Tag: Heartless Bastards

New Video: Heartless Bastards Release a Surreal and Gorgeous Visual for Cinematic “You Never Know”

Deriving their name from a hilariously incorrect answer on a multiple-choice trivia game (the question was: “What is the name of Tom Petty‘s backing band?”), the acclaimed indie rock act Heartless Bastards  was founded in by Dayton, OH-born singer/songwriter, guitarist and founding member Erika Wennerstrom in Cincinnati back in 2003. Initially started as a solo recording project, Heartless Bastards quickly evolved into a live band featuring a rotating cast of musicians and collaborators that regularly played throughout the Midwest.

The Black Keys‘ Patrick Carney caught the band and was so impressed by what he had heard, that he passed along a copy of their demo to Fat Possum Records, who signed the band and then released their first there albums — 2005’s Stairs and Elevators, 2006’s All This Time and 2009’s The Mountain. Between the writing and recording of All This Time and The Mountain, Wennerstrom relocated to Austin. And around that time, the band’s touring lineup featured David Colvin (drums) and Jesse Ebaugh (bass), who both played on the Heartless Bastard demos recorded six years prior. The band expanded into a quartet with the 2009 addition of Mark Nathan (guitar).

The band signed to Partisan Records, who released the band’s last two critically applauded albums — 2012’s Arrow and 2015’s Restless Ones. Wennerstrom stepped out from behind a band and released her solo debut, 2018’s Sweet Unknown to critical applause. “It was a deeply personal album and it just felt fitting to use my name,” Wennerstrom says of her solo debut. “It kind of forced me to allow myself to be a little more exposed, and stand on my own two feet. I feel like I’ve grown so much creatively and personally through this process.”

Since release of Sweet Unknown and a tour to support it, Wennerstrom, along with a powerhouse backing band featuring Okkervil River’s Lauren Gurgolo (guitar), White Denim’s Greggory Clifford, Mercury Rev’s and Midlake’s multi-instrumentalist Jesse Chandler, My Morning Jacket’s Bo Koster (keys), Patty Griffin’s David Pulkingham (guitar) and longtime Heartless Bastards bandmate Jesse Ebaugh (bass) went into the studio to write and recorded their Kevin Ratterman co-produced sixth album A Beautiful Life, the band’s first full-length album of original material in over five years.

Although Wennerstom first considered releasing A Beautiful Life under her own name as the follow up to her solo debut, she ultimately came to view the album’s material as the continuation of the journey begun on the band’s 2005 full-length debut. Sonically, the album’s material reportedly is a coalescence of a number of eclectic influences and references including French pop, Celtic folk, space rock. Disney film scores and post punk. And as a result, A Beautiful Life may arguably be their most expansive and elaborate batch of material in their catalog to date while still being centered around Wennerstrom’s lyrics, which inspire contemplation, joyful defiance, catharsis, and empathy. “For me music is a gift,” Wennsterstrom says in press notes. “I do it because I love it, and because it helps me feel more connected to the world. I think we all long for a deep connection, and I hope this record adds to the conversation on how we as a species can stop seeing ourselves as separate. I hope it helps everyone to think about how we can look out for each other, take care of each other, and lift each other up.”

Slated for a September 10, 2021 release through Sweet Unknown Records/Thirty Tigers, A Beautiful Life will feature “Revolution,” an incisive and urgent song featuring an expansive song structure that meshes elements of psych rock and blues, that that calls upon the listener to get their shit straight and make the world a better place before it’s too late.

The album’s latest single “You Never Know” may be the most cinematic songs of their entire catalog. Featuring a soaring string arrangement, flamenco-like guitar playing paired with Wennerstrom’s plaintive wailing, the song is a sweet reminder that life is short and sometimes in love and in countless other things, we should take a chance. You’ll never know what will happen, until it actually happens.

“When I wrote “You Never Know,” I imagined it being in Moonrise Kingdom, the Wes Anderson film, even though the movie has already been made. There’s a sense of adventure and innocence that youth embodies whether it’s with love or goals and dreams. This song is a reminder to stay open. Life is short. Take chances.”

Directed, shot and edited by Vanessa Pie, the recently released video stars Kaylyn Mae McClellan and Tiel Ann Larson in a surreal and cinematically shot fever dream with a sailboat to nowhere, a zebra, some expressive face paint, a doorway to another dimension. But at its core is a sweet and tender love story of two people who will be companions through some zany adventures — perhaps because they both took a chance and were open.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Boogarins Teams Up with Erika Wennerstrom

Acclaimed Goiânia, Brazil-based psych rock and JOVM mainstays Boogarins — Benke Ferraz (guitar, production), Fernando “Dinho” Almeida (guitar, vocals), Raphael Vaz (bass, synths, vocals) and Ynaiã Benthroldo (drums) formed back in 2013. And up until last year, the members of the psych rock quartet have brought their uniquely Brazilian take on psych rock on non-stop tours to clubs and clubs across the globe.

With touring and live music on hold as a result of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, the members of the JOVM have spent the past year hosting live streams, commissioned remixes of their work, collaborating with other artists across the globe — and revisiting their past work. The band’s forthcoming release, Manchaca Vol. 2 (A Compilation of Boogarins Memories,Dreams, Demos and Outtakes from Austin, TX) is the second of a series of archival releases that focuses on the JOVM mainstays’ approach to improvisational-based songwriting and studio collaborations. The album combines songs, demos and sketches written and recorded during the Lá Vem a Morte and Sombrou Dúvida sessions in Austin between 2016-2017 — with some 2017 Sombrou Dúvida pre-production/rehearsal sessions held in São Paulo’s Fábrica de Sonhos Studios.

Manchaca Vol. 2 (A Compilation of Boogarins Memories,Dreams, Demos and Outtakes from Austin, TX)’s latest single, the slow-burning, lullaby-like “Far and Safe” is an English language version of Sombrou Dùvida track “Te quero longe.” The album closing track is centered around their love of collaboration with different artists: John Schmersal reformulated the English lyrics — and Heartless Bastards’ Erika Wennerstrom contributes her imitable vocals. And although the song features English lyrics, it retains the original’s longing for peace and safety, and its gorgeous melody.

New Video: Heartless Bastards Release a Surreal and Urgent Visual for Politically-Charged and Uplifting “Revolution”

Deriving their name from a hilariously incorrect answer on a multiple-choice trivia game (the question was: “What is the name of Tom Petty’s backing band), the acclaimed indie rock act Heartless Bastards was founded in Cincinnati by Dayton, OH-born singer/songwriter and guitarist Erika Wennerstrom back in 2003 in Cincinnati. Starting out as a solo recording project,. Heartless Bastards evolved into a live band with a revolving cast of musicians that regularly played throughout the Midwest.

The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney caught the band and was so impressed by what he had heard, that he passed along a copy of their demo to their label at the time — Fat Possum Records, who signed the band and released their first three albums: 2005’s Stairs and Elevators, 2006’s All This Time and 2009’s The Mountain. In between the writing and recording of All This Time and The Mountain, Wennerstrom relocated to Austin, TX. Around the time that Wennenrstrom relocated to Austin, the band’s touring lineup featured David Colvin (drums) and Jesse Ebaugh (bass), who both played on the Heartless Bastard demos recorded six years prior. The band expanded into a quartet with the 2009 addition of Mark Nathan (guitar).

The band signed to Partisan Records, who released the band’s last two critically applauded albums — 2012’s Arrow and 2015’s Restless Ones. And after 15 years of fronting the band, Wennnerstrom released her solo debut, 2018’s Sweet Unknown. “It was a deeply personal album and it just felt fitting to use my name,” Wennerstrom says of her solo debut. “It kind of forced me to allow myself to be a little more exposed, and stand on my own two feet. I feel like I’ve grown so much creatively and personally through this process.”

Recently, the band returned to the studio to work on their long-awaited Kevin Ratterman-produced fifth album. The album reportedly will find the band continuing the late night, bluesy rock vibes that have won them praise and attention. The band’s latest single “Revolution” is their first bit of original material as a band in five years. The track was initially released on Bandcamp with proceeds donated to the ALCU — with the track no being available on all DSPs.

“Revolution” begins with a slow-burning and atmospheric ballad introduction that slowly builds up in intensity before turning into an anthemic, bluesy rocker around the three minute mark. Centered around Wennerstorm’s bluesy wail and some dexterous guitar work, including a blazing solo, the track is an incisive and urgent message that says we need to get our shit straight and make the world a better place before it’s too late. “’Revolution’ is about self love,” Wennerstrom explains in press notes. “I think if people loved themselves more there wouldn’t be racism, bigotry, and classism. Some people are so worried that there is not enough pie to go around, and that lifting up others limits their own opportunity. There is mass misinformation and manipulation to peddle this narrative. Money, materialism, privileged access to better education are things people constantly measure themselves with. The need to feel better than someone in order to feel good about oneself is an age old insecurity. The planet really can’t sustain everyone having more. Everything is made to fall apart, like cars and $1100 cell phones. I think humanity needs to learn how to have less, and not play into the commercialism that constantly sends the message we lack things that we don’t really need.

“Revolution is a mantra, and reminder to myself to avoid playing the game as much as I can. I don’t need this, and I don’t need that. I don’t need to compare myself to others. This marathon everybody is running is exhausting. There is so much true suffering in this world with a lack of food, shelter, and basic running water. The more man attempts to look at the world from another man’s perspective it becomes apparent how connected we all really are. I think giving and receiving love is really what we need the most. All the rest is just a bunch of noise.”

Directed by Sam Wainwright Douglas and David Hartstein, the recently released, incredibly surreal video features an elegantly dressed Wennerstrom sitting crossed legged in the salt flats of Utah watching advertisements and imagery that people to be blindly greedy, selfish consumers and brutally racist.But during the song’s anthemic second half, we see nature overcoming all, and eventually Wennerstrom coolly floating through space.

“I wanted to release ‘Revolution’ before the election, to serve as a reminder of what’s important in life: love and compassion for yourself and your fellow man,” Wennerstrom says of the video’s release. “We have to fight fear with love. I think there’s a lot of bullshit out there that is peddled to sway people one way or the other. I feel people know what’s right in their hearts. It’s a call to not look the other way.

“For the video, I had an idea of having a surreal living room image in the salt flats,” Wennerstrom adds. “It’s a statement on how our excess commercial culture and system create a competitive climb to the top. We all struggle to get ahead so we don’t get left far behind. Very little life can live in the salt flats and I thought it helped symbolize the direction of environment if we don’t come together and wake up. I couldn’t get to the salt flats and the idea of a green screen came to mind. Sam Douglas and David Hartstein took this idea to a whole other level. The green screen went from what was initially just being unable to get to the salt flats to far beyond what I’d imagined. It really captured the song so much more.

There is so much beauty in this world, and in each other. Sometimes it is underneath the surface, but it’s always there. Let’s lift each other up.”

A Q&A with Jennifer Silva

Jennifer Silva is a Boston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter. Influenced by Stevie NicksAretha FranklinTori AmosThe Rolling StonesFlorence + The Machine and Alabama Shakes, the Boston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter has received attention for bringing a sensual and soulful energy to her live shows — and for lyrics that explore universal and very human paradoxes — particularly, the saint and sinner within all of us.

Silva’s debut EP was an EDM collaboration with DJ Sizigi-13 under the mononym Silva — but since the release of that effort, her material has leaned heavily towards singer/songwriter soul, rock and pop with 70s AM rock references, as you’ll hear on her most recent album, the Reed Black-produced Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth.

Silva’s latest single “I Wash My Hands” is a shimmering and gorgeous country soul/70s AM rock-like song centered around a fairly simple arrangement of guitar, bass, vocals and drums that’s sonically indebted to Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. Interestingly, the song was originally written as a weary lament over a major relationship that has come to an end – but the song manages takes on a heightened meaning, reflecting on a heightened sense of uncertainty and fear, suggesting that maybe Mother Earth is attempting to wash her hands of us.

The recently released video for “I Wash My Hands” was created during the mandatory social distancing and quarantines of the COVID-19 pandemic – and it features Silva, her friends, family, bandmembers and voice students, separated by quarantine but connecting through the song.

I recently exchanged emails with Jennifer Silva for this edition of JOVM’s ongoing Q&A series – and naturally, we chat about her new single and video, her influences –including her love of Stevie Nicks, and her songwriting process. Of course, with governments across the world closing bars, restaurants, nightclubs and music venues to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the impact on the music industry – particularly on small and mid-sized venues, and the touring, emerging and indie artists who grace their stages, has been devastating. Over the course of the pandemic, I’ll be talking to artists about how the pandemic has impacted them and their careers. And in this interview, Silva reveals that the much-anticipated follow-up to Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth has been rescheduled, with her and her backing band figuring out how to finish it with the use of technology. Then add lost gigs and the uncertainty of when you’ll be able to play or promote your new work, and it’s a particularly urgent and uneasy time. But the dedicated will find a way to keep on going on for as long as they can.

Check out the video and the Q&A below.

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Photo Credit: Paxton Connors

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WRH: Much of the world has been in quarantine and adhering to social distancing guidelines as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. How are you holding up? How are you spending your time? Are you binge watching anything?

Jennifer Silva: The world is upside down right now and it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for me.  Shock, depression, anger, acceptance — feels like the stages of grief sometimes! I really miss my friends and my social life. Playing shows, my band. The good news though, is that my family and I are safe, healthy and well stocked. We left Brooklyn right before it got really bad and headed upstate. So, I’ve been in the woods, pretty secluded, with limited cable news (thankfully) and some great outdoorsy vibes all around me.  I’m very lucky and I really can’t complain. I’ve been spending the time connecting with my family, homeschooling my daughters, cooking, knitting, reading and writing songs!  We’ve been living a simple life these days and that’s actually a great thing sometimes. I just started watching Ozark on Netflix, finally, which is perfect for this quarantine! I’m always down for an epic drug/murder/survival story. Oh, and wine.

WRH: Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, festivals have been postponed or cancelled outright, artists of all stripes have postponed, rescheduled or cancelled tour dates. Most of the world has been on an indefinite pause. How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career?

JS: This has got to be the hardest part of it all for me. I’ve also had to cancel shows, but, most significantly, literally one week before the pandemic really hit NYC, I was in the studio with my band and producer (Reed Black of Vinegar Hill Sound) tracking my next record.  We spent two full days laying down all the music and scratch vocals for 10 tracks, and I was so hyped and excited for the next two months of recording all the overdubs, lead vocals, background vocals and getting that final mix completed. Now, we must wait. Luckily though, we have the rough mixes to listen to and some of my band members are working on and planning overdubs at home. It’s frustrating but I’m still so grateful to have had those days in the studio. What we have already, sounds amazing!

WRH: How did you get into music?

JS: I’ve been singing all my life.  My father played guitar around the house throughout my childhood, and so at a young age I was singing classic rock and soul music to my family. “The House of the Rising Sun” (The Animals), “Bring it on Home to Me” (Sam Cooke) and “To Love Somebody” (Bee Gees) were my first covers!

I also went to Catholic school as a girl where the nuns always made me sing the solos at the Christmas and Easter performances. And of course, I was singing in Church every week. That really helped shaped me as a singer because I was taught to belt without shame because it was a “gift”, so I have always been a loud singer, haha. I’m not religious anymore (thankfully), but man, I love me some Church hymns! And there is nothing like the acoustics in a Cathedral.

WRH: Who are your influences?

JS: I have so many influences from so many different genres of music.  The Animals, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Lionel Richie, David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke and all of Motown were early loves of mine.

Then I had a whole Neo Soul moment, falling in love with singers like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Jill Scott. They definitely influenced me with their powerful female energy and style and the vocal choices they made. I also love 80’s and 90’s female badasses, like Tori Amos, Bjork, PJ Harvey, Hole, Garbage, Madonna and Annie Lennox. Artists with true points of view and the guts to say it.

I love Blues and Jazz greats like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Etta James, Ray Charles, Lead Belly. Their emotional rawness and vocal prowess has always been a guide.

Singer-songwriters like Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Tracy Chapman, T. Bone Burnett, Dolly Parton, Rufus Wainwright and Joni Mitchell have helped shape my lyric writing and storytelling. I love Lana Del Rey as well.

Vocalists like Amy Winehouse, Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Stevie Nicks and of course, Aretha Franklin will always be the pinnacle of greatness for me. These artists INSPIRE me.

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

JS: There is so much amazing music out right now. The talent level in this industry can be intimidating actually! Right now, we’ve been listening to a lot of indie rock and singer-songwriters like Marlon Williams and Aldous Harding, Töth, The Dø, Future Islands, Julia Jacklin, Sun Kil Moon, and Heartless Bastards.  And we are always playing The National and Arcade Fire. The Grateful Dead and Tom Waits are spun pretty regularly too around here. And of course, we’ve been listening to lots of John Prine since his recent passing from Covid-19.  What a loss.

WRH: I’ve probably referenced Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” more times than any other journalist in town. I think of a certain synth sound – and that song comes to mind. Plus, I love that song.

I know that Stevie Nicks is a big influence on you. What’s your favorite all-time Stevie Nicks song?

JS: One thing I really love about Stevie, which I read in her biography a few years ago (by Zoe Howe), and that I can totally relate to, was that she didn’t have any formal musical education. She just had her gorgeous melodies and emotional lyrics and really, just a simple catalog of basic chords.  Lindsey [Buckingham] would get frustrated with her because he’d have to finesse her songs so much to make them work. “Dreams,” for instance, only has 2 chords! But her songs were always their biggest hits. She tapped into an emotion and style and energy that people love and her voice is just absolutely unique and powerful. In a way, the reason she was so successful with her songwriting was because she wasn’t trapped in a musical box. She would write whatever she felt, and her uniqueness and melodies were memorable and beautiful. She inspires me so much! It’s nearly impossible to choose one favorite Stevie Nicks song, but I’ll go with “Edge of Seventeen.”  A close second is probably “Landslide.”

WRH: Your first release was an EDM-like collaboration with DJ Sizigi-13. Since then your sound has gone through a dramatic change. How did that come about?  How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with you and your sound?

JS: After my old band broke up in 2014, I was searching for new musical collaborations on Craigslist. I connected with Sizigi over email and we decided to make a song together.  One song led to four, over the course of a few months. I knew going in, EDM wasn’t going to be my personal sound forever, but I was down for the challenge of writing to existing beats and learning to record all my vocals at home with GarageBand. I bought a microphone and set up a vocal booth in my closet with towels on the doors to pad the sound.  I learned to edit. I love my lyrics and vocals on those songs, and I am very proud of the work I did. So, ultimately, I chose to have the record mastered and to release the 4 song EP independently. It was a stepping-stone for me.

The music I make now is all me though. I pen all of the lyrics and write the melodies on guitar, or sometimes I use my Omnichord (a vintage electronic harp/synthesizer from the 80s, which is AMAZING) and then my band brings it all to life!  My sound can be described as indie rock soul. I love the Alabama Shakes so that’s a decent comparison, I hope. The lyrics are evocative and dramatic, and the music is organic rock, but I always sing with soul. I also love to explore the saint and the sinner in all of us and tap into themes from my Catholic upbringing — like with “The Convent” from my last record Bluest Sky, Darkest Earth and “Purgatory Road” which will be on my next record. I am inspired by elements of the occult (tarot cards, following your intuition, voodoo) and I use nature and other metaphors to write about complicated relationships.

WRH: Rockwood Music Hall celebrated their 15th anniversary earlier this year. Sadly, during this century, existing 15 years as a venue in New York time is like 149 years. Rockwood Music Hall invited an All-Star list of artists, who have cut their teeth playing the venue’s three stages to celebrate. The bill that month included JOVM mainstay Anna Rose, acts that I’ve covered like Eleanor Dubinsky, Christopher Paul Stelling, The Rad Trads, Mike Dillon, Melany Watson, as well as Jon Baptiste. How does it feel to be included with those acts?

JS: It feels amazing! I am so lucky to have played a small part in Rockwood’s incredible history. It was an absolute honor to play the stage that night, and to join that list of talented artists. Rockwood Music Hall was the first place I ever played in NYC. I remember getting an early Saturday afternoon acoustic slot with my old guitarist and playing to a mostly empty room. It was still so damn exciting to me, the opportunity to play that famous stage.  Fast forward a few years later to my packed record release show on Stage 1 and then my graduation to Stage 2, last year. Rockwood has supported me since Day 1 and to help celebrate their anniversary, on the very stage where it all began for me, made me so proud!

WRH: Your Rockwood Music Hall set included a cover of one of my favorite Lead Belly songs ever “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” It’s one of those songs that for whatever reason doesn’t seem to be covered a whole lot. So, what drew you to the song? And how much does the blues influence you?

JS: I have been listening to Lead Belly for a very long time. I only knew his version of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” and never actually heard Nirvana’s version until many years later, which is what I think most people think of when they hear that song these days. I used to love singing that song in the car with my boyfriend. We each took a verse. It always seemed so chilling and powerful and it really tells a story that leaves you wanting more. You are right though, it’s not covered a whole lot and when we first tried in rehearsal, we knew it would kill. Everyone really responds to that one.

I generally gravitate toward big singers. Full voices filled with heartache and soul and you get that in spades with the Blues.  The Blues are rooted in emotion and that kind of expression comes naturally for me. Lead Belly and Big Mama Thornton are definitely my favorite blues artists, but I also really dig Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Son House, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Bessie Smith. I love how Bonnie Raitt, Larkin Poe and Gary Clark, Jr. are keeping that tradition alive and having success with Modern Blues too.

WRH: How do you know when you have a finished song?

JS: I know a song is finished when I love the melody and lyrics enough to play it over and over again, day after day and when I can get lost developing the vocal runs. A good sign is when my family really responds to it as well. I also think nailing the bridge usually seals the deal for me. That’s when I write over my penciled lyrics and chords, in my black, Papermate flair pen and make it final!

I’m not a person who usually tinkers on a song for years though.  I write most songs in a few hours, or a couple of days or maybe, up to a week. I like to capture the emotion of a sentiment and get most of it right and then move on to the next song. In all honesty, the best songs write themselves in 10 minutes! I actually wrote my new single “I Wash My Hands” quickly like that.

WRH: Your latest single “I Wash My Hands” and its accompanying video officially drops today. It’s a gorgeous country soul/70s AM rock song, a weary lament of someone who’s desperate to move on from a relationship or some other major life tie. You wouldn’t have known this at the time, but the song has an eerie double meaning that reflects our current moment of uncertainty and fear. Curiously, how does it feel to have written something that initially was supposed to be about something specific that suddenly transforms into something altogether different?  

JS: Thanks. I think the lyrics are very relatable for anyone in a long-term relationship who understands that compromise and respect are needed for a couple to survive and more importantly, thrive. But in this unprecedented moment in our lives, that can also be said about humans and our planet. Fear of Covid-19 leaves us all washing our hands like never before, so now, this track also invokes Mother Nature’s demand for more respect. She is also washing her hands of our abuse, forcing us all to pause while she shows us just how powerful she is. It’s humbling.

WRH: The video for the song is pretty intimate almost home video-like visual, as it features a collection of loved ones, including family and friends lip synching along to the song – while they’re in quarantine. How did you come about the concept? And how did it feel to have your loved ones participate in the video?

JS: Last week, my brother Chris and I were talking on FaceTime, about the need for interconnectedness even while social distancing. We thought about how lonely people are, even though we are Zooming and chatting on the phone, more than ever.

We thought it would be really special if I could get some of my friends and family to lip-synch parts of this song and create a montage. Video production resources are limited here in quarantine, but everybody has a phone with a camera and time on their hands!

The video is like being on a Zoom call but this one makes me feel so happy every time I watch it! It’s all my favorite people singing my song. People in Brooklyn, California, Detroit, New Jersey, New England, and even as far as Kenya! Everyone just really came through and had fun with this project, including my voice students, family members and close friends. People I haven’t seen in two months or more! I don’t know when I’ll see them again frankly, but the video makes me feel connected to them and I think it makes them all feel connected to each other. I love it so much.

WRH: What’s next for you?

JS: While I’m quarantined, I’m going to keep making art. Keep writing music. Keep singing.

I’m also going to continue to work on my next album. Right now, the plan is to release it in the Fall, so I’ve got shows to book and all the pieces in between to plan. Follow me on Instagram (@sheissilva) for all updates, single and video releases and of course, details about the album release party and tour dates.

Please stay safe and healthy, everyone. I’m sending vibes to you all. We will get through this. And I think we will be stronger for it. And don’t forget to keep washing your hands!

Melbourne, Australia-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Harmony Byrne grew up in a Mormon family, the third of seven children. Early on, she was instilled with a love for church hymns and rock ‘n’ roll, both of which would heavily inform her own life and later, her own music. After enrolling into Melbourne’s Waldorf School of the Arts, Byrne devoted her time to learning guitar and piano, eventually developing her own original material.

Slated for a Spring 2020 release, the Melbourne-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s Jim Eno-produced, 10 song full length debut Heavy Doors reportedly features material that evokes the work of Jeff Buckley, Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin. Although to my ears, the album’s latest single, the incredibly cathartic  “Come Down vs. Calm Down” manages to bring John Lee Hooker, The Black Keys, PJ Harvey and Heartless BastardsErika Wennerstrom to mind, as the track is centered around a looping and shimmering 12 bars blues guitar line, simple yet forceful percussion and Harmony’s expressive and searing wailing, which effortlessly evokes heartache and triumph within the turn of a phrase. It’s a song that comes from lived-in experience, so the hurt and the catharsis at its core are familiar and real.

“In essence it’s a song about mental health,” Harmony says of the track. “It started as a cathartic vocal improvisation, allowing whatever came to mind to be sung. Through this process, words that kept reoccurring later became lyric. I feel there is darkness hidden in our minds that often engulfs us, which although hard to talk about, is important to express. 

“I wanted to convey this in the song and for it to feel like a victorious roar of will, showing that through really digging in and knowing who we are and how we deserve to be treated, that we can overcome our monkey minds. It may seem like it’s an angry break up song, but really it’s about the different voices in our heads that we battle with every day.”

New Video: Introducing the Incendiary Pop of Giselle

Giselle is an up-and-coming New York-based pop artist, who has received attention with the Not Ready to Grow Up mixtape, which was released last fall — but far and away, the highlight of the mixtape is the incendiary  Adam Tilzer-produced single “Fuck ’em. Brand ’em. Leave ’em.” The track is centered around a sparse, dusty and production featuring an old-timey strummed blues guitar figure and stomping drumming paired with the mononymic pop artist’s boozy pop star belter vocals, which will draw some comparisons to Amy Winehouse and Heartless Bastards’ Erika Wennerstom. Much like those two insanely accomplished vocalists, Giselle’s vocals express an aching and earnest vulnerability, a quiet yet defiant and resolute pride and strength that seems to belie her relative youth.

Unsurprisingly, the song’s earnest nature comes from lived in personal experience — in this case, the horribly misguided, inappropriate and fucked up advice Giselle received from an adult she knew, when she was a young girl. “This was a person I’d spent so much time with growing up,” Giselle explains in press notes. “As I
started to get older, I started noticing that he’d bring different women around all the time and my curiosity began to grow. ‘Why did they all have the same tattoos? Why were there so many of them?’ When I questioned it, he told me exactly what the song opens with: ‘I fuck’em, I brand’em, and then I leave’em.’ These women would literally get tattoos with his name or symbols dedicated to him and he treated them as if they were disposable. Ironically, he thought he was trying to teach me a lesson… But the lesson I learned was much different.”

The Meghan Ianiro-produced official video, which I have the pleasure and honor of premiering on this site, draws from Giselle’s childhood — in particular, the moment that actually inspires the song, and as the Ianiro says in press notes,  “I wanted to really highlight a stark contrast between childhood trust and innocence, and the harsh reality of growing up and seeing how dark the world can be sometimes, which is the very essence of Not Ready To Grow Up itself. The scene sequence of a young Giselle innocently being given a friendship bracelet, for example, while one of the objectified women is being given a diamond necklace, or the scene of her playing with two female dolls and one male doll, are moments that I wanted to capture in order to make the presence of those two distinct-but-coexisting realities palpable.” Interestingly along with that, the video makes a couple of point about sex, men and their relationships with women that’s — well, undeniable: most men can manage to be both tender and kind to someone who they’d never have anything more than a platonic or familial relationship with, and they can be scumbags with everyone else. 

New Video: Valley Queen Releases Thoughtful and Cinematic Visuals for “Supergiant”

Currently comprised of founding member Natalie Carol (vocals, guitar) and early lineup member Shawn Morones (guitar, vocals), along with newest members Neil Wogensen (bass, vocals) and Mike DeLuccia (drums), the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock band Valley Queen can trace their origins back to their formation in 2014. With a handful of singles under their belts, the band quickly saw a growing profile, which resulted in a relentless touring schedule and an increasing amount of time away from home — and although the band found their own magical pocket musically, the strain was too much for original lineup members Morones and Doot, who left the band.

Carol continued onward with a series of session musicians and ringers, and while the band continued to play bigger clubs, the chemistry that Carol had felt and began to depend on was missing, With growing buzz surrounding her and her bandmates, the members of Valley Queen landed a record deal — a dream that many bands desperately wish to achiever; however, Carol recognized that the band was much more than her concentrating on lyrics with session musicians being paid to play and record the material as directed; in fact, Carol wanted the band to be about the chemistry and relationships between the members of the band, all of which helped the band land their record deal in the first place.  So before writing and recording the material, which would eventually comprise their Lewis Pesacov-produced full-length debut Supergiant, Carol called Doot, who couldn’t re-join the band; however, Mike DeLuccia joined. Then Carol called Morones, who after a series of lengthy conversations, before decided that re-joining the band would be worth the risks involved.

Interestingly, Pesacov, who has worked with Best Coast, Fool’s Gold, Nikki Lane, FIDLAR and JOVM mainstays The Orielles, continues to cement his reputation for raw production while focusing on the urgency of the album’s material and the musicians performances — and for the band, the album was about the collective whole exploring and creating together. As for the album’s lead single and opening track, Carol says, derive their names from the most massive, luminous, and yet the fastest burning known stars in the universe. “The song ‘Supergiant’ is about how we’re all made up of the same stuff as stars, and I liked the idea of tying the whole album together with that metaphor,” says  Carol. “It takes all the drama you hear on the record-the aggressive, chaotic moments, and the more beautiful or quieter moments-and puts it all into a more galactic perspective.” As a result, “Supergiant” has a noticeably cinematic air while possessing elements of 80s New Wave and 70s AM rock in a way that will bring to mind the likes of Heart and Linda Ronstadt, if they were covering Concrete Blonde, or Heartless Bastards covering — well, just about anyone, as the seemingly anachronistic single is centered around Carol’s soulful belting, well-crafted songs and exceptional musicianship.

Directed by Matt Bizer, the incredibly cinematic video for “Supergiant” follows a contemplative Natalie Carol, as she starts her day and meets up with her bandmates, who drive around town while listening to the radio, capturing people with nothing much to really do and nowhere to really go that are longing for something — although they don’t quite know what it is. 

 

Currently comprised of founding member Natalie Carol (vocals, guitar) and early lineup member Shawn Morones (guitar, vocals), along with newest members Neil Wogensen (bass, vocals) and Mike DeLuccia (drums), the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock band Valley Queen can trace their origins back to their formation in 2014. With a handful of singles under their belts, the band quickly saw a growing profile, which resulted in a relentless touring schedule and an increasing amount of time away from home — and although the band found their own magical pocket musically, the strain was too much for original lineup members Morones and Doot, who left the band.

Carol continued onward with a series of session musicians and ringers, and while the band continued to play bigger clubs, the chemistry that Carol had felt and began to depend on was missing, With growing buzz surrounding her and her bandmates, the members of Valley Queen landed a record deal — a dream that many bands desperately wish to achiever; however, Carol recognized that the band was much more than her concentrating on lyrics with session musicians being paid to play and record the material as directed; in fact, Carol wanted the band to be about the chemistry and relationships between the members of the band, all of which helped the band land their record deal in the first place.  So before writing and recording the material, which would eventually comprise their Lewis Pesacov-produced full-length debut Supergiant, Carol called Doot, who couldn’t re-join the band; however, Mike DeLuccia joined. Then Carol called Morones, who after a series of lengthy conversations, before decided that re-joining the band would be worth the risks involved.

Interestingly, Pesacov, who has worked with Best Coast, Fool’s Gold, Nikki Lane, FIDLAR and JOVM mainstays The Orielles, continues to cement his reputation for raw production while focusing on the urgency of the album’s material and the musicians performances — and for the band, the album was about the collective whole exploring and creating together. As for the album’s lead single and opening track, Carol says, derive their names from the most massive, luminous, and yet the fastest burning known stars in the universe. “The song ‘Supergiant’ is about how we’re all made up of the same stuff as stars, and I liked the idea of tying the whole album together with that metaphor,” says  Carol. “It takes all the drama you hear on the record-the aggressive, chaotic moments, and the more beautiful or quieter moments-and puts it all into a more galactic perspective.” As a result, “Supergiant” has a noticeably cinematic air while possessing elements of 80s New Wave and 70s AM rock in a way that will bring to mind the likes of Heart and Linda Ronstadt, if they were covering Concrete Blonde, or Heartless Bastards covering — well, just about anyone, as the seemingly anachronistic single is centered around Carol’s soulful belting, well-crafted songs and exceptional musicianship.

Valley Queen will be touring to support their new effort and the initial batch of tour dates are below.

VALLEY QUEEN TOUR DATES
July 5-8 Winnipeg, MB – Winnipeg Folk Festival
July 28 Los Angeles, CA – The Moroccan Lounge
August 01 San Francisco, CA – Cafe du Nord
August 02 Davis, CA – Sophia’s Thai Kitchen
August 03-05 Happy Valley, OR – Pickathon
August 07 Seattle, WA – Sunset Tavern
August 08 Spokane, WA – The Bartlett
August 09 Missoula, MT – Top Hat Lounge
August 11 Denver, CO – Lost Lake Lounge
August 12 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
August 15 San Luis Obispo, CA – SLO Brew