Category: folk

New Video: The Lush and Boldly Colored, Primal Visuals for Y La Bamba’s “Libre”

Over the course of the band’s three albums and several lineup changes of collaborators, friends and musicians, the band’s material has gone through a variety of changes — but it’s the the band’s forth full-length effort Ojos Del Sol that may be arguably be the most radical turn in sonic direction, while returning to familiar themes of searching and personal discovery — themes that have come up a number of times in Mendoza’s own life, whether as the daughter of Mexican immigrants connecting with her ancestry and searching for spiritual meaning that goes much further than organized religion. In fact, as Mendoza explains in press notes, the material on the album thematically is a “cerebration of family and community” — but a community of shared humanity.

Interestingly, the album’s first single “Libre” finds Mendoza and company at their most self-assured but in one of the breeziest and pop-leaning songs as they pair an infectious and anthemic hook with an arrangement that includes what sounds like xylophone, a mischievous and sinuous bass line, a steady backbeat, Mendoza’s gorgeous vocals along three part harmonies in English and Spanish, a rolling, African folk music-like guitar line in a song that evokes a sense of almost childlike wonder and joy, while making a connection both to Mendoza’s ancestral homeland and Africa in a way that subtly channels Paul Simon’s Graceland.

The recently released video accompanying the song is a lush, cinematically shot video using impossibly verdant greens, bright reds, and a seemingly primal and ecstatic dance routine in the fields just featuring women wearing ancient-inspired costumes, masks and the like. And while being swoon worthy, the video manages to make a vital connection between the primal and ancient and the modern, between celebrating spring and summer and fertility, and a celebrating a community of strong like-minded women simultaneously.

New Video: The Hauntingly Gorgeous Visuals and Sounds of Benjamin’s Brother’s “Room 505”

Benjamin’s Brother is a fairly mysterious British electro folk/electro pop act comprised of a producer and songwriter, who writes and records under the moniker of Benjamin’s Brother and a rotating cast of collaborators and friends who pair haunting and ambient productions with songs that lyrically focus on death, desire and pain, among other subjects. The act’s latest single “Room 505” is an eerily sparse production featuring contemplative piano chords, plaintive, falsetto vocals, stuttering drum programming and brief burst of mournful horns. Sonically, the song reminds me of BRAIDS’ impressive Flourish//Perish but with an aching yearning at its core.

The recently released video features a dancer performing in sparsely arranged room with her doppleganger — but is it all an delusional within her head? Interestingly, the video manages to suggest the internal struggle between our real, internal self and the self we project out toward the world.

New Audio: The Devil Makes Three’s Cover of A Ralph Stanley Classic

Now earlier this month, you might remember that I wrote about Redemption and Ruin’s first single, a slowed-down, twangy, Johnny Cash, Sun Records-era-leaning cover of one of my favorite Muddy Waters tunes “Champagne and Reefer” that retained the original’s wicked sense of humor and gleeful debauchery. The album’s second single is a cover of bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley’s classic and oft-covered “I Am The Man Thomas,” and as Bernhard told the folks at Relix, “‘I Am The Man’ is a gruesome tale of the capture and crucifixion of Jesus sung by none other than the late great Ralph Stanley. It may be the most metal Gospel song ever penned by mortal hand. What better song to include on Redemption And Ruin, This tune has it all, the chase the death and the rise from the grave.” The Devil Makes Three cover is a subtly and deceptively straightforward cover that puts a bit of snarl and muscle into it — while with a deeper emphasis on the gruesomeness and cruelty of the cruxifixction and Jesus’ eventual redemption.

Led by frontwoman and principle songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza, Portland, OR-based alt folk/folk rock/indie rock act Y La Bamba, the critically applauded act can trace its origins to  early 2008 when Mendoza wanted to perform under something else other than her name, and began writing and making home recordings of her songs on a one-by-one basis largely drawing from the traditional Mexican folk songs she heard as a child growing up in San Francisco and playing with her cousins in the San Joaquin Valley, the work of Loch Lomond and Devendra Banhardt and others. Around the time she had begun writing her own material, Mendoza had begun regularly hosting an open mic at a sake bar in Northeast Portland, where she met the members of the band’s original line up — Ben Meyercord, Mike Kitson (drums), Sean Flinn (guitar) and Eric Shrapel (accordion).

Over the course of the band’s three albums and several lineup changes of collaborators, friends and musicians, the band’s material has gone through a variety of changes — but it’s the the band’s forth full-length effort Ojos Del Sol that may be arguably be the most radical turn in sonic direction, while returning to familiar themes of searching and personal discovery — themes that have come up a number of times in Mendoza’s own life, whether as the daughter of Mexican immigrants connecting with her ancestry and searching for spiritual meaning that goes much further than organized religion. In fact, as Mendoza explains in press notes, the material on the album thematically is a “cerebration of family and community” — but a community of shared humanity.

Interestingly, the album’s first single “Libre” finds Mendoza and company at their most self-assured but in one of the breeziest and pop-leaning songs as they pair an infectious and anthemic hook with an arrangement that includes what sounds like xylophone, a mischievous and sinuous bass line, a steady backbeat, Mendoza’s gorgeous vocals along three part harmonies in English and Spanish, a rolling, African folk music-like guitar line in a song that evokes a sense of almost childlike wonder and joy, while making a connection both to Mendoza’s ancestral homeland and Africa in a way that subtly channels Paul Simon‘s Graceland.

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs, Melbourne, Australia-based electro folk duo Oh, Pep! can trace their origins to when the act formed while Hally and Emmerichs were students at a music secondary school. And since 2012, the duo have quickly amassed a tremendous amount of commercial and critical success at a relatively young age — the duo have released three EPs that have received both national and international attention, including a huge CMJ last year in which KCRW, NPR‘s Bob Boilen breathlessly praised them, a NPR Tiny Desk Concert appearance and a Nashville’s AMA’s Pop Matters appearance, as well as appearances at  The Woodford Folk FestivalPort Fairy Folk FestivalThe National Folk Festival in Canberra, and Folk Alliance International, Kansas City. Adding to the duo’s growing national and international profile, they’ve won the Young Folk Performer of the Year and were nominated in the Best Folk Roots Category at 2014’s  The Age Music Victoria Awards.

2016 may be the biggest year for the duo of Hally and Emmerichs will be releasing their much-anticipated full-length debut Stadium Cake on June 24, 2016 through Dualtone Records and the album which was recorded in Echo Lake, Nova Scotia last August with Canadian producer Daniel Ledwell has the duo expanding upon the songwriting approach and sound that first won them national and international attention — namely the duo’s ability to subtly mesh lightness and darkness within their material. The album’s first single “Doctor Doctor” has the band pairing stuttering cascades of synths, propulsive boom bap drums with Hally and Emmerich’s ethereal and sultry vocals singing lyrics focusing on a narrator that is suffering through self-doubt and indecision while life is rushing past them and a dysfunctional relationship that they can’t seem to get out of. Throughout the song there’s a palpable tension — the sort of tension that’s unusual for such buoyant and playful pop.

Haley and Emmerichs will be embarking on a lengthy tour throughout the Spring and Summer that’ll start off in their native Australia, a lengthy tour across the UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, France and Spain and a North American tour that includes a June 29, 2016 at Mercury Lounge. Check out tour dates below.

TOUR DATES
* w/ Lake Street Dive
# w/ Basia Balut
+ w/ Lord Huron and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Apr 6 The Jade Monkey, Adelaide, SA, Australia
Apr 8  Northcote social club, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
Apr 10 The Polish Club, Canberra, ACT, Australia
Apr 13 Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane, NSW
Apr 14 No. 5 Church St, Bellingen, NSW, Australia
Apr 15 Oxford arts centre, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Apr 23 CAFE DE LA DANSE, Paris, France*
Apr 25 Komedia, Telscombe Cliffs, United Kingdom*
Apr 26 Scala, London, United Kingdom*
Apr 28 Whelans, Dublin, Ireland*
Apr 29 Landmark, Bergen, Norway#
Apr 30 Kägelbanan, Stockholm, Sweden#
May 1  Smedjan, Tollered, Sweden#
May 2  Revolver, Oslo, Norway#
May 3  Mejeriet, Lund, Sweden#
May 4  De Barras, Clonakilty, Co. Cork, Ireland
May 5  Levis, Ballydehob, Co. Cork Ireland
May 6  Ambigious Fiddle Presents: leap, Co.Cork, Ireland
May 7  Roisin Dubh, Galway, Ireland
May 8  Mullarkeys, Clifden, Co.Galway, Ireland
May 12 After Dark, Dartington Hall, Tontes, Devon, UK
May 13 Ruby lounge, Manchester, UK
May 14 The Hug & Pint, Glasgow, Scotland
May 18 The Greennote, London, UK
May 19-22 The Great Escape, Brighton, UK
May 28 Liverpool Sounds City, Liverpool, UK
Jun  2-5 Primavara, Barcelona, Spain
Jun 6 Fillmore Theatre, Philadelphia, PA+
Jun 7 Wolf Trap, Vienna, VA+
Jun 8 Red Hat Amphitheatre, Raliegh, NC+
Jun 24 The Drake, Toronto, ON, Canada
Jun 29 Mercury Lounge, New York, NY
Jul 7 Jammin Java, Vienna, VA
Jul 8 World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA
Jul 9 Green River Festival, Northampton, MA
Jul 11 Schubas, Chicago, IL
Jul 12 Cedar Cultural Centre, Minneapolis, MN
Jul 25 Mississippi Studios, Portland, OR
Jul 27 Ricksaw Stop, San Francisco, CA
Jul 28 Bootleg Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Jul 30 Casbah, San Diego, CA
Aug 1 Larimer Lounge, Denver, CO
Aug 3 The Demo, St. Louis, MO
Aug 4 High Watt, Nashville, TN
Aug 5 Evening Muse, Charlotte, NC
Aug 6 Cats Cradle, Carrboro, NC