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Earlier this year, i wrote about the up-and-coming Bristol, UK-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Katey Brooks, and as you may recall, with the release of 2016’s I Fought Lovers EP, Brooks quickly earned a national and international profile for a sound and songwriting approach that has been compared favorably to the likes of Jeff Buckley. In fact, material off the EP received enthusiastic airplay on  BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 and  the CBC, and praise from Billboard, Pride and The Advocate. Adding to a growing profile, Brooks has shared bills with an eclectic yet impressive list of artists that includes Newton Faulkner, Ghostpoet, Martin Simpson, Deaf Havana, Lamb‘s Lou Rhodes, Mike and the Mechanics, and Mystery Jets, and has played at some of the world’s biggest festivals including Glastonbury, WOMAD, the 2012 Paralympics and Australia’s National Folk Festival. She also has appeared on a compilation with Anais Mitchell, Ane Brun and Marissa Nadler and recorded a track with The Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman and Paloma Faith

Interestingly, Brooks has a complicated and messy upbringing. She grew up in a cult, and as a child, she found refuge in music.“It was a very chaotic upbringing, full of some pretty colourful and sometimes unsavoury, characters. But when I sang, I felt free and connected. For as long as I can remember, it’s been my way of getting what I need to say out,” she reveals in press notes. She began singing gospel, old spirituals and the songs from the likes of John Lennon and Elvis Presley — but by the time she was a teenager, she entertained her peers with soul renditions.

When she turned 16, the Bristol-based singer/songwriter turned down a spot at the renowned BRIT School. “It would be interesting to know what would have happened if I had gone there, but I try not to dwell on that,”Brooks says in press notes. “I always think that you’re where you’re meant to be. And if I had gone, I probably would have ended up writing slightly less authentically to myself. But who knows, because if all the things that have happened in my life nevertheless happened, maybe I still would have written the way I do.”

When Brooks turned 20, she became extremely ill and her life was on pause as she was convalescing; but as she was convalescing she joined a songwriters group led by her friend, Strangelove’s Patrick Duff. “We would get together and play our songs to each other. It was really therapeutic.” Around this time Brooks was convinced that she had to devote her time to music. “So one day I just put on my own gig at the (Bristol) Folk House,” she laughs. “I sort of became an artist and promoter overnight,” Brooks recalls.

Sadly, shortly after making the decision to focus on her music, the Bristol-based singer/songwriter experienced a turbulent period of heartbreak and tragedy: the year she turned 22, her mother became ill and died — and shortly after that, one of her best friends went missing and died. “That’s definitely had an effect on the course of my life, and my writing,” Brooks says in press notes. “People have come up to me after gigs, particularly after songs I wrote during that time, saying ‘there’s a lot of sadness in your songs’ and it’s like ‘well, yeah.’ But I guess I’m lucky that I have songs that I can write, as a means to deal with things.”

Along with those hardships, Brooks has struggled to come to terms with her own sexuality. “In my most recent work I’ve finally been able to sing directly about women instead of using the mysterious ‘you,’” Brooks mentions in press notes. “I’m a private person in a lot of ways and I never wanted to be a poster girl for anything. But a few years ago I just thought screw it; I want to sing completely honestly. It felt like a weight lifted.”

Brooks latest single is the classic soul-inspired ballad “All of Me.” Centered around a spectral arrangement featuring a looping 12 blues guitar, a gospel-like backing vocal section, a two-step inducing rhythm section and Brooks achingly plaintive and soulful vocals, the new single will further establish the Bristol-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s ability to mesh craft, earnestness and ambitious songwriting in a thoughtful and natural fashion. But along with that much of Brooks’ material comes from real, lived-in places — in particular, the song’s narrator bitterly calls out a lover on their ambivalence. It was inspired by a personal situation with someone I was prepared to give my world to. They proclaimed deep love, but then proceeded to behave in ways that were completely incongruent with that proclamation”, revealsBrooks. Words can be very powerful and beautiful, but ultimately, when it comes to showing someone you love them, they’re cheap and easy to deliver. Actions tell us everything we need to know about how someone feels about us, and if they respect us – in every kind of relationship.” 

 

 

 


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New Audio: The Budos Band Return with an Ennio Morricone-like New Single

I’ve written and photographed the acclaimed Staten Island-based instrumental act The Budos Band a number of times over the years, and the act which is comprised of Jared Tankel (baritone sax), Tom Brenneck (guitar), John Carbonella (congas, drums), Mike Deller (organ), Daniel Folder (bass), Andrew Greene (trumpet), Rob Lombardo (bongos, congas), Brian Profilio (drums) and Dame Rodriguez (percussion) initially developed a reputation for a sound that they described as “Afro Soul,” which draws from Ethiopian music with a soul undercurrent, and some sound of the sounds of the 60s; however, with the most band’s most recent releases, their sound has evolved towards what they’ve referred to as “70s Psychedelic Instrumental Music.”

Now, as you may recall, the acclaimed Staten Island-based act’s fifth full-length album, the aptly titled V is slated for an April 12, 2019 release through their longtime label home Daptone Records, and as the band’s Tom Brenneck says in press notes, the band’s forthcoming album feels like the truest sonic representation of the band as the material possesses the rock ‘n’ roll/heavy metal elements off of 2014’s Burnt Offering, as well as songs that could have easily been found on their first three albums.  The album’s first single “Arcane Rambler” featured a composition that nodded at hip-hop, 70s fuck, Afro funk and psych rock — and in a way that found them at arguably their loosest and trippiest.  V’s latest single is the Ennio Morricone-like “Veil of Shadows,” a composition that’s centered around reverb-drenched guitar, shimmering and soaring organs and a big Western/Mexican-like horn arrangement — and as a result, the track possesses a cinematic quality; in fact, to my ears, it sounds as though it should have been part of the soundtrack for Kill Bill. 

Initially known as a former member of the multi-platinum selling Cobra Starship, Alex Suarez has developed a reputation as an up-and-coming electronic music producer and artist, best known as LEFTI. As a solo artist and producer, Suarez has been praised by Billboard, who noted that he “has quickly named a name for himself as a newbie favorite among the industry with his richly layered productions that tread the line between house, funk and indie dance.”

Suarez’s latest LEFTI single is “Every Time” is a collaboration featuring Spencer Ludwig that features a Illumination-era Miami Horror-like production consisting of lush layers of shimmering and pulsating  synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, a sinuous bass line, an enormous, crowd pleasing hooks and warm blasts of horns further cementing his reputation for crafting a sound that’s a little bit house, a little bit of funk, a little bit of EDM and a little bit of nu-disco. Ludwig contributes appropriately sultry, come hither vocals to the dance floor rocking proceedings. Simply put, the song is a slickly produced, crowd pleasing banger.

 

 

New Video: Introducing the Afro-Caribbean Sounds of Charlotte Adigéry

Charlotte Adigéry is an up-and-coming Belgian-Martiniquais singer/songwriter and her forthcoming David and Stephen Dewaele-produced EP Zandoli is centered around storytelling, her mother’s critical lesson of rhythm’s relationship to musicality, the importance of a sense of humor in a difficult work, and more important, her ancestors musical traditions. 

The EP’s opening track and latest single is the propulsive and trance-inducing “Patenipat,” a track built around thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and a chanted chorus “zandoli pa the ni pat,” a Creole mnemonic that translates into “the gecko didn’t have any legs.” (A zandoli is a commonly found lizard across the Caribbean that’s frequently found climbing the walls of homes across the region.) Interestingly, while based around contemporary electronic music production, the song draws from the Afro-Caribbean tradition, recalling rhythmic drum lines and dance routines  — with the participants moving towards a religious ecstasy.

Directed by Joaquim Bayle, the cinematically shot visuals draw from religious ceremonies with Adigéry and all of the participants driven by the propulsive rhythms of the song. 

New Video: Up-and-Coming Singer-Songwriter Allan Rayman Releases Steamy Visuals for the Sultry Album Single “Crush”

Allan Rayman is a rather mysterious yet up-and-coming singer/songwriter and although not much is currently known about him, he has released three full-length albums and an EP — 2016’s Hotel Allan, 2017’s Roadhouse 01 and Courtney EP and Harry Hard-on, which was released earlier this year. With those releases, Rayman has played sold out headlining tours across his native Canada and the US, including sets at Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Ohana, Austin City Limits and Osheaga Festivals. And as a result, the up-and-coming singer/songwriter has built up a cult-like following. Building upon a growing platform, Rayman is about to embark on a European tour that includes a stop at my second favorite city in the world, Amsterdam; but before that, Harry Hard-on’s latest single is the sultry and bluesy “Crush,” which is centered around Rayman’s expressive vocals, which convey vulnerability and aching need, buzzing power chords, a sinuous hook and boom-bap like drums.

Sonically  speaking, the track will further cement Rayman’s growing reputation for a sound that slickly meshes elements of 90s grunge, blues, contemporary indie rock and hip-hop with the self-assuredness of an old pro. Thematically, the song focuses on lust and desire — and possesses a forceful, desperate urgency. 

Directed by longtime collaborator Steph Verschuren, the recently released video for “Crush” takes place in a strip club, where the viewer and the patrons watch a stunningly beautiful exotic dancer vamp, strutting and doing her thing. And it isn’t surprising that she commands the stage and everyone’s attention. Interestingly, the video manages to emphasize the urgent lust at the core of the song. 

New Audio: Weeknight’s Anthemic Take on Post-Punk

Initially formed as a duo featuring founding members, longtime partners an co-frontpeople Andy Simmons and Holly MacGibbon, the Brooklyn-based dark pop/post-punk act Weeknight received attention with the release of 2014’s full-length debut Post Everything.  And as the story goes, after playing hundreds of shows to support Post Everything including touring with Phantogram, Bear in Heaven, Frankie Rose, Moonface, School of Seven Bells, and Crystal Stilts, the duo returned home and began to write the material that wound up eventually comprising their forthcoming sophomore album Dead Beat Creep, which is slated for a February 1, 2019 release through Dead Stare Records. 
Written at the duo’s Bushwick home studio and recorded during the bleak winter of 2017 at House Under Magic Studios with co-producer and engineer Danny Taylor, the recording sessions for the album found the band expanding into a quartet with the addition of Russell Hymowitz (bass) and Jasper Berg (drums). And while inspired by the disillusionment of the 2016 election and profound loss and grief, the album’s material finds the band imposing limitations as they were writing and recording, as the band’s Andy Simmons explains in press notes: “We would only use analog gear and we would only write parts that we would be able to play live.” 

Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Holes In My Head” manages to bring classic 4AD post-punk to mind as the track is centered around a moody arrangement featuring shimmering and arpeggiated synths, an angular and propulsive bass line, delay pedal effected guitars, dramatic drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook –with a clean, studio polish. However, the song was written for Holly MacGibbons’ father, who died last year after a decade struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. It was written from his perspective, and says what I imagined he would have wanted to say to me if he was able to,” the band’s Holly MacGibbons explains in press notes. 

 

With a handful of singles and their full-length debut Vaporwave, the Washington, DC-based indie electro rock and synth pop sextet Color Palette, comprised of Jay Nemeyer (vocals, guitar), Josh Hunter (guitar, keys, bass), Matt Hartenau (drums), Rogerio Naressi (keys) and Maryjo Mattea (vocals) received attention both locally and internationally from the likes of NME MagazineUSA Today, NPR and Impose Magazine— and adding to a growing profile, the band has shared bills with  Charli XCX, The Naked and Famous, Mother Mother, Day Wave, Yumi Zouma, Mr. Little Jeans, The Kickback, Spirit Animal, VanLadyLove and others.

Up until late last month, some time had passed since I had come across the DC-based sextet but as you may recall, the band had been busy working on their sophomore album, which is currently slated for release sometime next year — and the album’s first single “Sunburn,” was a breezy and anthemic track centered around shimmering and jangling guitar lines, ethereal electronics and a soaring hook paired with a wistful vocal that evokes the passing of summer, and the impending end of another year. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Chelsea” is a synth-based track that some have compared favorably to Depeche Mode, although to my my ears, the song recalls St. Lucia as the members of Color Palette layer of arpeggiated synths are paired with angular and hanging guitar chords, an a propulsive rhythm section — and while much like its predecessor, the song reveals a band that can craft a razor sharp and infectious hook, “Chelsea” may arguably be the most ambitious, arena rock friendly track they’ve written and released to date.