Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.
Winner: Teenage Feeling by Michael Kross
Teenage Feeling starts as bright, light arpeggios shine above powerful drums and deep bass that adds a propulsive feeling to the song are joined by a howling, rocking guitar and Michael Kross’s strong soaring vocals. The synths dance and shimmer as Kross belts out a tale of youthful love and emotion while the chorus fills the music with passion and joy. The retro vibe is strong here, but well balanced with modern production.
Michael Kross is ear and clean in his delivery as he sings the lyrics that express all that hope and wonder that we seek to recapture from our youth. The guitar solo sings out with a similarly strong sense of hope and passion while a quick arpeggio with a “tech-y” sound spins out through the music. I do enjoy the charging drive of this song as it throbs onward with real conviction. I like the feeling of open air in the track and the little flashes of bright energy but it’s definitely the vocal performance that makes Teenage Feeling stand out.
Second Place: Neutron Scream by Gianni Barba
Neutron Scream bursts into life with a tense bright synth arpeggio and ethereal vocal sounds over powerful trumpeting synth with a hollow open feel to it. Heavy, thick drums hit along with the undulating, oscillating synth that snakes through them. The weight of the drums and bass slam the track forward hard with a real propulsive drive. Underneath it all a storm rages while an energetic melodic line that somersaults through the music while guitar growls gruffly in behind it.
This track is full of many layers of sound that flow together in different patterns while the steady, relentless beat and depths of bass continue onward in a tide that won’t slow. I also like the moments where a cascade of chip-like sounds move along with shiny arpeggios that flicker through hard-edged sounds. The track has undeniable drive and energy to it along with complex sonic interactions.
Third Place: Descend by Alex Vecchetti
Descend begins as harsh pulses of static join a stuttering computerized lead synth and a hard, angular pulse of bass that throbs in undulating waves. Patterns of tightly wound high synth create an addictive patterned feeling in the music as everything is driven by that drum and bass throb. A unique-sounding repeating oscillation climbs over the top of the other elements along with some engaging percussion sounds.
An interesting, open sounding synth plays a dynamic, forceful melody with rather computer-like tones. A wash of harsh chip sound adds one more dimension as warming , rising synths are joined by vocals that climb over the hard edges under them before returning to that body moving, head bobbing pulse. The vocals that come in add another element of darkness to the track. The shadows here are more subtle but they still lurk, hidden in the deep bass and static of the music.