Jason Rylan The Charm Review
by Alex Henderson
3.5 stars out of 5
Of all the musical terms currently being used, one of the most far-reaching is “electronica.” That umbrella term is typically used to describe an incredibly wide variety of music, from highly abrasive, dissonant, forceful techno and rave music to lush and ethereal downtempo and chillout. Electronica, depending on the artist, can be amelodic, or it can thrive on melody. And if one considers Jason Rylan’s The Charm part of electronica, it clearly falls on the more melodic side of electronica.
According to his publicity bio, Rylan’s influences range from the Doors and the Beatles to Madonna and Lady Gaga. And listening to The Charm, it is not hard to believe that. The Las Vegas-based singer, songwriter and producer obviously appreciates a variety of music, drawing on everything from pop-rock to dance-pop to hip-hop. Parts of this digital album are very friendly to dance clubs, especially “Fame Junkie,” the funky “Ain’t Nobody (Got Time for That),” “Resurrection on the Dance Floor” and the hiphop-ish “Killing It.” But other parts of The Charm show strong pop-rock instincts, including “Help Is on the Way,” “It Gets Better,” “I’m Just Sayin’,” “Blindsided” and the jangly “Share the Love.” Rylan even includes a cover of U2’s 1987 hit “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” but instead of trying to emulate Bono and his colleagues, Rylan is smart enough to put his own spin on the song. When Rylan is done with “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” the results are closer to the Pet Shop Boys or Right Said Fred than U2. Rylan’s makeover of the U2 song has both pop-rock appeal and club appeal.
But as enjoyable as Rylan’s version of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” is, covers are not a high priority on The Charm. The album is dominated by Rylan’s own material, and it is evident that he appreciates the art of songcraft. The Charm has its share of club-friendly beats, but none of the 15 tracks give the impression that Rylan is providing beats just for the sake of providing beats. Ultimately, The Charm is about melody, harmony, vocal personality and substantial songwriting, and in that sense, he definitely has something in common with Madonna. For all her popularity in dance clubs over the years, Madonna has always appreciated songs that told a story: “Like a Virgin,” “Holiday,” “Like a Prayer,” “Dress You Up” and “Open Your Heart” were all club favorites that told a story and had a lot more going for them than just a danceable beat. And Rylan, similarly, is going for substance as well as dance floor appeal. One can dance to “Shit’s Gonna Get Real” or “Ain’t Nobody (Got Time for That),” but they also work well if one prefers to just sit down and listen to them.
Listening to “Havoc,” one can see where the influence of the Doors comes into play for Rylan. That track has a moody, dusky, goth-tinged sort of vibe; in fact, it hints at the electro-goth sound. And mentioning the Doors in connection with goth makes perfect sense in light of how much they influenced goth-rock. The Doors broke up in 1973 (two years after lead singer Jim Morrison’s death), but their influence continued long after the group ended. And they had a huge effect on goth-rock, directly or influencing affecting everyone from Bauhaus and the Sisters of Mercy to Black Tape for a Blue Girl (not to mention gothic metal bands such as Lacuna Coil, Nightwish, Tristania and The Gathering). “Havoc” is the most goth-sounding tune on this album, and it has hints of the Doors as well as electronic beats.
With The Charm, Rylan continues to declare his allegiance to both pop-rock and dance music. And it is a combination that works well for him.
Artist: Jason Rylan
Album: The Charm
Review by Alec Cunningham
Rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
On the onset of Las Vegas musician Jason Rylan’s third release, The Charm, the album seems both interesting and unexpected. Rylan has a knack for being able to seamlessly blend characteristics of electronic dance music (EDM), and rock music. Because of that, he’s been able to create a consistently enjoyable album.
You may need a couple songs to initially warm up to his sound, but by the time “Havok,” the album’s third track, comes along, you’ll be dedicated to seeing the album through to the end – and you may even find yourself becoming an avid Rylan fan.
Rylan’s beats and sounds are never predictable. Instead, there are plenty of quirks and catchy beats to keep your ears entertained for quite some time. This is part of why this album is so intriguing – because you never know exactly what may be coming next from song to song.
While most of the songs are mildly repetitive, that’s to be expected in any music that’s even remotely similar to pop or rave music. The Charm happens to be a very well-produced album with an extremely catchy, electro-pop sound.
One thing you might notice as you continue through the album is that his songs almost always have an uplifting spin to them. “It Gets Better” is one of the most prominent examples of this. The track is, as you could imagine, a song of encouragement. Rylan sings, “It gets better, so much better – better than ever. Just hold on.” Similarly, the following track is one titled “Help Is On the Way.”
Positioned almost smack dab in the middle of the album is a cover of U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” – and boy is it an excellent cover. The cover is more upbeat than the original, and Rylan has obviously put in the effort to make the track his own. The musician has a way of creating infectiously catchy beats. And as hard as you may try to resist it, you’re not going to be able to stop yourself from really getting into this album. Heck, you might even find yourself all-out dancing.
While the entire album is made up of solid material, Rylan sets a new high for himself with “Resurrection on the Dancefloor.” If it were put on the radio today it would be an instant hit. Rylan’s deep voice combined with the song’s electro-alt-rock qualities provide it with strong similarities to artists like Depeche Mode and New Order.
Towards the end, Rylan seems to gravitate a little much toward pleasing the teenage ravers out there. For instance, while “Sh*t’s Gonna Get Real” has a killer bass beat to it and would likely make for a great party anthem, his earlier tracks had much stronger qualities about them.
Rylan redeems himself a bit on his final track though. “Blindsided” is a stripped down track that boldly displays his true musical talents. It may just be a personal opinion, but in future releases, I would love to see more songs like this one. Nevertheless, Rylan has a proven talent for producing detailed, multi-textural arrangements. Likewise, it would be interesting to see how well this album translates in live performances since it relies an equal amount on organic instrumentation and electronic beats.
Like the album title suggests, Rylan has an undeniable charm to him. He’s been building momentum since his first release, and he continues to do so on this third release. Rylan seems to be making a splash regionally so far, and if he continues on that path he may very well find that fan base growing.
Artist Name: Jason Rylan
Album Title: The Charm
Review by: Alexa Spieler
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
Las Vegas-based singer-songwriter Jason Rylan recently released his third full-length album, The Charm in 2015. On the 15-track album, Rylan aspires for listeners to grasp his sense of edginess, in conjunction with how eclectic and inspiring he hopes the full-length is. The Charm’s versatility derives from its inclusion of tones of multiple genres, including audible undertones of hip-hop, pop, rock, electronica, and dance, showcasing that Rylan is never to be restricted to one genre throughout his musical pursuits. Ultimately, The Charm stands as a testament to Rylan’s versatility, defying limitations by conveying his ability to blend genres like EDM and pop with rock and crafting songs that are simultaneously meaningful and diverse.
The Charm begins with “Ain’t Nobody (Got Time For That),” an uptempo, experiential composition that has strong undertones of EDM, contemporary pop, and funkier genres. On “Ain’t Nobody (Got Time For That),” Rylan utilizes the first track of his album to exemplify how he incorporates a myriad of genres into his compositions, successfully achieving in doing so. “Ain’t Nobody (Got Time For That)” kick-starts The Charm in an energetic way, setting the pace for the remainder of the album. On the following song, “Skyline,” Rylan continues pursuing mixing together multiple genres and experimenting, but in a subtler manner. While the instrumentation of “Skyline” remains eclectic, as Rylan blends together a sweet composition of serene acoustic guitar strumming, sonorous horns, and supportive percussion, the reducing of the musical backing provides him with a better platform to showcase his gentle vocals. One of the song’s downfalls pertaining to his vocal ability, however, is when there are small hints at computerized vocals, which take away from Rylan’s inherent ability to sing with rawness.
As The Charm progresses, the nearly four-minute track “Havoc” indicates a change of pace. While the song is more laidback than others and predominantly features slower, darker tones, the grooving percussion in “Havoc” livens the track. There is a semblance of experimental instrumentation within “Havoc,” but mostly, the track primarily falls within the alternative rock genre, undoubtedly a track of less EDM and high-energy pop components. However, the pace is picked right back up with “I’m Just Sayin’” which is a bright, uptempo number that is highlighted by positive vibes from the uplifting acoustic guitar strumming. Most of the track fits within the realms of pop and rock, providing listeners with a very contemporary, faster, and grooving composition. The percussion substantially helps provide a steady support, again breathing life into the song. The bright guitar strumming brings in elements of bluesy and twangy undertones, helping craft a diverse track. However, the track is again reduced in quality due to computerized vocals. While the instrumentation is uplifting and incorporates positive tones, the track lessens in quality due to the inauthenticity that derives from the computerized vocals, demonstrating again that Rylan crafts better songs when he relies on his raw vocal talent.
Over the course of The Charm, Rylan continually demonstrates his eagerness to experiment with various genres and to incorporate a myriad of distinct components into his tracks. On “Help is on the Way,” Rylan immerses himself in a composition that isn’t too prevalent throughout The Charm: the ballad. A very soft, delicate strumming of the acoustic guitar, along with light synthesizer undertones, primarily supports the song. While the gentle instrumentation is supported by a percussion beat that drives the song’s energy, “Help is on the Way” is definitively strengthened by its emotionality and genuineness, primarily deriving from Rylan’s vocal tone. The composition adds depth to The Charm, contributing powerful lyrical content, such as, “And help is on the way | Give yourself and let it light your way.” “Help is on the Way” is certainly The Charm’s most powerful track, given its emotionally moving content. On the album’s shortest track, “Out Loud,” Rylan returns to his experimentation roots. Despite its shortness in length, “Out Loud” significantly delivers an energy-packed, highly captivating track that is carried by its pulsating, thumping bass drum and its mixture of melodic synthesizers. The instrumentation proves to be the strongest component of “Out Loud,” creating a memorably fastpaced, rhythmic composition that sonically dominates. As for his vocal performance, Rylan conveys a different vocal style, echoing darker and deeper tonal qualities. It certainly is not the track that exemplifies his vocal range, but is more so an EDM-based track that provides listeners with memorable sets of pounding beats and a wide-range of upbeat, energizing synthesizers. With “Resurrection on the Dancefloor,” Rylan brings in his elements of experimentation again, this time primarily audible through the unique instrumentation choice. Instead of relying on instruments like guitars or drums, Rylan interestingly intertwines sonic noises like flashing camera throughout the uptempo, infectiously catchy song. Brought together by steady percussion and several layers of synthesizers, “Resurrection on the Dancefloor” delivers an upbeat, cohesive track.
To close out The Charm, Rylan concludes with the four-minute “Blindsided” which is a delicate, honest track to conclude on. The instrumentation is never too overbearing, but rather is simplified, soft, and stripped-down, presenting Rylan with the platform to conclude the album by showcasing his voice. The lightness of the instrumentation, as it lacks any semblance of cacophony, rounds The Charm out in a manner that combines delicateness with energy and positive instrumentation, smoothly fusing together Rylan’s strong points on the album.
With his third full-length, The Charm, Jason Rylan delivers a versatile collection of music that is jam-packed with various genre influences and provides listeners with the opportunity to simultaneously enjoy hints of electronica, experimental, pop, and rock music.
Artist: Jason Rylan
Album: The Charm
Reviewed by: Justin Kreitzer
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Las Vegas-based singer-songwriter and electronic music producer Jason Rylan recently released his long-awaited third album, The Charm. Since the release of his debut album in 2005, Rylan has been producing dance-orientated electronic music with elements of 80’s pop and heavy hints of classic and alternative rock for an inspiring and eclectic blend. On his latest album, Rylan was assisted by long-time collaborator, engineer and multi-instrumentalist Talbot Snow and guests Sham Lewis, vocalist Carolyne Scott, and Jedd Boyd.
The album opens with the repetitive refrain and danceable rhythm of “Ain’t Nobody (Got Time For That)” - an anthemic rumination on addiction. The song also introduces new listeners to Rylan’s rich baritone vocal style that is graced with just a touch of darkness reminiscent of 80’s goth-pop. The aptly-titled and Lady Gaga-inspired “Skyline” follows with some cloud-scraping melodies and a thumping beat along with triumphant horns that signal the arrival of the irresistible chorus. “Havoc” is bolstered by a buzzing bass line, a blipping beat and a dark yet somewhat spiritual atmosphere that matches the intensity of the lyrics. Next, “I’m Just Sayin” features steady acoustic guitar strumming, a propulsive rhythm and a lovelorn lyrical sentiment that builds to a cathartic release that never really comes to fruition; the song would really take off with an explosive chorus…just sayin’. It quickly gets better though as the track, “It Gets Better” opens with sounds of waves crashing and seagulls before a piano-led melody and bouncy beat takes over setting the scene for a hopeful, LGBT-inspired message on the catchy and empowering chorus.
The uplifting first single released from the album, “Help Is On The Way” stands out with the positive message that the universal language of music can heal and is set to a thudding beat and jangly guitars for good measure. On “Share The Love” Rylan shares an affecting message of happiness and to live life to the fullest with heavy vocal effects and a jumpy rhythm. As a pleasant surprise, Rylan puts his own spin on the U2 classic, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” with a big, booming hip-hop and dubstep inspired beat and his deep, resonant voice. On the strength of this one, I would be interested in hearing more “Rylan-reinventions”.
The title track, “The Charm” is a call-and-response duet with guest vocalist Carolyne Scott whose R&B-inflected voice contrasts nicely and pairs well with Rylan’s and the head-nodding beat for another standout moment. Next, “Out Loud” is outfitted with an infectious club-ready dance beat and a crunchy, fuzzed-out bass line for a dance-rock hybrid sound that blends together all of his musical influences into one. “Resurrection On The Dancefloor” is a cathartic club-banger with eerie, cosmic synths and a pulsating beat. Along the same lines, “Killing It” is another fun and energetic dance floor anthem highlighted by a catchy, robot-like vocal cadence.
In the internet age it is easy to acquire your “15 minutes of fame” and with “Fame Junkie”, Rylan expounds on that idea, singing about the struggles behind the fame. Who knows, maybe this album will allow him his shot in the spotlight? Keeping the party going, another standout is the Calvin Harris-influenced EDM of “Shit’s Gonna Get Real” with its twinkling synths and fistpumping beat. Closing out the fifteen-track album is the mellow, Madonna-inspired track, “Blindsided” with its insistent acoustic guitar-led rhythm, soaring synth strings and serendipityinspired lyrics.
The age-old saying goes, “the third time’s the charm” and Jason Rylan’s most ambitious and most cohesive album, The Charm, was inspired by that sentiment and most definitely succeeds with his knack for deliriously danceable beats and personal yet highly relatable lyrics that has him on the right track to dominate the club scene and beyond.
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