Monday, March 30, 2015

Indie Music: bitter's kiss

by Germar Derron

bitter's kiss is the project I always wanted to produce. I apologize for making each music review about me. It's hard to not feel attached to these artists, when I worked the indie scene as a producer, engineer, songwriter, and manager for much of my life. I applaud the time and effort, thought and hard work that goes into a project like this one. Yes, bitter's kiss is an amazing listen, but it's also a more complex project than it seems, or sounds.

Obviously, Chloe Baker's vocals drive this entire project. And though her vocals may be niche, and comparable to many other artists--that sound is flawless. I played my favorite track, "Love Won't Make You Cry," without warning, in a room filled with singers, songwriters, and musicians. In unison, they asked "what's that?" They loved it. I thought they might. I don't think she could shine brighter than she does on this track. If she can, it may be a bit too much for me--blinding.

Each track plays consistently sparse and light, while remaining whole--complete. It's a tough trick to pull off. To do that, you need more than a perfect vocal performance. The mix, production, arrangement, and performances have to be equally perfected. It's a trick that I never mastered as a producer and engineer. Regularly, I bet on the best vocal talent, recording, and treatment carrying a song or album. It never worked. The lack of a real band, rehearsals, a solid composition, and professional musicians was easily apparent. Here, it all comes together.

If there is one problem with the project, it all sounds the same.  And with that vocal and style, it would all sound the same. The “same sound” critique always reminds me of an old Coolio quote. Apparently, a record label exec once said, “this sounds like a typical Coolio album.” Coolio responded, "who am I? I'm mother------- COOLIO!" Even though bitter's kiss's songs all sound similar, each song remains distinct. They sound purposeful, consistent, non-arbitrary, and not contrived. Oh, and the lyrics work too.

bitter's kiss earned a spot in my rotation. And "Love Won't Make You Cry" will be my favorite song for awhile.


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