Led by primary songwriter and creative mastermind Rueben Bullock and featuring multi-insturmetnalist and vocalists Shea Alain, Brock Geiger, Ian Jarvis and Dino Soares, the Calgary, Alberta, Canada-based indie folk act Rueben and the Dark have […]
Late last month, I wrote about the Austin, TX-based indie rock act Sun June, and as you may recall the act, comprised of founding members Laura Colwell and Stephen Salisbury, along with Michael Bain (guitar), Sarah Schultz (drums), and Justin Harris (bass) can trace their origins to when its founding duo started the band while working long hours in the editing rooms of renowned filmmaker Terrance Malick’s editing rooms, practicing whenever Malick was out of town.
Last year, the band began working on their forthcoming full-length album Years with Evan Kaspar at Estuary Recording Facility, recording the material live to tape without being overly polished or processed. As the band notes, the album is a “we’ve-been-broken-up-along-time” album, and explores how loss — of friends, family members and partners — evolves over time; but while not being too heavy or too serious. Album opening track “Discotheque,” was an atmospheric and slow-burning track that manages to evoke a complex array of profoundly inescapable and inexplicable loss but with a sense of pride and celebration; to truly live, after all is to know, accept and live with loss, because it meant you knew love and connection with others, even if it were brief.
“Slow Rise II,” Years‘ latest single begins like a gorgeous, half-remembered reverie with a rousing hook that manages to possess an underlying ache for anything familiar — even if it you can’t go back home again and even if you can’t get that precious moment back. And they do so while furthering their growing reputation for shimmering reverb-heavy indie rock with a folk leaning.
Comprised of little white teeth’s and maquiladora’s Phil Beaumont, The Black Heart Procession’s James Hooper, The Black Heart Procession’s, The Album Leaf’s and The John Meeks Band’s Matt Resovich and The John Meeks Band’s John Meeks, the San Diego, CA-based indie act The Color Forty Nine features a collection of multi-instrumentalists, who have actively strayed from their previous roles to find new musical connections to songwriting; in fact, the band’s frontman and primary songwriting Beaumont, by happenstance picked up a baritone ukulele to travel with more easily and as a result, was how he began writing the songs of their debut album; Resovich plays violin and Casiotone through self-built effects pedals; Hooper, a highly sought-after drummer, plays bass; and Meeks, who fronts his own band, plays drum, filling out the band’s rhythm section.
The band’s self-titled EP is slated for June 15, 2018 through Darla Records and the EP, which was written and recored over the past 9 months or so, features a handful of songs that borrow from autobiographical moments with other songs featuring semi-fictional tales of real and imaginary characters encountered from both sides of the border, Beaumont’s lyrics reportedly explore the notion that we all seek refuge, in places, moments and people with whom or from whom, we sometimes want to escape. Interestingly, the EP’s first single, the gorgeously mournful “I Will” a single that the band says speaks to the idea of finding anonymity within a crowd, as well as allowing ourselves to accept and celebrate the foibles of human nature — while being somewhat confessional and heartbreakingly earnest and vulnerable in a way that modern music sometimes just isn’t and can’t be. Sonically, the song manages to be reminiscent of Boxer and High Violet-era The National thanks to an old-timey feel paired with novelistic lyrics; however, the song takes a leisurely pleasure in small things — drinks with old friends, wandering around lost and seeking something more, even when you have no idea of what exactly it is, of feeling small and insignificant and not knowing why.
Directed by frequent collaborator and filmmaker Grant Reinero. the recently released video for “I Will” was on shot in a gorgeously cinematic black and white on location at the Bar Copacabana in Tijuana, Mexico, and the video features the members of the band drinking and playing in the bar, including a pensive Beaumont, scribbling the song’s lyrics in a small notebook at the bar, and stars a local bar patron, Alicia, who drinks beer and puts songs on the jukebox. Each individual is lonely and while lost in their own thoughts and regrets, they’re desperate to seek solace and refuge in another.
Blake Brown is a Denver, CO-based singer/songwriter, who after participating in a number of collaborative projects, founded Blake Brown and The American Dust Choir in 2013 with the idea that it’d give him the flexibility of playing solo while collaborating with a revolving cast of friends, who could play whenever they were able to do so; in fact, the revolving cast behind The American Dust Choir has featured members of The Fray, The Films and Tennis. However, after three EPs and countless live shows, the band has settled on a permanent lineup featuring Brown, his wife Tiffany Brown, and longtime friends Jason Legler, Adam Blake, and Trent Nelson.
The Joe Richmond-produced Long Way Home, Blake Brown and The American Dust Choir’s full-length debut was released earlier this year and the album while further cementing the band’s reputation for a sound that meshes indie rock with folk/Americana paired with complex melodies and heartfelt lyrics based around experiences within Brown’s personal life — in particular, heartbreak, deception, reflection, growing up and becoming adult and so on. Adding to a growing profile, the band kicked off the release of their debut with an official SXSW showcase, in which they opened for Keith Urban.
“Up in Arms,” Long Way Home’s latest single is a twangy bit of indie rock that nods at Fleetwood Mac and 70s AM rock, complete with a rousingly anthemic hook and some impressive guitar work and while being unhurried, the track manages to be tinged with the bittersweet memories and experiences within a relationship; in fact, the recently released video is shot with superimposed double exposures, meant to evoke the duality between the inner and outer worlds of its protagonists.
Meiko is a Roberta, GA-born, Nashville, TN-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who grew up in a rather musical home, as her father, who was a singer/songwriter and guitarist used to sing for the Roberta, GA-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter when she was a baby. When she was 8, Meiko began singing in public; in fact, her first performance was at a local, all black, Southern Baptist church, where she sang “White Christmas” on Christmas Eve. “I just recently realized the humor in that — but luckily at the time, everyone thought it was cute . . .,” Meiko recalls on her Facebook fan page.
When she was 18, Meiko left her small Southern town and eventually relocated to Los Angeles, where she began playing at the Hotel Cafe, a venue known for developing up-and-coming, local singer/songwriters. By 2007, she had released her self-titled, full-length debut, an effort that established the Roberta, GA-born singer/songwriter’s reputation for material that managed to mesh indie pop and coffeehouse folk and as a result the album had every single song featured on a number of high-profile TV shows including Grey’s Anatomy, which led to the album landing on the digital folk charts.
Alice Phoebe Lou is a Cape Town, South Africa-born, Berlin, Germany-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has developed a reputation for a fiercely independent, almost punk rock-like DIY approach to her ethereal indie folk music. Although her parents were documentary filmmakers, Lou took piano lessons as a child and then as a teenager, taught herself to play guitar. As the story goes, when the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was 16, she spent a summer vacation visiting her aunt in Paris. Armed with an acoustic guitar, the young singer/songwriter met a number of buskers and other street performers — some who taught her poi dancing.
Upon graduation, Lou went to Europe — first landing in Amsterdam, where she made money as a poi dancer, before relocating to Berlin, where she became a popular busker, performing interpretations of popular songs and her own original material, and eventually developing her own unique sound. With the release of her 2014 self-released debut EP Momentum, the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist began receiving international attention — and as a result, she spent the following year performing at a number of TED events in London and Berlin, as well as Exponential Medicine.
Building upon a rapidly growing profile, Lou released her critically applauded, 2016 full-length debut Orbit, which saw her garner a nomination for Best Female Artist at that year’s German Critics’ Choice Awards, as well as a set at the 27th Annual Conference for the Professional Business Women of California, which featured keynote speakers Venus Williams, Judy Smith, and Memory Banda. Additionally, Lou spent much of 2016 on the road, touring to support her debut effort, sharing bills with Sixto Rodriguez, Boy & Bear, Allen Stone and Crystal Fighters. During the course of that year, she played three multimedia sold out events at the Berlin Planetarium — and by demand, she added two additional planetarium shows to her 2017 tour itinerary.
Along with the Berlin Planetarium shows, Lou saw a live version of “She” with the live performance video, shot during two different Berlin area shows going viral — and as of this post, the video has received over 2.5 million YouTube streams. Interestingly, the song is also featured in the major motion picture Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story , with the song recently being shortlisted for an Oscar for Best Original Song. Adding to an incredible run of critical success, Lou released her latest EP, Sola at the end of last year.
As for “She,” the song will further cement the Cape Town-born, Berlin-based artist’s reputation for her ethereal and tender soprano — but in this case, paired around what may be the most shoegazer rock-like arrangement, she’s ever produced as the song features looping and shimmering guitar chords, thundering and tribal-like drumming, gently swirling electronics and an anthemic hook. And while at points the song is reminiscent of the likes of Wolf Alice, Lightfoils and others, it possesses a restless longing at its core.
A studio version of “She” is slated for a February 23, 2018 release, and after the single’s release, Lou will embark on a international tour that will include a Stateside run. And a new album is currently in the works, too.
Founded in 2007 by its Athens, Greece-based founding member and primary songwriter, Katerina Papachristou, the indie folk/indie pop act Tango with Lions initially began with Papachristou collaborating with rotating cast of collaborators before eventually settling on its permanent lineup featuring Papachristou (vocals, acoustic guitar, piano), Yannos Paramithiotis (electric guitar, vocals), Nikos Vergetis (drums, percussion, vocals), Jim Staridas (trombone, vocals) and Thodoris Zefkilis (bass, vocals). And with the release of their first two albums, 2010’s Verba Time, which featured “In A Bar,” one of the most streamed songs by a contemporary Greek artist ever on YouTube; and 2013’s A Long Walk, the band quickly received both critical and commercial success across Greece and elsewhere.
After a five year hiatus, the band’s highly anticipated follow up to their critically acclaimed sophomore album, The Light is slated for a January 19, 2018 through Inner Ear Records, and the album reportedly finds Papachristou writing 9 deeply introspective songs that touch upon separation, pleasure, nihilism and excessive optimism, as well as music’s dual nature of encouraging both light and dark. “Proof of Desire,” The Light‘s latest single will further cement Papachristou and company’s reputation for crafting contemplative material while being simultaneously sparse, lush and moody in a way that reminds me quite a bit of JOVM mainstays Husky but with a subtly anxious, tenseness — while nodding at psych rock. As Papachristou explains in press notes, “When you are emotionally drained, being involved with someone new seems to conceal so many unconscious parameters of emotional endangerment that you eventually shut down. This song is about the cruel realisation that you don’t really know how much or if you can give yourself to a new love story. I was very consciously aware of the rules of this game and of how this knowledge was disabling any feelings of hope or freedom I would formerly experience. In other words, overwhelming skepticism was filling in for innocence.”
Panteon is the recording project of Brooklyn-based Yvonne Ambree, an accomplished singer/songwriter, vocalist and musician, who has toured and worked with a wide range of artists including Sleigh Bells, Little Boots, Lulu Gainsbourg, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, and legendary soul singers, such as Syl Johnson, Ann Sexton and Gwen McCrae. Ambree is also known as one-half of the critically acclaimed duo Take Berlin, whose debut EP Lionize was named one of the “Top 10 EPs of 2013” by The Huffington Post, UK.
Ambree’s debut as Panteon, Travel Log 1 EP is slated for a January 19, 2018 release, and the material on the EP is reportedly inspired by her travels across Europe and The Americas with each track being an ode to the experience of a particular locale she had been in, making the EP, a soundtrack for traveling, whether it be on the road, through the sea or through the air; but throughout the EP, Ambree weaves narratives of discovery and identity (which, unsurprisingly come up while traveling to some far off place). Recorded in Berlin, Brooklyn’s Bunker Studio and Manhattan’s Sear Sound and mixed by renowned producer Howie Beck, who has worked with Feist, Jamie Lidell and Chilly Gonzales while featuring some of the New York area’s most notable session musicians including Snarky Puppy’s Jay Jennings contributing flugelhorn to EP single “Ballyvaughan,” and Grant Zubritsky, who has played in the backing band of Nick Murphy, formerly known as Chet Faker and MS MR, contributing bass on the EP’s latest single “White Jaguar,” a track written as a ode to the Kogi of Colombia, an indigenous civilization, who still live in the exact same fashion as they did 400 years ago, and consider themselves as guardians of the Earth.
The ethereal song feels like a pleasant but half-remembered reverie bubbling up from the surface of the songwriter’s and listener’s subconscious as the song features a shimmering arrangement featuring strummed acoustic guitars, a sinuous bass line, soaring keys and propulsive drumming paired with Ambree’s gorgeous vocals — and while leaning towards the dreamy, retro-futuristic psychedelia of JOVM mainstays Pavo Pavo, the song captures the sense of awe over experiencing something you can never experience back at home.
The recently released visuals for the song features gymnasts and dancers performing — but from old grainy negatives, which emphasizes the dreamy nature of the song, while adding to its aching nostalgia.
Currently comprised of founding member Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion), Matt Geravis, Charity Rose Thielen (violin, guitar, vocals), Chris Zasche (bass), Kenny Hensley (keys) and Tyler Williams (drums), the Seattle, WA-based indie folk/indie rock act The Head and the Heart can trace their origins to a series of open mic nights at Ballard, WA-based Conor Byrne Pub back in 2009. At the time Russell, who had relocated from Richmond, VA and the band’s other founding member Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, percussion), who had relocated from Southern California were relatively recent transplants. Russell and Johnson met Hensley, who also was a relatively recent transplant, who had relocated the previous year to pursue film score writing. Thielen, was the next member to join, and she had recently returned from a year abroad studying in Paris. Williams had been a member of Richmond, VA-based band Prabir and The Substitutes, but after Russell sent him a demo of “Down In The Valley,” Williams quickly relocated to Seattle to join the new band. The last member of the original line, Zasche was a bartender at the Conor Byrne and was member of Seattle-based bands The Maldives and Grand Hallway. Interestingly enough, as Johnson explained the band’s name came from an relatable situation in which “Your head is telling you to be stable and find a good job, you know in your heart that this [the band] is what you’re supposed to do, even if it’s crazy.”
Since their formation the band has released three full-length albums — 2010’s self-titled and initially self-released debut (which later caught the attention of Sub Pop Records, who re-issued it), 2013’s Let’s Be Still and 2016’s major label debut, Signs of Light with each record seeing greater attention and the band building a growing profile; they’ve opened for Vampire Weekend, The Walkmen, Dr. Dog, Dave Matthews, The Decemberists, Iron & Wine, My Morning Jacket, Death Cab for Cutie and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers among a lengthening list of acclaimed acts. Along with that, the band has seen quite a bit of critical and commercial success — their self-tiled debut reached #110 on the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 10 weeks with Let’s Be Still landed at #10 on the Billboard 200 and each album has been well received, to boot.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the summer, you may recall that I mentioned that this year may arguably be one of the bigger years in the band’s history, as they’ve played the historic Newport Folk Festival and Coachella, and are in the middle of an extensive tour that includes stops at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, Lollapalooza and Central Park SummerStage last night.
Tonight the band is taking part in an Audience Network Concert Special, which will air at 9:00 ET/PT on DIRECTV (Channel 239) and U-verse (Channel 1114) and DIRECTV Now, and to build up buzz for the special, as well as to celebrate what has been a successful tour so far, the band has just released a gorgeous and fairly straightforward cover of Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” one of my favorite Crowded House songs, and arguably one of the best songs of the 1980s; of course, there are subtle differences — The Head and the Heart rendition has a slightly folky twang, Charity Rose Thielen sings the song’s second verse, which adds a slightly different perspective; and the organ solo at the song’s bridge is truncated by a number of measures; but considering the band’s history, covering Crowded House’s breakthrough hit here in the States is fitting, as the song focuses on persisting in the face of all odds. More important, their cover should remind everyone that Neil Finn is an exceptionally gifted songwriter, who has written a handful of songs that have held up 30+ years after their initial release.
As I mentioned the band is in the middle of a lengthy tour, check out the tour dates below.
Michael Malarkey was born in Beirut, Lebanon to an Irish-American father and a British mother, who was of Arab and Italian origin. Growing up in Yellow Springs, OH, Malarkey relocated to London where he he studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and while studying acting he begun to immerse himself in music and songwriting, which he found being a form of poetic journalism and an endless journey of self-discovery; however, he may be best known for his role as Enzo in The CW series The Vampire Diaries.
Malarkey’s debut effort Mongrels, which is slated for a September 8, 2017 release through Cap on Cat Records, and the album’s material reportedly reveals his eclectic musical taste while being an exploration of the duality of both his nature and of human nature. Interestingly enough, the album was recorded by Malarkey alongside Tom Tapley and Brandon Bush in Atlanta and while Tabley and Bush assist to provide a subtle Nashville/country vibe to the proceedings, they manage to do so in a way that isn’t the prepackaged new Nashville bullshit about trucks and beer; in fact, they do so in a way that further emphasizes the introspective nature of the material. As you’ll hear on album title track “Mongrel,” Malarkey’s sonorous baritone croon is pared with a sparse and moody arrangement consisting of twangy guitar, softly padded drumming and chiming keys and while to my ears nodding at Pearl Jam’s “Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town,” Malarkey’s latest single possesses a quiet yearning underneath its deliberate attention to craft.
Directed by Adam Loveday-Brown, the recently released music video for the album title track, follows a lonely and pensive Malarkey sitting in the woods, with notebook in hand, reminiscing on his life and on a lover, who is no longer around. How and why that relationship has ended is left open-ended and to the viewer, but the video portrays the protagonist’s life with his lover as a period of brilliant light, with his cabin being bright and airy and without her, his life is drab. The cabin feels and looks shabby and claustrophobic and yet everywhere her ghost has left an inescapable presence.