Sometimes, all you need is a change of scenery to inspire you to be the best artist/musician you can be. Kansas City natives, David and Nick Lyle, feeling in need of some inspiration and longing for that “rockstar” lifestyle, moved to Los Angeles, shortly after the release of their sophomore full-length album, Beating Time. Rather than laying low and taking in the sights, though, they hit the ground running when they got there. Making connections, building friendships and writing some of the best music they’ve ever written. So, then, why are we starting off this article talking about a cover? Simple. Many bands have covered Post Malone & 21 Savage’s hit single, “Rockstar” but not like this. Knowing that they would need to pull out all of the stops, they took this track and made it their own. How did they do it? They took their interpretation of the song, created an incredible video (starring the smoking vixen that is Ksenyia Durst, wife of Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst) and put the “rock” in “Rockstar.” The guys roll up to an old church with a group of fans rushing them, demanding autographs and creating a riot-like scene before they enter the locked gates and begin playing. As the fans try to rush the gates, a wave of intensity passes over Ksenyia and she leads the charge. As David Lyle charges into his blistering solo, they finally break through and, rather than overwhelm the band, the scene becomes a big party. The best part of this cover is that it makes no attempt to keep the rap roots found in the original. Instead, mammoth drum beats, heavily-distorted guitars and Lyle’s care-free attitude in his vocal delivery create a version that makes you wish you’d never listened to the original! Even if they are worlds apart, Post Malone should be proud of such a respectful cover! In addition to the release of the OFFICIAL video, the band dropped some footage of them performing the cover from their sold-out show at the world famous Whisky A Go-Go! You can check out both videos below:
Some electronic effects, glitches and a distant “whoa” bring you into the 2nd track on the EP, “Underrated.” This track personifies what it’s like to be underestimated, and what a mistake that is for them. Lyle experiments with his higher vocal register in this fast-paced, catchy track that sounds like it could come straight from the soundtrack of a sports video game. Relentless and explosive from start to finish, this chorus will stay in your head for a long time… so listen at your own risk!
If you’re looking for a change of pace, Black Oxygen may have just created the new anthem for LA with the aptly-named, “City of Angels.” This acoustically-led, ballad-esque track tells a story of how glorious life in LA can be but how, at the same time, the pitfalls can be quite perilous, if you don’t watch your step. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album because, not only does it showcase Lyle’s killer singing voice, it’s very bare bones and stripped down from what we’ve heard from them in the past. In that sense, it has a very raw feel and creates an emotional background that can’t be ignored.
“Wolves” is a song that has taken over the airwaves lately, and rightfully so. The sense of danger, urgency and the dark atmosphere that surround it make it hard to turn away from. SURPRISE! Black Oxygen takes this one, twists it and makes it sound even darker than the original (performed by Selena Gomez & Marshmello, for those unaware). However, with this one, you can tell that it was just for fun… not to compete with the original. The arrangements are very similar, with some additional guitars and less electronic effects thrown in. The effects that were used, though, take Lyle’s vocals to a new dimension. Something worth noting is how seamlessly they switch in between a clean, more balanced sound to a heavier, more explosive sound… and still manage to build the track up the way it was intended to be. Proof positive that these guys know what they’re doing.
Somewhere trapped between the 50s and the 80s is the entrancing sound that exists on “Down Every Time.” This mid-tempo track has an interesting choice of vocal layering and gang vocals that gives it an eerie sound that, if it wasn’t so scary, might be down right scary. The way this track is arranged reminds me of something you might hear in a movie where someone is getting ready to do something deadly or has just passed on. The theme of this track, though, speaks to what it’s like to have a friend who has never left your side, from the time you were children to now… regardless of what you’ve gone through, or what you’ve put each other through. If I were to want to show my grandparents Black Oxygen, this is probably where I’d start them off.
If you thought that Black Oxygen couldn’t exist in a club setting… DJ… turn it “Up So High!” This track is simply designed to get you to let loose, get you off your feet and remind you that it’s okay to have a good time. More vocal-centric than any of the previous tracks, this shows that the band knows how and when to have fun, and when to be serious. The lack of focus on the instruments, gives Lyle his chance to shine in a different light. Here, we have a lot of effects on his vocals that give him the air of being a DJ and like most of what he’s done to this point, it works beautifully.
Sacrificing artistic integrity is not something that Black Oxygen was prepared to do when they moved to LA, and with City of Angels, they prove that they’re one of the last of a dying breed bringing back the true essence of Rock N Roll. Black Oxygen is a strong, independent band from Kansas City and their hometown should definitely be proud. They’ve become a respectable name in the music industry, following in the footsteps of artists like Puddle of Mudd’s Wes Scantlin and Tech N9ne! The Lyle Brothers songwriting has come a long way and they should be proud to put out such an incredible work of art! Be sure to pick up your copy, available in all online stores and streaming services worldwide and, if you’re in LA (or plan to be) they will be headlining at the world famous Whisky A Go-Go, on April 20th for their City of Angels EP release show! They’re a very strong, headline act so don’t miss it! Be sure to follow Black Oxygen on all their social media channels, which can be found below, and for any management/booking inquiries, you can contact the following email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Black Oxygen is lead by the mind, vision and hard work ethics of frontman, David Lyle, and his brother, Nick Lyle. The band is backed by their powerful LA music business attorney, Michael Shapiro, who has a track record of great bands/artists he’s worked with. They also have an incredible crew, a brilliant video production team (long-time friends, Reel Goats), their photographer Dave Gillispie, their producer/engineer, Brett Hestla (Dark New Day, Virgo Merlot, live touring bassist for Creed) and their live touring musicians on guitar, Wes Powell and Aaron Campisi on bass, as well as live crew members Dave Johnson and Chad Prichard. Put together and lead by the Lyle Brothers, they ignite something very special with their chemistry.
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