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NEEDTOBREETHE Dig Deep With ‘Into The Mystery’ – Essentially Pop

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NEEDTOBREATHE returns with their eighth studio album, ‘Into The Mystery’, following up on 2020’s ‘Out of Body.’ Covid restrictions have put their tour on hold over the past year, so the band took refuge at an old historic house near Columbia, Tennessee. In the autumn of 2020, they lived, ate, joked, and recorded together for three weeks. The outcome is an electrifying album that captures the band’s South Carolina heritage.

It’s clear to see why the Christian rock band, NEEDTOBREATHE have such a massive following. They have an ability to write songs that connect deeply with listeners and form emotional ties with them that haven’t been seen since the likes of epic bands; Lifehouse, Goo Goo Dolls and Daughtry. With a sound that is both diverse and anthemic, the band have set the scene with their newest release that will burn through the summer and set ears alight.

The album is sophisticated and genius and will be transformative in the charts. Bear’s voice is uniquely distinctive and unusual as it always has been. Bear has a unique gift to be able to empathise on a deeply personal level before flawlessly switching to a booming voice that will knock your socks off.

The album’s opening song, “What I’m Here For,” and the title track, ‘Into The Mystery’, establish the tone. A bucolic, beautiful, folk-rock record with choral harmonies reminiscent of Imagine Dragons. Written and recorded when the world was on lockdown, the band was able to write songs that were extremely introspective. However, consider the world in which we live and how our lives fit into it. Examining the mystique as well as the promise of our life. The album title could potentially be a reference to Mumford and Sons’ “Babel”.

‘Into The Mystery’ is a soundtrack that you can imagine would kick off a cult romantic comedy film. The song is uplifting and feels as though you are travelling somewhere new and promising. Perfect for our current era, in which we have never felt lonelier and more divided from one another.

This is exemplified in the following lyric:

We are sons and daughters

We are flesh and dust

We are pulled from the wreckage

We are not alone

We are lovers broken

We are vicarious dreams

We are tumblin’ in space, out of control

Into The Mystery (ah)

The album’s summer radio hit songs are ‘Sunshine’ and ‘Sit-in’ In The Back Seat.’ The latter has a carefree chorus that is extremely contemporary pop. With continuous synth pads and layers of vocal harmonies, they maintain an almost ethereal aspect to the music. Throughout, there is a steady variety of dynamic textures. This song’s lyrics deal with the topic of being young and not knowing what you want to do with your life. Lyrically, this song explores the theme of being youthful and unconcerned about everything. Back when there was no tension in life, and everything seemed to be good. “When we were young and undefeated,” as the chorus puts it. For such a light summer song, the lyrics reflect the truth in the year.

Another piece with symphonic elements is titled ‘Chances.’ With the usage of unique instrumentation and interesting chordal transitions that at times lend an almost syncopated flavour to the music with the overlapping of accidentals, it’s practically Creedence Clear Water Revival. The usage of orchestral layering is also prominent on ‘Don’t Throw All The Good Things Away,’ which is arguably the most popular song on the album.

The use of symphony textures is especially prominent on ‘Don’t Throw All The Good Things Away,’ which is the album’s most austere track. The song has a gothic feel to it, with mild acoustic guitar, shuddering strings, piano, strings, and layered backup vocals. This, on the other hand, fits in with the lyric’s more melancholic tone, which is about being careful to discard things in life without a care.

‘Give Me A Chance’ has a confidence to it and has a Rolling Stones meets Country-Rock feel to it. There’s also a killer slide guitar solo.

Jon Foreman (Switchfoot), Natalie Hemby, and Carrie Underwood’s “I Wanna Remember” are among the album’s many collaborations. In a magnificent, soul duet, two vocalists at the top of their game recollect the times in your life that you never want to forget in “I Wanna Remember.” The song has several layers and might be used to commemorate any occasion, such as a wedding or a significant life event. However, given the nature of the duet, the most logical option is recalling that first kiss or a cherished moment together. The song is currently burning up the radio and introducing the band to a brand new fan base. During this year’s CMT Music Awards, the band performed the song with Carrie Underwood.

The song “Innocence” is a call to return to childhood innocence. The desire to return to your childhood home and to those carefree days when you were younger. It reminds me a little of The Fray’s “Hold my hand” at times.

The album ends on ‘West Texas Wind.’ The song’s strength and beauty blew me away and was reminiscent of the time when I found my faith in a Christian summer camp. The song deals with the concept of growing older, and deals accepting the paths you have chosen, and the lessons learned. It also talks about being ready, and present for the best moments of your life and for me, was the main message of the song.

My blood and my bones

My heart and my hands

They try to hold all of this in

So, I’m running to you like a west Texas wind

Singing God, I need you, oh, how I need you

God, I need you again

The album’s great closing track. The instrumental play-out makes it seem as if the listener’s spirit is on its way to its next adventure.

NEEDTOBREATHE recognise the great power of music and lyrics throughout the album. Their songs are musically uplifting and are an open call to those in needing to feel empowered. ‘Into The Mystery’ has become another album that will be forever locked moments in time, captured in the expectation of comforting and mending both the author and the listener.

Each track flows simultaneously together, that are individually and collectively inspiring. Overall, this is an album created with a cultured passion that listeners can feel in their bones. ‘Into The Mystery’ is an album for the ages and will remind you that you are not alone and that you were made to be exactly who the world needs you to be.

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St. Vincent Covers “Funkytown” For Minions: The Rise of Gru

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Some things in life are inevitable. For a while, that inevitably was a new Shrek movie with an updated pop cover like “I’m a Believer” from Smash Mouth. These days it’s a new Despicable Me movie, this time in the form of spinoff Minions The Rise of Gru. And just as we all predicted, the new Steve Carrell led film comes stacked with a loaded soundtrack headlined by St. Vincent.

For her contribution to the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack, St. Vincent covered “Funkytown” by Lipps Inc. Her version was produced by Jack Antonoff and continues a run of luck for the musician that earlier this year saw her win a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.

Antonoff also gave St. Vincent a shout-out for her album Daddy’s Home when he won Producer of the Year at the Grammys.

Announcing the release of her funky cover, St. Vincent took to Twitter and wrote, “Excited to say the @Minions (including @jackantonoff) and I have just released our version of ‘Funkytown’ from #TheRiseofGru soundtrack. Shout out to Gru and them…” Included with the post was a graphic of St. Vincent as a minion.

Joining St. Vincent on the Minions: The Rise of Gru soundtrack are Tame Impala, Kali Uchis, Brittany Howard, Thundercat, Caroline Polachek, Diana Ross, and Weyes Blood, just to name a few.

The album will be released on July 1, coinciding with the film’s theatrical release. You can listen to St. Vincent’s cover of Lipps Inc. “Funkytown” below!



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Parmalee Shares The Music Video For Their Top Five US Hit ‘Take My Name’, A Musical Marriage Proposal.

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Back in October of 2021, Parmalee released ‘Take My Name’ as the second single from their third studio album. It was written with and produced by David Fanning, producer of the massive hit ‘Carolina’ that introduced me to the band back in 2008, Ashley Gorley and Ben Johnson. Robyn Collins of ‘Taste of Country’ described the song as “a musical marriage proposal” and lead singer of the band, Matt Thomas, says it was inspired by the marriage of brother Scott; he says “it made me think about what I would want to say to my future wife.”

Some songs almost become bigger than themselves when they tap into the lives and moods of everyone and this is very much one of those songs. It’s not difficult to see why this song has been adopted by fans all over the world irrespective of their taste in music; its words conjure all the romance and love that you’d hope to feel when you ask someone to marry you. It’s lyrically a shopping list of everything you feel at the moment you realise you’ve met the one, even if that’s after only a short time. I remember proposing to my wife after just 8 weeks and if I try to remember what I was feeling at the point I proposed and tried to put it into words I would hope it was very similar to this song. Now over 31 years later and still happily married I listen to this song and it brings all those feelings back in a rush so why wouldn’t it be the perfect song to overlay a proposal, sing at the wedding or just be part of the moment; it’s how I’d love my sons to feel when they propose to their partners. 

Parmalee are very aware of their fans needs and were quick to record a wedding version for such occasions with a less catchy percussion and a softer piano focussed vibe than the original version. There have even been brilliant occasions where the band has turned up to “crash” a wedding and sing this song to the happy couple reminiscent of Maroon 5 and their song ‘Sugar’. None of those guests will forget that wedding in a hurry!

With all the interest in the song and the brilliant videos and messages the band have received, they felt the time was right to make their own narrative video to accompany the song as an addition to the previously released visualizer. The ‘Wedding Version’ video of the romantic song was filmed in Gallatin, TN and directed by Shane Drake. The heart-warming story follows the journey of the protagonist through middle school and all the way to adulthood featuring kids from a local school, an original 1968 Mustang Shelby GT350 and appearances from the band with the lead being played by frontman Matt Thomas.

Matt says:

“From the jump, the fans have really latched onto this song in such an amazing, life changing way- our fans have been the reason for so many of our own major milestones, so it means that much more to us that folks are using our song for their proposals and weddings and allowing us to be a part of those major moments in their lives. We wanted to pay tribute to the fans who have been on this journey with us since the beginning so in the music video you’ll see a story of love and loyalty unfold across the years-but don’t expect to see any weddings or proposals – the fan created videos far exceed anything we could depict. We love watching them.”

With over 135 million global on demand streams, the song has raced up the Country charts, outpacing the band’s previous single, the multinational Number 1 smash ‘Just The Way’ with Blanco Brown and has been popping up all over TikTok with creators playing the song over proposal and wedding videos and even sparking a trend of using the sound of the song and writing “if your man doesn’t make you feel this way then what are you doing?” over the video. 

Parmalee - Take My Name (Official Music Video)

Coming from their recently released album ‘For You’, an album that has garnered critical acclaim with American Songwriter calling it “authentically real, genuinely inspired” and Billboard saying that “Parmalee find itself in the enviable position of being able to tap into multiple audiences”. What is very clear is that Country music is slowly starting to find a new, younger audience in the UK to stand alongside the existing fans of the genre. Zack Bryan has recently found himself high on the Spotify album charts and UK stars like Ed Sheeran have appeared alongside Country stars like Luke Combs at the Country2Country festival. Even Tom Odell has found himself headlining the British Country Music Festival in the Summer. Parmalee may be the band to really break down the barriers between Country music and the UK Charts with this song as the musical genre of this release is far less important than the honesty and emotion of the lyrics and Romance will always break down all of the barriers, or at least I would hope it would.

‘For You’ is out now and can be streamed and downloaded here. Find out more about Parmalee and their music online on their official website.

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Mercedess Releases debut album ‘Casa Fantasia’ along with lead single ‘Summers Already Gone’

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This Copenhagen DIY pop artist has managed the difficult task of mixing her soulful voice with vibrant dreamy production and lyrics with real streetwise attitude. The result is something that has given her the hit single ‘Obvious’ which Danish radio loved and the internationally acclaimed single ‘Back to Business’. Now she is releasing the excellent lead single ‘Summer’s Already Gone’ which sounds very modern Bond in its lo fi production but tells an unusual love story. Not a story about falling in love with a person, but about the love affair that always ends; the affair with Summer.

She says:

“I wanted to write a song that could represent both the fearlessness of the magical Summer days and the truly blue sadness of the re occuring love story it actually is when Summer eventually comes to an end. I know it’s a heartbreaking, melancholy feeling but it’s also everything I love about Summer.”

The song was written in Mercedess’ living room with Danish indie superstar Goss and the guitarist Søren Breum and is produced by the critically acclaimed artist Vera. It allows the velvet of the artist’s voice to tumble over the muted trumpets, break beats and flirty acoustic guitars and strings bringing to life the seasonal heartbreak. 

The fact that it is about the love and anticipation felt for Summer is almost more poignant this year as we embark upon the first free Summer for a few years. The affair with Summer this year promises to be a torrid passionate affair as we’ve been apart so long but the heartbreak of its end will be felt more keenly. This song will be the soundtrack to the affair for sure.

The single is released on the same day as the debut album from this exciting new talent. Mercedess says of the album: “Casa Fantasia is an album about longing for closeness and honesty. These songs are an escape from reality-a place to feel free and be yourself. Writing it was a personal journey and process to me that hopefully will make space for creativity, art and emotions for others too”

The album promises to do just that with the artist’s melancholy and yet warm and dreamy vocals and marks an exciting new chapter for an artist destined to find international acclaim  with this collection of music. Summer may come and go but I’m sure the appeal of Mercedess will be perennial. 

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