Category: singer/songwriters

Live Footage: The Fresh & Onlys Perform “Wolf Lie Down” at Tapetown Studios

Aarhus, Denmark-based recording studio  Tapetown Studios  and  Sound of Aarhus have developed a live video series in which they invite national, regional and internationally recognized touring bands to come into their studio during their free time to record a session — and along with that, the band would also be provided a unique glimpse of Aarhus beyond the exhausting touring routines of load-ins, soundchecks, live set, chat with strangers and friends, tear downs, pack ups, and van rides and/or flights to the next series of gigs. Now, if you’ve been frequenting recently, you’d know that Tapetown and Sound of Aarhus have invited the British indie rockers Ulrika Spacek and Gothenburg, Sweden-based trio Pale Honey. 

Of course, throughout the past few years, I’ve written quite about  Tim Cohen, woho has written, recorded and toured with a number of different bands and creative outlets, including Magic Trick, The Fresh & Onlys (with whom, he may be the best known) and as a solo artist. Interestingly, over that same period, Cohen has managed to be remarkably prolific and extremely busy: last year alone, the Bay Area-based singer/songwriter split time touring with Magic Trick and The Fresh & Onlys, worked on and recorded Magic Trick’s fourth album Other Man’s Blues, as well as his solo debut Luck Man — and he managed to balance all of that with the responsibilities of being a new father.  

Released earlier this year, Wolf Lie Down is the first Fresh & Onlys effort in over three years, and the album found collaborators and bandmates Cohen and Wymond Miles (guitar, production) stripping the layered sound and feel of their last few albums while keeping the focus on Cohen’s hyper-literate yet accessible lyrics, focusing on metaphysical musings; but in the case of album title track “Wolf Lie Down,” Cohen’s vocals and lyrics are paired with the sort of arrangement that should immediately remind you of  the Ramones. 

Recently, Cohen, Miles and company were touring Europe and were invited to stop by Aarhus’ Tapetown Studios where they played a loose and fast live version of “Wolf Lie Down.” Check it out. 

New Audio: Charlotte Day Wilson Returns with her Most Soulful and Radio Friendly Single to Date

Charlotte Day Wilson is a  Toronto, ON-based internationally renowned singer/songwriter, who initially began her musical career as the frontwoman of local renowned jazz, funk and soul act The Wayo — and with the release of “After All,” Wilson quickly emerged as an up-and-coming talent within her hometown’s soul, funk and jazz scene, eventually collaborating with the likes of BADBADNOTGOOD and River Tiber. Now, if you had been frequenting this site last year, you’d know that with the release of her full-length debut CDW, which featured critically applauded singles “After All,” “Work” and “Find You,” that Wilson established herself as a singer/songwriter and producer, who would pair thoughtful and personal lyrics that betray a wisdom and experience far beyond her years, with minimalist, electronic production.

“Doubt,” Wilson’s latest single manages to simultaneously be her first bit of new material in over a year and while being a teaser for much more material next year, the song is a bit of sonic left turn sonic direction with Wilson pairing her soulful vocals with a production that nods at Bilal, Erykah Badu and others, as it features fluttering synths, a sinuous bass line, jazz and ballad-inspired drumming with warm blasts of guitar and a soaring hook. And while arguably being one of the most radio friendly songs she’s released to date, the song’s narrator expresses a deep, crippling uncertainty over her own worthiness that feels and sounds like the thoughts and feelings of a fully-fleshed out and confused woman that you may have known at some point.

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for a while, you’ve been made familiar with JOVM mainstay Nicole Atkins, a Neptune, NJ-born, Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter, best known for a sound that draws influence from 50s crooner pop, 60s psych rock and psych pop, soul music and Brill Building pop — with some critics comparing her sound to the likes of Roy Orbison and others; in fact, Atkins has publicly cited the favorites of her parents’ record collection as being major influences on her, including The Ronettes, Johnny Cash, The Beach Boys, The SundaysHarriet Wheeler and Cass Elliot.

And as you may recall, Atkins’ fourth full-length album, Goodnight Rhonda Lee marks several major occasions in the renowned singer/songwriter’s career and personal life — the album was written during and after Atkins was in rehab, and has her looking back at her life with a clarity that she hadn’t had before; it’s also the first recorded output she’s released in over three years; and it also marks a major shift from her previous work. While Goodnight Rhonda Lee‘s first single “A Little Crazy,” a collaboration with Chris Issak was a delicate and soulful ballad that clearly nods to some of Atkins’ earliest influences — in particular, Roy Orbison with a hint of Patsy Cline. However, “Darkness Falls So Quiet,” the album’s second single was a stomping and soulful track that nodded at  Dusty Springfield —with a warm and soulful arrangement that features a gorgeous string section, twinkling keys and a Daptone Records-like horn section. “Sleepwalking,” the album’s third single, continued along the soulful vein of its predecessor but with a shuffling arrangement reminiscent of early Motown Records — to my ear, I thought of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles,Marvin Gaye, and even Charles Bradley. 

Interestingly, the Neptune, NJ-born, Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter recently contributed a slow-burning, Dusty Springfield-like rendition of “O Holy Night,” which features twinkling keys, a soaring string arrangement and a propulsive backbeat that will be part of Amazon Music’s “Christmas Soul” playlist. And what makes this rendition stand out for me is the fact that it’s arguable one of the more earthy versions I’ve heard. As Atkins explains of her choice for the playlist, “‘O Holy Night’ has always been my favorite Christmas song. The first time I heard it, I burst into tears because it was so powerful. I think it was the first time I cried from music taking me over. I always wanted to record this song in a style that made it more human in a way that it could bring the message to the angels from the earth rather than the song already residing up in heaven.”

New Video: Ron Gallo Looks Back on a Dysfunctional Romantic Relationship in New Visuals for Album Single “Put The Kids To Bed”

Ron Gallo is a Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who is perhaps best known for his eight-year stint as the frontman of Philadelphia-based indie band Toy Soldiers, an act that initially began as a guitar and drum duo that at one point evolved into a massive 12 member collective, before settling into a quintet when the band split up in 2014. Gallo’s full-length effort Heavy Meta was released earlier this, and the album was primarily written while Gallo was still in Philadelphia, and while he was involved in a lengthy romantic relationship with a woman, who had a number of personal and emotional issues. As the story goes, when that relationship end, Gallo relocated to Nashville and finished writing the album during a period in which may arguably have been among the most transformative periods of his life, a period that he had felt was a personal reawakening and a musical rebirth.

At the time Gallo wrote and recorded songs in small batches without the intention of making a full-length album and initially without the support of a label. As Gallo explained in press notes “Coming out on the other side, I now look at my past as a hazy dream where I did not know myself or the world at all. I still don’t know anything, but I’m closer than before. There is so much to learn outside of your comfort zone.” The album’s material reportedly touches upon several themes including Gallo’s personal ideology on abstaining from drugs and alcohol, self-empowerment, domestication, dead love, not knowing yourself, mental illness and more — and although Gallo expresses a frustration with humanity and civilization, the material is balanced with an underlying hopefulness. Says Gallo, “this record comes from my frustration with humanity and myself, and from my wanting to shake us all. At my core, I’m compassionate for humanity and the sickness that we all live with, and from that comes something more constructive.” He ends by saying “Party is over — this is the beginning of true personal responsibility for ourselves and our world and so we must LIVE truth, be freaks, be fearless, be light, love and be our best selves.”

Now, as you may recall, I wrote about album single “Please Yourself,” a fuzzy and aggressive garage punk rock song consisting of fuzzy and distorted power chords, a propulsive backbeat and Gallo’s howled vocals expressing a wild urgency and frustration, as though the song’s narrator wants to violently shake everyone around him while screaming at them “Pay attention, you goddamn idiots! Stop fucking around and do something to make it right!” The album’s latest single “Put The Kids To Bed” finds Gallo and his backing band meshing jangling garage rock and psych rock while detailing the push and pull of  a hopelessly dysfunctional romantic relationship — and while rooted in an unvarnished and unflinching honesty, the song will further cement Gallo’s growing reputation for crafting incredibly hook driven rock. 

The recently released video for “Put The Kids To Bed” continues Gallo’s ongoing collaboration with director Joshua Shoemaker, and the visuals follow a dream-like logic, following Gallo as he heads to bed. Eventually a woman joins him and they place paper bags over their heads, symbolically trying to make their best face, despite a simmering hate between them. Whoa. 

With the release of “Help Yourself” and several other singles the Welsh-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sarah Howells, best known as Bryde quickly exploded into both the British and international scene as she received praise from NylonThe Line of Best Fit and Earmilk and airplay from BBC Radio 6BBC Radio WalesRadio X and Huw Stephens’ BBC Radio 1 show for a sound that’s been compared to the likes of Jeff BuckleySharon Van EttenBen Howard and London Grammar while thematically focusing on complex, ambivalent and hopelessly entangled relationships.

Now, as you may recall Howell’s “Wouldn’t That Make You Feel Good” was a boozy and woozy dirge in which the Welsh-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s aching vocals are paired with bluesy yet shoegazer-leaning power chords reminiscent of  PJ Harvey. Howell promptly followed that up with “Less,” a single that not only continued her ongoing collaboration with singer/songwriter and producer Bill Ryder-Jones but was rooted around a forceful 90s alt rock-leaning song structure, while further cementing her growing reputation for writing unflinchingly honest and vulnerable lyrics.

Howell’s latest single “Desire” was produced by Chris Sorem and mixed by CJ Marks, both of whom have worked with Wolf Alice, PJ Harvey and St. Vincent — and while continuing along a similar vein sonically, as it nods at the blues and 90s alt rock, complete with an anthemic hook, the song manages to possess an urgent yearning, punctuated with the use of a baritone electric guitar.  As Howell explains in press notes, “‘Desire’ is about lust, our need for instant gratification, about desire’s addictive qualities and how they can make us behave.  I was inspired both by the way people have treated me and how I’ve treated others and how I’ve become unrecognisable to myself in the past just to appeal to this side of someone else’s personality.”

 

If you’ve been frequenting this site throughout the course of this year, you’ve come across a couple of posts featuring the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock/dream pop duo Alyeska, and as you may recall the duo, which is comprised of Montana-born, Los Angeles-based frontwoman Alaska Reid and Ben Spear derive their name from an archaic spelling of the state of Alaska — and of course, Reid’s first name.

With the release of “Tilt A Whirl,” the first single off their John Agnello-produced debut EP, Crush, the duo began to receive attention across the blogosphere — as well as this site — for a sound that draws equally from 80s post-punk and New Wave, as it did from contemporary indie rock. The EP’s second single “Motel State of Mind,” as a moody and dramatic song that while meant to be a “rip off “rip off The Replacements” as Reid explained in an interview with Billboardmanaged to remind me quite a bit of Concrete Blonde‘s “Joey,” complete with a swooning heartache at its core. “Sister Buckskin,” the EP’s third single continued in the 80s post-punk/New Wave/college radio vein, as it managed to remind me of The Pretenders; but underneath the shimmering guitar work and anthemic hooks was a bitter sense of nostalgia over what could have have been — and just didn’t happen.

Since the release of Crush, the duo have gone on to open for the likes of Middle Kids, Frankie Cosmos and Blitzen Trapper but interestingly, the band recently released the EP’s latest single “Stones,” the last bit of music recorded at The Magic Shop, where David Bowie, Arcade Fire, Sonic Youth, Norah Jones, Coldplay and the Foo Fighters once recorded albums. And while further cementing their reputation for crafting hook-laden, anthemic 80s-inspired rock, the “Stones” manages to make a subtle nod to Fever to Tell-era Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as the song features some of the most impressive guitar work on the EP while bristling with a feral sensuality.

 

 

 

 

New Video: The 80s and 90s Inspired DIY Visuals for Jordan Klassen’s 60s Psych Pop-like “Dominika”

Jordan Klassen is a Vancouver, British Columbia-based chamber folk singer/songwriter, who over the past decade or so has developed a reputation for crafting critically applauded material that’s been considered “unsentimentally sincere” and “whimsically hopeful” — while focusing on his own life experiences; in fact, the Curses EP was a collection of brooding pop that explored mental illness and vulnerability, continuing themes he explored and wrote about on 2016’s Javelin.

Interestingly, Klassen’s recently released full-length effort, Big Intruder thematically explores growing up and making adult decisions, addressing the doubt and caution that become excuses to avoid any sort of actual commitment and unsurprisingly, the album not only finds Klassen increasingly moving away from the whimsical soundscapes that first won him attention — with Klassen embracing a more band-like approach than ever before; in fact, album single “Dominika” finds Klassen’s sound taking on a decided 60s psych pop and 70s AM rock sound.  

The recently released video is a gloriously low-budget, DIY affair. And as Klassen explains of the video, “For the ‘Dominika’ video I wanted to make something that was playful like the song; silly in an honest way. We were inspired by a lot of late 80s/early 90s music videos where it felt like the artist just shot a bunch of footage of them hanging around and lip syncing.”

Rue Snider is a Brooklyn-based folk singer/songwriter, who since his debut in 2012 has developed a reputation for writing material with an unvarnished honesty, a relentless touring schedule of more than 100 shows a year, opening for the likes of Lydia Loveless, Squirrel Nut Zippers‘ Tom Maxwell, Superhuman Happiness, Benjamin Scheuer, Blue Healer, Donna Missal and The Silos‘ Walter Salas-Humara, and for collaborating with the likes of Jon Estes, who’s played with Ruby Amanfu and Steelism, Rubblebucket‘s David Cole, Derrek C. Philips and others. Adding to a growing profile, “Speak My Mind,” the EP title track of his most recent Andrija Tokic-produced EP, Speak My Mind was featured as song 80 of the politically charged, 1,000 Days, 1,000 Songs project.

Interestingly, Snider was impressed by Brooklyn-based producer and electronic music artist Brothertiger‘s re-imainging of Tears for FearsSongs from the Big Chair and asked  him to remix the EP’s sole love song, “Moving Me,” and Brothertiger turns the sparsely arranged, singer/songwriter ballad into a decidedly 80s synth pop-inspired track featuring shimmering arpeggiated synths and big, gated reverb-based beats over which Snider’s plaintive vocals float ethereally — and while further cementing the Brooklyn-based producer’s reputation for a sound that’s reminiscent of JOVM mainstays Washed Out and Moonbabies, Brothertigter retains the song’s swooning Romanticism and honesty.

 

 

 

 

 

The new single releasing November 3 is called “Moving Me (Brothertiger Remix).” The original version was part of a very political EP. We took the one love song from that package and had Brothertiger give it a chill wave makeover. Brothertiger’s reimagining of “Songs From the Big Chair” by Tears for Fears is what made us want to work with him.