Tag: folk

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.

Advertisements

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.

New Video: The Hauntingly Gorgeous Visuals and Sounds of Benjamin’s Brother’s “Room 505”

Benjamin’s Brother is a fairly mysterious British electro folk/electro pop act comprised of a producer and songwriter, who writes and records under the moniker of Benjamin’s Brother and a rotating cast of collaborators and friends who pair haunting and ambient productions with songs that lyrically focus on death, desire and pain, among other subjects. The act’s latest single “Room 505” is an eerily sparse production featuring contemplative piano chords, plaintive, falsetto vocals, stuttering drum programming and brief burst of mournful horns. Sonically, the song reminds me of BRAIDS’ impressive Flourish//Perish but with an aching yearning at its core.

The recently released video features a dancer performing in sparsely arranged room with her doppleganger — but is it all an delusional within her head? Interestingly, the video manages to suggest the internal struggle between our real, internal self and the self we project out toward the world.

Kadhja Bonet is a Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and classically trained multi-instrumentalist — she plays guitar, flute, violin and viola — who has at the start of her recording career has been both private and mysterious, insisting that her audience convene with her on imaginative and musical planes instead of through associations with any particular scene, venue or sound. And in fact, “Nobody Other,” the first single off her forthcoming full-length debut The Visitor sounds as though it were quietly released in the late 60s or early 1970s as Bonet accompanies her stunningly gorgeous vocals with gently strummed guitar, an ethereal flute line along with soaring organs in a sweet love song that evokes walking hand-in-hand with a lover through a fall leaf strewn park and waking from a pleasant dream while nodding at folk, psych folk and jazz. Sonically, the song features an uncommonly unfussy and unadorned production that puts the focus on an elegantly simple arrangement and Bonet’s gorgeous vocals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Led by frontwoman and principle songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza, Portland, OR-based alt folk/folk rock/indie rock act Y La Bamba, the critically applauded act can trace its origins to  early 2008 when Mendoza wanted to perform under something else other than her name, and began writing and making home recordings of her songs on a one-by-one basis largely drawing from the traditional Mexican folk songs she heard as a child growing up in San Francisco and playing with her cousins in the San Joaquin Valley, the work of Loch Lomond and Devendra Banhardt and others. Around the time she had begun writing her own material, Mendoza had begun regularly hosting an open mic at a sake bar in Northeast Portland, where she met the members of the band’s original line up — Ben Meyercord, Mike Kitson (drums), Sean Flinn (guitar) and Eric Shrapel (accordion).

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.

 

 

 

Growing up in New South Wales’ Blue Mountains to a family of teachers and educations, Julia Jacklin originally thought she would follow a similar path as a social worker; however, the young Jacklin chanced upon a documentary about Britney Spears  while on a family vacation that changed the course of her life. As Jacklin mentions in press notes “By the time Britney was 12, she’d achieved a lot. I remember thinking ‘Shit what I have done with my life? I haven’t achieved anything.’ So I was like ‘Mum, as soon as we get home from this holiday, I need to get singing lessons.”

As the story goes, classical singing lessons were the only kind a young Jacklin could take in the area, but she took to it; however, by the time she was in her teens the lack of her own personal expression and she quickly joined a high school band, in which she spent time singing Avril Lavigne and Evanescence covers. And as you can imagine, she was quickly hooked — and recognized that music was something she should consider.

Recognizing you have to take a creative path and figuring out which path it should be often comes about in a series of epiphanies and serendipitous events. Jacklin’s second major epiphany came after she had finished high school. While traveling through South America, she ran into high school friend and future collaborator Liz Hughes. Bonding over a love of indie, Appalachian folk trio Mountain Man, the duo started a band together, initially with Jacklin singing the songs that Hughes wrote. “I would just sing,” Jacklin explained in press notes. “But as I got my confidence I started playing guitar and writing songs. I wouldn’t be doing music now if it wasn’t for Liz or that band. I never knew it was something I could do.”

Recorded in New Zealand’s Sitting Room Studios with Ben Edwards, best known for his work with Marlon Williams, Aldous Harding and Nadia Reid, Jacklin’s forthcoming full-length debut Don’t Let The Kids Win is indebted to the influence of Fiona Apple, Anna Calvi while drawing heavily from folk, alt-country and classic country as you’ll hear on the album’s first single “Leadlight,” a single I recently stumbled on while writing about another single. And if you can imagine it, I stopped what I was doing at my cluttered desk and was immediately moved by the ancient ache in this young singer/songwriter’s voice  — an ache of lost and squandered chances, terrible decisions, lost loves and longing that manages to be both a bittersweet lament that has its narrator seemingly saying “how did I fuck that all up — again?” and the wisp of a smile over the fact that life is often embittering, messy and enchanting. Such wisdom in someone so young — the singer/songwriter is only 25 — is a rarity and with a voice that hints at Patsy Cline and others, I think we’ll be hearing quite a bit from Jacklin.

.

 

 

 

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, you may recall that I’ve written about San Francisco, CA and Big Sur, CA-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and producer Jenny Gillespie. Gillespie can trace her musical career to he childhood — during drives to and from the Springfield, IL area, where she was born and raised, she spent quite a bit of time harmonizing in the backseat with her sister, who is a gifted and renowned pianist. When the San Francisco and Big Sur-based singer/songwriter was 13, she picked up her mother’s Martin guitar and began putting the poems she had been writing to her own original music. Gillespie’s life was further changed when a local record store clerk gave her album from three of the 90s most renowned singer/songwriters Tori AmosSarah McLachlan and Shawn Colvin — all of whom quickly became major influences on Gillespie’s music and songwriting.

After stints living in Virginia, Paris and Texas, Gillespie relocated to Chicago, where she self-produced and then released her sophomore album, Light Year, a folk and alt-country album that received quite a bit of praise. And as a result the attention Light Year received, Gillespie met Darwin Smith, an Austin, TX-based multi-instrumentalist, with whom she wrote her third full-length effort, Kindred, a sparse, experimental, electronica-based effort recorded in an old house in Wilmette, IL with contributions from Steve Moore, who has worked with Tift Merritt and Laura Veirs and Dony Wynn, who has worked with the legendary Robert Plant.

Inspired by a volunteer trip to Kenya that led her to an African fingerpicking class at the Old Town School of Folk Music and studying for an MFA in Poetry at North Carolina’s Warren Wilson College, Gillespie found her sound and songwriting approach expanding and becoming more refined. By the fall of 2011, she traveled to NYC to record the EP Belita with Shazard Ismaily, a multi-instrumentalist who has worked with Lou ReedBonnie Prince Billy, and St. Vincent. Interestingly, that effort possesses elements of pop, folk music, African and Asian rhythms and tones.

Featuring contributions from Emmett Kelly (Bonnie Prince Billy) on guitar and Joe Adamik (CalifoneIron and Wine) on drums, her last full-length effort Chamma was released to critical praise, including landing on Billboard Magazines Top 25 Albums of 2014 List. Naturally, that has seen Gillespie’s profile grow nationally — and continuing on that buzz, the singer/songwriter is set to release Chamma‘s follow-up, Cure for Dreaming through Narooma Records at the end of the month.  Recorded over the past couple of months and featuring contributions from Paul Bryan (Aimee Mann), drummer Jay Bellerose (Robert Plant and Allison Krauss’ Raising Sand), guitarist Chris Bruce (Meshell Ndgeocello), guitarist Gerry Leonard (David Bowie), and pedal steel player Greg Leisz (Lucinda WilliamsBon Iver), the album  reportedly possesses elements of folk, progressive jazz, and 60s and 70s AM pop.

The album’s first single “No Stone” paired Gillespie’s unhurried and husky vocals with a spacious and subtly jazz-like arrangement of keys, guitar, bass, gently buzzing electronics and hushed drumming in a song that felt as intimate as a lover whispering sweet nothings in your ear. And at the song’s core was a conversational lyricism that possessed a novelist’s attention to detail — both physical and psychological — as you can picture a woman who hides her face by the ocean, cherry blossoms in bloom, and someone peering through a keyhole to see a depressed woman struggling to just start her day. And as a result the song’s narrator feels like a fully-fleshed out person, desperately struggling to push forward.
The album’s second and latest single “Part Potawatomi” pairs Gillespie’s unhurried and ethereal vocals with a hummable melody, a deceptively simple arrangement of guitar, drums, bass and ambient electronics that sonically bears a resemblance to Junip — and their frontman, Jose Gonzalez‘s solo work.  And much like much like the album’s first single “No Stone,” “Part Potawatomi” reveals a Gillespie’s remarkable attention to detail, as the song frankly discusses the slow and seemingly inevitable dissolution of a romantic relationship metaphorically described as a storm brewing over the shore. The song’s narrator seems to evoke the sensation of being trapped in a relationship that’s going nowhere out of familial and moral obligation — and as a result, the song possesses a subtle yet increasing feeling of frustration and regret, while being one of the more beautiful songs I’ve heard in the past 10 days.