Earlier this month, I wrote about JackLNDN, a rapidly rising London-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, electronic music artist and electronic music producer, who can trace the origins of his music career to when he was a boy: he grew up in a hone in which his family almost exclusively to jazz, funk and classical music in equal measure. When he was 7, he sang in professional choirs — and by the time, he was 10, he had met Queen Elizabeth and recorded material at Abbey Road Studios.

With the release of attention grabbing tracks like “The Feels,” “Never Get Enough,” “Start Over Again” and “All I See,” the British electronic music artist and producer established a unique sound and approach in electronic music/deep house: he contributes his own vocals to his productions, which are frequently indebted to jazz and house music. Building upon a growing profile in electronic music circles, the British artist and producer released his full-length debut Thoughts last year.

Now, as you may recall, since the release of his full-length debut, JackLNDN enlisted two of his favorite electronic music artists and producers — Fluida and Frameworks — to remix two of Thoughts songs. Fluida’s euphoric, drum ‘n’ bass-leaning remix of “With You” was centered around propulsive tribal beats while retaining the shimmering synth arpeggios, gorgeous melody and sinuous hook. Thoughts track “Unknown” was centered around shimming and arpeggiated keys, thumping polyrhythm, a trippy vocal melody and a crowd pleasing populist vibe. Interestingly, Frameworks’ remix of “Unknown” features layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, chiming percussion — and while retaining familiar elements of the original, it gives the song a mediative, world music feel.

 

 

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Sotomayor is a rapidly rising Mexico City, Mexico-based sibling electro pop duo featuring arguably two of their hometown’s most accomplished musicians: Paulina Sotomayor (vocals), best known for her work as a drummer in local rock/folk act Jefes del Desierto,  and Raul Sotomayor (production), best known for his work as one-half of award-winning jazz/funk duo Beat Buffet and for creating DayOff, a Sunday afternoon party that presents global bass acts rom around the world. Paullina Sotomayor and Raul Sotomayor founded Sotomayor back in 2015. And although it’s their first project together, the act which has released two album’s — 2015’s Salvaje and 2017’s Conquistador — has received attention from Vice, MTV and KEXP for a sound that meshes elements of cumbia, Afrobeat, dancehall, Peruvian chicha and merengue with modern electronic production and rock ‘n’ roll-like urgency. Adding to a growing profile, the act has toured across the UK, the States and Colombia.

Recorded in studios in Puerto Rico and Mexico, the duo’s soon-to-be released Eduardo Cabra-produced, third full-lengh album Origenes is slated for a February 14, 2020 release through Wonderwheel Recordings. Reportedly, the rapidly rising Mexico City-based act’s third album finds them continuing to draw their sound and aesthetic from the sounds of Latin America’s clubs and streets.  Possessing a strong sense of tradition, the material further cements the sibling duo’s reputation for an unerring knack for melody paired with a rock ‘n’ roll-influenced urgency — but unlike their previously released albums, Origenes finds the Sotomayors exploring and adding Afro Caribbean percussion to the mix.

“Meneate pa’ mi,” Origenes’ second and latest single is a decidedly upbeat, track centered around Raul Sotomayor’s thumping, club thumping  production featuring a chopped and looped horn sample and tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with Paulina Sotomayor’s self-assured half-sung, half rapped vocals. Much like JOVM mainstay El Dusty, the Mexico City-based duo’s newest single envisions a globalized, genre-free world, a world as the great George Clinton once sung that’s “one nation under a groove.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(New York, NY) — The Mexican brother-sister duo Sotomayor are back with their second single from upcoming album “Orígenes” (February 14, 2020). “Menéate pa’ mí” sees the group heat things up a notch from their last single (“Quema”) with Paulina Sotomayor’s vocals somewhere in between rapping and singing over brother Raul’s uptempo beat of horn samples and a driving kick drum. Additional production work from Eduardo Cabra (aka Visitante of Calle 13 fame) solidifies the record in the Latin-meets-electronic style the group is known for. The new single is out now and is available everywhere you stream music.

 

Sotomayor is due to release their third album Orígenes through the NY based label Wonderwheel Recordings, on February 14th. On Orígenes, Sotomayor performs Latinx electronic music that is as bold, thrilling and alive as any street party, with a strong sense of roots or tradition. Yet it is also music that is defined by the duo’s qualities as songwriters, with a clear knack for melody and dynamics that add a sense of rock ‘n’ roll urgency.

They are aided on the album by co-producer Eduardo Cabra (“Visitante” of the much-missed Puerto Rican rebel rousers Calle 13), who has recently helped push Latin singer/songwriters like Jorge Drexler, iLe and Vincent Garcia into making ground-breaking fusions of Latin tradition and modern musical forms, and won two Latin Grammy Producer of the Year awards in the process. The trick appears to have been rung once more. Sotomayor are creating their own unique musical universe, fuelled by the sounds of Latin America’s clubs and streets, with a level of songcraft and production know-how that only seems to keep on growing.

The forthcoming album was recorded between Mexico and Puerto Rico, and was produced by the 28 times Grammy Winner Eduardo Cabra aka “Visitante” from the legendary band “Calle 13”. In this production Sotomayor explores a new Afro Caribbean vision in the music, much more dance floor focused, and highly influenced by percussion.

So far the new album Orígenes, has received accolades from FADER and The New York Times with their lead single “Quema,” out now. “Quema” lets you know what it is straight-away: the “chuck-chucka-chuck” rhythm of the scraper (guira), the rising bass line, the keyboard that appears to be sending out an alarm signal. This is clearly cumbia, but it isn’t recognisable for long. A pounding bass line takes over, a beat is set and then Paulina Sotomayor’s voice enters, guiding the track. At first she is slow, assured, but then the chorus hits and there’s a release, a soulful higher-pitched melody as new synth lines bubble below. Elements of that original cumbia beat return in new ways, adding urgency, rhythm and detail, as the song continues to reinvent itself and play with ideas of what global bass and cumbia should sound like, all the while giving full focus to the song itself, to telling its story.

The cherry on top is the guest appearance of Totin “Arará” Agosto, one of Puerto Rico’s most loved singers and composers, and a man pivotal in putting Puerto Rican bomba back on the map. He adds joyful second vocals, seemingly losing himself in the music. His presence is a reminder that the musica callejera (street music) he plays does not have to be so different to club music. This is music to dance to, to revel, to telegraph delight.

Sotomayor are the brother/sister duo of Raul and Paulina Sotomayor. They formed in 2015 after years of activity in Mexico City’s emerging indie scene, playing in bands such as Jefes del Desierto and Beat Buffet. Orígenes is their third album following Salvaje (2015) and Conquistador (2017).

“Sotomayor’s bold take on Latinx electronic music mixes up innovations in the genre with traditional cumbia rhythms, creating something familiar yet refreshing.” – Fader

“n “Quema,” Sotomayor — the duo of Mexican siblings Raul and Paulina Sotomayor — gestures briefly toward traditional percussion, then rolls in 1980s-flavored synthesizers, with a drum machine, a fuzzy bass line and bubbly arpeggios.” – New York Times

” Origenes due out early 2020, will be co-produced by two time Latin Grammy Producer of the Year winner, Eduardo Cabra (aka Visitante of the Puerto Rican giant, Calle 13). That alone places this release into the upper echelon of the Latin music stratosphere. And, quite merited, from what is heard on their first single.” – KCRW

Ben Williams is an acclaimed Washington DC-born and-based singer/songwriter, bassist, composer, bandleader and highly sought-after collaborator. Williams graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Michigan State University and The Juilliard School, winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition(now known as the Herbie Hancock  International Jazz Competition) back in 2009 and a Grammy Award as a member of Pat Metheny‘s Unity Band. He has collaborated with an impressive and remarkably diverse array of artists including Wynton Marsalis, George Benson, Maxwell, Robert Glasper, Pharrell and a long list of others. (He also appeared in Don Cheadle’s Miles Davis biopic Miles Ahead.)

As a bandleader and composer, Williams has released two albums through renowned jazz label Concord Records — 2011’s State of Art and 2015’s Coming of Age. Slated for a February 7, 2020 release through Jose James‘, Talia Billig‘s and Brian Bender’s Rainbow Blonde Records, Williams third album I AM A MAN references Memphis‘ historic 1968 sanitation workers’ strike, during which African American men marched through the streets with picket signs that read “I Am A Man” in a boldface type. “The image of this long line of men, holding the picket signs, all saying the same thing — there’s something powerful about seeing this message over and over again,” Williams explains, before saying that the messaging reminded him of how we use hashtags today to help ignite and inspire activism today, such as the Black Lives Matter and MeToo movements. But there’s multiple subtle meanings to the album’s title: as Williams said during his performance at the Rainbow Blonde Records NYC Winter Jazz Fest last week the album wasn’t a typical protest album; that it was thematically an exploration of the black male psyche.

Sonically, the album reportedly meshes past, present and future, as it seemingly draws from The Roots, Erykah Badu, Bilal, D’Angelo, Common, Roy Hargrove‘s RH Factor as well as Marvin Gaye‘s What’s Going On, Curtis Mayfield and others.

Williams plays both double bass and electric bass throughout the album’s material, singing lead vocals on almost every single song on the album. He’s joined by an accomplished backing band of collaborators that includes Kris Bowers (keys), David Rosenthal (guitar), Marcus Strickland (tenor sax, bass clarinet), Bendji Allonce (percussion), Keyon Harrold (trumpet), Anne Drummond (flute), Jamire Williams (drums) and Justin Brown (drums). The album also features a handful of songs with  string arrangements performed by a string quartet — Justina Sullivan (cello), Celia Hatton  (viola), Maria Im (violin) and Chiara Fasi (violin), and vocals from Kendra Foster, Muhsimah, Wes Felton and Niles.

The album’s first single is the cinematic “If You Hear Me.” Centered around an spacious and cinematic arrangement featuring a shimmering and soaring string arrangement, African polyrhythm, Williams’ plaintive and soulful vocals, the track manages brings to Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Landing on a Hundred-era Cody Chesnutt to mind. The album’s second single, fittingly released today is an atmospheric rendition of the civil rights-era classic “We Shall Overcome” that places the song’s timeless struggle and hope for a far better, more just world into a contemporary context:  reminding the listener that the struggle of MLK, Malcolm X,  The Black Panthers and others,  is the same struggle as Black Lives Matter and other movements.

Williams will be embarking on a handful of live dates that includes a February 8, 2020 album release show at Nublu 151. Check out the live dates below.

 

Tour Dates
2/8: New York, NY @ Nublu 151 (Album Release Show)
3/19: Washington, DC @ City Winery

New Video: Dutch Indie Act The Homesick Release a Surreal, Animated Visual for Expansive Single “Male Bonding”

With the release of 2018’s full-length debut Youth Hunt, the Dokkum, The Netherlands-based trio The Homesick — Jaap van der Velde, Erik Woudwijk and Elias Elgersma — were quickly typecast as being resident tricksters, shrewdly courting spirituality under their own nonconformist whims. For outsiders, it was hard to tell whether the band was being ironic and taking the piss out of things — or genuinely unraveling themselves as starry-eyed romantics. Interestingly, even the album’s production values were quixotic and highly unusual: Elgersma and Van der Velde’s vocals were drenched in reverb  and paired with warped synths and distorted guitars within hook-driven guitar pop.

Slated for a February 7, 2020 release through Sub Pop Records, the Dutch trio’s forthcoming sophomore album The Big Exercise derives its title from a passage in acclaimed singer/songwriter Scott Walker’s biography Deep Shade Of Blue, the album reportedly is a concentrated effort by the trio to explore the physicality of their music in fresh ways.  “When we were on tour in 2018, I bought Meredith Monk’s Dolmen Music in Switzerland,” Van der Velde says in press notes. “Elias and I have been completely immersed in her music ever since. But also the work of Joan La Barbara for example, who also did things with extended vocal techniques, that was also quite vital to us. We discovered that the human voice offers so many beautiful elements that can still feel very physical and intrusive.”

“That’s also a  phenomenal aspect of the position we’re now in as a band,” Van der Velde adds. “I consider The Homesick a pop band first and foremost. If you’d introduce a late-era Scott Walker-record to a layman, it would likely fall on flat ears. But put it in the right scene of a good movie, and that person may finally understand its potential. The Homesick is allowed to play around in that pop framework, and the goal is to explore what’s possible within it. You can do super radical and weird things, and at the same time convey it all as straightforward pop music. With this album, I hope people will hear things anew after multiple listens.”

Additionally, the album finds the members of The Homesick second-guessing their long-held core chemistry as a live unit, adding baroque instrumentation like piano, acoustic guitar, percussion and clarinet to angular post-punk arrangements. “It’s the opposite of trying to translate recorded music to the stage,” the band’s Elias Elgersma says in press notes. “We were already playing these songs live for quite some time, so for this album, we wanted to unlock the potential of these songs further in the studio.”

Youth Hunt thematically touched upon a quest for belonging, roots and provenance; however, The Homesick’s sophomore album is centered around a headstrong wanderlust, which is fitting for a small-town Dutch band, anxious to take over the world while featuring meditations on family ties, alternate realities and commonplace encounters. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Male Bonding” is a galloping genre-defying track that possesses elements of angular, Gang of Four-like post-punk, 90s grunge, Devo-like New Wave and hints of psych folk placed within an expansive, breakneck arrangement that’s wildly eccentric yet mosh pit friendly.

Directed by Karlos Rene Ayala and featuring work by Skinner Illustration andMatt Brown 3D Animations, the recently released video is surreal sort of a Dada-esque nightmare that pulsates with the song’s chugging, motorik-like groove.

New Video: Brighton Psych Act Wax Machine Releases a Gorgeous and Mind-Bending Animated Visual for “Shade”

Led by its Brazilian-born founder Lau Ro (vocals, guitar), who spent time living in Italy and England, along with Isobel Jones (vocals, flute) and Toma Sapir (drums), the Brighton, UK-based psych rock act Wax Machine draws heavily from its founder’s international’s upbringing. With a handful of EPs under their collective belts, the band has developed a reputation for drawing from a number of disparate genres and styles.  The Brighton-based act’s forthcoming Go Kurosawa-produced album Earthsong of Silence will further cement the Brighton-based act’s growing reputation for a genre-defying, anachronistic sound, as the album reportedly finds the band incorporating elements of spiritual jazz, krautrock. tropicalia and library music filtered through a psychedelic lens.

Slated for a March 20, 2020 release through Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records, Earthsong of Silence continues where “Mind Palace,” off their last EP, Mind Palace left them — exploring English psych folk but while also touching upon the sunny tranquility of West Coast psych. As the band’s Lau Ro says in press notes, the album thematically “is an exploration into paradoxes, meditation and magic, predicated on the underlying idea of becoming one with nature and in harmony with the environment.”

“Shade” Earthsong of Silence’s latest single is a lysergic and seamless synthesis of Nick Drake-like folk, Haight-Ashbury-era grooves and vibes, Brazilian tropicalia-like breeziness and free-flowing jazz-tinged improvisation that manages to sound decidedly anachronistic — as though it could have been released sometime between 1967-1969 or so. The song — to me, at least — manages to evoke an easygoing summer afternoon, observing nature under the influence of hallucinogens.

The recently released animated video for “Shade” is fittingly mind-altering: in the background the viewer will see leaves fluttering in the wind, the rippling of water. But superimposed over that are gorgeous line animations of the band performing the song, with equally hallucinogenic imagery.

New Video: Moaning Release’s a Surreal and Uneasy Visual for “Ego”

Back in 2018, I spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Los Angeles-based indie rock/post punk trio Moaning.  Comprised of Sean Solomon (vocals, guitar), Pascal Stevenson (keys, bass) and Andrew MacKelvie (drums), the members of Moaning have been friends and collaborators in Los Angeles’ DIY scene for the better part of a decade through music and other creative pursuits in different media — Solomon is also a noted illustrator, art director and animator while Stevenson and MacKelvie have played in or produced and engineered acclaimed and rapidly rising acts like Cherry Glazerr, Sasami and Surf Curse.

With the release of 2018’s self-titled full-length debut, the Los Angeles-based trio received attention from a number of nationally and internationally known media outlets including  The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine,Stereogum, and others for a moody and angular post-punk sound that seemed to recall Joy Division, Interpol and Preoccupations. Building upon the success of their self-titled debut, the trio’s long-awaited sophomore album Uneasy Laughter is slated for a March 20. 2020 release through Sub Pop Records. Interestingly, Moaning’s Alex Newport-produced and engineered sophomore album is a more collaborative effort that finds the members of the band brightening the claustrophobic and uneasy sound that first won them attention — mainly through trading guitars for synths and beats. Thematically, the album focuses on the everyday anxieties of being a somewhat function human in the madness that’s this current century — with the material touching upon the personal and universal. “We’ve known each other forever and we’re really comfortable trying to express where we’re at. A lot of bands aren’t so close,” the band’s Andrew MacKelvie says in press notes. Sean Solomon, who celebrated a year of sobriety during the Uneasy Laughter sessions adds “Men are conditioned not to be vulnerable or admit they’re wrong. But I wanted to talk openly about my feelings and mistakes I’ve made.” 

Uneasy Laughter’s first single, the brooding “Ego” will further cement the trio’s long-held reputation for crafting moody material — and while featuring guitars during a blistering solo, the song is primarily centered around shimmering synths and a soaring hook. Although “Ego” finds the band’s sound boldly moving in the direction of say, 80s New Order, the song thematically finds its narrator desperately taking stock of himself and his relationships to others with an unflinching honesty. Interestingly, the initial demo was slower and was written in what the band’s Stevenson calls “a strange time signature,” which at the time stymied Solomon’s attempt to write vocal melodies. Borrowing a MacKelvie drumbeat from a demo of a different song, Stevenson found that it fit his original song perfectly. The track was fleshed out further in practices and through passing demos back and forth, with the result “perfectly capturing every idea we wanted to play with,” says MacKelvie. “I don’t think we would have been able to approach writing a song that way before,” adds Stevenson. “We purposely avoided the impulse to add guitars to everything, letting the melodies of the synth and vocals be the focus. We wanted to embrace the songs ability to slip between genre lines.

“The lyrics are about letting go of your own bullshit to help other people. Wanting to love yourself to love others. The ego can make you feel like you’re the greatest person in the world or the worst.” stated vocalist Sean Solomon. It makes you think your problems are abnormally different which is isolating and rarely true. The song is a reminder that listening to other perspectives is important and beneficial to both parties involved.”

Directed by Ambar Navarro, the recently released video for “Ego” features the members of the band in a variety of different costumes — but at its core, the video’s protagonist takes stock of himself, his life and how he relates to others. 

New Video: Jonah Mutono Returns with an Intimate and Gorgeous Visual for “Circulation”

Initially starting his music career under a deliberate and international cloak of mystery Kidepo, the Ugandan-born singer/songwriter Jonah Mutono stepped out into the spotlight  under his own name with the release of his debut single “Shoulders,” an achingly intimate pop song that was one part diary entry of the painfully lonely and one part yearning daydream about suddenly stumbling upon long-lasting love that reminded me — a little bit– of Jef Barbara‘s “Song for the Loveshy” and Avalon-era Roxy Music.

Mutono begins the new year with the Lil Silva and Al Carlson co-produced “Circulation.”  Centered around Mutono’s achingly tender vocals, skittering beats, chopped up vocal samples, layers of shimmering and arpeggiated synths and atmospheric electronics, the song manages to be an anxious confession of love — the sort in which you may not be able to express, discuss or openly admit out of fear of rumor mongering, rejection and of bodily harm by others. And as a result, the song possesses an underlying tension that’s palpably uneasy. 

Continuing an ongoing collaboration with director Isaac Eastgate, the recently released video for “Circulation” was filmed in a gorgeous, cinematic black and white in Mutono’s native Uganda. We follow two young men, walking silently through a small village. Interestingly enough, they’re walking completely in tune to the music before suddenly moving like zombies during the song’s hook. But throughout the video, there’s a sense of something deeply unspoken between the two — an intimacy and familiarity that’s expressed through a much more physical dance routine between the two. 

“We filmed this video last year in Uganda, near a place that’s very important to me. The piece is about tension – physical and emotional – and in this particular case, political,” Mutono says in press notes. “There is little kindness and space given to queer stories in that corner of the world. It was astounding that we got to be there and capture this. All I can really draw from is my own experience and this is a big part of that story for me. 

“Isaac [Eastgate, the director] and I wanted to create a scene that evoked something quite universal – that rudimentary magnetism and connection that we crave. The lyrics I wrote as a physical manifestation of this feeling, but I wanted to contrast the video to where they hardly touch at all.”

New Video: Vapor Caves’ 80s Inspired Video for Funky, Feminist Anthem “Bitch To The Boys”

With the release of their debut single “The Chase,” which was featured on Comedy Central‘s hit TV show Broad City and its follow-up “Hurry Up & Wait,” which landed on a Spotify‘s Ready for the Day playlist, the rapidly rising Austin, TX-based synth funk act The Vapor Caves — vocalist Yadira Brown and producer BoomBaptist — quickly emerged into the national scene. Deriving their name from a rare, naturally-found phenomenon: an underground cave that billows mineral-rich steam known for its healing properties, the duo pay homage to the phenomenon, by creating sonic medicine for those who enter.

Building upon a growing profile, the duo’s full-length debut, Feel Yourself, saw a limited vinyl-only release earlier this year that quickly sold out. The album further establishes their sound and approach with material that’s simultaneously dance floor friendly, funky and introspective. Interestingly, as a result of their growing profile, the act has opened for JOVM mainstay Dam-Funk.

Feel Yourself’s latest single, the slinky “Bitch To The Boys” is centered round shimmering synth arpeggios, Brown’s sultry and self-assured vocals, a sinuous dance floor friendly groove and an infectious hook, the track sonically reminds me of classic, 80s synth funk like Cherelle, I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan, Prince, etc., and of contemporary purveyors of the dance floor friendly sound like Dam Funk, Boulevards, Bruno Mars and the like. But more importantly, the song is a defiant, sashaying and strutting feminist anthem and tell off to wack ass fuckboys: the song’s narrator pretty much says “I don’t need your corny ass. I do it for myself anyway.” 

Directed and produced by Side Label, the recently released video is a fittingly 80s-inspired romp that features a crew of wack ass fuckboys, who get told off by the video’s protagonist and her crew. Disses are served — hot, cold and 24 hours a day in this one. 

New Audio: Introducing the Radio Friendly Sounds of Toronto’s Mute Choir

Toronto-based indie act Mute Choir — founder Sam Arion, along with Milan Sarkadi and Iris Waters — can trace its origins to as a response to its founder’s identity crisis, a long-established songwriting bond between Arion and Waters and a deep passion for musical experimentation. The Canadian trio are involved in every aspect of their work, ardently employing a DIY ethos to everything they do from production, mixing and artwork to ensure that their vision is completely their own without interference. 

The trio define their overall aesthetic as “Organized Chaos” with their sound simultaneously evoking a cluttered urban center and the “lonesome ambience of insomnia.” The band explains that they “seek to make sense of the noise around them, searching for a middle ground between conflicting forces.”

“Shadowboxing,” Mute Choir’s latest single is a slickly produced and hook driven track centered around Arion’s plaintive and yearning vocals, thumping beats, layers of shimmering guitars and a sinuous bass line. Interestingly, the song finds the emerging Canadian trio balancing earnest songwriting rooted in deeply personal experience, deliberate, old-fashioned craft and pop-leaning ambition. Although, the song manages to be a radio friendly, arena rock anthem it simultaneously evokes the uneasiness of an uncertain present while encouraging the listener to take a chance on themselves and their dreams. 

“‘Shadowboxing’ was inspired by a  point of renewal; when you’re starting fresh but can’t escape the tremendous pressure of uncertainty. When the future is wide open, it can be easy to overthink your present decisions in the face of who you might become,” the band says in a written statement. “You can never know for sure if life will turn out the way you hope when you go with your gut instinct. There is always a possibility for failure, an fear of failure can be overwhelming enough to drive you to the wrong kinds of compromises.” 

The members of Mute Choir add, “‘Shadowboxing’ is told from the perspective of someone, who let the weight of ear and negativity break their spirit. They’ve given up and distanced themselves from their passions, only realizing how misguided they were when it’s too late. Each verse laments the unfulfilled mundanity of their day-to-day, while the choruses offer a bleak retrospect. The character was written as a reminder to never look back on life thinking what if? It’s better to fail doing what you love than to know you never tried.”

Live Footage: Marcus King Teams Up with Dan Auerbach on an Acoustic Version of “Beautiful Stranger” at Easy Eye Studio

During the tail end of last year, I wrote a bit about the rapidly rising, Greenville, SC-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, Marcus King. King is a fourth generation musician, who has followed in his family’s footsteps by becoming a musician and singer/songwriter of note itself.  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 last year alone. 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 opened for Chris Stapleton during his last US arena tour, playing in front of 17,000 people every night.

King’s highly-anticipated , Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut El Dorado sees its official release today through Fantasy Recordings. Now, as you may recall, King’s debut continues his successful (and ongoing) collaboration with Auberach, which began with “How Long,” with the album being co-written with the acclaimed singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer over three days at his Easy Eye Sound studio. And much like JOVM mainstay Yola, King’s 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.”

Last year, I wrote about three of El Dorado’s singles: the slow-burning, one part Muscle Shoals soul, one part Southern rock, one part R&B, one part classic blues “Wildflowers and Wine,” the Slowhand-era Eric Clapton and Texas Flood-era Stevie Ray Vaughan-like “Say You Will,” and the Curtis Mayfield and 70s Motown-like “One Day She’s Here.” Building upon the growing buzz surrounding him, King recently released a gorgeous, live acoustic session of album single “Beautiful Stranger” with Dan Auerbach.  The song as King says in his introduction to the song is a good drinking song and a good love song as it it tells a familiar and seemingly age-old tale: lost and lonely souls in a dimly lit bar, desperately hoping to find that beautiful stranger before last call. 

The songs finds King painting what may arguably one of the most empathetic and realistic portraits of loneliness, heartache, regret and desperate, last hopes that I’ve heard in some time. as its centered around a novelistic attention to psychological and emotional detail You can practically picture the song’s narrator with beer and shot, their bourbon, their vodka and tonic lost in their thoughts and hoping for someone to talk to, so they could escape themselves for a little while.