Tag: mp3s

Born Jennifer Hays, the Seattle, WA-based multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Jenn Champion grew up in Tucson, AZ, where in the mid 90s, she worked at a local pizza shop with future bandmates Ben Bridwell and Mat Brooke. In 1997 the trio moved to Olympia, WA for about a  year, before settling in Seattle and forming Hays’ first band Carissa’s Wierd. Although they only released three albums before splitting up in 2003, the band had a cult following that has resulted in the release of three compilation albums of their work, including 2010’s They’ll Only Miss You When You’re Gone: Songs 1996-2003, which was released through Hardly Art Records.

Since the breakup of Carissa’s Wierd, Champion has focused on several acclaimed solo projects including, the sparse, guitar and vocals-based pop project S, and with S she has released four albums, including 2010’s I’m Not As Good At It As You and 2014’s Chris Walla-produced Cool Choices. Critics and fans have applauded her open-hearted lyrics, technical skill and willingness to eschew conventions — and perhaps more important for writing sad songs meant to be cried to (or should I say be cried with?).  Interestingly, the B side of Champion’s last S album found her moving towards a more electronic-based sound; however, her single “No One” found Champion fully embracing electronics.  “I feel like a door got opened in my mind with electronic and digital music. There was a room I hadn’t explored before and I stepped in,” Champion says in press notes. While she’d initially intended to follow Cool Choices with “a rock record – guitar, a lot of pedals, heavy riffs,” plans changed. “I couldn’t pull myself away from the synthesizers and I realized the record I really wanted to make was more of a cross between Drake and Billy Joel than Blue Oyster Cult.”

After the release of “No One,” Champion’s publishers partnered her with Brian Fennell, an electronic music artist, songwriter and producer best known as SYML and the pair co-wrote “Leave Like That,” which was featured on SYML‘s Hurt For Me EP. Champion and Fennell hit it off so well that after Champion had written the demos for her forthcoming full-length Single Rider, she enlisted Fennell as a producer. Fennell agreed and they spent the next five months working on and refining the material on Single Rider. As Champion recalls, “In the studio with Brian, I was more open than I had ever been,” and as a result the material evolved into a slickly produced, anthemic dance floor friendly album; however, the new album reportedly finds Champion maintaining the earnest emotionality and vulnerability that has won her attention — but this time, the album’s material finds the acclaimed Seattle-based singer/songwriter imploring the listener to dance, dance, dance, dance, dance heartache, outrage and disappointment away, for a little bit at least. And goddamn it, sometimes strobe light, thumping bass and shimmering synths are so absolutely necessary to your basic survival.

Single Rider‘s latest single “Time To Regulate” is a slickly produced, sultry and propulsive bit of dance music centered around layers of shimmering, arpeggiated synths, cowbell-led percussion, thumping beats and an anthemic hook that reminds me of Soft Metals‘ Lenses, Cut Copy‘s In Ghost Colours, of 80s synth soul and Giorgio Moroder; but underneath the slick production, thumping beats and razor sharp hooks, there’s a desperate person trying to put on a brave face on a daily basis — with the acknowledgment that sometimes just being can be difficult in itself, and that adds a triumphant, “well, fuck man,” vibe to the shimmering proceedings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOUR DATES

08.09.18 – Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
08.10.18 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
08.16.18 – Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg T

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Comprised of founding members Ison Van Winkle (vocals, guitar) and Ross Murakami (drums), along with Jacob Gutierrez and newest member, Mari Brossfield (keys, vocals), the Coachella Valley, California-based indie act Yip Yops can trace their origins back to 2011. As the story goes, Van Winkle, who was turned on to Pink Floyd’The Wall by his father, “consciously and subconsciously” developed boundless ambition when it came to mutual. Through mutual friends, he attended a local jam session where he met Murakami, About a year later, the duo began jamming together, and it sparked the possibility of forming a band, centered around working together to accomplish a goal of creating the best music possible

Gutierrez joined the band for an industry conference, and as a teenaged trio, the band cut their teeth playing in and around the Coachella Valley area for the better part of a year-and-a-half. Brossfield joined the band, and as a result the band’s New Wave-inspired sound expanded to include male-female harmonies. Already the band has played sets at Coachella, Chinatown Summer Nights and Echo Park Rising and adding to a growing profile the band has opened for Lauren Ruth Ward and have released their latest single, “She” a single that draws from The Ting TingsThat’s Not My Name” and “Shut Up and Let Me Go,” and Freedom of Choice-era Devo, as the band employs the use of shimmering and arpeggiated synths, propulsive. tribal-like drumming and an infectious, razor sharp hook within an anachronistic yet carefully crafted song that sounds as though it could have been released in 1981, 2011 or 2018.

 

 

 

 

Perhaps best known as one of the world’s most acclaimed professional dancers for more than 20 years, the Swedish-born dancer Uma E. Fernqvist has taken her love of movement and music to inspire her debut EP Reverse. Interestingly, the material on the recently released Reverse EP is largely inspired by the 90s trip hop of Lamb, Massive Attack, and Portishead — and as you’ll hear on the hauntingly mesmerizing and lushly textured single “For U,” Fernqvist’s tender vocals ethereally float over a minimalist yet cinematic production consisting of pulsating and thumping beats, shimmering synths and atmospheric electronics; but under the chilly surface, the song trembles with a vulnerable, human need.

 

 

 

Perhaps best known as a member of Los Angeles-based band TÜLIPS,  the singer/songwriter and musician Taleen Kali decided to go solo after the band broke up — and in a relatively short period of time, Kali has developed a reputation as one of her hometown’s up-and-coming talents, as she has opened forthe likes of Madame Gandhi and Kimya Dawson, and has played sets at Echo Park Rising Festival, Mothership Festival and Women Fuck Shit Up Fest. And with the release of “Half Life,” the first single off her forthcoming Kristin Kontrol-produced EP Soul Songs, Kali has begun to receive attention from the likes of Stereogum and others, quickly developing a reputation for a New Wave take on noise rock and punk reminiscent of Gothic Tropic, Dum Dum Girls, Dirty Ghosts and others.

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding her, Kali recently released the EP’s latest single, the anthemic, hook-laden, dance floor friendly  “Lost & Bound,” and  that the single reveals an artist, who can effortlessly walk a tightrope between a slick studio sheen and a scuzzy punk rock air — without feeling contrived or ridiculous. Interestingly, there’s a subtle hint of triumph over something deeply daunting that adds to the song’s danceable vibe and anthemic hooks; in fact, as Kali explains in press notes, “‘Lost & Bound’ is about finding yourself again after being lost. I wanted to write a song that was really dark but also danceable, so I wrote a dirge dedicated to a ‘lost self,’ and I added a disco beat to add this sense of movement, of celebration, of making it to the other side.”  

Kali is playing a handful of live shows in the Los Angeles area over the next few weeks. If you’re in the area, check them out, below.

Tour Dates
05.20 – Los Angeles, CA @ Hi Hat (Dum Dum Zine Kickoff Party For L.A. Zine Week)
05.27 – Pasadena, CA @ Pasadena Convention Center (LA Zine Fest)
06.26 – Los Angeles, CA @ Resident (Record Release show)

 

Dan Sultan is an acclaimed Fitzroy, Australia-born, Melbourne, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who started playing guitar when he was four and wrote his first song when he turned 10. As the story goes, his mother’s friend gave the young Sultan an old electric guitar, and he began playing gigs at local pubs. In 2000, Sultan met a fellow singer/songwriter and guitarist Scott Wilson at a Williamstown, Australia pub and the duo began writing songs together. As Wilson recalled in an interview “What struck me at first was that he [Sultan] could play piano and guitar, and he was a great foil for what I was doing . . . After a while playing together, he said, ‘Can I Sing this one?’ I said, ‘Do you know the words?’ . . . [he had a] mighty voice. A lot people can play guitar . . . not many can sing like that.”

Sultan’s  Scott Wilson-produced, full-length solo debut, the genre-defying Homemade Biscuits was released in early 2006 and consisted of tracks written by Wilson or co-written by Sultan and Wilson, and a featured number of local musicians and collaborators, including Lazare Agneskis, Neil Gray, Elijah Maiyah, Lochile McKlean and Ben Wicks. Sultan’s debut also featured two attention grabbing tracks — “Your Love Is Like a Song,” which won a 2007 Deadly Award for Single Release of the Year, and “Rosyln,” a song Sultan wrote about his mother, who was a member of the Aboriginal “stolen generations,” which he performed during 2007’s National Day of Healing concert. Adding to a growing profile that year, Paul Kelly invited Sultan to record a cover of Kev Carmody’s “This Land Is Mine” for a compilation tribute album of Carmody’s work titled Cannot Buy My Soul — and with a backing band of Eugene Ball (trumpet), Ben Gillespie (trombone), Joshua Jones (bass), Peter Marin (drums), Ash Naylor (guitar) and Gina Woods (keys), Sultan and company played Australia’s festival circuit over the next two years or so, including set at the Sydney Festival and the Queensland Music Festival.

Sultan’s sophomore album 2009’s Get Out While You Can was a massive, commercial success as it charted on the ARIA Albums Chart Top 100, eventually reaching #1 on the independent Australian charts and was a Triple J featured album. Along with that, Sultan won ARIA Music Awards for Best Male Artist and Best Blues & Roots Album, and Australian Independent Records Awards for Best Independent Artist and Best Independent Blues & Roots Music Music.

In early 2014, Sultan opened for Bruce Springsteen‘s Melbourne and Hunter Valley shows during his Australian tour, which Sultan promptly followed up with the release of his third full-length album Blackbird, an album that reached #4 on the ARIA Albums Charts and spent 13 weeks in the Top 50 — and the album won a Best Rock Album Award at that year’s ARIA Awards. Building upon an impressive year, Sultan released the Dirty Ground EP, which reached the ARIA Albums Chart Top 100. Sultan’s fourth album, 2017’s Jan Skubiszewski-produced Killer was nominated for three ARIA Awards — Best Male Artist, Best Rock Album, and Best Independent Release.

Interestingly, Sultan’s soon-to-be released Killer Under a Blood Moon was recorded over the course of four days and while it continues Sultan’s commercially and critically successful collaboration Skubiszewski, the EP finds the duo collaborating with some of their country’s brightest and talented, up-and-coming artists, including  A.B. OriginalCamp CopeMeg Mac and Gang of Youths‘ Dave Le’aupepe to reinterpret a series of tracks from Sultan’s fourth album as a way to give his material new bodies, new ways of being while having a good time doing so. Now, as you may recall, last month I wrote about Sultan’s reworking of “Drover,” which featured Gang of Youth’s Dave Le’aupepe taking over vocal duties on a swaggering, arena rock-friendly blues centered around power chords, stomping beats, a looped choral sample and a muscular and anthemic hook reminiscent of The Black Keys.

The EP’s latest single is a reworking of Killer‘s album title track “Killer” that features Meg Mac — and while the original is a shuffling yet anthemic rock song with an infectious hook, the EP’s rework turns the song into a Fleetwood Mac/Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks-styled duet that retains the hook and melody but adds a sultriness to the song’s heartfelt vibe.

 

 

 

Throughout this site’s almost 8 year history, I’ve written a bit about the Gold Coast, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist and producer Emily Hamilton and her solo recording project San Mei, which began rather humbly as a bedroom recording project but gradually began receiving attention from this site and a number of major media outlets including NME, Indie ShuffleNYLON and Triple J. Interestingly, with the release of debut EP Necessary, Hamilton’s sound adding more organic instrumentation, drawing Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cat Power, and Feist  — and a result, the EP found Hamilton moving away from the bedroom synth pop that first captured the attention of the blogosphere towards fuzzy, power chord-based dream pop.

Hamilton met songwriter, producer and overall musical phenom Oscar Dawson, who has worked with Holy Holy, Alex Lahey, Ali Barter, British India, Robbie Miller and Joyride at BIGSOUND last year, and the pair immediately hit it off. According to Hamilton, taking Dawson on as a producer and collaborator — and early on, the collaboration between the pair have found them refining ideas, exploring different soundscapes and laying down the foundation for the sonic progression of San Mei. As Hamilton explains in press notes “[Dawson and I] hit it off straight away and it seemed like he understood where I was coming from, even if I had trouble conveying certain ideas in the demos I made at home.”

Hamilton’s latest single “Wonder” is the first single since the release of Necessary EP and while the single in some way continues in a similar vein of as the material on her critically applauded EP, it manages to be a subtle refinement that finds Dawson and Hamilton crafting an anthemic, radio friendly and arena rock friendly track centered around a razor sharp, infectious hook, fuzzy shoegazer rock-like power chords and thundering drumming. And yet interestingly enough, the single may be among Hamilton’s most sincere song, as it captures the swooning, butterflies in the stomach sensation when someone who’s unknown to you captures your attention and you can’t quite pin down why. That unknown person becomes part of a mysterious daydream to you, in which you begin to wonder everything about them — and yet, there’s a part of you that isn’t certain if you want them to become more than just some brief, intoxicating illusion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Born into a family of artists and musicians, the Denton, TX-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Claire Morales began to play music and make visual art at a very young age. Family gatherings were frequently interrupted by a three year-old Morales insisting on singing a mix of Beatles and Disney songs on a makeshift, fireplace stage. The Denton, TX-based singer/songwriter and guitarist began playing her first solo shows as a middle school at local coffee shops, armed with her father’s 1960s Gibson and an arresting voice that has had many well-meaning people throughout  at her life would deal “more powerful than I thought it would be, looking you.”

Morales’ 2015 full-length debut Amaranthine saw her work translation from folksy and rootsy solo singer/songwriter to fully fleshed out band with at sound that many have described as melodic, hazy, 70s inspired rock centered around a nostalgic meditation on childhood — from the perspective of someone, in the early throes of adulthood. However, All That Wanting, Morales’ sophomore effort, is the much-anticipated follow-up to her debut, and the album, which is slated for a June 29, 2018 release reportedly explores the vast freedom, possibility and existential terror of young, adult life; in fact, the album revolves around the human tendency to endlessly crave more, asking how we can stave off and tame that feeling and instead take in the beauty before you. Desire is ultimately viewed as a mythic force capable of compelling one forward or consuming one wholly.

Recorded by Matt Pence and Jeremy Buller at the Denton-based Echo Lab, Morales and her backing band of Alex Hastings, Ryan Williams and Russ Connell spent six days recording the album’s ten tracks mostly live together in the studio’s cavernous main room, which gives the album and its material the raw energy of a group of musicians who have collaborated together for a long time, and hinges on mutual respect and open communication between everyone involved. The album finds Morales and company fearlessly and fluidly passing through a vast sonic palette including intense dramatic moments, shoegazer-like psychedelia, profound introspection, rumbling unease and cathartic release.

All That Wanting‘s latests ingle, the album title track “All That Wanting” centers around fuzzy, pedal effected guitar chords, a propulsive rhythm section, a soaring, arena rock friendly hook, Morales’ powerhouse vocals and a trembling, unfulfilled longing that sonically and thematically reminds me quite a bit of PJ Harvey and Shana Falana, complete with a distinctly feminine strength and resiliency.

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Jace ECAj (emcee) and Felicia Loud (vocals), the Seattle, WA-based duo Black Stax are set to release the first album of a live recording series ILL-US-TRAIT, and the album’s first single is a forward looking and crowd-pleasing live version of “Unexpected Shots” that features producer and DJ Shingi creating a a psychedelic, swirling palette centered around a shimmering sitar sample, while ECAj spits some impressive bars with complex rhyme schemes and Loud contributes a soulful hook; the second half of song features a mischievous call and response section with the duo interacting with the crowd as they move from the song’s hook to the chorus. Interestingly, much like Shabazz Palaces, Clipping, TheeSatisfaction, Chimurenga Renaissance and others, the up-and-coming Seattle-based duo are part of a growing collection of artists, who have actively been pushing hip-hop in new directions sonically and creatively.

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.

The band is touring to build up buzz and support for their new album, check out the tour dates below.
TOUR DATES
May 16 | Austin, TX @ Stubb’s (w. Hovvdy, Half Waif)
June 16 | El Paso, TX @ Neon Rose
June 17 | Tucson, AZ @ Owls Club
June 19 | Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater
June 20 | San Francisco, CA @ The Knockout
June 21 | Chico, CA @ Tender Loving
June 22 | Olympia, WA @ Cascadia Brewing
June 23 | Portland, OR @ Turn Turn Turn
June 28 | Phoenix, AZ @ Trunk Space
June 29 | Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
June 30 | Marfa, TX @ Lost Horse Saloon

 

New Audio: Soft Kill Releases a Gorgeous and Deeply Personal Meditation on Life and Death

With the release of 2015’s Heresy and 2016’s acclaimed Choke, the members of Portland, OR-based post punk act Soft Kill, currently comprised of Tobias Grave (vocals/guitar/synths), Conrad Vollmer (guitar), Owen Glendower (bass) and Adam Bulgasem (drums) had spent a an increasing amount of time on the road; in fact, they have been on rather extensive touring cycle through North America and Europe to support Choke. Interestingly enough, the band announced a series Pacific Northwest tour dates with Harms Way, just as they officially dropped their latest album Savior.  

Savior may be the most personal album the band has ever written and recorded, as much of the writing was inspired by a real life experience: as the band was returning from tour, Tobias Grave’s pregnant wife began to bleed out in the van. She was eight months pregnant, and practically in the middle of nowhere, far from a hospital or any other medical facility. The band raced through the night, eventually winding up in the emergency room of Sacramento’s UC Davis Trauma Center, where surgery was performed to try to save the lives of both the mother and the then-unborn child. Although the surgery went well, the baby’s lung collapsed on his second day of life causing him to flatline. Grave was forced to standby and watch as doctors and nurses struggled to keep his newborn son alive with a series of blood transfusions, breathing and feeding tubes. As his vigil turned into weeks, he purchased a guitar, borrowed a bass from a friend and began to write the material that wound up becoming Savior. Thematically speaking, the songs focused on loss and hurt — the tragic loss of his newborn son, his long battle with drug addiction, the tragedies and heartaches of life, the weirdly empty and ambivalent space between mourning and celebration, life and death that we all know far too well. In many ways, the album is written about a man, who has come to grips with the reflection of themselves, as seen in the eyes of their dying son — and as you’ll hear on the shimmering album single “Hard Candy,” the material manages to possess the palpable weight of devastating and senseless loss, and the acceptance of what it means to the song’s narrator and his life, making the song a gorgeous and mournful meditation on life and deat