Category: indie folk

Forming back in 2009 under the name Les Poules a Colin (Colin’s Chickens, a reference to a popular French folk song “La Poule a Colin), the Montreal-based bilingual indie rock/indie folk act Rosier (French for rosebush)  — Colin Savoie-Levac (mandolin, banjo, lap steel), Marie Savoie-Levac (bass), Sarah Marchand (vocals, piano), Eleonore Pitre (guitar) and Beatrix Methe (violin, vocals) — have developed a reputation for reimagining age-old folk songs in a fresh context. The band recently changed the name after making the decision to take their music and their story in a new direction. In fact, as the band told Atwood Magazine, the rosebush embodies the quintessential values of an ever-inventive group of musicians, who are eager to celebrate life as it is — the peaceful coexistence of strength and vulnerability. “Rosier is our true selves,” the band said to  Atwood Magazine. “We are romantic people [ . . .] who evolve and grow together as one.” 

“Vie Pneible,” (which according to the band’s Beatrix Methe translates as “A Painful Life’) the first single off the band’s forthcoming self-titled EP continues the band’s ongoing thematic concern of time and its passing that sonically and thematically brings Neil Young’s “Old Man” to mind — but centered around an old-timey arrangement of shimmering acoustic guitar, plinking keys, a soaring hook and a gorgeous harmony. Interestingly the song reportedly deals with temporality and mortality in a decidedly overt fashion, which makes the song a sort of bittersweet musing on the passing of time, of getting older, and wondering what you’ve done with yourself and your life. But the song isn’t completely melancholy; there’s an implicit understanding that the passing of time generally means the accumulation of experience and wisdom — and in turn, new  perspectives.

 

 

 

 

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New Video: Brisbane Australia’s Future Haunts Release a Nostalgic DIY Visual for “Weather Vane”

With the release of their debut EP Rubicon and “Make Time,” the up-and-coming Brisbane, Australia-based indie rock quartet Future Haunts quickly emerged into their homeland’s national scene, landing opening slots for Middle Kids and Horror My Friend, a well as a set at Hidden Lanes Festival. Interestingly, besides making a handful of live appearances last year, the members of the Brisbane-based act spent most of last year writing and self-recording new material — including their latest single “Weather Vane.”

Recorded at Plutonium Studios and mixed by Miro Mackie, the up-and-coming Aussie quartet’s latest single finds the band gently pushing the boundaries of their sound and songwriting in a new direction. Now, while the song will further cement the band’s growing reputation for crafting atmospheric 4AD Records and 120 Minutes-like jangling guitar pop, the track is centered by a rousingly anthemic hook that suggests that the relatively young band has grown more self-assured and ambitious in their songwriting and overall approach.  Lyrically, the song as the band’s Ben Speight explains in press notes, “discusses breaking through the endless amount of choices life throws your way and finding a sense of direction. It’s about learning to accept the things you can’t change, becoming comfortable with who you are and placing your energy on the things that you can.”

Shot by the members of the up-and-coming Aussie indie rock band on film and camcorder, the video follows the the band as they self-record the single at Plutonium Studios, play pool and watch Australian Rules Football at a local pub, shoot hoops, goof off and play a gig at a local club. While focusing on the immediate present, the video manages a subtly nostalgic tone — imbued with the recognition that youthful good times don’t last. 

New Audio: Lily & Madeleine Release a Gorgeous and Swooning New Single

Over the past month, I’ve written quite a bit about the Indianapolis, IN-based folk pop duo, Lily & Madeleine, and as you may recall, the act which is comprised of siblings Lily and Madeline Jurkiewicz can trace its origins to when the Jurkiewicz Sisters began singing together while in high school, uploading home videos of various covers songs YouTube. Those videos catgut the attention of Bloomington, IN-based producer Paul Mahern, who invited the sisters into his studio to record what would become their debut EP, 2013’s The Weight of the Globe when their class schedule permitted. Kenny Childers (Gentleman Caller) assisted by co-writing the material off the EP with the sisters; but it was video of the sisters singing in Mahern’s studio reached the front page of news aggregator Reddit — and as a result, Sufjan Stevens signed the Jurkiewicz Sisters to his label Asthmatic Kitty Records.

Adding to a rapidly growing profile, John Mellencamp asked the Jurkiewicz Sisters to contribute guest vocals to the soundtrack of his musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. The duo’s self-titled full-length debut was released in February 2013, and received praise from a number of major media outlets including The New York Times, which praised the album for their extraordinary sibling vocal blend, “deep and seamless and relaxed.” Since then the Indianapolis-based sibling folk pop duo have released two more albums — 2014’s Fumes, which was released through Asthmatic Kitty and 2016’s Keep It Together, which was released through New West Records.

The Jurkiewicz Sisters kicked off this year with the inclusion of “Just Do It” on the first Spotify New Music Friday playlist of 2019 and the track, which was co-produced by Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuck,  pairs Lily and Madeleine’s gorgeous and effortless harmonizing with a shimmering dance pop-like production centered around a sinuous bass line, twinkling keys, hand claps and fluttering electronics; but at its core, the song not only talks about taking chances, it talks of confidently coming of age as a woman — and demanding what you need and want from yourself and others. “Can’t Help The Way I Feel,” the sibling duo’s second single of this year was centered what may arguably be the tightest and funkiest groove on the entire album — but perhaps more interesting is the fact that the track features a razor sharp and infectious hook, handclaps, winkling keys. shimmering and arpeggiated organ lines and the Jurkiewicz Sisters easygoing yet gorgeous harmonizing. At its core, the song’s narrator is proud and defiant, openly saying that while her friends may disapprove of her love interest, she simply can’t help how she feels — even if the relationship isn’t good for her. 

Co-written by Lucie Silvas and the Jurkiewicz Sisters, their third single of this year is the swooning and atmospheric “Analog Love.” Centered around shimmering steel pedal guitar, shuffling drumming, acoustic guitar and the Jurkiewicz Sisters gorgeous vocals, the track is a sweet love song that sonically seems to draw from honky tonk country and Phil Spector pop while evoking the sensation of the sort of love in which the world fades away, and for a few moments, it’s you and your love; but there’s also the underlying recognition that nothing lasts forever and as a result, there’s this desire to hold on to what you can for as long as you can. 

Georgia Lee Johnson is a Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-born indie soul/indie folk singer/songwriter and with the release of her full-length debut album Wandering, the Canadian singer/songwriter drew on her training in experimental performance to use songs as a format for story-telling — with her work centered around vivid imagery and lush harmonics. Largely inspired by the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, Johnson’s full-length material touched upon grief, delight, transformation and reverence for all creation.

Building upon a growing profile, Johnson’s soon-to-be released EP Languages is slated for a January 4, 2019 release through Dala Records. The EP’s first single “Here’s a Call” features Johnson with a backing band that includes Dala Records founder Billy Aukstik on ARP Omni synth, Matt Harvey on electric guitar, Miles Arntzen on drums and Jas Walton on flute — a who’s who of local soul. And while the song is centered around shimmering and looping guitar, a moody yet gorgeous flute arrangement, a breezy hook, Johnson’s plaintive vocals and a tight groove, the sonically speaking struck me as being like a slick synthesis of Portishead and Stevie Nicks. Along with Raymond James Mason, Johnson’s latest single reveals a label that’s expanding the sonic boundaries of soul in an organic and exciting fashion.

New Video: Acclaimed Singer-Songwriter Alice Phoebe Lou Releases a Trippy 70s Inspired Single from Forthcoming Sophomore Album

Over the past year, I’ve written a bit about the Cape Town, South Africa-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Alice Phoebe Lou. And as you may recall, Lou grew up in a rather creative home — her parents were documentary filmmakers, who took the budding artist to piano lessons as a child. As a teenager, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist taught herself guitar. The summer she turned 16, Lou went to Paris to visit her aunt. Armed with an acoustic guitar, the young artist met a number of that city’s buskers and street performers — with some of them teaching her poi dancing. 

Upon completing her schooling, Lou returned to Europe, first landing in  Amsterdam, where she made money as a poi dancer. She then relocated to Berlin, where she became a well-regarded busker and developed a reputation for a fiercely independent, punk rock-like DIY approach to her career. With the release of 2014’s self-released debut EP, Lou began receiving international attention, eventually spending the following year performing at a number of TED events in London and Berlin. Building upon a rapidly growing international profile, Lou released her full-length debut Orbit in 2016. The album garnered a nomination for Best Female Artist at that year’s German Critics’ Choice Awards and a set at the 27th Annual Conference for the Professional Business Women of California, which featured keynote speakers Venus Williams, Judy Smith, and Memory Banda. She ended the year, touring on bills with Sixto Rodriguez, Boy & Bear, Allen Stone and Crystal Fighters, as well as three, sold-out multimedia events at the Berlin Planetarium. Those Berlin Planetarium shows were so much in demand that she added two additional planetarium shows to her 2017 itinerary. 

Besides touring, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has had the live version of “She” amassed over 4 million views on YouTube and was featured in the major motion picture Bombshell: The Heady Lamar Story — all before the studio version of the single was even recorded or released. Additionally, Lou spent time working on her much-anticipated, Noah Georgeson-produced sophomore effort Paper Castles, which is slated for a March 8, 2019 release. And as Lou explains, the album is “about nostalgia, about growing into a woman, about the pain and beauty of the past, about feeling small and insignificant but finding that to be powerful and beautiful, about acknowledging that childhood is over but bringing some of it with you.”

The album’s first single is a slow-burning, 70s AM rock and 70s soul-like “Something Holy.” Centered around a shimmering guitar line, hushed drumming, a sinuous hook, a psychedelic tinged bridge and Lou’s aching vocals, the song is a deeply introspective and unvarnished look into the narrator’s complicated relationships with sex, love, men and herself. As Lou says, the song reflects “the moment that I managed to get over the main hurdle of my past traumas with sex, with men and with my own deeper understanding of intimacy and what it means to be intimate.” Sonically speaking, the song reminds me quite a bit of Amber Arcades’ European Heartbreak. 

Made by Manners Studio is a heady mix of brightly colored, cinematically shot footage of young people brooding and looking bored in a stylish chamber room, animation and Lou earnestly performing the song. 

 

Brad Byrd is a Los Angeles-based indie rock/indie folk singer/songwriter, who after years of suffering through alcohol addiction and depression, started his music career in earnest in 2003 and since then he’s received attention both locally and nationally with teh release of his first two full-length albums — 2005’s The Ever Changing Picture and 2011’s Mental Photograph. Building upon a growing profile, Byrd released a string of singles collaborating with Warren Huart, and he had his music appear in TV shows including  The New Girl, Happy Endings, American Housewife, Ben & Kate, and Keeping Up with the KardashiansAdditionally, he’s shared stages with Bobby Long, Mike Doughty, Son Volt‘s Jay Farrar, Jurassic 5 and others. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you may recall that I wrote about “1000 Pink Balloons” off Byrd’s third, full-length album Highest Mountain, a soulful and introspective that focuses on self-discovery and the strength of letting go centered around a catchy hook that sort of recalled The Church.

Interestingly, the first bit of new material from Byrd since the release of Highest Mountain is a slow-burning, atmospheric take on one of my favorite Cure songs “Lovesong” that manages to retain the song’s aching longing while giving it a subtle country vibe.

 

 

Pale Mara is an indie duo comprised of Lee Godleski and Allison Robinson and from the “Bird,” the first single off their forthcoming self-titled album, which is slated for a December 14, 2018 release, the duo specialize in an old timey sort of sound that brings to mind 70s AM rock — in particular, “Bird” recalls The Carpenters and Carole King among others. However, they do so without being a mere time period-based mimicry; in fact, underneath the autumnal vibes and careful attention to craft there’s a quietly self-assured sense of purpose that set it apart.

New Audio: Renowned Aussie Folk Duo Oh, Pep! Returns with a Jangling and Hook-Driven Take on Americana

Comprised of Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs, the renowned Melbourne, Australia-based folk duo Oh, Pep! can trace the origins of the group to when they met while they were were both studying at a music secondary school, and as the story goes as soon as the met began writing music together. Now, as you may recall with the release of three critically praised EPs, the duo received a rapidly growing national and international profile — they played a series of attention-grabbing, widely praised at the CMJ Festival, which were praised by  KCRW, and NPR’s Bob Boilen, who later invited the duo and their backing band to perform a NPR Tiny Desk Concert set. The duo also made appearances at a number of prominent folk festivals, including The Woodford Folk Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival, The National Folk Festival in Canberra, and Folk Alliance International, Kansas City, and at the 2014 The Age Music Victoria Awards, the duo was nominated in the Young Folk Performer of the Year and Best Folk Roots Category, winning the nod for Young Folk Performer of the Year.

2016’s Daniel Ledwell-produced full-length debut Stadium Cake found the duo subtly expanding upon the songwriting approach and sound that first won them national and international attention — their uncanny ability to write buoyant and ethereal pop with an underlying bittersweet sadness, centered around fully-fleshed out characters, who suffered from self-doubt, heartache, confusion, crippling indecision and a seeming inability to figure out how to move forward with their lives, all while their cohorts rush past them with successful lives. 

The duo’s soon-to-be released sophomore album I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You . . . is slated for an October 26, 2018 release through ATO Records, and the album reportedly finds Hally and Emmerich exploring the melody-rich expanse between indie pop, alt-folk and folk but through the prism of a women who have both come of age and have seen quite a bit of the world. They’ve accomplished most of their goals and dreams rather quickly  — and when that happens there’s this overwhelming sense of “Well, now what? What’s next?” And typically, there are two responses: you contently sit back and rest on your laurels — or you push yourself out of comfort zone. “This album is a darker form of pop than we have played before,” Pepita Emmerich says in press notes. “Basically Liv wrote a bunch of hits.” 

After touring to support Stadium Cake, Olivia Halley had become an in-demand songwriter. “With this album, in particular, I did a lot of sessions with other people. They weren’t necessarily sessions that were for the album. But every now and then, I’d be writing a song and take a fancy to it, then Pep and I would Oh Pep!-ify it together,” Halley says of the album that was written in New York, Nashville, Los Angeles and Melbourne and was largely inspired by her travels over the course of 2017 and 2018.  Interestingly, I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You . . . ‘s third and latest single, the jangling and anthemic  “Your Nail and Your Hammer” was inspired by words written on her wall in Nashville,  and the city’s long-held reputation for being the home of country and Americana — with a pop leaning, hook-driven sensibility; but while further cementing their reputation for breezy and infectious songs, the song evokes the sensation of someone’s mind whirring and grinding with the obsession over a brief and perhaps fleeting moment with another that leaves you wondering for weeks afterwards.

New Video: The Cinematic and Dreamy Visuals for Rueben and the Dark’s Anthemic Album Single “Dreaming”

Led by primary songwriter and creative mastermind Rueben Bullock and featuring multi-insturmetnalist and vocalists Shea Alain, Brock Geiger, Ian Jarvis and Dino Soares, the Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based indie folk act Rueben and the Dark have […]