treatment’.

Embracing his belief in spontaneous, honest and sincere songwriting, Drag welcomes all imperfections in his project. His debut single ‘The Silent Treatment’ is quite eclectic finding that experimental border between indie-rock and dream-pop. Highly synth-driven with distorted guitar riffs and vocals reminiscent of The Cure, the melodic inflexion is sublime. Lyrically, however, Drag explores the bitterness of a relationship gone bad thereby creating a charming juxtaposition of dreamy good with dreadfully bad.

“No Silla Dream recording is ever meticulously planned, tried and strategically tested; everything is pretty much as the original idea dictated – spontaneous, heartfelt and sincere.” – Silla Dream on ‘The Silent Treatment’



SERA – ‘SWITCH’

Described as “distinctive and powerful” by Folk Radio, SERA is the solo project of Welsh Sera Zyborska. Hailing from Caernarfon, Northern Wales – a place between the Irish Sea and the Snowdonia Mountains – SERA was exposed to Welsh culture and folklore from a young age. Embracing this heritage, SERA’s music is influenced by the Northern Welsh landscape and a desire to tell stories. The single ‘Switch’ is no different.

Produced by renowned producer Andi Crutwell-Jones, ‘Switch’ is a project combining SERA’s talents with violinist Nico CJ and Len Whitehead on electric guitar. Melding several of her favourite genres – folk, pop and Americana – ‘Switch’ is almost four minutes of bold, dynamic and engaging music. In fact, the unique vocals combined with steady instrumentation embraces the concept of empowerment, but can lead a person to hypnotic enchantment. Beware the magic.



TODGER – ‘THE DEVIL WENT DOWN TO GEORGIA’

While we hardly write about cover songs, TODGER‘s take on The Charlie Daniels Band’s ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’ is far too fantastic to ignore. Hailing from London, TODGER is a rather oddly named quartet sharing a classic rock sound with a bit of a metal twist in the mix. Combining tongue-in-cheek lyrics with slick guitar riffs and tight rhythms, these old friends encourage people to have some “trucking good fun” before kicking the bucket. My introduction to TODGER was ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’.

If you haven’t heard the original track, then where have you been? It’s fast, furious with an unbelievable fiddle solo. While several bands have covered this bluegrass meets Southern rock track, including Nickelback, TODGER holds their own with an insatiable metal-inspired take on the tune. Upbeat, high-paced and energetic, TODGER’s version of this iconic track makes the song contemporary bringing it into the 21st century. Yes, the furious fiddle is replaced by an electric guitar, but the frenzy certainly remains. Lead guitarist Jack Barber did an outstanding job and I’ll bet Johnny and the Devil are impressed…that sounds weird, doesn’t it?

“Drummer Bart has a tendency to play this song at a significantly increased tempo setting lead guitarist, Jack, a Herculean challenge of playing very fast violin parts on a guitar. The terror in Jack’s eyes is amusing.” – TODGER on recording ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’



LOVE GHOST – ‘I’LL BE “FINE”‘

While these lads may be fresh out of high-school, the alt-rock group Love Ghost have toured extensively and performed with renowned bands like Smash Mouth and Buckcherry. Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Finnegan Bell (guitar/lead vocals), Ryan Stevens (bass), Samson Young (drums), Daniel Alcala (guitar) and Cory Batchler (keyboard) adopt a genre-bending sound influenced by Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Rob Zombie. One of the most recent additions to their repertoire is ‘I’ll Be “Fine”‘.

Focusing on issues of mental health, and released during Mental Health Awareness Month, ‘I’ll Be “Fine”‘ is an introspective and intriguing single. What I find particularly interesting is how the steady beats accentuate Bell’s raw vocals highlighting the concept of the track. The members of Love Ghost may be young, but this increases their understanding of isolation and depression faced by so many teenagers today. ‘I’ll Be “Fine”‘ is not merely a song about mental health, but rather a declaration that there is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

“I’ll Be “Fine”‘ is about when you’re so alienated that the only person that can tell you that you’ll be alright is yourself. I hope this song helps people that are dealing with depression and can alleviate kids that are feeling like an outsider.” – Finnegan Bell on ‘I’ll Be “Fine”‘



LEN MIZZONI – ‘SAD SONGS’

Previously performing with Juno Award-winning pop-rock band Frozen Ghost, Len Mizzoni began a solo project releasing successful albums Waves of Indigo (2018), Better Days (2019) and Forever (2020). Popular among listeners, tracks from the albums received extensive airplay in over 40 countries. The latest single from this singer, songwriter and producer is ‘Sad Songs’.

A single off Mizzoni’s 2019 album Better Days, ‘Sad Songs’ is a combination of blues, soul and jazz. Using his effortless vocals, Mizzoni engages with the listener on a personal level with depth and sincerity. The emotion of the vocals is complemented by basic instrumentation accentuating the, well, sadness in the song. What I find interesting is the juxtaposition of warm, soothing vocals and sombre, melancholic lyrics. I had not heard of Len Mizzoni before, but ‘Sad Songs’ is a superb introduction.

“During these unprecedented times, wounds that haven’t totally healed, that are still tender, may haunt us. Music has the power to evoke such emotions and, though our eyes may tear sometimes, all we need is a good cry to set us free.” – Len Mizzoni on ‘Sad Songs’



ROI BARS – GOOD DAY!

Hailing from Guadalajara – a metropolis in Mexico that I have no idea how to pronounce – Rodrigo Bars is a singer, songwriter and producer. A performer from a young age, Bars was learning how to play the piano and drums as a child. He soon formed a band called Bliss where he was the drummer; however, Bliss dissolved and Bars went on to form another band called Orange Collective. Bars recorded his debut solo album at age 15 – skip a decade forward and we find Bars as the lead singer and guitarist of Roi Bars.

Now residing in California (San Diego to be exact), Rodrigo was joined by drummer Geo to form the electropop band Roi Bars. Influenced greatly by Gorillaz, MGMT, Post Malone and Kid Cudi, the band uses a unique combination of pop, electronica and indie for their sound. While ‘Good Day!’ was released as part of their 2019 album My Overture!, they recently released its official video.

So, what do we think of the song and video? The track is an upbeat number with a lighthearted melody fitting in well with the single’s concept of looking at the proverbial silver line in bad situations. Simple instrumentation combines well with Rodrigo’s bright, warm and effortless vocals. All in all, the song itself is an anthemic summer banger to be repeated on anyone’s playlist. The video isn’t too far off of being anthemic as well…can a video be anthemic? If it can, then Roi Bars’ ‘Good Day!’ official video is at the top of the list.

“This song is about taking the good things out of the bad situations in order to have a good day for the rest of your life. I think it was the right time to release the video due to all the things that are happening in 2020. The video is, in fact, after the apocalypse.” – Roi Bars on ‘Good Day!’



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