With so much talent emerging from Bongo Boy Records, it should come as no surprise that the label receives submissions from independent artists around the world. Around this time each year, Bongo Boy Records compiles the best and brightest of these submissions into one of their largest compilation albums of the year. The resulting album is a collection of independent artists that made it to the 1st round of voting for Grammy consideration. The 65th FYC Album is the label’s 5th-anniversary album release in this series, and this 2-disc collection boasts a collection of remarkable talent across nearly every genre
NEURONIUM‘s ethereal One Light-Year Away from You is a mysterious invitation to begin the album, gentle synths and soaring vocals abounding. Rhonda Head steps up the energy with Rain Dance, pulsing rhythms and an infectious beat setting the foundation for this alt-pop number. Spit It Out by Kick the Wicked takes things one step further with a hard-hitting rock number. Every layer of this track is driving and distorted, delivered with power and a hint of ’80s energy.
Not into the electronic sounds? Maybe Patrick McLaughlin‘s Big Sky is more your speed. A blend of Americana and blues sounds over clean, rich, acoustic instrumentation makes this track an early standout. We also hear from fan-favorites STUDEO with their track Silence, a melodic, rock-forward number that highlights their strong songwriting and vocal abilities. The work of prolific songwriter Clark Ford makes an appearance as well, with his track I Won’t Give Up On You earning a well-deserved spot in this compilation (read our full review of that track here). Eugenie Jones is new to us, but Sittin’ at the Bar feels like an old favorite – a smoky, sultry blues/jazz number with a timeless arrangement.
Intentional Chaos by Gar & Myke lives up to its name, with unpredictable rhythms and a fun, bouncy energy that’s carried by a classic blues sound. ARCTIC BABA joins with Mr. Crazy, a refreshing pop-rock number with bright vocals and exquisitely blended vocal harmonies carrying the chorus. We’re familiar with E.G. Holme‘s WARM, a melancholy and pensive piano power ballad, which is flanked by Alex Otey‘s Back to Feeling Fine – a jazzy number laced with hints of funk fusion and a raw singer-songwriter feel.
Rounding out the first disc is The NEW Bardots with (Just) Another Dance in The City, a single that blends Americana/blues sounds with classic rock elements. OBLIVEA is also featured with their single The Crash (check out that review here), and finally followed by Grit’s Guitar‘s Cry Me a River, an epic guitar performance that impresses as often as it delights and inspires.
On disc two, we find another selection of remarkable talent. Tess Remy-Schumacher begins with an equally unexpected and stunning cello solo from Composer Kitt Wakeley that brings a traditional element to this collection of music. Lisa Swerdlow follows with A Rhapsody Lives in You which conjures similar feelings, a piano-led composition of the modern classical variety that evokes feelings of sorrow and hopefulness as it progresses. We take a sharp turn back into blues territory with Sheba The Mississippi Queen and her single Beg Borrow and Steal, Sheba’s iconic powerhouse voice setting the tone for this rowdy, toe-tapping instant classic. Aaron Aranita and Eastbound offers another unique musical perspective with Samba Del Sol, a decidedly Latin number with a impeccable horn section at the foundation of this sunny track.
Yocontalie Jackson is the first to bring us a gospel number with Lord Prepare Me to Be a Sanctuary, and her angelic voice and stately delivery over classic gospel backing vocals do both the song and genre pure justice on this compilation. The Only Way to Heaven by Bible Belt Blues keeps us in the same vein, but offers a folk spin on modern Christian music. Traditional and uncomplicated in its execution, the simplicity of this song brings a welcome singer-songwriter touch to the forefront, a bit reminiscent of John Prine.
Kick The Wicked impresses with Blinded by The Lie, a high-octane alt-rock track where hints of ’80s elements brings stadium rockers like U2 to mind. Beautiful You by Helen O’Shea takes things down a notch as we begin to make our way to the end of the compilation. Featured vocalist Yancyabril treats us to saccharine and gentle tones, comparable to Colbie Callait but with instrumentation that takes on a bit more of an edge. Anaya Music‘s Inner Peace is a thoughtful, delicate moment, a beautiful instrumental performed by orchestral strings. Finally, rounding out this second disc is Grayhawk with A Tutu Pele Goddess, a track rooted in nature sounds accompanying a complex sonic landscape that paints clear pictures of Hawaiian deity mentioned in the title.
We say it often in regards to Bongo Boy Records compilation albums, but this album truly does have something for every musical taste. Pop to rock to blues to classical to everything in between – if you’re looking for the cream of the crop of today’s rising indie artists, you’ll find them on The 65th FYC Album.
BELOW: Listen to The 56th FYC Album and connect with their website and social media platforms. Please support Bongo Boy Records by visiting them online, and playing, downloading, and/or purchasing their music! And, as always, thank you for supporting real music!