Tag: Atlanta GA

New Video: Acclaimed and Rising Soul Artist Curtis Harding Releases a Slow-Burning and Trippy Single

Atlanta-based psychedelic soul artist Curtis Harding broke out Stateside with the release of 2017’s Sam Cohen and Danger Mouse co-produced Face Your Fear. The album amassed over 60 million Spotify steams while receiving praise from NPR, who declared that it was one of the year’s best R&B release, while calling Harding, a “gifted, gospel-bred shooter and deep digger in the Curtis Mayfield/Stevie Wonder crates” Complex who hailed the album as “vintage, classic soul music” with “psychedelic splashes and a touch of garage rock fuzz” and New York Magazine, who raved that “with a scorching voice like his, the funk is eternal.” And with the buzz surrounding him, Harding wound up playing dates with everyone from Jack White to Lenny Kravtiz while playing festival sets at Newport Folk, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and others.

Harding’s sophomore album If Words Were Flowers is slated for a Friday releaser through Anti- Records. Written and recorded over the past two tumultuous years, the album’s material is draws from vintage soul, R&B, hip-hop, garage rock and psychedelia and centered around airtight grooves, punchy horns and Cohen’s adventurous production. “Nina Simone said that it’s an artist’s job to reflect the times,” Harding explains. “I think it’s important to live in the moment. If you do that and you’re honest and vulnerable, you can reach the people that need to be reached.”

“Explore” If Words Were Flowers‘ fifth and latest single is a slow-burning song that’s one-part, trippy psych soul with horns and twinkling keys drenched in reverb and delay and one-part classic, Quiet Storm-like soul serving as a silky and sumptuous bed for Harding’s plaintive falsetto croon. But at its core “Explore” sees its narrator diving headfirst into a sea of new experiences — romantically and sensually — with a new partner.

New Video: Watch Rising Artist Faye Webster Hangs Out with Real Bike Life Only Crew in Visual for “Cheers”

Faye Webster is a rapidly rising 23 year-old, Atlanta-based multidisciplinary artist: Webster is an acclaimed photographer, who has shot campaigns for the likes of Killer Mike, Offset, D.R.A.M., Nike and several other brands. She’s a sometimes model — and known for being a full-time yo-yo enthusiast. Of course for our purposes, the Atlanta-based Webster is an acclaimed singer/songwriter and self-taught guitarist, who grew up in a highly musical family: her family has a long-held tradition of bluegrass and country.

Webster released her full-length debut Run & Tell when she was 16. Despite her relative youth, the album revealed a self-assured and stunning lyrical and artistic clarity. While her Southern roots were obvious, Webster was inspired by a number of things outside of country music: she was deeply embedded in the city’s hip-hop scene. Lil’ Yachty was one of her classmates. She was sneaking out to see underground shows. And she managed to befriend rapper and producer Ethereal while she was in high school. The rising Atlanta-based artist eventually signed with Awful Records, the label home of Father, Playboy Carti and Ethereal. Although superficially it seemed like an odd fit, Webster shared the weirdo art-kid ethos of her labelmates — impossible to peg, endlessly experimenting, making cool shit, doing stuff and being genre-fluid.

2017’s self-titled album caught the attention of Secretly Canadian, who then signed her and released her third album, 2019’s Atlanta Millionaires Club to widespread critical acclaim. Webster’s fourth album, the Drew Vandenberg-produced I Know I’m Funny haha is slated for a June 25, 2021 release through Secretly Canadian. Reportedly, I Know I’m Funny haha is her most fully-realized and honest effort to date. Though she has previously recorded material through a song-by-song approach, 2020 necessitated a much more intensive process than before with a hand-picked collection of Athens best players including Harold Brown (drums), Bryan Howard (bass), Nic Rosen (keys) and Matt “Pistol” Stossel (pedal steel).

So far, Webster has released two singles off the album: “Better Distractions,” which was included on President Obama’s playlist of his favorite songs and “In A Good Way.” The album’s third and latest single “Cheers” is a slow-burning, New Wave-like track featuring buzzing and shimmering guitars, an angular bass line, propulsive drumming and Webster’s intimate and expressive vocals. While seemingly neurotic and confessional, the song lyrically is rooted around a central irony — a relationship that’s uncertain and confusing that could be something but maybe isn’t. “Cheers to whatever this is!”

“Right after the first take it felt different to me and it made it feel like I was entering a new era and chapter for myself,” the Atlanta-based multi-disciplinary artist says of the album’s third and latest single. “It’s kind of the outlier on the record but at the same time is still so original and identifying to myself. Also it just makes me feel like a badass for once.”

Directed by Matt Swinksy, the recently released video has Faye hanging out with Atlanta bike scene king SIG and the Real Bike Life Only riders. Throughout the video, we see the self-professed yo-yo enthusiast doing some of her favorite tricks while SIG and the Real Bike Only crew tear up the pavement all across Atlanta. “I’ve known SIG and the Bike Life guys for many years now,” Swinsky says in press notes. “People love what they do and ye there are still many people, who are so quick to judge and label them in a hateful way. Everyone of them that I’ve met has been kind, welcoming and hospitable to us, so that inspires me to continue documenting them the best I can.”

Patrick Kapp is a Chicago-based signer/songwriter, guitarist and creative mastermind behind the solo recording project Midwestern Dirt. Since the project’s formation in 2017, the Chicago-based Kapp has written, recorded and self-released three full-length albums including his most recent, this year’s Sayonara.

Midwestern Dirt’s sound is informed by Radiohead, Deerhunter, Wilco, and Pavement: reverb-drenched guitars paired with propulsive drumming and lyrics that thematically concern themselves with both personal experiences and the world at large.

Sayonara was recorded last May in Atlanta’s Sleeping Partner Studios on 16-track tape machine. The album finds Kapp continuing to make Midwestern Dirt a family affair: “We recorded over four steamy days in Georgia on a 16-track tape machine with two of my wife’s other brothers playing bass and drums. This has essentially been our recording setup for all three Midwestern Dirt LPs to date,” Kapp says in press notes. Additionally, the studio was run by Kapp’s brother-in-law.

The album’s latest single “Black Lotus” is a slow-burning track centered around reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive drumming, Kapp’s plaintive falsetto and an alternating quiet-loud-quiet structure and slowly builds up in intensity until the song’s euphoric coda. Sonically, “Black Lotus” reminds me The Bends-era Radiohead with a shoegazer-like quality to it. “The chords to this track were written the day after David Bowie died and sat around for awhile sans lyrics as a voice memo on my phone,” Kapp recalls. “Years later the words started to take shape. Musically, the verses have a meditative energy while the drums slowly build in expression, intricacy, and power as the song grows, with the final chorus being a burst of sonic euphoria.”

Throughout the course of this site’s 10-plus year history, I’ve managed to spill a copious amount of virtual ink covering the acclaimed, Atlanta-based JOVM mainstay act The Coathangers. Now, as you may recall, the JOVM mainstay act can trace their origins back to 14 years ago, when four young women — Julia Kegel (vocals, guitar), Stephanie Luke (vocals, drums), Meredith Franco (bass, vocals) and Candace Jones (keys) — without prior musical experience or lofty aspirations decided that they were going to pick up instruments and start a band, so that they could play a friend’s party.

That particular house show led to more shows around town — and those raucous and fiery live sets wound up comprising the band’s self-titled, full-length debut. Recorded during a graveyard shift at a local studio and mixed the following night, the Atlanta-based JOVM mainstays’ full-length debut was a raw, rowdy, revelrous affair. What the album lacked in polish, it made up in energy, charisma and brassy moxie. “We didn’t think anyone was going to listen to it,” The Coathangers’ Julia Kegel recalls. “We knew our friends in Atlanta would get it, but we didn’t think it was going to go anywhere. We were just excited to make a record.” Little did Kugel or her bandmates know that their scrappy house show anthems would catch on, leading to several years of successful international attention and a handful of critically applauded albums, including their out-of-print full-length debut, as well as a number of singles.

I think that the members of The Coathangers could never have imagined that their longtime label home would re-issue their long out-of-print, full-length debut as a deluxe, re-mastered version with a handful of extra tracks. Interestingly, the re-issued full-length debut, should remind listeners and fans of the band’s mischievous genre-fluidity. The band’s multi-faceted approach and diversity is a direct result of having multiple songwriters, who have brought their unique tastes and styles to the collective table. “It’s cool to to see how genre-fluid we‘ve always been,” The Coathangers’ Kugel says in press notes. “We got labeled as punk, and that was cool because that set us up as being against something, going against the grain. But it’s always been a weird dynamic of different tastes, and it still ultimately comes across as a bunch of girls having fun.”

Of course, the album is a bit of blast from the past, with the material possessing a spontaneity and careful spirit that’s invigorating, inspiring — and perhaps more necessary now than ever before. “We were just brash and making fun of things,” Kugel says. “We weren’t thinking about lyrics. We weren’t thinking about the industry. There was no thought about ‘making it’ or how people were gonna perceive it.” And as a result, the album was viewed as a private conversation between close friends, full of in-jokes, references and frivolities that reflected the band’s insular audience at the time — and their casual approach. “With this band I’ve felt like we have to speak for all woman-kind and as the records went on it became more and more at the forefront, but with the first record it was more like ‘ugh, these fuckin’ haters!’ It’s stuff we thought was hilarious and that felt really good to say because we felt safe. We didn’t think anyone was going to listen to it.” Lyrically, the album finds the band at their most unfiltered. Essentially, the album celebrates being young, brash, independent and full of joie de vivre as they say.

The re-issued edition of the self-titled album features the bonus track “Wife Eyes,” is grimy and sweaty bit of garage punk with a mischievously winking sense of humor with the song’s title and chorus being a play on words that’s partially being a tongue-in-cheek jab at the patriarchy and gender roles, and the paranoia of constant connection. It’s goofy fun — but it’s full of a freewheeling energy that seems largely missing right now.

“We have always encouraged each-other to explore other instruments.  For us, switching instruments was a way to explore our creativity and expand our sonic landscape.  Plus it allowed everyone to take a turn at the mic!  You’re breaking up the standard (sometimes stagnant) structure of onstage dynamic and it feels exciting to both the audience and the people on stage,” Kugel says. “We have been told that watching us change instruments is empowering to people as well! It’s like ‘Hell ya! I can do that too! I can play the drums!’ The playfulness of switching sort of takes the pressure off of being so serious or possessive of a certain role or instrument.  It also gives you greater appreciation for each other’s skill sets. I think some of our most creative songs came out of the practice of switching instruments and ‘Wife Eyes’ is one of our earliest recorded songs where we switched instruments: Candice plays drums and Steph the keys.

“The title is an obvious play on words-inspired by a joke on 30 Rock that lent itself well to speaking on the roles of technology and patriarchy in our culture. It’s amazing to see that we are still dealing with these issues today.”

The re-issued self-titled debut album is slated for December 4, 2020 release through Suicide Squeeze.

Dapper Danger is an emerging, 24-year-old Atlanta-born and-based producer, whose influences include Lil’ Wayne, Outkast, Kanye West, Madlib and Pharrell Williams. After a lifetime as a music connoisseur, the young, emerging producer dove headfirst into learning music production last year. 2020 has been a momentum changing year for Dapper Danger: he stared his own label and with his continued musical evolution, he has high hopes for a successful and lengthy music career.

Last month, the Atlanta-born and-based producer released his debut EP, the six track, lo-fi instrumental beatmaker effort The Drive. The EP’s material is meant to provide listeners will a chill, laid back vibe for relaxation or a calm drive — with the EP sonically following a driver as they get into their car, hit the road and eventually arrive at their destination. The EP’s latest single, EP opening track “I Got This” is breezy, feel good track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, finger snap-led percussion and stuttering beats. Dapper Danger describes the track as his “favorite song off the EP because of its high energy and the inspiration for the entire project.”

Continuing upon the momentum of the EP, Dapper Danger released two singles earlier tis month — “A Cloudy Afternoon” and “ITL.” He’s currently working on the follow-up to The Drive EP, which is slated for release later this year.

Color Red · Brothers of Brass – “Legal State” | Color Red Music

Tracing their origins back to their formation in Atlanta back in 2014, the Denver-based brass band act Brothers of Brass — Khalil Simon (sousaphone), Armando Lopez (soprano and tenor sax), Jake Herman (snare drum), K.R. Azad (bass drum), Christopher Henry (trumpet), Sean Bocinksy (trumpet), Matthew Rossman (trumpet), Ethan Harris (trombone) and Scott Flynn (trombone) — features a diverse array of musicians, who have roots in Louisiana, California, Kansas and Florida.

Since relocating to Denver, the brass octet have quickly become “arguably the most popular street [music] in Denver,” according to Westword Magazine while developing and honing their own take on traditional New Orleans brass, one that also finds the band infusing funk, pop and hip-hop influences.

Drawing from their shared backgrounds in New Orleans-styled brass bands and HBCU marching bands, with nods to New Orleans brass, bounce and hip-hop, Brothers of Brass’ swaggering debut single “Legal State” is centered around a strutting sousaphone line, energetic brass lines and a dexterous and expressive sax solos to create a decidedly upbeat, party anthem. But at its core is a sobering yet fiery reflection on the inequities of cannabis remaining illegal across the South while it’s legal and enjoyed recreationally in their home state of Colorado.

 

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New Audio: Rising Aussie-born Los Angeles-based Singer-Songwriter Hazel English Releases a Woozy 60s Inspired Pop Tune

Hazel English is a rapidly rising Australian-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician. Her Justin Raisen and Ben H. Allen co-produced full-length debut Wake UP! is slated for an April 24, 2020 release through Marathon Artists/Polyvinyl Records. Recorded in Los Angeles and in Atlanta, English hopes the album will serve as a klaxon, a sort of warming horn that will give the listener a meaningful shake from their doldrums — and to encourage the listener to become more present in their own lives. “Sometimes, I feel like we’re just sleepwalking through our lives,” English says in press notes. She goes on to say that she hopes the album helps “make people become more aware and mindful.” 

Wake UP!’s fourth and latest single, “Five and Dime” is a woozy, mid-tempo track that sounds indebted to late 50s country and Phil Spector-produced 60s girl group pop. Centered around reverb drenched guitars, finger snap-led percussion, twinkling Rhodes, English’s expressive vocals, some twangy pedal steel and a rousing hook, the track is part playful love song and part bitter lament, as the song’s narrator muses on a love interest, who has become so consuming to her that she’s distracted.  Ah, to be that infatuated! 

“It’s about the desire for space and independence when feeling stifled in a relationship,” English explains in press notes. “I wrote it about a trip I took to Oakland when I just needed to get out of LA for a bit. ‘Five and Dime’ is actually an old slang term for the area code 510 which covers the East Bay, so I thought it would be a fun way to refer to the place that once used to be my home, while also invoking a sense of nostalgia for a time when a phrase like five and dime was very common.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays The Wood Brothers Release a Nostalgic and Wistful Video for “Little Bit Sweet”

Over the better part of the past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed folk/roots/Americana act and JOVM mainstays The Wood Brothers. And as you may recall, the act which is comprised of  Boulder, CO-born and currently Nashville-based siblings Chris Wood (upright bass, electric bass, vocals) and Oliver Wood (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals), and multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix, can trace some of the of origins of the act and their musical careers to when Chris and Oliver were children: Their father, a molecular biologist, frequently performed old folk and roots music songs at family gatherings and campfires and their mother, a poet, instilled a passion for storytelling and turn of phrase.  As children and teens, they bonded over a mutual love of bluesmen like Jimmy Reed and Lightinn’ Hopkins; however, as they got older, their musical and professional paths would wildly diverge.

When they were young men, Oliver Wood relocated to Atlanta, where he picked up gigs in playing guitar in a number of local cover bands before landing a spot in Tinsley Ellis‘ backing band. At Ellis’ behest Oliver Wood began to sing — and shortly after that, he founded King Johnson, a hard-touring band that released six albums of blues-tinged R&B, funk and country over the next 12 years of his life. Meanwhile, Chris Wood studied jazz bass at the New England Conservatory of Music, and upon graduation relocated to New York where he co-founded the critically applauded Medeski Martin & Wood (MMW), an act that quickly became one of the stalwarts of the ’90s downtown New York jazz and experimental music scenes.

After pursuing separate and rather disparate musical careers for close to two decades, Oliver’s King Johnson and Chris’ Martin Medeski and Wood played on the same bill at a North Carolina show. During Martin Medeski and Wood’s set, Oliver sat in with his brother’s band. And as the story goes, the brothers instantly realized that they needed to be playing music together. Shortly after that set, the brothers recorded a batch of Oliver’s songs, which channeled the shared musical heroes of their youth while showcasing their own individual strengths — Oliver’s songwriting and Chris’ forward-thinking, adventurous musicianship. An early batch of demos landed The Wood Brothers a deal with Blue Note Records, who released their 2006 John Medeski-produced debut, Ways Not To Lose, a critically applauded effort that was Amazon.com’s editors’ number 1 pick for folk and made NPR’s “Overlooked 11” list.

Building upon a buzz-worthy profile, the act released 2008’s Loaded and 2009’s covers EP, Up Above My Head before moving on to Nashville’s Southern Ground Artists, who released 2011’s Smoke Ring Halo, 2012’s Live Volume One: Sky High and Live Volume Two: Nail and Tooth and 2013’s Buddy Miller-produced The Muse. Shortly after the release of The Muse, the members of the trio relocated to Nashville, marking the first time that Chris and Oliver Wood have lived in the same city in several decades. 2015’s Paradise was the first album in which all three members of the band shared songwriting credits, as they were all in the same city to work on and refine material. They followed that up with another live album, 2017’s Live at the Barn.

Last year, I caught the acclaimed trio at The Vic Theatre in Chicago, during their tour to support their sixth, full-length album, the self-produced and recorded One Drop of Truth. And although at the time, I wasn’t familiar with them before the set, they proved their reputation for being one of the best touring bands in contemporary music to me during that set. Now, as you may recall, earlier this year, the acclaimed Nashville-based trio released another live album, Live at the Fillmore, which was recorded over the course of a two night stand at San Francisco’s historic music venue. The album further cemented their long-held reputation for live shows centered around performances that defy easy categorization — their delivery seems to lives at the intersection of arena rock energy and small theater intimacy, all while blurring the lines between folk, rock, blues, soul, funk and Americana. In between a busy touring schedule, the trio found the time to write and record the highly-anticipated follow-up to One Drop of Truth, Kingdom In My Mind.

Throughout the band’s history together, the trio’s creative process would generally begin with the band writing songs before they got to the studio and then deliberately set out to record them. However, Kingdom In My Mind found the band beginning the process of writing and recording without initially realizing it: When they started, they all thought they were just simply breaking in and test driving their new Nashville recording studio/rehearsal space by tracking a series of extended, instrumental jam sessions.

“If we had known we were making a record, we probably would have been too self-conscious to play what we played,” Chris Wood reflects on the writing and recording process of their forthcoming album. “At the time, we just thought we were jamming to break in our new studio, so we felt free to explore all these different ways of playing together without worrying about form or structure. It was liberating.”

“We weren’t performing songs,” Oliver adds. “We were just improvising and letting the music dictate everything. Somebody would start playing, and then we’d all jump into the groove with them and see where it went. Normally when recording, you’re thinking about your parts and your performances, but with these sessions, we were just reacting to each other and having fun in the moment.”

After listening to their jams, the members of the band realized that they captured something undeniably alive and uninhibited. Much like a sculptor, Chris Wood took those sprawling improvised recordings and began to carefully chisel out verses, choruses, bridges and solos until distinctive songs began to take shape. From there, the band divvied up the material that spoke to them most and began writing lyrics both separately and together.

Thematically the album is an extensive meditation and reckoning with circumstance, mortality and human nature centered around vivid, almost novelistic character studies and unflinching self-examination. The material’s cast of characters all attempt to find strength and solace in accepting what lies beyond our limited control, ultimately pondering how we find contentment and peace in a confusing, chaotic and frightening world. “We all have these little kingdoms inside of our minds,” the band’s Chris Wood says in press notes.  “And without really planning it out, the songs on this album all ended up exploring that idea in some way or another. They look at the ways we deal with our dreams and our regrets and our fears and our loves. They look at the stories we tell ourselves and the ways we balance the darkness and the light.”

But while the lyrics dig into deep philosophical territory, the arrangements draw from a broad sonic and stylistic spectrum. Earlier this year, I wrote about the slow-burning, Dr. John/New Orleans-like jazz ballad “Alabaster,” a song centered around an empathetic portrait of a woman, who has broken free of her old life and relocated far away for a much-needed fresh start. And while featuring an incredibly novelistic attention to detail, the song manages to feel improvised yet simultaneously crafted. Kingdom In My Mind‘s second single was the slow-burning country blues “Cry Over Nothing,” a meditation on the ego, perspective and fate told with a playfully fatalistic sensibility. Sometimes, even the sky is against you — and there ain’t a thing you can do about it.

The album’s third and latest single “Little Bit Sweet” interestingly enough features soTme of the album’s first bit of improvised instrumentation from those early jam sessions. Centered around a bouncy bass line and shimmering guitars, the song is part old-timey lament and part world-weary sigh focusing on mortality, the passing of time and getting older, and the impermanent nature of all things — especially love. And yet through the tears and heartache, there’s a sense of acceptance and awe of the things that the song’s narrator can’t understand. It just is — and sometimes it’s weird and wonderful because of that.

The recently released video created by Austin, TX-based artist Gary Dorsey combines old-timey collage-based lamination and live band performance footage that manages to emphasizes the wistful and world-weary nostalgia of the song. “Lyrically the song speaks to the yins and yangs of love—every kind of love,” The Wood Brothers’ Oliver Wood explains. “How the value and preciousness of love is matched by its fragility and fleetingness. The images in the lyrics are from personal experiences, and the connected feelings should feel pretty universal.”

Gary Dorsey adds: “As I listened to ‘Little Bit Sweet,’ I felt an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. I was taken back to my grandparent’s house, memories of climbing trees, playing in the tool shed, and the smell of old oil cans. For the video, I wanted to relate the beauty of those memories and how safe all of that felt for me, that feeling of the people that you love watching over you throughout your life. I hope that I’m taking the viewer on a journey that reminds them of those younger days and family memories, reminds them of the loved ones that may have already left this life, and perhaps brings back a bit of that childhood wonder we all wish that we could get back.”

 

Picture One is the solo, synth pop recording project of Atlanta-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Thomas Barnwell. Slated for an April 3, 2020 release, Barnwell’s forthcoming self-produced, Picture One album Across The Depths of Seven Lakes is centered around self-aware 80s synth pop vibes and hook-driven analog synth melodies, chilly post-punk and New Wave soundscapes and Barnwell’s Ian Curtis-like vocals — but unlike his previously released material, the forthcoming album may arguably be the most pop-leaning and accessible he’s written to date. Thematically, Across The Depths of Seven Lakes navigates transcendence, resolve, magic and creativity and the turbulent waters of love and loss.

The album’s first single is the slow-burning, brooding and cinematic “Cycle of Belief.” Centered around, explosive, industrial-like beats, shimmering synth arpeggios and Barnwell’s detached baritone, “Cycle of Belief” simultaneously sounds inspired by early 80s Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears, and as though it could easily be on the Stranger Things soundtrack.