New Audio: Acclaimed Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings Member Releases a Song that Aims for the Timeless

Best known for a 15-year stint as a member of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, the California-born, New York-based multi-instrumentalist Cochemea Gastelum has a lengthy and acclaimed career as a soloist, bandleader, musical director, composer and ensemble player, including releasing a critically applauded album The Electric Sound of Johnny Arrow several years ago.

Interestingly, Gastelum, who has Yaqui Mescalero Apache Indian heritage, grew up in a rather musical home — with both of his parents being musicians. And although his name actually means “they were all killed asleep,” he grew up without knowing much about his own heritage.  Ironically, the California-born New York-based saxophonist, bandleader, musical director, composer has spent the bulk of his musical career writing, performing and recording various iterations of roots music; but his forthcoming solo effort All My Relations, which is slated for a February 22, 2019 release through Daptone Records finds Gastelum connecting with his roots through music. “All My Relations is a way for me to explore my roots through music,” the California-born, New York-based saxophonist, bandleader, musical director and composer says in press notes. “Some of it is a memory that is imagined from a time and place I’ve never been (‘Sonora’) or a musical impression of ritual (‘Mitote’). I felt compelled to add the way I feel when I go to ceremony, when I feel connected with my ancestors, to the musical narrative.”

Originally conceived during Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings’ final year of touring, Gastelum along with Daptone Records head and producer Gabriel Roth casted a varied but familial set of local musicians to bring Gastelum’s ideas to life. Unsurprisingly, a large portion of the album was created through improvisation and collective writing, where its  10 musicians created a melodic, percussive conversation. “It was a beautiful experience – people would start playing and we’d work up these arrangements on the spot, then record it,” Gastelum says of the recording sessions. 

Album title track and first single “All My Relations” is centered by an arrangement featuring tribal percussion, chants, ethereal flute, and a gently propulsive bass line to create a type of ceremonial music that feels and sounds primordial and older than our own perception of time. But perhaps most important, the track finds the musicians aiming for something much more profound — a connection with the infinite. 

Advertisements

 

With the release of their slow-burning, genre-bending debut single “Just Wanna See,” the Washington, DC-based indie electro pop trio SHAED, comprised of multi-instrumentalists, production duo and twin brothers Max and Spencer Ernest and Chelsea Lee (vocals) quickly received attention for a sound that has been favorably compared to Florence & The Machine, Sia, Justin Timberlake and Sylvan Esso. However, “Trampoline,” which appears on their latest EP, 2018’s Melt has been their breakout hit, as it recently made a prominent appearance in Apple’s ad campaign for the new MacBook Air — and once you hear the song, it shouldn’t be surprising as to why it was chosen: Lee’s sultry vocals float ethereally over a slick, hyper-modern yet chilly production centered around wobbling and arpeggiated synths, finger snaps, a distorted backing vocal sampled and a soaring hook.  And while bearing an uncanny resemblance to JOVM mainstays Sylvan Esso, the track is infectious and radio friendly.

Building upon a growing profile, the members of the Washington, DC-based indie electro pop trio will be making appearances at Firefly Music Festival and Electric Forest, as part of a headlining national tour that includes a February 22, 2019 stop at Baby’s All Right. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates
2/22 @ The Rec Room (WLKK) in Buffalo, NY #
2/13 @ The Camden Assembly Pub in London, UK #
2/24 @ Subterranean in Chicago, IL #
2/26 @ Great Scott in Allston, MA #
2/27 @Baby’s All Right in New York, NY #
3/1 @ Boot & Saddle in Philadelphia, PA #
3/2 @ U Street Music Hall in Washington, DC #
3/6 @ The Drake Underground in Toronto, CA #
3/7 @ The Hollow (WEQX) in Albany, NY #
3/9 @ Steadfast Festival in Columbus, OH
3/12 @ Pub Rock (ALT AZ) in Phoenix, AZ #
3/13 @ Moroccan Lounge in Los Angeles, CA #
3/15 @ Popscene in San Francisco, CA #
6/21-23 @ Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE
6/27-30 @ Electric Forest in Rothbury, MI

 

# Headline

 

Black Pistol Fire is an Austin, TX-based rock act featuring Toronto, ON-born duo Kevin McKeown (guitar, vocals) and Eric Owen (drums). And since their formation, the duo whose sound and approach has been largely inspired by Led Zeppelin, Chuck Berry, Nirvana, Buddy Holly and Muddy Waters, has received a national profile for an untamed and blistering live set. Dubbed the “next big thing” by Huffington Post after their 2013 SXSW appearance, the act has built upon that reputation by playing some of the largest festivals including Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch Music Festival, Shaky Knees and Governor’s Ball, as well as Mad Cool and Colours of Ostrava.

The Austin-based duo’s latest single is the swaggering and bluesy “Level,” a track centered around enormous power chords, thunderous drumming, arena rock friendly hooks and McKeown’s self-assured, rock god-like crooning. And while adding themselves to a growing list of power chord-based blues rock duos, they do so with an ass-kicking, name-taking self-assuredness of old pros.

The duo have lined up some tour dates during the first part of the year. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:

1/11 – Gothic Theater – Denver, CO
1/12 – Belly Up Aspen – Aspen, CO
3/2-3/3 – Innings Festival – Phoenix, AZ
5/3-5/5 – Welcome to Rockville – Jacksonville, FL
5/10-12 – Rockingham – Charlotte, NC
5/17-5/19 – Sonic Temple – Columbus, OH (fka Rock on the Range)

 

Gemma Ray is a Basildon, Essex, UK-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has collaborated with Sparks, Alan Vega and members of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds while releasing 8 full-length albums that have found the Basildon-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and guitarist meshing a number of disparate genres into what’s been dubbed pop-noir, sideway blues and gothic folk.

Ray’s forthcoming full-length album Psychogeology is slated for a February 15, 2019 release through her longtime label home Bronze Rat Records and interestingly the album which was recorded at Candybomber Studios and Ray’s Berlin Studio finds her incorporating sci-fi synthscapes, girl group dramarama, gothic surf disco, blues cantatas, Melody Nelson-era Gainsbourg groove, and harmony-laden reverb-drenched folk-pop among other things. Although the album’s first single “Blossom Crawls” sounds a bit like Stevie Nicks mixed with shimmering Phil Spector Wall of Sound-era girl pop, complete with a soaring hook. Unsurprisingly, the song reveals some ambitious songwriting centered around a careful attention to craft and a swooning romanticism.

 

 

New Video: Visuals for Rocky Dawuni’s “Let’s Go” Offer a Small Slice of Daily Ghanian Life

Rocky Dawuni is an acclaimed Grammy Award-nominated, Ghanian singer/songwriter and guitarist, humanitarian and activist, who was once  named one of Africa’s Top 10 Global Stars by CNN and a UN Ambassador. As a singer/songwriter and guitarist, Dawuni’s specializes in a crowd pleasing sound and songwriting approach that features elements of roots reggae, soul, pop, Afropop and Afrobeat in a warmly familiar yet unique fashion. And naturally, Dawuni’s sound has proven to be immensely popular; in fact, he’s performed with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Stevie Wonder, Bono, Janelle Monae, Jason Mraz, John Legend, and a lengthy list of others.

Although, it’s been several years since I’ve personally written about him, Dawuni has been rather busy. His forthcoming and highly-anticipated seventh full-length album Beats of Zion is slated for a March 8, 2019 release through Six Degrees Distribution, and the album reportedly finds Dawuni expanding upon his self-dubbed Afro Roots sound to include the diversity of the contemporary Ghanian music scene, as well as a deeper global perspective inspired by his travels around the world. “Beats of Zion was born out of my desire to use my diverse global musical influences and exposure to various traditions to paint a multi-cultural musical vision of the world that I perceive,” Dawuni says in press notes. “The beginning of the year saw me visit Ethiopia and India. In Ethiopia, I visited Lalibela, witnessing ancient Christian rites and my journeys in India also exposed me to its diverse spiritual culture and the shared similarities I saw to Africa.” He adds, “The title Beats of Zion is inspired by a vision of the drumbeat of awareness and elevation of consciousness; a musical call to arms for my audience to be proactive in this day and age as to each person’s responsibility to be an active instrument for positive change.”

Written and recorded over a two year span in various studios in Accra, Ghana, Nairobi, Kenya and Los Angeles. Several songs being recorded at Village Studios, where Bob Dylan, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, John Lennon and Fleetwood Mac recorded albums — with Dawuni recording in the same room that Fleetwood Mac once used. As he was working on the album, Dawuni found out that Fleetwood Mac was among a group of American rock bands that visited Ghana in the 70s, making the experience much more special to him. 

Beats of Zion’s latest single is the breezy and uplifting “Let’s Go.” And while clearly sounding as though it were inspired by Bob Marley  (“Three Little Birds” and “One Love”  immediately come to mind), it focuses on a small yet wonderful pleasure — riding a bike with a friend and having the wind blow through your hair. The recently released 360º video finds Dawuni teaming up with Cadbury Bicycle Factory to celebrate a decade of turning long walks to school into shorter bike riders — and unsurprisingly, the video which is set in Ghanian countryside follows local students riding from home to school. From watching the video, it should serve as a reminder that kids everywhere are essentially the same; in fact the video reminds me of seeing kids riding bikes to school in Dordrecht and Amsterdam, as well as kids in my own neighborhood. 

 

Currently featuring Blake Milliser (vocals), Alex Hamby (guitar, vocals), Zane Emory (guitar, synth, vocals), Tom Hopper (drums, vocals), Myles Hamby (bass, vocals), Bryce Muse (saxophone) and Rachel Fritz (keys, synth), the Tucson, AZ-based indie septet Chateau Chateau formed early last year as a loose, garage pop quartet that rehearsed and wrote songs in an abandoned airplane hanger. After a while, they began to win over an audience of semi-casual, drunkards, who would be passing by on their way to the brewery next door. Shortly, after their formation they expanded to their current lineup — and as a result, by the middle of last year their sound morphed to a glimmering, synth-based hook-driven sound that recalls A Flock of Seagulls and others. Interestingly, the act’s latest single “Evidence” is a crowd-pleasing and anthemic song centered around a buoyant bass line, shimmering synths and Milliser’s crooned vocals. However, underneath the dance floor friendly vibes, the song’s narrator is in the midst of a mental breakdown, giving the song an underlying bitter irony.

 

Towards the end of last year, I wrote a bit about Marlene Oak, a Swedish singer/songwriter and guitarist, who grew up on a small island outside of of Stockholm, where she turned to music as an escape. Oak spent her teenage years busking on the streets of Stockholm’s Old Town, and was serendipitously discovered by someone, who just happened to pass by and catch her playing. After releasing a couple of singles, which helped to develop a reputation for a sound and approach that’s influenced by Bob DylanJeff BuckleyJoni Mitchell, Nina Simone and Janis Joplin, the Swedish singer/songwriter and guitarist built a following playing shows across her homeland at pubs, clubs and elsewhere, opening for the likes of Miss Li,Whitney Rose and Susto, as well as playing sets at Way Out West FestivalSTHLM Americana and Irisfestivalen.

Now, as you may recall, Oak’s “In The Evening” was centered around a hauntingly sparse arrangement featuring Oak’s soulful and plaintive vocals, accompanied by a strummed, electric guitar fed through gentle amount of reverb. Naturally, the sparse arrangement forces your attention on Oak’s vocals and lyrics — with the song thematically focusing on heartbreak, sorrow, achingly lonely nights and desperately figuring out some way to move forward with your life. Recorded in one take, the song possesses a you-were-there immediacy which helps pack a walloping emotional punch. “When I recorded ‘In The Evening’, I wanted to record everything on one take — without a click. And that’s what I did,” Oak says in press notes. “I aimed for keeping the same feeling to the song as I had when I wrote it, and I wanted to sing the words as if they were my last.”

The up-and-coming, Stockholm-based singer/songwriter will be building upon a growing national and international profile with the release of her latest EP Silver Moon, which is slated for a February 15, 2019 release and the EP’s latest single is the jangling “Slip Away.” And while being clearly indebted to Southern California rock and AM rock (Fleetwood Mac immediately comes to my mind), the song is a swooning and urgently romantic song that focuses on grabbing your lover’s hand and escaping a brutal and cynical world with each other’s company for a little while at least. Just as important, the song reveals a self-assured songwriter, who can craft an infectious, arena rock friendly hook.