Tag: folk

Live Footage: The Dream Eaters “Neanderthals” in Studio

If you were frequenting this site earlier this year, you may recall a couple of posts I wrote about New York-based dream pop duo The Dream Eaters. Comprised of  Boston, MA-born, New York-based composer and songwriter Jake Zavracky and Vancouver Island, BC-born, New York-based vocalist and musician Elizabeth LeBaron, the New York-based dream pop duo can trace their origins together back to 2015. After playing and touring in obscurity both in his hometown and New York, Zavaracky had decided to give up music and for a period of time he was working in a Brooklyn dive bar, where he met LeBaron, a fellow bartender and musician, who had recently relocated to New York. When they both discovered that they were musicians, they found an instant connection and began collaborating together — although the initial arrangement was that Zavaracky had written songs for LeBaron. However, when they realized that their harmonies helped create a truly unique sound, they recognized that the best thing would be to write, record, and perform together. 

Initially writing and performing as Jake and Elizabeth, the duo saw a rapidly growing profile; however, as they began to further refine their sound, they felt that it was necessary to rebrand themselves, eventually taking up the name The Dream Eaters. And as The Dream Eaters, Zavracky and LeBaron released their self-produced debut EP Five Little Pills, an effort which has proven to be the precursor of the bare-bone production and sparse yet hauntingly gorgeous sound of their full-length debut, We Are A Curse and its first single “Dead On The Inside.” Sonically speaking, the duo pairs LeBaron’s lilting and effortless vocals with gently strummed folk-like guitar and chiming percussion with a soaring hook which displays the duo’s stunning harmonizing. And while bearing a resemblance to Moonbabies’ Wizards on the Beach, the song manages to sound as though it nods at Nick Drake and Crosby, Stills, and Nash-era folk. Thematically speaking, the song as the duo explained focuses on becoming unmoored and getting lost, and walking around with the realization that you’re living in a murky, anxious and unforgiving dream, evoking what many of us feel living in this surreal political climate; and while being a gorgeous and understated protest song, there’s an underlying sense of resolve and determination to survive and overcome the dark days ahead.

Interestingly, “Neanderthals,” We Are A Curse‘s second and latest single wasn’t originally meant to be on the album — and according to Zavracky is a revised and altered version of a song that he had originally written towards the end of the Bush Administration. After the 2016 presidential election the song seemed sadly relevant again, and ultimately came together very quickly. As Zavracky explains the song starts with a very pessimistic us vs. them mentality but takes on an optimistic, sort of “Don’t let the bastards grind you down” type of sentiment. “It’s mean to be more inspirational than negative by the end,” Jake Zavracky says. Elizabeth LeBaron adds that over the past couple of months, the song has grown and developed a much deeper meaning, even after they had finished it. “When we decided to record this song, the Women’s March was breaking records all over the world and this song felt like an anthem. ‘They won’t make us crawl / They’re all neanderthals’ are words that I think will resonate with anyone who is against the ‘archaic’ ideologies being pushed by the new administration,” LeBaron says. Sonically,   the duo pairs shuffling, trip hop-inspired beats with their gorgeous harmonies, twinkling keys and a soaring, anthemic hook to craft what may be the most strident and forcefully political song they’ve released to date.

With the assistance of their PR firm, Behind the Curtains Media, the New York-based dream pop duo recently released live footage, performing “Neanderthals” in the studio. Check it out. 

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Hayley Johnson is a 26 year-old, San Diego, CA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based folk singer/songwriter, who writes and performs under the moniker The Little Miss.  Inspired by Fiona Apple and Jewel, jazz, classic blues, folk and Americana, Johnson can trace the origins of her music career to when she was a child, starting girl bands during recess at school and writing lyrics in notebooks. And while in middle school, Johnson had begun performing original music at coffee shops and surf competitions around the San Diego area with her father. After performing for several years with the stage name Hazel, Johnson came up with The Little Miss while studying philosophy at San Francisco State University — and upon graduating, Johnson relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a music career in earnest.

Johnson has begun to receive attention for a sound and overall aesthetic that nods at the likes of the great T. Bone Burnett as both a solo artist and as a producer, or in other words, a sound and approach that’s comfortably anachronistic, in the sense that it bridges both the contemporary and old fashioned, while being soulful and viscerally earnest. “Doubt,” Johnson’s latest single is a bluesy bit of Americana featuring a scuzzy guitar line and a trippy organ chords paired with her soulful, whiskey and cigarette-tinged vocals. And while some will suggest that the song nods at Fiona Apple, whose voice Johnson’s bears a similarity to, or the White Stripes, the song reminds me a bit of The Mountain-era Heartless Bastards, as “Doubt” possesses a similar sense of regret and longing. Interestingly, as Johnson explains in press notes “‘Doubt’ concerns itself with the intellectual understanding that life’s answers cannot be summarized, but takes note of the relentless desire to still call for said answers. Eventually, it’s about asking questions that you know you will never have an answer for — i.e., “I pray everyday and I pray every night,/ but I’ll never know if I am getting it right/Or will I?”

Now, as I’ve mentioned a few times on this site, as I’m listening to tracks on Soundcloud, I’m usually multitasking — as I write this post, I’m watching the New York Yankees season opener down in Tampa Bay. And because my mind is in several different directions, I wind up being introduced to a track by a new artist I had never heard of, or going through an entire artist playlist.  So unsurprisingly, while listening to tracks I stumbled across The Little Miss’ haunting, dusty and old-timey folk-leaning cover of Johnny Cash‘s “Ring of Fire.”

Late last week, I wrote about New York-based dream pop duo The Dream Eaters. And as you may recall, the duo, comprised of  Boston, MA-born, New York-based composer and songwriter Jake Zavracky and Vancouver Island, BC-born, New York-based vocalist and musician Elizabeth LeBaron can trace their origins back to 2015. As the story goes, after playing and touring in obscurity in both his hometown of Boston and New York, Zavracky had decided that it was time to give up music, and for a period do time he was working in a Brooklyn dive bar, where he met LeBaron, another bartender, who at the time had recently relocated to New York. Discovering that they were both musicians, they found an instant connection and began collaborating together — although initially, Zavracky had written songs for LeBaron. However, when Zavracky and LeBaron realized that their harmonies helped to create a truly unique sound, while drawing from dream pop, shoegaze, psych pop, folk and indie rock, they recognized that the best thing would be to be write, record,  and perform together.

Initially writing and performing as Jake and Elizabeth, the duo saw a rapidly growing profile; however, as they began to further refine their sound, they felt that it was necessary to rebrand themselves, eventually taking up the name The Dream Eaters. And as The Dream Eaters, Zavracky and LeBaron released their self-produced debut EP Five Little Pills, an effort which has proven to be the precursor of the bare-bone production and sparse yet hauntingly gorgeous sound of their soon-to be released full-length debut, We Are A Curse‘s first single “Dead On The Inside.” Sonically speaking, the duo pairs LeBaron’s lilting and effortless vocals with gently strummed folk-like guitar and chiming percussion with a soaring hook which displays the duo’s stunning harmonizing. And while bearing a resemblance to Moonbabies’ Wizards on the Beach, the song manages to sound as though it draws from Nick Drake and Crosby, Stills, and Nash-era folk. While thematically speaking, the song as the duo explained focuses on coming unmoored and getting lost, and walking around with the realization that you’re living in a murky, anxious and unforgiving dream, evoking what many of us feel living in this surreal political climate; and while being a gorgeous and understated protest song, there’s an underlying sense of resolve and determination to survive and overcome the dark days ahead.

Interestingly, “Neanderthals,” We Are A Curse‘s second and latest single wasn’t originally meant to be on the album — and according to Zavracky is a revised and altered version of a song that he had originally written towards the end of the Bush Administration. After the 2016 presidential election the song seemed sadly relevant again, and ultimately came together very quickly. And as Zavracky explains the song starts with a very pessimistic us vs. them mentality but takes on an optimistic, sort of “Don’t let the bastards grind you down” type of sentiment. “It’s mean to be more inspirational aha negative by the end,” Jake Zavracky says. Elizabeth LeBaron adds that over the past couple of months, the song has grown and developed a much deeper meaning, even after they had finished it. “When we decided to record this song, the Women’s March was breaking records all over the world and this song felt like an anthem. ‘They won’t make us crawl / They’re all neanderthals’ are words that I think will resonate with anyone who is against the “archaic” ideologies being pushed by the new administration,” LeBaron says. However, sonically speaking, the duo pairs shuffling, trip hop-inspired beats with their gorgeous harmonies, twinkling keys and a soaring, anthemic hook to craft what may be the most strident and forcefully political song they’ve released to date.

 

Comprised of Boston, MA-born, New York-based composer and songwriter Jake Zavracky and Vancouver Island, BC-born, New York-based Elizabeth LeBaron, the New York-based dream pop duo The Dream Eaters can trace their origins back to 2015. After playing and touring in obscurity in several bands both in his hometown of Boston and New York, Jake Zavracky decided to give up the musician’s life, and for a period of time he was working in a Brooklyn dive bar, when he met Elizabeth LeBaron, another bartender, who had recently relocated to New York. Discovering that they were both musicians, they found an instant connection and began collaborating together — although initially, Zavracky had written songs for LeBaron to sing. However, upon the realization that their harmonies helped to create a wholly unique sound, that draws from dream pop, shoegaze, psych pop, folk and rock, they recognized that they needed to write and perform as a unit.

Initially writing and performing as Jake And Elizabeth, Zavracky and LeBaron saw a rapidly growing profile; however, as they began to further refine their sound, they felt that they needed to rebrand themselves, eventually performing as The Dream Eaters. And in fact, 2016 saw the release of their self-produced, debut EP as The Dream Eaters, Five Little Pills — and interestingly enough, the EP proved to be precursor of the bare-bone production and sparse yet hauntingly gorgeous sound of “Dead On The Inside,” the first single off the duo’s soon-to-be released full-length debut, We Are A Curse. Thematically speaking, the duo notes that the song focuses on coming unmoored and getting lost, and walking around with the realization that you’re living in a murky, anxious and unforgiving dream, evoking what many of us feel living in this surreal political climate; and while being a gorgeous and understated protest song, there’s an underlying sense of resolve and determination to survive and overcome the dark days ahead.

As far as the single, sonically speaking, the duo pairs LeBaron’s lilting and effortless vocals with gently strummed folk-like guitar and chiming percussion with a soaring hook which displays the duo’s stunning harmonizing. And while bearing a resemblance to Moonbabies’ Wizards on the Beach, the song manages to sound as though it draws from Nick Drake and Crosby, Stills, and Nash-era folk.

 

 

With the release of her 2014 full-length debut, Rooms With Walls and Windows, the currently New York-based singer/songwriter Julie Byrne received attention nationally for the sort of thoughtful and personal songwriting and lyricism that nodded at the work of Joni Mitchell and others. And although it has taken two years to write and record, Byrne’s highly-anticipated and soon-to-be released full-length sophomore effort Not Even Happiness will likely further her burgeoning reputation for thoughtful  and personal songwriting, and in the case of the new album, the material draws from both the commonplace aspects of life and a series of recollections of her nomadic travels. Songs on the album talk about bustling roadside diners, staring at the stars over the desert, the wildflowers of the California coast, the mysteries and frustrations of love  and so on. But interestingly enough, Byrne’s new album has her subtly expanding upon her sound, pairing unusual guitar tunings and fingerpicked melodies with additional, atmospheric instrumentation and electronics; in fact, as you’ll hear on the hauntingly beautiful and hushed single “I Live Now As a Singer,” the material can nod more towards the hushed and dramatic electro pop of Majical Cloudz as Byrne’s gorgeous and tender vocals are paired with undulating and atmospheric electronics. “Follow My Voice” pairs gently fingerpicked guitar, gently atmospheric electronics and strings with Byrne’s haunting vocals. I may not frequently write about traditional singer/songwriters here; but by far Bryne is a beguiling and lovely presence, who possesses an uncanny ability to write songs that have a gentle and thoughtful heart.

You can catch Byrne live as she’ll be performing two of what I hope will be more live sets. Check out tour dates below.

 

TOUR DATES:

Lyric Video: Port Townshend, WA’s Solvents Release a Politically Charged Anthem for the Holiday Season

During this shortened workweek at my day job, several coworkers had mentioned how they were feeling deeply unsettled and anxious about being around family members and associates who had voted for Donald Trump — and knowing that by their family’s support and votes, that their family actually seemed to hate them and everything they represented. Comprised of husband and wife duo Jarrod Paul Bramson and Emily Maddon, the Port Townsend, WA-based duo Solvents quickly wrote their latest single “Song For President Trump (I’m Gonna Fight)” as a way to inspire as many folks as possible to pick up an instrument, to write poetry, blog posts, take to the streets or open up a conversation, and that most important to put your feelings out there on how repugnant and frightening a Donald Trump administration is and will be for so many. If you have some asshole “family” to deal with this weekend, know that The Joy of Violent Movement is by your side and let this song be the theme song of your entire holiday season as you tell people to go fuck themselves.

New Video: Renowned British-born Singer/Songwriter Miten’s Elegantly Simple Cover of a Beloved Beatles Tune

Miten’s recently released Temple At Midnight is his first solo English language work in over a decade and in many ways the album finds him returning to his musical roots while writing deeply personal material inspired and influenced by his own journey to renewal, faith and love. And interestingly, the album’s latest single is an elegantly simple cover of The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” in which Miten’s soulful and wizened vocals are paired with a sparse arrangement that has Miten accompanying himself with guitar, a bit of piano here and there, a mournful string arrangement and some backing vocals from his partner and collaborator Deva Premal. And while radiating a quiet assuredness and tranquility, Miten’s cover also possesses the same wistfulness of the original.

Sawyer Gebauer is a Wisconsin-born, Oakland, CA-based singer/songwriter, who has spent a great deal of his musical career moving back and forth between the States and Europe. When he was 19, Gebauer relocated to Sweden, where he founded and formed Brittsommar, a musical project that featured a rotating cast of musicians and received quite a bit of attention across Continental Europe with the release of their 2011 debut effort Day Of Living Velvet. After the release of Brittsommar’s debut, Gebauer relocated to Berlin where he recored 2013’s The Machine Stops in a dilapidated warehouse. Eventually, Gebauer returned to the States, recording the final Brittsommar effort 2015’s Mary Me EP at TRI Studios in San Rafael, CA 

After Brittsommar ended, Gebauer started his latest musical project Catch Prichard, which draws deeply from Americana; in fact, Gebauer has publicly cited Townes Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen‘s 1995 release The Ghost of Tom Joad as major influences on his latest project, and that he wanted to write and record a collection of stripped down songs based around narrative and melody — and the end result is the soon-to-be released Eskota EP, a five song EP named after the Texas ghost town in which it was recorded. 

The first single from the EP “Hometown” is an elegantly simple track featuring Gebauer’s gorgeous and moody baritone, accompanied by his dexterous guitar strumming, and gently padded drumming — and the result is a sparse, spectral song that’s indebted to folk as much as it country, while possessing a narrator’s attention to physical and psychological detail. 

New Video: The Lush and Boldly Colored, Primal Visuals for Y La Bamba’s “Libre”

Over the course of the band’s three albums and several lineup changes of collaborators, friends and musicians, the band’s material has gone through a variety of changes — but it’s the the band’s forth full-length effort Ojos Del Sol that may be arguably be the most radical turn in sonic direction, while returning to familiar themes of searching and personal discovery — themes that have come up a number of times in Mendoza’s own life, whether as the daughter of Mexican immigrants connecting with her ancestry and searching for spiritual meaning that goes much further than organized religion. In fact, as Mendoza explains in press notes, the material on the album thematically is a “cerebration of family and community” — but a community of shared humanity.

Interestingly, the album’s first single “Libre” finds Mendoza and company at their most self-assured but in one of the breeziest and pop-leaning songs as they pair an infectious and anthemic hook with an arrangement that includes what sounds like xylophone, a mischievous and sinuous bass line, a steady backbeat, Mendoza’s gorgeous vocals along three part harmonies in English and Spanish, a rolling, African folk music-like guitar line in a song that evokes a sense of almost childlike wonder and joy, while making a connection both to Mendoza’s ancestral homeland and Africa in a way that subtly channels Paul Simon’s Graceland.

The recently released video accompanying the song is a lush, cinematically shot video using impossibly verdant greens, bright reds, and a seemingly primal and ecstatic dance routine in the fields just featuring women wearing ancient-inspired costumes, masks and the like. And while being swoon worthy, the video manages to make a vital connection between the primal and ancient and the modern, between celebrating spring and summer and fertility, and a celebrating a community of strong like-minded women simultaneously.