Tame You is available at:
R ‘n’ B; Alternative
Produced by Yellow Shoots
Co-written by John Hamilton
Mixed by Jon Buscema
Mastered by Michael White
Art Direction: Troy Kreiner
Photography: Kevin Burzynsk
THIS is going to be a busy week ahead…
With the business of work- minor and pointless as it is- in-between there are going to be a lot of different sounds coming my way. Some interview subjects are making final touches- a few lovely and talented ladies- before the band Gelato (Friday); Bird (Saturday)- finishing with Pop/Soul artist Manda (on Sunday). Those reviews take me around the U.K. and the globe. For now, I am back in the U.S., which raises a few interesting points: including U.S. music; the way we come to hear it- in addition to R ‘n’ B and Alternative blends. I love British music- well most of it anyway- but it is always nice to hear something international and unfamiliar- get to grips with something new and fresh. It is rare to really encounter music outside the U.K.: for us here, we have to rely on social media and word-of-mouth- unless the mainstream media point us in that direction. We tend to all have our own tastes and particular music leanings: we revisited older music and tend to not stray too far from what is comforting. If you are in the music business: either a music-lover or musician, you have a better advantage- naturally you come into contact with more bands/acts. Most of my exposure to U.S. music comes from social media: I will be recommended an act or else I find a ‘friend of a friend’- it always seems like I stumble upon the music by accident. I guess that how it is- you discover great stuff without intention- but it is always great unearthing something wonderful. With regards American music, I am always keeping my ears trained and ready- seeing what is out there. Of course, it is hard to assess and monitor all American acts- a lot will slip through the net. When it comes to the location and providence of U.S. sounds, I look towards L.A. and New York- two vibrant centres for great music; bustling areas that are producing some of music’s very best. Having encapsulated myself within L.A. recently- a few great musicians took my attention and stunned me- it is great to be back in New York- and a familiar spot for me. After reviewing The Falling Birds- also based out of Brooklyn- I was compelled to seek some of their neighbours; just what the borough could provide- and how different the music is. The Falling Birds are a hard and heavy act: their music is leather-clad and cool; their Rock music swaggering and attitude-laden- with plenty of melody, intelligence and wit. On the other hand, my featured act has a different sound: the R ‘n’ B-cum-Alternative mesh is a smoother and more emotive thing- sensual and urgent; head-spinning and intoxicating. It seems Brooklyn is one of the U.S.’s most prosperous and productive areas: the musicians here are inspired by their contemporaries and streets; the rich variety of sounds (coming out of Brooklyn) – there is something rather special occurring here. Before I raise a couple of new points, let me introduce Yellow Shoots:
“Greg Matthews is a New York-based singer/producer popularly known as “Yellow Shoots”. Prior to becoming a solo artist, Matthews was the lead guitarist for GoGo Morrow and Ryan Toby of “City High”, playing on big stages such as Jay-Z’s “Budweiser: Made in America”.
After moving from Philadelphia to Brooklyn in 2014, “Yellow Shoots” was born. He released his debut single “Pieces” in October 2014. His music demonstrates infectious melodies and a natural combination of electronic, rnb and ambient rock influences.”
It is strange how fortuitous and happenstance music can be: without knowing it you get to witness something rather special and wondrous- having been a stranger to it the day before. Social media probably needs something more organised and structured: there are a great many acts out there- worthy of attention and a lot of love- but they tend to slip through the net. With the proliferation and swell of the music industry- owing to the fact there are dozens of new acts coming through by the day- how best to control/mediate this? Well, when it comes to my music tastes, I tend to stick with familiar artists: their fellow favourites and acts usually proffer great rewards. I love acts like Issimo- a British duo that play a variety of sounds- and they have a great spread of likes/choice musicians. From there, I have been able to dig-out new review subjects and great music- it does seem unwieldy, mind. It may be easy to monitor British music, but when it comes to American gems; it is a harder task- you just have to take it a step at a time I guess. A lot of my recent reviews- and those coming up- concern Rock bands and British acts- with a bit of Folk and Pop thrown in there. I do not get a chance to review an artist that fuses R ‘n’ B with Alternative measures- something Yellow Shoots has perfected. With Tame You– released a few months ago now- there is that perfect hybrid of the genres; the crackling emotion and stunning beats- all tied into a colourful and dizzying cocktail. There is still a proliferation of Rock and Indie acts out there, so it is great to stumble-upon something that breaks from those sounds- providing something more seductive and stylish. Yellow Shoot’ central figure has amassed a number of social media fans; his stock is rising- I think 2016 will be an interesting year for sure. With a series of songs under his belt, it would be great to hear a new album: something that expands his sound and material; showcases just what he is capable of- a fascinating and detailed investigation into his psyche and romantic life.
Tame You is not Yellow Shoots’ newest moment- Soul Find Me (featuring Faja) is fresher- yet it is a great middle point- we can see how the music has developed and changed; whether the newest moment is better/less striking. Hold Me Down starts with direct and urgent vocals: fusing with tight beats, our hero is caught in a deep love- planets align and he is caught in a rather wonderful trance. The vocal is both emotive and soulful- employing some great shades of past masters- whilst the composition is constantly moving and strong; it is passionate and detailed. Backwards-sampling and scratches mutate to lashing percussion and cosmic electronics- meshed together and put through the blender. The various threads and sounds mix together perfectly; there are no loose or out-of-place moments- it all sounds vital and stunning. It is a song to get lost in and transport the mind; let it just drift you away- alternately, it could score a club dancefloor; such is its swagger and sexiness. There are definite hints of classic/’90s R ‘n’ B wrapped inside modern-day Electronic music- the resultant genetic offspring is something quite beautiful. Released ten months ago, Hold Me Down is the sound of a young man with a clear direction and sense of confidence- you can hear it all formed and complete here.
Pieces predates Hold Me Down and was one of Yellow Shoots’ earliest cuts. It is bubbling and groaning; wandering and busy- a composition that has sparse beats and clicks; it relies on its evocative and atmospheric textures- the central vocal leads the way. Sound rich and impassioned, it sees the hero pleading with his love; wanting her to prove (her) love- showing that she cares and feels for him. That chocolate and velvety voice drips with emotion and intention; the composition twinkles, trips and shudders- the entire track promotes vivid imagery and dreaming. Each listener will imagine their own course of events; how the story unfolds- ultimately how things resolve themselves. Perhaps not quite as memorable as Hold Me Down; it is a valiant and impressive effort- one that could naturally stands alongside Hold Me Down. Over the course of a couple of songs, there is a consistency and sense of improvement: Yellow Shoots demonstrates what a feel he has for his genre choices (R ‘n’ B and Electronica) and is consistently impressive.
Soul Find Me is one of the newest examples from the Brooklyn maestro: featuring the sublime talents of Faja, it shows the collaborative spirit- how Yellow Shoots can work with a fellow artist. For this track, there is no compromising or lack of integrity: that central and personal sound is all intact; you get a sumptuous voice added to the mix. From its sensual and delicious opening- that is as sweaty and tongue-licking in its sexiness- our hero starts on the mic. Again, the composition is fairly bare and minimalist- the spotlight is placed on the vocal and lyrics. The entrancing beat augments the voice, as Yellow Shoots is laying his heart on the line- paying tribute to an addictive love. With a Rap and Urban edge to proceedings, the song benefits from that collaboration and fusion- the gender role-reversal makes the song so fascinating. Given the male-male vocal coming-together, it differs from a lot of similar songs. When speaking of love and passion, you would normally have a boy-girl pairing; the female rapper or artist acting as the song’s subject- and sharing vocal duties with the lead. Here, Yellow Shoots kicks the song off; Faja provides a slick and detailed break-down; the lyrics investigate love and soul-bearing- the importance of giving your all. The track is a glimpse into future Yellow Shoots release: if an album or E.P. were to appear, we could see collaborations on there. Brooklyn has a lot of great male and female acts; there are endless possibilities and song options- Soul Find Me is one of the best things Yellow Shoots has produced.
Tame You is an equal to Soul Find Me and displays the same degree of quality, detail and nuance- showing a natural progression and development. A new E.P. is being mooted- somewhere around autumn/winter- so I hope those rumours are true. It would be natural to see the aforementioned songs included; maybe a new cut will see the light of day. If it is a four-track E.P., one hopes we hear Tame You, Soul Find Me, Pieces and Hold Me Down– it would be a seamless and hugely impressive collection. I am not sure what is in the young artist’s mind, but only time will tell- I am looking forward to seeing what is to come.
The initial seconds see dark and echoed beats working in the background. Reminding me of the Trip/Hip-Hop explorations of ‘90s acts- the likes of Portishead and Massive Attack- there is huge early promise. Nothing explodes out the gates and makes its way to the surface straight off- there is a slow build and a lot of tenderness to begin. Although the beats and electronics are quite forceful and powerful, there is plenty of smoothness and laid-back chill. Crackles and snaps marry with flowing and static; chilled vibes and lust sit alongside one another. Before our hero takes to the centre, there is a brief glimpse of swelling and vibrating electronics: another little kick-up that paints a lot of images and emotions; the introduction is something that slowly builds and develops. When the vocal does come, it is imbued with beauty and resonance- as smooth and emotive as any Yellow Shoots has produced. His sweetheart’s lips; the tangle of their arms- the initial lines are bathed in passion and sexuality. You get an initial sense of the song’s title: that fiery and sensual lover; perhaps needing to temporise things- maybe calm it all down a little. If there is any reticence of hesitation, it is not apparent in the vocal itself- it is rife with desire. The “red skies come crashing down”; the heavens and skies are flashing by- there is something tremulous and uncertain ahead. Using them as metaphors for passion and love- although the imagery projected is more powerful than any clichés most writers use- the composition matches the mood- cascading and striking; stirring and rousing. It makes you wonder what his sweetheart is like: someone that is in need of taming, there is that animalistic and undomesticated viewpoint. Maybe too provocative and wild; a party-dweller with some loose morals- or someone who just needs to surrender to a sage and true love. Whatever the scenario, you cannot help but to picture the heroine: what she looks like and how she moves; how she speaks and how she works- and how our hero tries to discipline and control. It is that lead vocal that steals most of the honours; instilled with such a weight and potency, it is hard not to be drawn it- such a sensuous, sweet and smooth thing; yet rife with vibrant lust and possibilities. As the song progresses, there is talk of submitting to a fate; surrender to this reality- lose the fear and “lose your mind”. Without going into too much detail- what is unveiling and the turn of events- you get a lot of mystique and openness. Every love song has its own way of conveying the relationships and turn of events; Yellow Shoots goes beyond the worst trappings of the songwriter- hyperbole and endless cliché; too many vague sentiments- instead offering a blend of reality and the surreal. That sweet and rich voice guides us through a dramatic and plot-twisting love story: our hero has that desire for his girl but at the same time, things seem quick untamed and spiraling. When the chorus comes back around, those lyrics and hard beats seem more relevant and important- as the song has unfolded, you get a better sense of the players and scenes; the layers start to unravel. As his love goes “deep inside”, you are never far from the sweat and tease. Before the track comes to its end, a diving and vibrating electronic parable blends with a punchy beat- as the fire starts to fade, you wonder how things worked out.
Tame You was written with John Hamilton and benefits from a terrific production: it is clear and crisp; allowing each beat and note to really shine and impress- without being too plastic and over-produced. When it comes to the song itself, it is a brilliant offering from the Brooklyn resident. With comparisons to his early work, it is a step forward- one of his most inventive and bold tracks. The composition has familiar threads- that mix of sparse and heavy- but the vocal and subject matter has developed somewhat. Here, Yellow Shoots’ voice is at its most impressive and desirous: a potent and stunning weapon, it brims with emotion and passion; that huge amount of conviction and shiver. Both sweet and sensual, it is ultimately a very striking and powerful tool- putting me in mind of legends of Soul and R ‘n’ B. The lyrics look at a rather fascinating and uneven love; a burning and dangerous bond- a heroine that inspires all sorts of ideas and images. The lyrics are economical, yet they manage to summon images of the heavens and fire; sweaty passion and a lack of control- with our lead offering heart, soul and submission. Lesser writers would plague a song with words and lines; make it too cluttered and busy- the gift of Tame You is its nakedness and simplicity. It is a song that could easily slide in alongside the modern R ‘n’ B tracks but it seems like it deserves more- a chance to get into the mainstream and inspire lots of artists. Yellow Shoots has a lot of local approval, yet his name is not synonymous everywhere. With such a strong offering and consistency, let’s hope that reward is forthcoming- few acts are as instantaneous as this.
It has been a busy week for me: one where I have traversed a wide array of music and sounds- some terrific artists have come to mind. Yellow Shoots is an act that fits into a busy and packed scene: with so many contemporaries vying for market space, does he separate himself from the crowd? The Brooklyn musician has an edge and distinction that elevates him above the majority of his peers: with a huge confidence and expertise, his music strikes directly to the heart. Tame Me is a standout track that is definitely a thing of rare beauty: a song that defines some thorough investigation and detailed deconstruction. Before I end, I am looking to discover more U.S. music and different styles- broaden my horizons and really see what is out there. I am enamoured of my home music and the best Britain has to offer: every once in a while it is great to travel further afield; find some terrific international acts. Yellow Shoots marks himself to be one of the more agile and inventive artists on the block: it will be fascinating to see how he progresses in the next year. Having grown in ability and quality- his songs get better as time goes on- he is really coming into his own; showing just how fertile and imaginative his compositions are- someone that has a definite future. I have mentioned about a possible album; a way for the young talent to expand and spread his wings- that will be an interesting proposition. Of course money is a big evil when it comes to music- we never have enough and it is not free to produce an album- so I hope there is some finance and impetus available. In that same manner, it would be nice to see Yellow Shoots come to London- there are a lot of new clubs and venues sprouting up- and there is a definite audience awaiting. The seasons are closing in and the nights are getting harsher: music seems to be a balm and panacea that can ease the nerves and darkness- give us something to reflect on and feel happy about. There does not seem to be too much energy and variation in a lot of music; certain acts are too stilted and flat- when a genuinely exciting act does come along, we should make sure they are promoted and heralded. If you have not encountered Yellow Shoots, make sure you take the time to discover what he is about- and see what Brooklyn’s music scene is producing. That borough seems to be teeming with eligible and vivacious musicians: your hard-striking Rock gods and tender Pop princesses; the soulful artists and the Electronica-based voyeurs- all mingling within a few blocks of one another. London has a similar vibe, and as a result, it produces music that is cosmopolitan and diverse- there is so much treasure to be discovered. I am compelled to delve back into Tame You and its insistent and glowing rush; its depths and contours- the way it transfixes and swims in the memory. Make sure you take a listen and follow a great young artist- and see just where his music takes him. You can take a trip to Brooklyn and experience something nuanced and compelling…
WITHOUT leaving your seat.
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