Category: singer/songwriters

New Video: Introducing the Rousing Hook-Driven Pop of Austria’s Onk Lou

With the release of 2017’s Florian Richling co-produced debut, the 16 song Bogus, the Austrian singer/songwriter, guitarist and pop artist Onk Lou quickly established a sound and songwriting approach that drew from some rather disparate sources including Frank Turner, Jason Mraz, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and Caribbean music — with a decided Scandinavian pop touch. “I wanted to commemorate those things that just pop up in our faces that we can’t quite deal with, yet the good thing about them is that these things can empower us to do great stuff!” The Austrian pop artist says. “It may be is being laid to, being tricked or being let down. The nice facet of all of these is that they force us to do better, to grow: They push us to get together to fight the good fight, to go out there and live live and show them what we’ve got!” 

Since the release of Bogus, Lou has been rather prolific: he’s released two EP’s 2018’s Claws & Paws and last year’s Summer Tapes, as well as a handful of singles — including his latest single, the anthemic and decidedly 80s inspired  “Natural High.” Centered around twinkling keys, thumping beats, Lou’s soulful vocals, and a blazing Prince-inspired solo, the song reveals a songwriter with an unerring knack to craft an enormous, crowd-pleasing hook. 

Directed by René Rodlauer, the recently released video for “Natural High” is split between a pensive Lou in a what looks like an adolescent’s bathroom and Lou in a lime green suit and white turtleneck rocking out in an empty stage. At its core is the playfulness of someone, who doesn’t take himself all too serious. 

New Video: Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers and Brother GoodLove Follow Black Lives Matters Protests in DC

Alan Evans is a songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for being the co-founder of acclaimed jazz fusion trio and JOVM mainstays Soulive. Back in 2008, while Soulive was on a break from touring, Evans spent his time producing, recording and mixing bands from around the world in his Western Massachusetts-based recording studio. On his off days, Evans would go into the studio and play guitar, eventually recording a collection of songs that he felt didn’t quite fit with Soulive that he wanted to release on his own — Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers wound up becoming Evans’ guitar playing alter ego.

Last month, I wrote about “Good Thang,” a track that featured an All-Star cast of funk and jazz musicians that included DJ Williams’ Shots Fired‘s and Rubblebucket’s Darby Wolf (organ), The Curtis Mayflower’s Pete Aleski (guitar), Akashic Record’s and BT ALC Big Band’s Brian “BT” Thomas” (trombone), ALC Funktet’s and BT ALC Big Band’s Alex Lee-Clark (trumpet), BT ALC Big Band’s Tucker Antell (alto and tenor saxophone) BT ALC Big Band’s Jared Sims (baritone sax) and Kim Dawson (vocals), who contributed sultry vocals to a feel good, Daptone meets Muscle Shoals-like anthem.

Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers’ latest single “As Far As We Know” finds Evans collaborating with frequent collaborators Darby Wolf (piano), BT ALC Big Band’s Alex Lee-Clark (trumpet) and Brian “BT” Thomas (trombone) and Cynthia Tolson (string) on a slow-burning and gentle old-school arrangement that recalls Curtis Mayfield. Stephane Detchou, a Montreal-born and-based, Cameroonian-Canadian singer/songwriter, who writes and performs as Brother GoodLove, a soul project that finds the Cameroonian-Canadian exploring his identity and sense of self and reflecting on the world at large while pushing for a future with peace through the understanding of others contributes the song’s hopeful and uplifting lyrics and vocals. Even when things seem bleak and uncertain, we can still hold on to the hope that a new paradigm and a new world may be just around the corner — it’s just a shame that Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, John Lewis and countless other brothers and sisters, who pushed this country to live up to the ideals of its framers aren’t alive to finally see it.

“I originally wrote the music for ‘As Far As We Know’ back in May 2019 with another VLM project in mind,” Evans says of the latest Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers single. “”I knew that I wanted to have Stephane (Brother GoodLove) singing on this song from the beginning. I didn’t realize that Stephane would turn that working title into such beautiful and powerful lyrics—I was really blown away when he sent me the first demo of the vocal and couldn’t wait to get it into full production but for whatever reason, it wasn’t the right time. But once I had the idea for the new CrushedVelvet and the Velveteers album, ‘As Far As You Know’ being included was a no brainer. So during quarantine, Stephane cut the vocals and I called on my Vintage League Music family of musicians to fill out the song and the rest is history. Without a doubt, it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written.”

Directed by Samuel Hall, the recently released video for “As Far As Know” follows Stephane Detchou on a stroll through Washington, DC — and while capturing daily life in DC during the COVID-19 pandemic, the video primarily is focused around the city’s Black Lives Matter protests. The song and its accompanying video manages to capture the hope  for positive change and equality for all that we hope is coming soon. And in case you forgot: BLACK LIVES MATTER! 

New Video: Genre-Bending Artist Kitty Coen Releases a Cinematic and Psychedelic Fever Dream

Kitty Coen is a 22 year-old, Austin-based singer/songwriter, who emerged with the release of an acoustic cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.” Influenced by Tame Impala and STRFKR, the emerging Austin-based singer/songwriter has balanced a rooted commitment to the classics with a psychedelic, Western and bluesy sound — with subtle nods to disco. 

Centered around the Austin-based singer/songwriter’s sultry vocals, shimmering reverb-drenched, guitars, propulsive drumming, some fuzzy and funky synths and an infectious hook. “Dark Soul” is a sultry and self-assured debut single that to my ears reminds me a bit of Too True-era Dum Dum Girls and 80s New Wave — with subtle nods to country. But under the material’s polished sheen is a beating and sensitive heart — while being a bit of a tell off/warning reminiscent of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good.”

“This release of music is a coming-out party for tunes I’ve had in my soul for a while,” Coen explains. “As an artist who took some time to perfect her sounds, I feel that the music I’m putting out in the coming months is introducing my voice and style to the world. The stories and themes have been acquired over my life. Growing up in a small Texas town I was exposed to a lot of country music and influenced my a western aesthetic, but this isn’t country, it’s more like Dolly Parton on an acid trip.” 

“‘Dark Soul’ is basically a warning label to any potential suitors who might think I’m all smiles and rainbows,” the emerging Austin-based singer/songwriter adds. “Just because I seem sweet at first doesn’t mean I always am. Especially with relationships that don’t let me breathe. I’m an independent woman and if you want to be with an independent woman you have to accept one thing: they don’t need you. ‘Dark Soul’ was originally a song I wrote on acoustic guitar in my friend’s garage. But as I performed it live I realized I wanted it bigger and ultimately better. I went to Nashville to work on it with my producer and we re-worked it into a western disco dance track.”

Directed by Kitty Coen and Aaron Brown, the recently released is a psychedelic and cinematically shot visual that begins with Coen driving on an open highway with burning orange skies with her red hair mirroring the color of the sky. She eventually parks the muscle car she was driving and enters into a smoky, neon room with bubbles, palms, glitter and explosive bursts of color. We also follow her to a pool and to a futuristic Western club. But throughout we see Coen be sassy, seductive and remarkably self-assured. ‘“The vibe of the video is disco cowgirl realness. I wanted to take the viewer on a psychedelic trip through the mind of Kitty Coen,” Coen explains.

New Video: Emerging Singer/Songwriter Enoch Porch Releases a Gorgeous Visual for Plaintive New Single “Grand Army”

Growing up in a hyper-fundamentalist Christian, home-school cult, the emerging Indiana-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Enoch Porch was isolated from all popular and secular music: as a child, he listened to his parents vinyl collection of classical music, church songs recorded in the 70s and Sousa marches. “I remember, age 5 or so, loving the rhythm and excitement of Sousa marches, the hypnotic repetition of Ravel’s ‘Bolero’, and the drama and emotion of The Nutcracker,” Porch recalls in press notes. “Many of my creative choices are still heavily influenced by early that musical diet.” 

When he turned 11, Porch quit school and learned to play multiple instruments and to record himself. “I was more excited about this particular path than were my folks, and I found myself locked inn a battle of wills with my ex-Marine fighter pilot/electrical engineer father for several years,” Porch says. The Indiana-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist adds that his father had a latent musical talent of his own and although he taught him to harmonize and to hear major and minor intervals — but he didn’t think that it was possible to make a living as a musician. However, his folks allowed him to work, mowing lawns around his small town to save up money for a guitar, then other instruments and recording instruments. As a teenager, Porch was a busy musician — and what he believed a recording engineer. 

Porch eventually moved to Nashville. And while in Music City, Porch had difficulty landing a job; so to get by, he gave plasma at a local blood bank to pay for his bills. He wound up landing a gig with a touring band and worked at local restaurants to keep afloat. 

The Indiana-born singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist then relocated to New York, where he found a partner, lost partner and fell into a deep depression. He found his way to a therapist, who taught him to un-learn false beliefs he has had since his childhood and to replace them with a certain type of care for his inner child. “It was not properly love, but the closest I had gotten to it. Eventually the seeds of care grew and I began to hold myself in high regard and to protect this precious heart,” Porch says. 

The emerging Indiana-born, Brooklyn-based artist’s solo debut single “Grand Army” is a lush, 70s AM rock-like track featuring shimmering guitars, a supple bass line, Porch’s plaintive vocals, twinkling keys and a soaring and expressive guitar solo. Centered around some quietly ambitious yet earnest songwriting, the song as Porch explains is inspired by deeply personal experience: “I fell deeply, painfully, in love with someone who was close to me but couldn’t love me back,” the Indiana-born, Brooklyn-based artist explains. “I lost contact with myself, as if my center had ripped right out of me. This song came out of exploring how this experience echoed the feelings I had as a child of my mother who, while in proximity, wasn’t able to give the kind of love her children needed.”

Directed by Gabriel Kurzlop, the recently released video employs a simple concept in a gorgeous fashion: We see Porch standing at the shore in a blue work coveralls as the camera slowly and gradually zooms closer throughout. Just before the song fades out, we see a brief flash of playfulness with Porch giving a sign to the camera. 

New Video: Rising Spanish Artist Suzanna Releases a Bold and Playful Visual for Infectious New Single “Paipái”

Suzanna Abellán is Barcelona-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, who earned a degree in Modern Music from ESMUC — and then spent the early part of her musical career in a number of acclaimed Barcelona-based bands including Radio Malanga, Rootsmama, Tokyo 22, Funk All Stars, Future is Female and a number of others.

In 2011, Abellán relocated to Morocco, and in 2014, the Spanish-born singer/songwriter and guitarist won a Rock Fusion Meditel Morocco Music Award (MMMA) for “Ana Bikhir,” a collaboration with Amine Ayoubi.  After spending four years in Rabat, Morocco, Abellán returned to Barcelona. Upon her return, she participated in the televised talent competition La Voz, eventually becoming a semifinalist. Participating on La Voz led to increased visibility and a national profile. Coincidentally, around the same time, Abellán felt an increased desire to write her own material, centered around her own experiences and feelings. 

Last year, Abellán, performing with the mononym Suzanna released her 12 song Genis Trani-produced full-length debut, SOULFYAH, which featured collaborations with Rapsusklei, Mr. Wilson, Mei Seme and others. Thematically centered around autobiographical stories, the album quickly established Abellán’s sound as a solo artist — a slick synthesis of reggae, trap and soul. “Paipái” the first bit of new material since the release of SOULFYAH further cements the Spanish singer/songwriter and guitarist’s sound. Featuring skittering and thumping beats, strummed guitar, twinkling synths, a sinuous bass line and an infectious hook paired with Abellán’s soulful and jazzy delivery, the song may remind some listeners of a reggae-tinged version of Missy Elliott’s work with Timbaland — in other words, lush, sultry and simultaneously futuristic and contemporary. Interestingly, the track is the first time Abellán sings lyrics completely in her native Spanish.

The song features a message of liberation and celebration in which its narrator learns to say no to anything that diminishes or interferes with her quest for liberation — including letting go of toxic and stagnant situations that don’t contribute anything to her, forging new paths and so on. And as the Spanish-based artist explains in a statement, the lyrics speak of deeply personal experiences ranging from disappointment and gratitude. 

Directed by Abellán, the recently released video for “Paipái” was filmed during COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines across the European Union. Inspired by the aesthetics of Carmen Miranda, specifically “Rebola a bola” in the 1941 film Weekend in Habana, the video was shot on a roughly 40 Euro budget, in which she used a caulk gun and a sewing machine to create her costumes, as items in her own home, including bed sheets, stuffed animals, her cat, plants and so on to create the video’s overall aesthetic — playful, sultry and boldly DIY. 

Alan Evans is a songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for being the co-founder of acclaimed jazz fusion trio and JOVM mainstays Soulive. Back in 2008, while Soulive was on a break from touring, Evans spent his time producing, recording and mixing bands from around the world in his Western Massachusetts-based recording studio. On his off days, Evans would go into the studio and play guitar, eventually recording a collection of songs that he felt didn’t quite fit with Soulive that he wanted to release on his own — Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers wound up becoming Evans’ guitar playing alter ego.

Last month, I wrote about “Good Thang,” a track that featured an All-Star cast of funk and jazz musicians that included DJ Williams’ Shots Fired‘s and Rubblebucket’s Darby Wolf (organ), The Curtis Mayflower’s Pete Aleski (guitar), Akashic Record’s and BT ALC Big Band’s Brian “BT” Thomas” (trombone), ALC Funktet’s and BT ALC Big Band’s Alex Lee-Clark (trumpet), BT ALC Big Band’s Tucker Antell (alto and tenor saxophone) BT ALC Big Band’s Jared Sims (baritone sax) and Kim Dawson (vocals), who contributed sultry vocals to a feel good, Daptone meets Muscle Shoals-like anthem.

Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers’ latest single “As Far As We Know” finds Evans collaborating with frequent collaborators Darby Wolf (piano), BT ALC Big Band’s Alex Lee-Clark (trumpet) and Brian “BT” Thomas (trombone) and Cynthia Tolson (string) on a slow-burning and gentle old-school arrangement that recalls Curtis Mayfield. Stephane Detchou, a Montreal-born and-based, Cameroonian-Canadian singer/songwriter, who writes and performs as Brother GoodLove, a soul project that finds the Cameroonian-Canadian exploring his identity and sense of self and reflecting on the world at large while pushing for a future with peace through the understanding of others contributes the song’s hopeful and uplifting lyrics and vocals. Even when things seem bleak and uncertain, we can still hold on to the hope that a new paradigm and a new world may be just around the corner — it’s just a shame that Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, John Lewis and countless other brothers and sisters, who pushed this country to live up to the ideals of its framers aren’t alive to finally see it.

“I originally wrote the music for ‘As Far As We Know’ back in May 2019 with another VLM project in mind,” Evans says of the latest Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers single. “”I knew that I wanted to have Stephane (Brother GoodLove) singing on this song from the beginning. I didn’t realize that Stephane would turn that working title into such beautiful and powerful lyrics—I was really blown away when he sent me the first demo of the vocal and couldn’t wait to get it into full production but for whatever reason, it wasn’t the right time. But once I had the idea for the new CrushedVelvet and the Velveteers album, ‘As Far As You Know’ being included was a no brainer. So during quarantine, Stephane cut the vocals and I called on my Vintage League Music family of musicians to fill out the song and the rest is history. Without a doubt, it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written.”

Will Powers · RIVERS

 

Will Powers is an emerging Sudbury, Ontario-based folk singer/songwriter and musician. Powers’ latest single, “RIVERS” is heavily influenced by the cottage his family owns on the French River. “. . . in rent years, I’ve become more aware of its history as an important trading route in early colonial times,” Powers explains in an email to me. “I’ve often thought about the significance of us occupying that land, which is now a pristine provincial park.

“Living in the twenty-first century amidst a pervasive ignorance of colonial history has pushed me to learn about the general circumstances that enabled us to be there today, and obliges me to convey a message of respect to that place.” “RIVERS,” he adds is a personal acknowledgement of the complex realties behind my presence on that river.

Centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched acoustic guitar, some pedal effected electric guitar, a propulsive backbeat, Powers sonorous baritone, the lushly arranged yet kind of dusty “Rivers” brings to mind — to my ears, least — Nick Drake and Loving. It’s a gently buzzing yet half-remembered dream of a song. “My voice shouldn’t necessarily be the one being heard in this arena, but rather be the one relaying towards Indigenous voices, attempting to draw attention to them and their needs,” Powers adds. “I hope that ‘RIVERS’ can serve as a conduit as I come to terms with my position within reconciliation.”

 

New Audio: Rising Artist Alvin Chris Releases an Infectious and Summery Banger

Alvin Chris is a rapidly rising emcee, vocalist, producer and beatmaker. His latest single, the infectious, summertime banger “Question de temps” is centered around a slick production featuring elements of dancehall, Afropop and contemporary electro pop —  chiming percussion, thumping beats, an infectious hook, some 80s soul pop sax soloing and Chris’ alternating between plaintive crooning and rhyming.

“Question de temps” is the sort of infectious song that you can sing in the shower  or wine down with someone at the club — but the song is actually kind of ambivalent, as it captures a situation that is all too familiar: a narrator, who finds himself in a promising, new romantic situation — but it might be quickly tarnished by his doubts, fears and insecurities. And as a result, the song is a bit of a bittersweet sigh of resignation.