Tag: indie pop

Micheal Lane is a German-born, Berlin-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who was raised in the States. As the story goes, he began singing at a very young age, using music as an escape from the troubles he was going through at any point during his life. After spending six years in the Army with three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lane realized that his life was going in a very different direction from the dreams he had. And in 2012, Lane left the States and returned to Germany, where his mother’s family still resides.

Lane participated in the second season of The Voice of Germany, eventually finishing third. His cover of Sarah McLachlan‘s “Angel” and his own original song “Mrs. Lawless” both placed in the Top 50 of the German Music Charts — and with a growing national profile, the Berlin-based singer/songwriter wound up playing at some of Germany’s largest, best known venues. Since then, Lane has released three albums and toured across Europe with his work amassing over 2 million Spotify streams and 1 million YouTube views to date.

 

Slated for release this fall, his self-produced, fourth album Traveling Son thematically finds Lane sharing intimate moments about both his childhood and his adulthood — while sonically, the material is subtly influenced by jazz. Traveling Son‘s latest single “Believe” is a carefully crated, beguiling pop song centered around Lane’s crystalline and plaintive vocals, strummed, acoustic guitar, blasts of shimmering electric guitar, and a huge, anthemic hook. And throughout, the song encourages and dares the listener to stop sitting on the sidelines and go for their dreams.

 

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Titus Calderbank is an up-and-coming Vancouver, British Columbia-based singer/songwriter and musician, who according to his Facebook fan page is “determined to create songs that inspire and motivate.” Calderbank’s latest single “Mistakes” is an sparsely arranged yet heartfelt and anthemic ballad, centered around twinkling piano, soaring organ, strummed guitar and the Vancouver-based singer/songwriter’s soulful and aching Sam Fender-like vocals.

Recorded at Vancouver’s Echoplant Sound Studio with Ryan Worsley, the song as Calderbank explains in press notes “is a song about failure and regret. A song about missing the mark. It’s also a song of redemption and asking for forgiveness. Humans often fail short. At the end of the day, we have to a accept that we’re tall trying our best.” Calderbank adds, “What I hope to communicate through this song is that mercy and forgiveness are always an option. We can either be slaves to our past mistakes or make peace with them and move on. We can grace our enemies with forgiveness or we can die with bitter hearts.”

 

 

New Audio: Acclaimed Indie Act Imperial Teen Releases a Rousingly Anthemic New Single

Comprised of Roddy Bottum (guitar, vocals), a former member of Faith No More; Will Schwartz (guitar, vocals), who splits his time with hey willpower; Lynn Perko Truell, (drums, backing vocals), a former member of Sister Double Happiness, The Dicks and The Wrecks; and Jone Stebbins, a former member of the Wrecks, the acclaimed indie act Imperial Teen originally formed in San Francisco in the mid 90s.

Their 1996 Steve McDonald-produced debut Seasick was released to praise from Spin Magazine, who went on to list it as their fourth best album of that year and from the New York Times.  Their sophomore album, 1998’s What Is Not to Love found the band ambitiously expanding upon their sound and approach with material routinely clocking over six minutes. Interestingly, album single “Yoo Hoo” appeared on the Jawbreaker soundtrack.  The accompanying video featured the movie’s star, Rose McGowan appearing alongside the band — and it was included as a special feature on the DVD. Also “Yoo Hoo” was heard in the beginning of episodes of Numb3rs and Daria.

The band left Universal Records and signed with Merge Records, who released their third album, 2002’s Steve McDonald and Anna Waronker co-produced effort, On. The album’s lead single “Ivanka” received airplay — and they spent a portion of the year touring with The Breeders. Interestingly, that tour include a stop at famed Hoboken club Maxwell’s, which was recorded and released a few months later as Live at Maxwell’s. 

The band’s Will Schwartz teamed up with Tomo Yasuda for Schwartz’s dance music side project hey willpower, which released their self-titled debut EP in 2005. And by 2007, the members of Imperial Teen returned with two shows at that year’s SXSW and their fourth album, The Hair the TV the Baby and the Band, which landed at #38 on Rolling Stone’s Best Albums list that year. 

The band’s fifth album was 2012’s Feel the Sound and since the release of that effort, the members of the band have relocated to different parts of the country — with members in New York, Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Understandably, the geographical locations and distances can make it extremely difficult to write and record music on a regular basis — but the members of the acclaimed indie rock act reconvened to write and record their forthcoming, sixth album Now We Are Timeless. 

Slated for a July 12, 2019 release through their longtime label home, Merge Records, the band’s sixth album will further cement their long-held reputation for crafting deeply personal material that offered a view into the bandmember’s individual lives, complete with victories, losses, aspirations, where they were emotionally and personally — while thematically, the material touches upon time, movement, averting and succumbing to crisis, dealing with and accepting loss and pain.

“We Do What We Do Best,” Now We Are Timeless’s latest single is a swaggering, arena rock friendly track centered around power chords, an enormous hook, buzzing synths, a propulsive rhythm section, a trippy guitar solo and stream-of-consciousness-like lyrics delivered with a mischievously ironic aplomb; but at its core is the free-flowing spontaneity and joy of a bunch of old friends jamming and coming up with something that kicks ass. 

Born Tessa Violet Williams in Chicago, the up-and-coming, Nashville-based indie pop singer/songwriter and vlogger, Tessa Violet can trace the origins of her music career to a school project in which she began daily vlogging in 2007 for a school project with the screen name Meekakitty while working in Hong Kong and Thailand as a model; however, by 2009 Williams quit modeling and relocated to New York, to focus on her vlog, which primarily focused on storytelling, skits and music videos — particularly, fan-made music videos for popular artists like Reliant K, Family Force 5 and MIKA.

Wiliams gained national attention after winning $100,000 in a YouTube competition by receiving the most comments on her video entry.  In 2011, Williams was featured in fellow YouTube creator Nanalew’s fan-made “Sail,” which went viral and has amassed over 310 million views. In 2012, The Chicago-born, Nashville-based indie pop singer/songwriter followed her appearance in “Sail” by appearing in the video for Family Force 5’s “Cray Button,” and then directing the act’s video for “Chainsaw,” which featured Tedashii.

By 2013 Williams began to focus on writing, recording and releasing music and the focus on her YouTube channel shifted to her original music, eventually leading to her dropping the Meekakitty moniker and using her real name Tessa Violet across all of her online platforms.

So far the past year or so has been a breakthrough, whirlwind year for the up-and-coming Chicago-born, Nashville-based indie pop artist: she’s released two critically applauded singles “Crush” and “Bad Ideas” — “Crush” has amassed over 18 million Spotify streams and the video has received over 36 million views. “Bad Ideas” became a viral hit. As result of the success of those two singles, Williams toured with her first live, backing band, which featured Jess Bowen (drums) — and that tour included her first sold-out headline shows at Los AngelesThe Troubadour and the Mercury Lounge. 

Building upon an exploding profile, she just finished her first UK tour, which featured a sold out London show, and Billboard featured her as one of 10 new festival artists to look out for this year. She was also named the first YouTube Foundry Artist of 2019 — and she’ll be making her Lollapalooza debut this year. Her full-length album Bad Ideas will be released one song a month or so throughout the year, and the album’s third and latest single “I Like (The Idea of) You” recently premiered on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist and YouTube Music’s Pop Before It Breaks playlist. Centered around a disco meets New Wave-like bass line, the Chicago-born, Nashville-based pop artist’s latest single is a sultry and coquettish, late night strut that recalls DFA Records heyday.

“I was seeing this guy at the time, who I knew wasn’t into me. And even though I could see that, it was still so much fun to think and obsess about him,” Tessa Violet says of the song. “Replaying the way he said my name on the phone, imagining what I would wear or say the next time I saw him, thinking of things I could write about him. I remember that I could logically see it wasn’t going anywhere, so I thought maybe I should feel embarrassed about how much time I was spending on him. But it didn’t make me feel embarrassed, it made me feel sexy and powerful. So what if they’re not that into me? I like the idea of it and I’m going to enjoy that.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier this year, i wrote about the up-and-coming Bristol, UK-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Katey Brooks, and as you may recall, with the release of 2016’s I Fought Lovers EP, Brooks quickly earned a national and international profile for a sound and songwriting approach that has been compared favorably to the likes of Jeff Buckley. In fact, material off the EP received enthusiastic airplay on  BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 and  the CBC, and praise from Billboard, Pride and The Advocate. Adding to a growing profile, Brooks has shared bills with an eclectic yet impressive list of artists that includes Newton Faulkner, Ghostpoet, Martin Simpson, Deaf Havana, Lamb‘s Lou Rhodes, Mike and the Mechanics, and Mystery Jets, and has played at some of the world’s biggest festivals including Glastonbury, WOMAD, the 2012 Paralympics and Australia’s National Folk Festival. She also has appeared on a compilation with Anais Mitchell, Ane Brun and Marissa Nadler and recorded a track with The Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman and Paloma Faith

Interestingly, Brooks has a complicated and messy upbringing. She grew up in a cult, and as a child, she found refuge in music.“It was a very chaotic upbringing, full of some pretty colourful and sometimes unsavoury, characters. But when I sang, I felt free and connected. For as long as I can remember, it’s been my way of getting what I need to say out,” she reveals in press notes. She began singing gospel, old spirituals and the songs from the likes of John Lennon and Elvis Presley — but by the time she was a teenager, she entertained her peers with soul renditions.

When she turned 16, the Bristol-based singer/songwriter turned down a spot at the renowned BRIT School. “It would be interesting to know what would have happened if I had gone there, but I try not to dwell on that,”Brooks says in press notes. “I always think that you’re where you’re meant to be. And if I had gone, I probably would have ended up writing slightly less authentically to myself. But who knows, because if all the things that have happened in my life nevertheless happened, maybe I still would have written the way I do.”

When Brooks turned 20, she became extremely ill and her life was on pause as she was convalescing; but as she was convalescing she joined a songwriters group led by her friend, Strangelove’s Patrick Duff. “We would get together and play our songs to each other. It was really therapeutic.” Around this time Brooks was convinced that she had to devote her time to music. “So one day I just put on my own gig at the (Bristol) Folk House,” she laughs. “I sort of became an artist and promoter overnight,” Brooks recalls.

Sadly, shortly after making the decision to focus on her music, the Bristol-based singer/songwriter experienced a turbulent period of heartbreak and tragedy: the year she turned 22, her mother became ill and died — and shortly after that, one of her best friends went missing and died. “That’s definitely had an effect on the course of my life, and my writing,” Brooks says in press notes. “People have come up to me after gigs, particularly after songs I wrote during that time, saying ‘there’s a lot of sadness in your songs’ and it’s like ‘well, yeah.’ But I guess I’m lucky that I have songs that I can write, as a means to deal with things.”

Along with those hardships, Brooks has struggled to come to terms with her own sexuality. “In my most recent work I’ve finally been able to sing directly about women instead of using the mysterious ‘you,’” Brooks mentions in press notes. “I’m a private person in a lot of ways and I never wanted to be a poster girl for anything. But a few years ago I just thought screw it; I want to sing completely honestly. It felt like a weight lifted.”

Brooks latest single is the classic soul-inspired ballad “All of Me.” Centered around a spectral arrangement featuring a looping 12 blues guitar, a gospel-like backing vocal section, a two-step inducing rhythm section and Brooks achingly plaintive and soulful vocals, the new single will further establish the Bristol-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s ability to mesh craft, earnestness and ambitious songwriting in a thoughtful and natural fashion. But along with that much of Brooks’ material comes from real, lived-in places — in particular, the song’s narrator bitterly calls out a lover on their ambivalence. It was inspired by a personal situation with someone I was prepared to give my world to. They proclaimed deep love, but then proceeded to behave in ways that were completely incongruent with that proclamation”, revealsBrooks. Words can be very powerful and beautiful, but ultimately, when it comes to showing someone you love them, they’re cheap and easy to deliver. Actions tell us everything we need to know about how someone feels about us, and if they respect us – in every kind of relationship.” 

 

 

 


 

Hannah Scott is an Ipswich, UK-born, London, UK-based singer/songwriter, whose work is heavily influenced by a year spent working on an olive press in rural Tuscany, Italy in her late teens.

Several years later, Scott met her collaborator, Italian-born multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Stefano Della Casa when they were both in London, but interestingly enough, they both recognized that they may have encountered each other years earlier, when she used to regularly pass through the train station that Della Casa worked in. When the duo began collaborating, they quickly recognized that they had an incredible connection despite coming from vastly different backgrounds: Della Casa had a difficult upbringing and troubled early adulthood while Scott had been lucky to have a supportive family and happy childhood — although as an adult, Scott was diagnosed with a form of arthritis, which causes severe joint pain and fatigue.

Both artists firmly believe that their musical collaboration has provided an outlet to support each other through difficult times, and the duo have received quite a bit of buzz over the past couple of years: they’ve been featured in MOJO, Songwriting Magazine , Clash Magazine and in The Guardian as a “New Band of The Day.” They’ve also received airplay on  Bob Harris’ and Dermot O’Leary’BBC Radio 2 shows and have been on  BBC Introducing’s “Track of the Week” three times. They’ve opened for  Seth Lakeman and 10cc , and played at Mondo.NYC Festival a couple of years ago.

Last year’s  Pieces of the Night quickly established Scott as one of her country’s emerging singer/songwriters with the album pairing emotive and heartfelt songwriting with a warm and effortless production that meshed organic instrumentation — primarily acoustic guitar, cello and vocals — with atmospheric electronics. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, both Scott and her collaborator Della Casa have signed publishing deals with Ultra Music Publishing and Chelsea Music Publishing respectively.

Scott kicks off 2019 with the gorgeous, Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head-era Coldplay-like “Walk a Wire.” Centered around Scott’s plaintive vocals, a soaring hook and spectral arrangement of acoustic guitar and atmospheric electronics, the song is inspired by a friend of Scott’s, who had a disability and out of fear of rejection and heartbreak, closed herself away. And as a result, the song is a plea to the listener to take a chance and open up to life and possibility.

 

 

 

 

New Video: Lisel’s Gorgeous Visuals for Ethereal Debut Single “Ciphers”

Perhaps best known as one-half of the acclaimed JOVM mainstays Pavo Pavo, multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter, producer and experimental artist Eliza Bagg has spent the last few years developing a prolific career in her own rite, collaborating with Helado Negro, Julianna Barwick, John Zorn, and Caroline Shaw and performing in avant-garde operas by Meredith Monk with the L.A. Philharmonic.

Bagg has stepped out further as a solo artist with her latest recording project Lisel, which grew from Bagg’s desire to turn inwards as a way to get in touch with her own sense of authenticity. “I had found space in the classical world that made sense for me,” says Bagg, “but I realized I needed to make something that was truly mine, that sprung from my own voice.” Naturally, that realization led to a year-long writing and recording process with Bagg waking up every morning to spend time alone with just a microphone and her computer.

“My main instrument is my voice, not a keyboard or a guitar, so I wanted it to be the genesis of every song,” Bagg explains. “I was trying to use the resources I had within me, within my body, to make something that feels true about the way we live our lives now, in 2019. That’s why I wanted to focus on my voice-I wanted each song to be literally made out of me.”

Bagg’s debut Lisel single “Ciphers” is an ethereal song built around a spectral arrangement of shimmering synths, flute, glitchy beats and Bagg’s vocals, which manage to be intimate, crystalline and achingly tender — with a plaintive yearning. Directed by Jing Niu, the accompanying video is a hazy and feverish dream that emphasizes the song’s plaintive and yearning quality.

“The word cipher has two meanings — it can be a coded message, but it can also be an empty hole, a zero,” Bagg says of her latest single. “The song is about the haunting uncertainty in the pathways that have been set out before you, and realizing these courses have become more ambiguous and disorienting than you thought – at best entangled, at worst empty. There’s also, however, the glimmer of trying to find authenticity within that reality – the background choir serving as the basis for the song is simultaneously pure and glitchy, faulty but still true.” Adds Bagg, “The video is set in three surreal, manufactured landscapes: a celestial beach next to a reflection pool, a dark space where a shadow figure mimics and supports my movement, and a river of red silk. My identity is echoed in the pool and splintered in the shadow figure.”

Lyric Video: Minor Poet’s Breezy “Tropic of Cancer”

Andrew Carter is a Richmond, VA-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has spent the past few years writing and recording music by himself in various bedrooms and basements with his solo recording project Minor Poet. His full-length debut, 2017’s And How combined Carter’s love of carefully crafted pop with a loose, fun, off-the-cuff production that eventually received press from American Songwriter, Magnet, The Wild Honey Pie, Impose and others, while helping Carter develop a small but devoted fanbase. Naturally, this has allowed Minor Poet to grow from a labor of love into a nationally touring band.

Carter’s sophomore Minor Poet album The Good News is slated for a May 17, 2019 release through Sub Pop Records, and the album, which was recorded over the course of four days at Montrose Recording, reportedly finds Carter expanding the boundaries of the project’s sound over the course of six songs. While previous Minor Poet releases featured Carter playing all the instruments and handling production duties, the material on The Good News was written with the understanding that the Richmond, VA-born and -based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist had to reach outside himself to do justice to the songs. “I couldn’t capture the sounds I heard in my head,” Carter explains. “I wanted something that was vast and expansive but that at the same time could hit you immediately in the gut.”

Paying homage to the classic “wall of sound: techniques made famous by Brian Wilson and Phil Spector, Carter and co-producer, Adrian Olsen overdubbed layer after layer of Carter playing an array of guitars, pianos, organs, synths, and percussion, as well as Carter singing harmonies. The members of the touring band were brought in to perform the core rhythm section parts with handpicked local musicians stopping by to add crucial flourishes to the material. Interestingly, at the center of the album’s material is Carter’s vocals, singing lyrics that mix allusions to religion, mythology, art and philosophy, as each song’s narrator questions himself, his place in the world around him, what he owes to his relationships, and in turn, what he needs to ask others to stay healthy.

“Tropic of Cancer,” The Good News‘ infectious latest single is centered by layers of shimmering and tropicalia-inspired arpeggiated synth lines, shuffling guitar lines, a soaring hook and a lysergic-tinged guitar solo. And while the deliberate crafted track bears a subtle resemblance to Elvis Costello‘s early work, the song manages to be deceptively breezy as the song’s narrator describes a constant and repetitive struggle with depression, delivered with an unvarnished emotional honesty and a tongue-in-cheek awareness.

Perhaps best known as one-half of the acclaimed, Juno Award winning roots rock act The Bros. Landreth, the Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Joey Landreth has spent the past few years developing a reputation and sound as a solo artist.

Landreth’s critically applauded full-length debut, 2017’s Whiskey was largely seen as an extension of his work in The Bros. Landreth. However, his highly-anticipated sophomore album Hindsight, which was co-written and produced by rising multi-instrumentalist Roman Clarke and recorded at Lincoln Country Social Club Studio in Toronto and Stereobus Recording in Winnipeg, reportedly finds the Winnipeg-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist crafting his most impassioned and uplifting material to date while pushing his sound and approach in a new direction. Thematically, the album as Landreth says in press notes features “a collection of songs that explore ideas about learning from mistakes, letting go, forgiving and growing up. And heartbreak. It wouldn’t be a Landreth endeavour without some heartbreak.”

“Cryin’,” Hindsight‘s latest single is a slow-burning and easy-going bit of singer/songwriter soul that recalls Bill Withers and Sandra Rhodes’ under-appreciated Where Has Your Love Been as the track is centered around a Muscle Shoals meets neo-soul inspired arrangement featuring a soaring hook, shimmering guitars, gospel-like organs, Landreth’s soulful crooning and an expressive guitar solo — and much like the material that seemingly influenced it, the track is essentially a deliberately crafted, old-fashioned blues about being heartbroken and crying in your beer.

Landreth will be embarking on an extensive UK and North American that will feature his producer and collaborator Roman Clarke. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates

April 23 – Lewes Con Club, Lewes, United Kingdom

April 24 – Fat Lil’s, Witney, United Kingdom

April 25 – The Boileroom, Guildford, United Kingdom

April 26 – The Railway Inn, Winchester, United Kingdom

April 27 – The HUBS, Sheffield, United Kingdom

April 28 – Audio Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom

April 29 – White House Unique Social Club, Ashington, United Kingdom

April 30 – The Wardrobe, Leeds, United Kingdom

May 1 – The Night and Day Café, Manchester, United Kingdom

May 2 – The Bulls Head Alton, Alton, United Kingdom

May 3 – Kilkenny Roots Festival, Kilkenny, Ireland

May 4 – Killkenny Roots Festival, Kilkenny, Ireland

May 5 – The ROOTS @ The Rafa, St David’s, United Kingdom

May 7 – Thekla, Bristol, United Kingdom

May 8 – The Garage, London, United Kingdom

May 9 – The Flowerpot, Derby, United Kingdom

May 11 – Rhythm & Blues Night 2019, Groningen, Netherlands

May 12 – Paard Café, The Hague, Netherlands

May 14 – Blue Shell, Cologne, Germany

May 15 – Kranhalle, Munich, Germany

May 17 – Nachtwache, Hamburg, Germany

May 18 – Sonderborghus, Sonderborg, Denmark

May 19 – Blues Garage, Isernhagen, Germany

May 20 – Badehaus, Berlin, Germany

May 21 – Bygningen, Vejle, Denmark

May 22 – Tobakken, Esbjerg, Denmark

June 6 – Dekker Centre, North Battleford, Canada

June 29 – Puisto Blues Festival, Jarenpaa, Finland

July 20 – Vancouver Folk Festival, Vancouver, Canada

July 27 – Stan Rogers Folk Festival, Canso, Canada