Review of Sweat Boys: Nervous Prayers

Band: Sweat Boys

Album: Nervous Prayers

Label: Give/Take

All songs written & performed by Benny Sweat except “Never Be You”, performed by Benny Sweat & Jerry Miller (guitar) & “Endlessly”, written by Dylan Thomas Lambert & Benny Sweat, performed by Benny Sweat & Nicklas Stenemo (guest vocals). Vocal Engineering, Mixing, Additional Production: DEATHDANCE. Mastering: Rob Robinson. Logo Design: Jim Marcus.

Sometimes I fall in love with an album because it is something really on the edge and sometimes because it feels familiar like an old friend you haven’t seen in several decades that showed up and filled you with feelings you had forgotten. The second was how it was for Sweat Boys. This is a beautiful synth driven welcoming EP full of tender hooks and very personal lyrics containing familiar themes. Relationships, longing, loss, acceptance. I kept coming back to one of the most important albums of my youth Yaz “Upstairs at Eric’s”. These songs are beautifully crafted and delivered with piercing emotion while the music is warm and comforting. Much of it is full of blood pumping dance beats and snapping snares.

Benny Sweat has a gorgeous voice that is clear and to the front. He doesn’t hide it behind a lot of effect and slush and the clarity of it really adds to the personal nature of the songs. For a 5 song EP it has a tremendous amount of range movement. You just don’t hear enough music in this genre in the modern era that takes the courageous stance of beautiful pop hooks without hiding behind layer after layer of production. It takes me back to sitting in a room with close friends and really sharing the feeling invoked by an album together. That stumbling youthful searching and awkward energy of finding a truth in each other. I found myself lost in nostalgia but at the same time enamored by the freshness of it because this just isn’t done anymore. I forgot how much I missed that feeling and that is what this album gives you.

Favorite tracks:

I Don’t Love you – Here is that beautiful ringing energy and clarity of Erasure and Yaz. It cooks at a breakneck medium pace but still makes Benny’s vocals the star of the track. We have all felt this moment of realization and it is an intense feeling but the simple beauty of the music keeps the heady concept so light and bright.

You’re Gone – This is a darker tone and beautifully transitioned. Giving it more of a early INXS or Pet Shop Boys feel. The isolated keyboard line here rings out so beautifully and really carries the melody. This is a dance around my living room in my underwear throwing my hands in the air and just feeling a moment.

Endlessly (featuring: Nicklas Stenemo of Kite) – What a gorgeous ballad breakdown that has a soulful Madonna/Cindi Lauper feel. The back and forth discussion like vocal lines are extremely powerful. “lying awake I can’t sleep but still I’m dreaming” It’s mesmerizing and so real. A glimpse into a personal discussion and a stirred emotion.

Overall this was a beautiful and touching album that leaves you feeling someone shared a piece of life with you. It has true blood and soul in it. Maybe dance music has forgotten how to infuse this kind of heart felt power but Sweat Boys are bring that back and I am here for this moment. Get this in your collection right away.

Review of Mr.Kitty: Ephemeral

Band: Mr.Kitty

Album: Ephemeral

Label: Negative Gain Productions

Members: Forrest LeMaire

I think I have been putting this review off for a while out of intimidation. I have listened to this album A Ton. It has been my album to put on the headphones when walking into work to psyche myself up to face the day and find my swagger for the last several months. Austin Texas underground electronic star Forrest LeMarie has outdone themselves with such a bold and challenging offering of fiercely laced dance beats and emotionally dangerous themes. I first heard Mr.Kitty in a tragic way, I saw a post by another musician about how his tour van was robbed on the road. I gave a small donation because what a horrible thing to do to a touring artists. I remember being blown away and touched by the level of support and outpouring from other bands in the scene. I think that always says a lot about an artist by who will stand up for them. What is the name they have built and Forrest is truly beloved. Artists don’t give away that level of respect lightly. Then this record dropped in March 2019 and had 30 tracks? 30 tracks, who does that in the modern era…no one. What is more, it isn’t filler, it isn’t fluff. Every song is a story full of crystal clear production, heart wrenching vocals, and powerful themes.

In my formative years I was very flamboyant and it made me a target. Bands like The Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, who took beautiful pop hooks, harmony, and style and mixed it with an undertone of very powerful dark themes that contrasted the prism of color and joy in the music meant so much to me. That’s what this album stirred for me, that fierce defiance and truth of making something fun and beautiful of the fear and pain of feeling outside.

I think what is even more impressive about this record beyond the sheer scope of it is the precision and calculation of every song. Nothing is wasted here. Every tempo change, every keyboard sound, every line of poetry seems to have a place and purpose. As a listener it’s so captivating. As a song writer it is hard not to player hate and think, good gods how did you do this for 30 tracks. It’s truly a staggering feat when you think about it.

Ok, here comes the hard part. How does one choose stand out tracks when you have 30 worth while songs? Sitting here at 12:30 am on a Wed I don’t have a good answer to that question. However if Forrest had the focus of mind to create this amazing piece of work I suppose I can suck it up and narrow down 3 tracks I love the most.

Disconnected Lover – What a beautiful anthem chant dance room burner of a song. “It’s not up to you, it’s up to me, I’ll tell you how to set me free” The distant echo vocal sound creates this awesome displacement. The dance beat burns, it lives inside your head and you can’t shake it free.

Trauma – Oh the creeping build of this song. It’s so accessible but delivered in such an upbeat friendly tone it truly makes me not feel alone whenever I hear it. “With all my rage I’m going to take you down. To which you beg and plead before i put you in the ground. Few songs make me feel so connected in isolation, to capture that feeling in a genuine way is a truly monumental achievement.

Immurement– This album is so dynamic and full of range. It would be impossible to only focus on the upbeat dance gems. This is a full and crushing song hitting you with creeping walls of sound closer to Bach than to dance music. A slow exposed attack of sound and emotion. Striking and retreating. It’s a different story, a different journey and that is the beauty of this album.

Look if you haven’t gotten the picture yet, this is an album you need. It’s vast, courageous, but also full of fun and hope. It’s one of those records I keep coming back to when i don’t know where else to go. Which is one of the highest compliments I can think to give for a person who listens to as much new music as me.