Category: singer/songwriters

Harris Breyfogle is an up-and coming singer/songwriter, guitarist and Berklee College of  Music graduate. His forthcoming full-length Complexus, which is slated for a Spring 2020 release and the album covers the emotional timeline of the Berklee Music School grad’s relationship with an ex girlfriend with the material thematically exploring the journey to find closure and peace in the aftermath of a messy and bitter breakup.

Some of the album’s material has received attention from Hype Machine, Imperfect Fifth and a number of other blogs. Building upon a growing profile, Breyfogle’s latest single “Angela” is breezy, two step-inducing pop confection centered around Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, a sinuous bass line and an infectious, radio  hook. And while the song may stylistically draw inspiration from Daft Punk‘s smash-hit “Get Lucky,” the song also nods at George Michael‘s “Careless Whisper” and 80s yacht rock. Interestingly, the song takes it title from the woman,  who ultimately inspired Complexus‘ material — and as a result, the song is imbued with a mix of ache, longing  and nostalgia.

 

 

 

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New Audio: Tel Aviv’s D Fine Us’ Modern Take on the Delta Blues

Tomer Katz is a Tel Aviv singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer — and the creative mastermind behind the electro blues project D Fine Us, a project which finds the Tel Aviv-based artist meshing dusty old-school blues with warm and modern electronic textures. 

Driven by a passion for exploring and understanding cultures, Katz traveled to the Mississippi Delta to learn the blues from local bluesmen and women. And while the project is informed by the age-old themes that’s been at the core of the blues — right vs. wrong, reality vs. illusion, relaxation and addiction, love, heartbreak and so on, the project finds Katz bringing a 21st century perspective to them. 

Sonically Katz’s work with D Fine Us is a mix of raw, live recordings frequently created in desolate barrooms, wide open fields and friends living rooms mixed with polished studio work and electronics. Katz’s latest D Fine Us single “Safe to Disconnect” meshes old-timey and dusty, twangy vibrato guitars, harmonica and gospel-like chorus sections with tweeter and woofer rocking beats, swirling, atmospheric synths and other electronic effects. Thematically, the song meshes the concerns of classic blues with more contemporary concerns — and in a way that points out that the more things have changed, the more nothing much has really changed. Sonically though, D Fine Us reminds me a bit of Daughn Gibson, who does a similar modernization of old-timey country but with a bit of a muscular thump. 

New Video: Intimate Live Footage Centered Video of Rapidly Rising Dutch Artist Ruben Pol Releases a Shimmering and Plaintive New Single

With the release of his breakthrough debut EP Infused Romance, the Amsterdam-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Ruben Pol received attention across Europe and elsewhere for crafting shimmering and celestial electro pop. So far Pol’s debut effort has amassed over two million streams and has helped him land work with a handful of renowned fashion brands, including Dior, Gucci, Calvin Klein and Burberry. 

Building upon a rapidly growing profile across Europe, the Amsterdam-based Pol has plans to continue releasing new material in 2020 but in the meantime, he closes out this year with “Painting Mirrors,” the first bit of new material from the rising Dutch-based artist since the release of his breakthrough debut. Centered by thumping, organic drum patterns, shimmering and atmospheric synths, reverb-drenched guitars, a soaring hook and Pol’s achingly plaintive vocals, the new single sounds indebted to Within Without and Paracosm-era Washed Out. And while initially seeming placid, on repeated listens, the song has a subtle yet palpable tension and turbulence, as its narrator describes hiding their true self, in order to protect themselves and their partner: love is inevitably pulling them closer to their partner, but the fear of the truth is tugging them away; they’re in love but not fully ready and open — and they’re constantly aware of it. 

“Love can be blinding and it can make you do crazy, sometimes reckless things,” Pol says in press notes. “I myself am guilty of this too. The urge to be with someone can be so strong, it damages the very thing that you are chasing, love itself.” 

Filmed and edited by Victor Griffioen, the recently released video is based on black and white VHS footage of the rapidly rising Dutch artist performing the song live in front of an enraptured audience. 

New Video: Introducing the Global-Spanning Sounds of Mayotte’s M’Toro Chamou

Located in the Comoros archipelago off the coast of Southeast Africa, between Northwestern Mozambique and Northeastern Mozambique, the Department of Mayotte is a French overseas region, which consists of two islands — the main island of Grande-Teerre (or Maore), a smaller island of Petite-Terre (Pamanzi) and several islets around the two. 

Initially populated by people from nearby East Africa, Arabs, who brought Islam came later on — and by 1500, a sultanate was established. In the 19th century, Mayotte was conquered by Andriantsoly, former king of Ibonia (which was in modern day Madagascar), and later by the neighboring islands of Moheli and Anjuoan before being purchased by France in 1841.  

With a decisive referendum on the independence  of the Comoros region in 1974, the people of Mayotte voted to politically remain a part of France. Another decisive referendum vote in 2009 led to Mayotte becoming a French Department on March 31, 2011 — and an outermost region of the European Union on January 1. 2014. Although the islands are a politically recognized French territory, the majority of its inhabitants speak Shiamore, a Sabaki language closely related to the languages spoken in the neighboring Comoros Islands, not French. Kibushi, a Malagasy language, which features two dialects — Kibushi Kisakalava and Kibushi Kiantalaotra is also spoken by a significant portion of the population. Interestingly, according to a recent census report, a majority of the population aged 14 and older say that they can speak French — with varying levels of fluency. 

As a new department, the island region currently faces some enormous problems: as of this year, its annual population growth is at 3.8%. Half its population is less than 17 years old. Unemployment is at 35%. 84% of its inhabitants live below the officially recognized poverty line. And as a result of an influx of illegal immigration from its neighbors, 48% of its population are foreign nationals. As you can imagine, much like everywhere else on the planet, things socially and politically on Mayotte are rather turbulent. 

Over the past few years, the Mayotte-born singer/songwriter and guitarist M’Toro Chamou has created a unique sound and musical style that he’s dubbed Afro M’Godro Rock, which meshes the traditional M’Godro, Shigoma and Chengue rhythms of Mayotte with more Western sounds — primarily rock and blues. In fact, he’s deeply influenced by BB King, John Lee Hooker, Nina Simone, Ray Charles and James Brown, among a host of others. Thematically, his work exhorts people to come together as one rather than being torn apart by politics. Interestingly, his most recent album Sika Mila, which translates into English as “Preserve Your Culture” thematically focuses on the rapidly charging Mahoran culture while spreading messages of hope and unity to a fractious people. 

Chamou’s latest single “M’Godro Rebel” is a breezy and anthemic song centered around shimmering acoustic guitar, brief bursts of emphatic electric guitars, propulsive polyrhythm and call and response vocals. And while deeply rooted in traditional sounds, the song finds Chamou’s sound and approach nodding at Bob Marley-like reggae both thematically and sonically. As Chamou explains in press notes, the song is about the discrimination and oppression that limits the people of Mayotte and Black people everywhere. 

Directed by Lenz, the gorgeous shot and recently released video for “M’Godro Rebel” finds both the director and the Mayotte-born singer/songwriter purposefully highlighting the beauty, wealth and strength of African people: the video begins with Chamou and a cast of beautiful black people of all shades wearing 18th Century Rococo — or late baroque — style clothing, in opulent European-inspired settings that makes the first portion of the video seem indebted to the work of Kehinde Wiley. In the West, we rarely see Africa or Africans in such a proud, powerful fashion, let alone other Black people across the Diaspora — and it is defiant, boldly Black as fuck. During the video’s second half, we see the same cast wearing the vividly colored designs of South African designer Laduma Ngxokolo. The video says that Africans have a proud, rich history and an important place in the modern world. Simply put, everything about the video is black excellence.  

Live Footage: Yola on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

Throughout the course of the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the Grammy Award-nominated Bristol, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola. The Grammy Award-nominated JOVM mainstay has led a remarkable life — the sort that I’ve long thought should be made into an inspiring biopic, like What’s Love Got To Do With It: She grew up extremely poor — and fascinated by her mother’s record collection. And by the time she turned four, she knew she wanted to be a performer. Unfortunately, she was banned from making music, until she left home. She has also overcome being in an abusive and dysfunctional relationship, stress-induced voice loss and literally walking through fire, as a result of a house fire. All of this inspired and informed her Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, which was released earlier this year through Easy Eye Sound.

2019 has been a breakthrough year for the Bristol-born, London-based JOVM mainstay with an incredible array of career highlights that included:

playing a breakout performance at this year’s SXSW
making her New York debut earlier this year at Rockwood Music Hall
playing a live session for YouTube at YouTube Space New York 
opening for a list of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates that featured stops at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors 
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
and of course, as I mentioned earlier, the JOVM mainstay recently received a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas. 
Adding to a big year, Yola made her late night national television debut last night, performing the swooning and gorgeous album single “Faraway Look” on Jimmy Kimmel Live!  Interestingly, over the past year, the country soul singer/songwriter has made a soulful — and just flat out amazing — cover of Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” one of my favorite Elton John songs, a staple of her live show. Yola performed that as well. I think the live footage will serve as a great taste of her live show. 

Live Footage: H.E.R. Performs “Slide” for Vevo

Born Gabriella Wilson, the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and guitarist, best known as H.E.R. (an acronym for Having Everything Revealed). Wilson first gained attention when she participated in Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing contest in 2009. By 2014, she had signed with RCA Records and released her debut single “Something to Prove” under her birth name. 

Back in 2016, Wilson re-emerged with her current solo project, H.E.R., releasing her debut EP H.E.R. Volume 1, a seven song collection of slow-burning, post-breakup material, which managed to sound both vulnerable and self-assured. RCA Records initially released the effort that September to limited promotion — but the album effort eventually landed at #28 on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop charts thanks in part to social media co-signs from Alicia Keys and Bryson Tiller, as well as an attention grabbing cover of Drake’s “Jungle.” Wilson followed-up with 2017’s  similarly styled H.E.R. Volume 2, which debuted at #22 on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop charts. 

Continuing the rapidly growing buzz surrounding her, the EPs were soon combined and released as H.E.R. with six additional tracks, including “Best Part,” a #32 R&B/hip-hop hit, previously heard on Daniel Caesar’s Freudian. 

Last year H.E.R. teamed up with pop superstar Khalid for “This Way,” which appeared on the Superfly Soundtrack. That August, Wilson released her third EP, I Used to Know Her: The Prelude, which landed at the top of R&B/hip-hop charts, thanks to the success of “Could’ve Been,” a duet with Bryson Tiller. By the end of the year, Wilson received five Grammy nominations — Album of the year and Best R&B album for H.E.R., Best R&B Performance for “Best Part,” Best R&B Song for “Focus,” and Best New Artist, winning Grammies for Best R&B Album and Performance. 

Since the Grammy Awards, she has collaborated with a diverse and eclectic array of artists including Chris Brown on “Come Together,” Jess Glynne on “Thursday,” Ed Sheehan on “I Don’t Want Your Money” and YBN Cordae on “Racks,” “21” and “Slide.” Some of that material was released on the compilation album I Used to Know Her while others were released as stand-alone singles or the albums of her collaborators. She’s also been nominated for five more Grammy Awards at the forthcoming 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, including Best Album and and Record with I Used to Know Her and Song of the Year for “Hard Place.”  

Recently Vevo invited the Grammy Award singer/songwriter and guitarist for a live session that included the two-step inducing “Slide” Featuring a shimmering and strutting neo-soul/classic soul arrangement and an infectious hook, the song is a perfect vehicle for Wilson’s sultry and self-assured vocals and some ambitious yet accessible songwriting.