Category: singer/songwriters

Earlier this year, I wrote about Charleston, SC-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Kyle Lacy, and with the release of the Squeeze meets Daptone Records-like “Hangin On,” the up-and-coming Charleston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist established a sound that draws from vintage rock and soul. Interestingly, Lacy’s latest single, the first official single off his forthcoming debut full-length debut Bad Days is the uplifting “Believe In Tomorrow” finds Lacy digging deep into the rock and soul sounds of his previous Dala Records single, but while finding his song leaning heavily towards Mavis Staples/The Staple Singers-like spirituals. Produced by Dala Records founder Billy Austik, best known for his work with Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones, Mark Ronson, Lacy’s latest single was written and recorded in just one day, while utilizing the old school, analog production approach the label has developed a reputation for.

Interestingly, the forthcoming full-length album reportedly finds Lacy delving deeply into soul and gospel — while affording the up-and-coming singer/songwriter much more freedom. “Now, I don’t have to think in terms of, ‘will people dance to this in a bar’, but I can actually say to myself, ‘would I listen to this song?’” Lacy says in press notes. Along  with that came a great deal of artistic and creative growth — in particular, the sessions that produced “Believe In Tomorrow” were the most formative for him. “It felt like we were all stepping out of the shadow of our fears, and collectively trying to tell a story of hope.”

 

 

 

 

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New Audio: Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers Frontman Greg Dulli Releases an Anthemic Single off Forthcoming Solo Album

Best known as the founding member, frontman and creative mastermind behind JOVM mainstays The Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers, Greg Dulli has a well-established reputation as a poet laureate of the bizarre whims and cruel tangents of desire and all things dark and brooding. 

Although Dulli has been involved in a number of projects during his 30+ year recording career, his first solo full-length album under his own name Random Desire is slated for a February 21, 2020 release through Royal Cream/BMG. Interestingly, Random Desire can trace its origins to the aftermath of The Afghan Whigs’ most recent album, 2017’s critically applauded In Spades: Patrick Keeler was about to take a short sabbatical from the band to record and tour with his other band, The Raconteurs. Dulli’s longtime collaborator and bandmate John Curley went back to school. And the band’s longtime guitarist Dave Rosser tragically died after a battle with colon cancer. 

So Dulli returned to his teenaged bedroom roots, finding inspiration through the model of legendary, one-man band visionaries like Prince and Todd Rundgren with the Hamilton, OH-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter writing almost every part of the album — from piano and bass lines to drums. Much like he’s always done throughout his career, the music came first and the lyrics completed later. Written and recorded in several different locations including Dulli’s Silver Lake home; Crestline, CA, in the mountains above San Bernardino; and New Orleans — with the bulk of the album being done at Christopher Thorne’s Joshua Tree, CA-based studio.  While Dulli handled most of the album’s instrumental duties, he managed to collaborate with an all-star cast of musicians including his Afghan Whigs bandmates Jon Skibic (guitar) and multi-instrumentalist Rick G. Nelson, his Twilight Singers bandmate Mathias Schneeberger, Dr. Stephen Patt (pedal steel and upright bass) and Queens of the Stone Age’s and The Mars Volta’s Jon Theodore (drums). 

“Pantomina,” Random Desire’s swaggering and self-assured first single is centered around layers of buzzing power chords, a handclap-led hook and lyrics that alternate between sardonic, desperately lonely, and triumphant — often within a turn of a phrase.  Much like his acclaimed work with The Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers, the new single delves into the psyche and emotions of a deeply fucked up, dysfunctional narrator with fucked up, dysfunctional relationships — but there’s also a hard fought, world-weary wisdom at its core. 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Aussie-born Los Angeles-based Pop Artist Zenya Releases a Slick Visual for 90s Inspired Bit of Synth Pop

Zenya is a Sydney, Australia-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist, best known for a stint inJustin Timberlake’s backing band The Tennessee Kids. Recently. the Aussie-born, Southern Californian-based artist has stepped out into the limelight as a solo artist, with the release of her Lash-produced and co-written debut single “Holdin’ On.” Much like the previous post, “Holdin’ On” is radio and dance floor friendly pop, centered around propulsive Caribbean-tinged polyrhythm, shimmering synth arpeggios and the Aussie-born, Southern Californian-based pop artist’s plaintive vocals and an infectious hook. At its core, the song is imbued with a desperate and urgent hope that defies common sense and logic. 

“Holdin’ On’ is an island influenced pop song about hope,” Kenya explains in press notes. “Holding that thin thread left between two loves that may or amy not get back together after ab breakup that seemed like it might have been a mistake. It’s a song of vulnerability and honesty, and how it can be hard to let go of habits of the heart.” 

Directed by Mark Lecky, the recently released video follows a pensive Zenya, as she conducts a cleansing ritual, writing and desperately waiting for a lover to come back home — but there’s a sense that this lover may never come back. It’s a decidedly 90s inspired visual for a 90s pop inspired song. 

 

Brian Collins is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known as the creative mastermind behind the rising, indie recording project Hurt Valley. With Hurt Valley, Collins crafts shambling and rollicking songs that sound heavily indebted to AM Radio rock, as they frequently feature elements of folk and psych rock — and while sounding as though it were released in 1967, “Apartment Houses,” off Collins soon-to-be-released Hurt Valley debut, Glacial Pace, the shimmering track is centered around a sense of being lost and lonely in an unfamiliar and new place. And yet, the song’s narrator finds a way to push onward.

I’m writing this post in a Starbucks, looking at the snow out  of the window and I’m reminded of my recent trip to Montreal. And as soon as I landed atMontreal-Trudeau International Airport, I was aware of the fact that I was yet again in a strange, unfamiliar place where no one really knew me — and where I didn’t speak or comprehend the language. But I’ve always managed to push onward and thrive. So as you can imagine, the song hits a real personal spot at the moment.

 

 

 

 

I’ve written quite a bit about the Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay Sofia Härdig throughout the course of this site’s nine-plus year history. Now, as you may recall, the Swedish jOVM mainstay’s career began in earnest at a very young age: she began playing in bands when she was nine. As a teen, she began touring, eventually playing a solo set at CBGB’s. As an adult, Härdig has been hailed as the rocktronica queen of experimental music, developing an uncompromising commitment to a truthful artistic approach. “I find beauty in flaws and that which is not perfect is what excites me, I love the unusual, the unexpected, untrained and unplanned… I hope my music portrays that in its sound,” Härdig says about her approach in press notes.

Härdig’s recently released, fourth album This Big Hushfinds the Swedish-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and JOVM mainstay moving away from the deliberate electronic-based sound of her previous work and towards a gritty and raw, old-school rock sound. “I recorded this album with the band in less than three days live in Tambourine Studios in Malmö,” Härdig says of the recording process for This Big Hush. “The vocals were all done in one day, a lot of them are even kept from the original live take. Part of the process is that my electronic demo making has become so thorough and time-consuming that they have been good enough to be released. Since they are out in the world and out of my system, I can break free and do something different with the band, and not the same thing all over again. We never play the same tempo, same length, they follow me where I lead them… this is THIS BIG HUSH”

Infatuation,” This Big Hush‘s fist single was written to pay homage to post-punk pioneers like Siouxsie and the Banshees — but the decidedly riff driven song seemed to Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, Marc Bolan/T. Rex and Horses-era Patti Smith, complete with an enormous, arena rock friendly hook. “I built this song on a riff that I really loved, building up a groove and then adding backing vocals and playing percussion with whatever I found lying around in the studio and studio kitchen,” the Swedish-born JOVM mainstay said in press notes of the song’s creation. “I used film reels, a serving bowl from IKEA, egg, yar, a knife and fork, to creating an overall feeling of skating down Sunset Boulevard in a Mohikan with a ghetto blaster on your shoulder.”

Radiant Star,” This Big Hush‘s second single was slow-burning and jangling bit of guitar pop that brings Pretenders and the aforementioned Patti Smith to mind. “It was made during many endless nights,” Härdig says in press notes, “on my own and in my studio and also with the band on some more hectic days. Then a lot of other endless days and nights in the studio producing it. My own take of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’; a song I learned as a 3-year old on the grand piano we inherited from my grandmother.”

Silence,” This Big Hush‘s third single was a slow-burning, lush track that to my ears brought the emotional intensity and lyricism of Patti Smith and Nick Cave to mind — but with an enormous arrangement of jangling guitars, twinkling keys, dramatic drumming, a soaring hook, a gospel-style backing vocal section and arguably one of her most emotionally direct vocal performances.

Interestingly, the album’s fourth and latest single “Sucking the Flowers” is a decidedly anthemic  grunge rocker of a track that seems indebted to PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, Liz Phairand others, as the song is centered around a chugging and propulsive rhythm, enormous power chords, a raucous hook, four-on-the-floor drumming and a defiant vocal performance. Ultimately, this song much like its predecessors reveals that Härdig is a towering force of nature to be reckoned with.

Last month, I wrote about ZINNIA,a Toronto-based art pop project featuring its creative mastermind Rachel Cardiello along with James Burrows, Chris Pruden, Connor Walsh and Mackenzie Longpre. And since their formation, the Canadian act has developed a layered synth-based sound with driving beats that’s been recently described as Kate Bush meets Meat Loaf as the material manages to be intimate and fierce.

ZINNIA’s recently released full-length debut Sensations in Two Dot thematically focuses on moments of doubt — in particular, creative, societal and personal, while exploring what it means to hold compassion through the multifaceted grey areas of life. Whether in the real life town of Two Dot, Montana (population 143) or the band’s hometown of Toronto (population 2.6 million), the album’s nine songs attempt to probe the complex, unsettling similarities of the human experience. The album’s latest single, the brooding “Yellowstone” is centered around a shuffling and old-timey arrangement of atmospheric synths, soaring strings, guitar, bass and Cardiello’s expressive and aching vocals  — and while continuing a run of material that brings Aimee Mann, Kate Bush and others to mind, the song is rooted in the intense self-doubt, confusion, unease and a longing for hone.

 

 

 

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New Audio: Marcus King Returns with an Enormous, Arena Rock Friendly Blues

Earlier this month, I wrote about the rapidly rising, Greenville, SC-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, Marcus King. The Greenville-born, Nashville-based is a fourth generation musician, who followed in his family’s footsteps: Playing professionally since he was 11, King was discovered after a video of him performing at Norman’s Rare Guitars went viral. Now 23, King  has been performing for the past 15 years, establishing himself as a  world class guitarist, vocalist and highly sought-after session player. 

Since 2015, King has been relentlessly touring with his backing band The Marcus King Band — Jack Ryan (drums), Stephen Campbell (bass), Justin Johnson (trumpet, trombone) and Dean Mitchell (sax, still guitar) — playing 140 dates live shows over the course of the past year. Adding to a breakthrough year, King and his backing band have played on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, made his debut at The Grand Ole Opry — and he recently opened for Chris Stapleton during his last US arena tour, playing in front of 17,000 people every night.

Building upon a rapidly rising profile, King’s highly-anticipated, Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut El Dorado is slated for a January 17, 2020 release through Fantasy Recordings. Continuing the success of “How Long,” King’s full-length debut was co-written with Auerbach over three days at his Easy Eye Sound studio — and reportedly, the album is a contemporary sonic exploration of classic rock, blues, southern R&B and country soul.

“Marcus is known by so many as a phenom guitar player, and rightfully so,” Dan Auerbach says of his time working with Marcus King. “He’s regularly the best player in the room, hands down. I was equally blown away by the way he can sing — so effortless, so soulful, straight to the heart. He’s a naturally gifted writer too, which was clear right away. Everything for him is so innate — that’s why he can always go right to the heart of a song and connect in a deeper way. He’s really one of a king and I’m proud I got to work alongside him on this record.”

“Wildflowers and Wine,” El Dorado’s second single was a slow-burning track that was one-part Muscle Shoals soul, one part Southern rock, one-part R&B and one-part classic blues centered around a lush arrangement of twinkling keys, a soulful backing vocal section and a sinuous bass pair line paired with King’s vocals. And while being clearly indebted to 70s AM radio, the song manages to be a carefully crafted and self-assured bit of soulful pop, which manages to belie King’s relative youth while being a perfect vehicle for a his blues-tinged guitar work and his exceptional and effortlessly soulful vocals. The album’s third and latest single “Say You Will” is a slickly produced, arena rock friendly blues with an enormous hook. And while bringing Slowhand-era Eric Clapton and Texas Flood-era Stevie Ray Vaughan to mind, the album’s latest single continues a run of carefully crafted and self-assured material that belie his relative youth — all while being perfect vehicles for a sultry vocal delivery and impressive old school blues-inspired guitar work.