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Single Review: Sarantos “Same Old Christmas”

Christmas is supposed to be a happy time of the year, full of joy and hope and dreams. Yet for some, Christmas is met with reminders of loneliness, regrets from the year past, and general disappointment. From his full-length release; A Spoonful of Greece, Sarantos releases his take on this feeling of prevailing dread with Same Old Christmas. Sarantos is known for using his colorful metaphors and vivid imagery as he weaves poetic magic in his indie/experimental rock sound. With Same Old Christmas we get much of the same, a narrative of sweeping malaise at this time of year. “I’ve gone thru my life, But I can’t enjoy the ride, Played it safe no lucky break, I never had a seat on Santa’s sleigh.” This overtone of sadness when one should be happy surmised by; “But when the time has come, Those disappointing bells have rung, It’s the same old Christmas.” Of course, in true Sarantos fashion, he is not one to be weighed down by this misery. He will rise above it, and continue to reach for his dreams, expectations, and hopes. “Every single year, As December’s drawing near, I put my hope in Christmas, Cause I always love Christmas.” and in the epitaph of his journey, he comes full circle; “I just need help, Learning not to run away, So I’ll just say, Merry Christmas to you.” A beautifully choreographed narrative for a wonderful time of year. Leave it to Sarantos to find a voice for those who don’t seem to have one of their own.

Accompanied by a wonderful piano melody and a pulsating steady groove which drives the rhythm, Sarantos incorporates jingle bells in the most opportune times to capture the hidden Christmas spirit always seeping into his lyrical form. The effective instrumentation is coupled by the dynamic range of Sarantos’ voice as he pushes his register into higher registers than he normally sings, He does this highly effectively, maybe it’s the magic of Christmas that gives him his angelic inflection. Same Old Christmas tells more than just a story; it captures the entire circulating moods and emotions of everyone during the holiday scramble. It holds the listener close and tells them, you are not alone, and it is this empathetic approach that makes this track so very enjoyable. The hook from the chorus section elicits a sing-along response in the audience, as the performance builds tension throughout each verse and bridge. It is these qualities that make Same Old Christmas marketable, and should see success on Adult Contemporary, or Soft Rock commercial radio formats.

–Lee Callaghan


DRBRWL drops off brand new project, ‘Drbrwl’

Minnesota artist DRBRWL has caught our attention for a fresh new EP called Drbrwl. Of Liberian and Ghanaian descent, DRBRWL is currently working as a youth advocate with young people in Minnesota while consistently performing and working on his craft within the twin cities. His latest project Drbrwl contains a series of vivid instrumentals that feel versatile throughout, as well as poignant and expressive vocal performances from DRBRWL, Drbrwl is a solid new offering from this Midwest up-and-comer.

Drbrwl contains a number of potently psychedelic songs that showcase DRBRWL’s unique songwriting skills and sound. Opener “within” makes for a highlight with its expansive, engaging sonics and sharp vocal performance, and “innerstand” is an emotive cut that scores with its tightly-crafted production and infectious vocal melodies. “mpd” contains a space-age soundscape and warbling, sonically rich vocals.

A solid project from DRBRWL overall, Drbrwl has us excited for what may be coming next from him.

Listen to Drbrwl here:


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Jxylen battles with his anger on fierce album “Project Mayhem: Fight Club Edition”

Returning with four new tracks on the deluxe edition of “Project Mayhem”, a dark and enigmatic release from early 2022, there is a slightly different side to Jxylen being shown. While the original release retold stories and perspectives from Jxylen’s past up till now, the four latest tracks are an update on the latest feelings and realizations he’s gone through.

“God Bless America” for example is a caustically written critique of American values, and an ironic spin on what makes America “America.” It’s a track filled with blistering statements and an indignantly painful tone. Jxylen lets his weakness against an unchanging power shine through with his angry and spastic delivery. Lines like “God bless America, most living just to die” and “this weights been very heavy” add to the overall hopelessness and nihilism of the track.

“Still Tired” and “SKT 3” serve as the most violent and violent angry tracks on the tape. While “SKT 3” plays deep into a Mobb Deep esque New York violence, filled with wordplay about gunshots and various ways to get rich, “Still Tired” is a deeper, more complex and ambiguous violence. It’s easy to tell that Jxylen is burning in quiet fury from anger he cannot remove from his soul. There is no content, and from this realization comes further anger at the world. He “hides [his] feelings” when boils into even more violence.

“Alive!” is easily the most interesting track of the tape. It’s a soulful and bold song filled with odd and almost childlike delivery on the chorus. While the lyrics touch less surface level than the other tracks, it’s not meant to be much more than a braggadocious rap that portrays Jxylen’s ego as larger than ever within the pits of his anger. Jxylen flows fluidly as the beat switch’s and he comes to grips with “artists dickriding… eternal hate… and creating something timeless.” It’s a second verse filled with substance crammed into barely 40 seconds on the ending of the track that very well captures the sentiment of Jxylen’s very artistic being, and shows his best strengths in writing and delivery.



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