Tag: Houston TX

Houston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Shelly Bhushan is the daughter of Indian and Mexican immigrant parents. When Bhushan grew up, she left her native Texas to pursue her own American dream — of being a singer. After answering a Village Voice classified ad by a New York-based soul rock band seeking a lead singer, Bhushan relocated to New York with just two suitcases and without a job or a place to live to pursue her dream.

With Bhushan, the soul rock band started to receive attention from labels and an Independent Music Award but shortly after that the band split up. While some aspiring artists may have given up on their dreams, Bhushan got herself together and decided to start off on her own musical path. Although she had no prior songwriting experience and lacked the experience to be a band leader, the Houston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter taught herself the guitar. Luckily, she found a group of musicians, who first became collaborators than family that were willing to help her realize her dream. And over the course of the next decade, Bhushan wrote and released four albums that saw her and her backing band crafting a sound that drew from elements of funk, soul, R&B, pop, alt rock and indie rock paired with introspective lyricism and powerhouse vocals. And its all underpinned by Bushan’s ability to express vulnerability, longing brassiness, swagger, defiance and soulfulness within a turn of a phrase.

Locally, she’s played Rockwood Music Hall, Joe’s Pub, The Bitter End, The Shrine, Apollo Theater, DROM and countless others while receiving coverage and praise from the likes of The New Yorker and others. Now, it’s been a few years since I’ve personally written about the Houston-born, New York-based artist but in that time, she’s been busy raising a family and writing new material that she plans to release throughout the next few months — including her latest single “Heat.”

Featuring a strutting and funky bass line, swelling organs, swirling synths and squiggling wah wah pedaled guitars, “Heat” manages to sound indebted to 80s funk and R&B. And over the upbeat and anthemic arrangement, the Houston-born, New York-based artist’s soulful, powerhouse vocals sing lyrics fueled by personal, lived-in experience. In “Heat,” we have a narrator, who’s misunderstood by others but who has always known who she was and where she belonged, even if others didn’t want to accept it. The song’s is underpinned by the relief and joy of finding your tribe and having the support of your people in an unforgiving and cruel world to anyone who doesn’t allow for easy pigeonholing.

As Bhushan explains, the song was inspired by her own experiences maneuvering the local music scene as a woman and a a woman of color. One night after a set, a woman walked up to the Houston-born, New York based artist and said “You’re a star! Do you know what you’re problem is? People don’t know what you are,” the Houston-born, New York-based artist recalls. Throughout her career she has often been considered too this, not enough this, not enough that. But instead of listening to what may be bad advice for her, Bhushan has continued to forge her own path in her own terms.

Houston-based post-punk/darkwave act Victorian Death Photos are purposely shrouded in a cloak of mystery: Featuring two anonymous artists, a man and a woman, who publicly go by He and She, the mysterious duo’s latest project can trace its origins back to their previous multimedia collaborations together. Interestingly, Victorian Death Photos was initially meant to be a metal album — but the best laid plans of mice and men, and they say.

Once they started working on original material together, they wound up zeroing in on a “haunted synthy post-punk electronic sound,” which wound up comprising their Victorian Death Photos debut, The Basement Tapes EP released earlier this year. “We went with it,” She says in press notes. Interestingly, the mysterious Houston-based duo’s latest single “RadIum Girls” is the first batch of new material since the release of The Basement Tapes EP. And as the duo explain “Radium Girls” is based on a true story: In the early 1920s, female workers in watch factories, painted watch dials with radium paint. The women were repeatedly told that the paint was harmful. But after being around and ingesting massive amounts of radium, the female factory workers wound up contracting severe radiation poisoning: the end result was teeth failing out; bone deterioration in the jaw — to the point that they’d have to have bones removed.; stillborn babies and eventually death.

Centered around thumping boom bap-like drumming, buzzing bass synths and guitars fed through reverb and delay pedal, She’s ethereal vocals and a rousingly anthemic hook, “Radium Girls” evokes a slow-burning and creeping sense of unease and dread, while sonically bearing a resemblance to Garbage‘s self-titled debut and Version 2.0.

1996 · 1996 – Around You

 

Mike Lee is an Austin, TX-based multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for his work with acts like Letting Up Despite Great Faults, Fanclub and others. His latest recording project 1996 thematically focuses on some of the most formative years of our lives — our teenaged years, as a way to remind the listener of the feelings and thoughts of one’s youth, as a way to forge a deeper connection with today’s youth.

Every 1996 will feature a different artist from a different city with the hopes to make that literal connection remind the listener of the first time that we really felt connected to anything or anyone. The project’s latest single “Around You,” features Lauren Massa of Houston-based act Velveteen Echo.  The track which is centered around stuttering beats, a New Order-like bass line, dusty sounding electronics and Massa’s plaintive vocals, manages to sound a bit like The Postal Service — but while capturing the complicated and often confusing emotions of a swooning first crush/first love, the song also evokes the inevitable push and pull of adult decisions and their implications on you as you make those decisions.

 

Elijah Estrada is an emerging, 21 year-old Houston-based emcee, who writes and records with the monoynm Eli. Inspired by the likes by Tyler the Creator, A$AP Rocky, Isaiah Rashad and Young Thug, the young emcee spent the past two years focusing on honing his craft and sound — a sound that sets him apart from his Houston area counterparts.

Like countless other young artists around the world, Estrada has balanced his passion and desire to make a name for himself as a recording artists while working a legitimate day job at a factory to support himself and his family — sometimes doing backbreaking, soul-sucking work to survive. Many us — yours truly, including — have been on that relentless grind mode while trying to achieve our dreams.

The young Houston-based emcee’s latest single, the BMTJ produced single “Hit Me” is centered around a slick and soulful production featuring shimmering a sinuous bass line, shimmering Rhodes and tweeter and woofer rocking 808s and the young emcee’s easy-going delivery. Interestingly, the track reveals a remarkably self-assured and hungry young artist, having faith in himself and his abilities and taking a momentous risk to achieve his dreams, followed by him picturing a bright future, as one of his hometown’s hottest emcees.

New Video: Kat Edmonson’s Dreamy Take on Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”

Kat Edmonson is an acclaimed Houston, TX-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, who can trace some of the origins of her musical career to her childhood: her mom adored the Great American songbook and ’40s and 50’s pop — and as a child, Edmonson grew up listening to her mom’s records. She wrote her first song when she was nine, while riding the school bus.

She spent a year, attending the College of Charleston before relocating to Austin, TX to pursue a music career. While in Austin, Edmonson auditioned for the second season of American Idol and wound up being one of the Top 48 contestants invited to Hollywood. After appearing on American Idol, the Houston-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter returned to Austin, where she spent several years performing regularly in local clubs. 

Her full-length debut, 2009’s Take to the Sky landed on the Top 20 of the Billboard Jazz Charts. Edmonson’s sophomore album, 2012’s Way Down Low was released to praise from The New York Times and NPR and reached #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart. Her third album, 2014’s The Big Picture continued an impressive run of critical and commercial success with the album reaching  #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart.  

The Houston-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter has opened for Jamie Cullum and Lyle Lovett, with whom she collaborated on a rendition of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which appeared on Lovett’s 2012’s effort Release Me and again on “Long Way Home,” which appeared on Edmonson’s aforementioned sophomore album Way Down Low — and she has headlined the Taichung Jazz Festival in Taiwan and the New York City Jazz Festival.  In 2012, she appeared on NPR’s Tiny Desk concert series and Austin City Limits. During 2013 and 2014, Edmonson appeared on A Prairie Home Companion, playing the role of Cat Mandu for the show’s regular skit “Guy Noir, Private Eye.” And adding to a batch of high profile appearances and gigs, Edmonson has maintained a busy national and international touring schedule that has included Montreux Jazz Festival

Edmonson’s fourth album, 2018’s Old Fashioned Gal was conceived as an imaginary, classic Hollywood movie that largely took shape in her imagination,  and naturally, was inspired by the Great American Songbook. Interestingly, the acclaimed Houston-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter’s recently released fifth album Dreamers Do finds Edmonson tackling beloved mid-20th Century Disney songs — from Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Bedknobs on Broomsticks, Mary Poppins, Babes in Wonderland, familiar classics like “All I Do is Dream of You” from Singing in the Rain, Louis Armstrong’Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” and two Edmonson originals “Too Late to Dream” and “Someone’s in the House.” 

Structurally, the album’s material is meant to take place during a single night — from bedtime until morning. And as Edmonson explains in press notes, “It’s about our concepts around dreaming — all of the wonderful things and the fearful things, the things that keep us awake in the middle of the night. It’s also about the quiet power of merely having a dream . . . ” Dreamers Do’s latest single is a Edmonson’s rendition of Louis Armstrong’s beloved “What A Wonderful World” centered around a twinkling arrangement and Edmonson’s effortlessly gorgeous and old-timey vocal. And while managing to be a fairly straightforward rendition, Edmonson delivers a lullaby-like take that subtly hints at “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”

Directed and edited by David Shultz, the recently released video for “What A Wonderful World” follows Edmonson in an empty studio space with a 35mm film camera — and while the viewer isn’t quite sure if she’s awake or dreaming, the video reveals Edmonson to be a beguiling and sweet natured presence. 

Comprised of Marshall, MN-born, Minneapolis, MN-based singer/songwriter, electronic music producer and electronic music artist Sean Tillmann, best known for his solo recording project Har Mar Superstar and A Giant Dog‘s and Sweet Spirit‘s Houston, TX-born, Austin, TX-based frontperson Sabrina Ellis, Heart Bones is a new, collaborative project that can trace its origins to when Ellis and Tillmann meeting and becoming friends while touring back in 2016. They recognized a shared love of over-the-top showmanship, which made their collaboration seem inevitable.

Throughout last year, the members of Heart Bones have made alternating trips back and forth between Minneapolis and Austin to write original material. Interestingly, Ellis and Tillmann are inspired by many of the classic duos of the 60s including Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Brikin, Sonny and Cher, Sam and Dave and others — and s a result. the project draws from doo wop, electronic dance music, electro pop and pop. Their currently working on the finishing touches of their debut EP; but in the meantime, From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder-like “Little Dancer” is centered around layers of arpeggiated synths, tweeter and woofer rocking beats paired with Ellis and Tillmann’s ethereal boy-girl harmonizing. And while the song is club friendly, it possesses an achingly sad air.

Tillmann and Ellis will be embarking on a tour through June and July with Good Fuck. The tour includes a July 14, 2019 stop at Le Poisson Rouge. Check out, the rest of the tour dates below.

Tour Dates: 
Sat, June 29 – Minneapolis MN @ Rock the Garden
Wed, July 3 – Madison WI @ High Noon Saloon *
Thu, July 4 – Maquoketa IA @ Codfish Hollow Barn *
Fri, July 5 – Omaha NE @ The Sydney *
Sat, July 6 – Denver CO @ Oriental Theater *
Sun, July 7 – Fort Collins, CO @ Surfside 7 *
Tue, July 9 – Kansas City MO @ Riot Room *
Wed, July 10 – Chicago IL @ Lincoln Hall *
Thu, July 11 – Cleveland OH @ Beachland Tavern *
Fri, July 12 – Philadelphia PA @ World Café Live *
Sat, July 13 – Washington DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel *
Sun, July 14 – New York NY @ Le Poisson Rouge “In the Round” *
Mon, July 15 – Cambridge, MA @ The Middle East (Upstairs) *
Tues, July 16 – Buffalo, NY @ 9th Ward At Babeville
Wed, July 17 Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme

* w/ Good Fuck

New Video: The Creepily Cinematic Visuals for Holy Golden’s “Seven of Diamonds”

Comprised of Leslie Schott and Andrew Valenti, the acclaimed indie duo Holy Golden can trace their origins to a serendipitous meeting on Martha’s Vineyard — during a lunar eclipse. As the story goes, Schott decided to take a ferry to the island and happened upon the record store where Valenti was working at the time. After chatting a bit, Valenti wrote down his band’s email address on a business card, gave it to Schott, suggesting that she should come to a show that night. Schott purchased a few CDs and left, assuming that she’d probably never see Valenti again, but as the ferry back to the mainland was about to depart, she ran off the boat and found the show. Since then, Schott and Valenti have traveled back and forth between Martha’s Vineyard and Los Angeles, where they’re currently based, creating mythological, multi-media based mini-worlds through music, music videos, short films and photography. Sonically speaking, the duo have developed a reputation for a sound that blends dream pop and 90s alt rock — while being inspired by their deepest sorrows and brightest fantasies, Maya Deren, David Lynch, Edward Gorey, and the lonely terrain of gilded Americana.

Wallflower Records’ founder Corey Savage signed the duo after catching them play in Houston during their first tour, and the label released their critically applauded full-length debut Wax Castle, an album that was written and recorded in various locations across the country. Building upon a growing profile, The Licking River EP was recorded, produced and mixed at Providence, RI-based Machines With Magnets Studio, and the EP was named by a number of blogs across the blogosphere as one of the top indie EPs of 2017. The duo’s sophomore album, the Steve Rizzo-produced Otherworld was a concept album inspired by a recurring childhood daydream of Schott’s — and it was recorded in a historic ballroom in Newport, RI. Interestingly, the duo frequently record while traveling and as a result, their work is affected by the rapidly changing landscapes, as well as the changing external and internal environment; in fact, they’ve had stints in Los Angeles, Detroit, Rhode Island and Cape Cod. 

Released earlier this year, the duo’s Sleepwalkers in the Milky Way EP will further cement their growing reputation for crafting atmospheric and cinematic dream pop — and while the band’s sound has been described as if Dolly Parton were backed by The xx, their latest single “Seven of Diamonds” to my ears, sounds as though it were influenced by the now-defunct Denver-based act Ending People and the classic 4AD Records heyday roster. In other words you’ll hear an arrangement of shimmering and angular guitar chords, dramatic drumming, a sinuous bass line and a soaring hook paired with Schott’s ethereal and plaintive vocals. 

Directed by Beatrice Pegard, the recently released video for “Seven of Diamonds” is a fever dream that seems influenced by Roger Corman’s Edgar Allen Poe films and the work Dario Argento among others — and as result, it has a palpably tense and uneasy creepiness.