Tag: San Diego CA

New Video: Thee Sacred Souls Share Slow-Burning and Sun-Dappled “Easier Said Than Done”

Rising San Diego-based soul act Thee Sacred Souls — founding members and multi-instrumentalists Alex Garcia and Sal Samano, along with Josh Lane (vocals) — can trace some of their origins back to simpatico that Garcia and Samano felt while cutting bedroom recorded demos of rhythm tracks that weaved elements of Chicano, Philly, Chicago, Detroit and even Panama soul, which the pair grew up listening to and loved.

When Garcia and Samano connected with Lane, the newly constituted trio quickly settled upon their sound: Lane’s tender falsetto ethereally floating over Garcia’s and Samano’s old-school, two-step inducing rhythms.

Their first live set caught the attention of bassist and Daptone Records co-founder and producer Gabriel Roth, who was so impressed by what he had seen that he invited the band to stop by his Riverside, CA-based studio, Penrose Recorders, where they started putting their first notes on tape. Back in 2020, Daptone Records imprint Penrose Records released the San Diego soul outfit’s debut single “Can I Call You Rose?”/”Weak For Your Love,” a single which caught attention across both the national and international soul scenes.

Building upon a growing profile, Thee Sacred Souls released “Give Us Justice,” a song written in response to George Floyd’s murder. “Give Us Justice,” caught the attention of multi-Grammy Award-nominated JOVM mainstay act The Black Pumas, who mentioned the song as their  “The song that will define 2020 for me” in Rolling Stone. Proceeds from the track were donated to organizations that promote and advocate for the freedoms, rights and well-being of Black people, beginning with the Movement for Black Lives.

Last year, the band released “It’s Our Love,” a slow-burning and swooning, old school-like ballad, featuring soaring organ chords, glistening guitar, shuffling rhythms paired with Lane’s achingly tender falsetto and an enormous hook. The song talks about love in sweetly old-school terms: the deep bond and affection between a romantic couple that’s in it for the long haul. Lucky and rare are those to find it.

Thee Sacred Souls will be releasing their highly-anticipated Gabriel Roth-produced self-titled, full-length debut through Daptone Records on August 26, 2022. The album reportedly sees the San Diego-based soul outfit proudly continuing in the tradition of beloved Daptone Records artists like Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley — both on album and live.

The self-titled album’s latest single, the slow-burning, sun dappled ballad, “Easier Said Than Done” will further cement the act’s growing reputation for effortlessly putting down tight grooves paired with glistening guitar licks, Lane’s achingly plaintive vocals and their unerring knack for infectious hooks. Lyrically, the song captures the fact that love is difficult and requires constant work — both individually and as a couple.

Directed and cinematically shot by Casey Liu, the accompanying video for “Easier Said Than Done” is equally sun dappled, as it follows the trio and their live band through some gorgeous Southern California scenery.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Mackenzie Leighton Shares a Playful Visual for “Je ne suis pas poéte”

Mackenzie Leighton is a rising San Diego-born, Paris-based indie folk singer/songwriter musician and JOVM mainstay. When she was a child, Leighton’s family moved to a small, seaside town in Maine, where she grew up and spent her most other formative years. The JOVM mainstay can trace the origins of her music career to her youth: her father took her to classical piano lessons as a girl.

When Leighton turned 18, she attended my alma mater, New York University — and while in New York, she played in several jazz and folk inspired bands. Upon graduation, Leighton relocated to Paris. Leighton landed a day job as a florist and then launched a solo career with the release of 2017’s self-titled EP, a singer/songwriter folk effort that was released to praise and comparisons to Phoebe Bridgers and Julia Jacklin. 

Leighton’s sophomore EP, 2020’s Tourist(e) was a decided change in sonic direction that found the rising American-born, French-based artist working with French musicians and producers while pairing folk-inspired songwriting with lush yet contemporary instrumentation and production. Leighton has supported both of her recorded efforts with shows in and around Paris, as well as with tours in Italy, Belgium and here in the States. 

Last year’s Fleuriste EP thematically saw Leighton focusing on the reality of life as an expatriate in Europe: being constantly torn between two different cultures and hemispheres. Sonically, the EP continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor: Leighton pairing folk-leaning songwriting with lush and modern production.

I had previously written about three of the EP’s singles last year:

In the buildup to the EP’s release, I managed to write about two of the EP’s singles:

  • Un jour la vie,” a playful and infectious invitation to dream of an escape to Italy, to drink endless Aperol Spritzes and to dance the night away without a care in the world, centered around Leighton’s coquettish vocals, a sinuous yet propulsive bass line and shimmering guitars. 
  • Flueriste,” a hook-driven pop confection that focuses on the plight of musicians unable to work because of the pandemic — but full of hopes of a bright future of live shows and all of the things we missed so much. 
  • Mona by the Seaside,” another breezy, hook-driven pop confection that tells the story of the narrator’s friend Mona inviting her for a weekend at the beach. While detailing easy-going summer days and nights with friends — both old and new — the song is centered around the bittersweet and tacit acknowledgement that nothing is forever, and that the good times need to be cherished.

The EP’s latest single, EP closing track, the slow-burning and contemplative “Je ne suis poéte” was one of the first songs that Leighton wrote in French. Throughout the song, Leighton openly discusses how difficult it is to write in another language and how paradoxically, it forces a guileless and unvarnished sort of honesty: She winds up getting straight to the point and saying things frankly in a way that she couldn’t in her native English. But at its core, it’s a sweet and playful love song about the desire to write a song in French that a Francophone lover will love.

Directed by Coraline Benetti, the accompanying visual follows Leighton to a quirky book store — the sort that you’d only see in Europe or pre-Guilliani/pre-Bloomberg New York. And while in the bookstore, she winds up going on a series of endearingly awkward dates with a handful of famous French poets — François de Malherbe, Paul Verlaine and Jacques Prévert — but nothing seems to work.

New Video: Canadian/American Duo Ritual Wave Share Sultry “My Sin”

This week is an extraordinarily busy week as I’ve been covering this year’s New Colossus Festival. So I haven’t been posting with the same regularity as I’d normally would. But I’m seeing live music and doing that valuable in-person networking one has to do to get by. And I’m having a ton of fun doing so. But as always, let’s get to the business at hand . . .

Ritual Wave is an emerging post-punk/dark wave duo featuring Toronto-based Judy Karacs and San Diego-based John Goodman. The Canadian/American duo bonded over a mutual love and appreciation for similar styles of music, which led to their collaboration together. Although they’ve been working on material since 2018, the duo’s work sonically sees them combining elements of old school post-punk with melodic dark wave undertones.

“My Sin” their second official single together as Ritual Wave features Karacs’ sultry cooing over glistening and icy synth arpeggios, a propulsive, angular bass line and subtle industrial clang and clatter. Sonically, “My Sin” — to my ears at least — recalls Cocteau Twins, Depeche Mode and the like, but fueled by a desperate, obsessive desire.

“My Sin” as the Canadian/American duo explain uses religious themes as a metaphor to express the psychological torment and destruction of a person willing to sacrifice everything in order to be loved. And as a result, the song explores the darkest sides of obsession, control and desire as is relates to romantic affairs.

“This track was really a labour of love for us. We actually wrote ‘My Sin’ very quickly, in 2018, but ended up re-working, re-recording and re-editing it ’till we finally decided it was ready,” Ritual Wave’s Judy Karacs explains in press notes. “With the lyrics and melody I really wanted to explore the subject of obsession and how that impacts the human psyche. I likened these feelings to a strong religious devotional experience. It was the idea of having such a profound faith in someone that you were willing to sacrifice everything just to hold onto what they made you believe was love. Obviously, this belief was based more on unhealthy fixation and desire instead of genuine love.”

Edited by Ritual Wave’s Judy Karacs, the accompanying visual is shot in a gorgeous and sultry black and white, and evokes the song’s central themes: lust and obsession through religious metaphors.

Founded back in 1987, the Bristol, UK-based label Sarah Records had developed a reputation for being a defiantly indie label. And during its short lifetime, the label managed to create a whole scene surrounding itself that initially featured British bands, but expanded to Arizona, California and even Sydney, Australia.

The label shut its doors in 1995 and has long eschewed re-releases and re-issues. But interestingly enough, the label’s alumni have continued to actively create gorgeous and captivating pop music: in some cases, with the original bands that recorded on the label — and in others, with new bands that featured members of the from the label’s roster.

When Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey founded Skep Wax Records last year, they were heavily influenced by the many amazing indie labels they’d work with in previous projects like K, Elefant, Fortuna Pop!, Wiiija, Matinée, WIAIWYA and others. But Sarah Records was the one they admired most: the label operated in an ethical fashion, was completely independent and better organized than most majors. When Fletcher and Pursey started to look around, they were surprised to discover how many of their labelmates were still actively creating interesting, beautiful music.

Skep Wax recently put together a compilation album titled Under The Bridge. Slated for a March 18, 2022 digital and CD release and a July 2022 vinyl release, reintroduces several of the bands — and individual band members — who released records on Sarah Records, during the label’s storied history. However, instead of being a trip down the nostalgia road, as many compilations often do, Under The Radar spotlights the new music that these bands are making right now — with much of it being exclusive to the compilation.

The album features original Sarah Records bands like Even As We Speak, Secret Shine, The Wake, The Orchids, Boyracer and St. Christopher — with relatively unchanged lineups. Under The Radar also features newer bands, which feature members of Sarah Records bands including Jetstream Pony and The Luxembourg Signal, which both features members of Aberdeen; The Catenary Wires and Tufthunter, which both feature members of Heavenly; Soundwire, which features members of The Sweetest Ache; Leaf Mosaic, which features members of Sugargliders; Sepiasound, which features members of Blueboy; and Useless Users, which features members of Action Painting; and Secret Shine.

Every track on Under The Bridge manages to continue Sarah Records’ reputation for crated pop. Some of the tracks are punk rock, some are indie pop, others are dream pop-like. Some are gentle, some are full of rage. But all of the tracks are defiantly sensitive, thoughtful, literate and fueled by DIY spirit.

The Luxembourg Signal — currently, Beth Arzy (vocals), Betsy Moyer (vocals), Johnny Joyner (guitar), Brian Espinoza (drums), Ginny Pitchford (keys), Daniel Kumiega (bass) and Kelly Davis (guitar) — features members split in LondonLos Angeles and San Diego. And with the release of 2014’s self-titled debut through Shelflife Records, the trans-national shoegaze/dream pop outfit quickly attracted a loyal following while receiving overwhelmingly breathless praise for crating material centered around ethereal vocals and lush soundscapes, paired with a pop sensibility. 

I’ve written a bit about The Luxembourg Signal over the past handful of years, and as you may recall, the band released their third album, the 10-song The Long Now was released back in 2020 through Shelflife Records and Spinout Nuggets. Although a couple of have passed since I’ve last written about them, the trans-national outfit contributes the slow-burning and gorgeous, compilation opener “Travel Through Midnight.”

Centered around a lush arrangement featuring glistening and reverb-drenched guitars, a supple bass line, gently padded drumming, and shimmering synths “Travel Through Midnight” is spacious enough for Arzy’s and Moyer’s gorgeous vocals to ethereally float over the mix. The song manages to evoke a gentle yet wintry melancholy.

 

WRD Trio is a dynamic and gritty organ trio that features three highly accomplished bandleaders and musicians:

Walter, Roberts and Deitch would often bump into each other at New Orleans Jazz Fest, and in those those meetings, the trio would longingly discuss future collaborations together. Generally fueled by Roberts’ long-held belief that the trio would yield something impactful and interesting, the Leeds-born, Denver-based guitarist realized that with the co-founding of Color Red Music, that it was a perfect time to bring everyone into the studio to put some tracks on wax.

The end result is the trio’s recently released full-length debut The Hit, which was written and recorded in just two single-day sessions at Color Red Studios. Sonically, the album is reportedly one-part Sunday stroll and one-part rocket ship to Saturn centered around their unmistakable simpatico. (Perhaps that simpatico draws from the fact that each member is a Taurus, with each member’s birthday being a week after the other.)

The Hit‘s first single “Chum City” finds the trio collaborating with The Twin CatsNick Gerlach on a funky and strutting number centered around a grinding and muscular groove reminiscent of Chuck Brown-era go-go music and Booker T and The MGs and an arrangement that’s loose enough for all of these talented musicians to deliver some impressive solos. Simply put, this one is just fucking nasty y’all.

New Video: Mackenzie Leighton Returns with a Playful Visual for “Mona by the Seaside”

Mackenzie Leighton is a rising San Diego-born, Paris-based indie folk singer/songwriter and musician. Leighton’s family moved to a small, seaside town in Maine, where she grew up and spent her formative years. Interestingly, the San Diego-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter […]

New Audio: Mackenzie Leighton Returns with a Breezy New Single

Mackenzie Leighton is a rising San Diego-born, Paris-based indie folk singer/songwriter and musician. Leighton’s family moved to a small, seaside town in Maine, where she grew up. The San Diego-born, Paris-based artist can trace much of the origins of her music career to her father taking her to classical piano lessons as a young girl. When Leighton turned 18, she attended my alma mater, New York University — and while in New York, she played in several jazz and folk inspired bands. 

Upon graduation, Leighton relocated to Paris. She landed a day job as a florist and launched a solo career with the release of 2017’s self-titled EP, a singer/songwriter folk effort that was released to praise and comparisons to Phoebe Bridgers and Julia Jacklin. Leighton’s sophomore EP, last year’s Tourist(e) was a decided change in sonic direction that found the rising American-born, French-based artist working with French musicians and producers while pairing folk-inspired songwriting with lush yet contemporary instrumentation and production. Leighton has supported both of her recorded efforts with shows in and around Paris, as well as with tours in Italy, Belgium and here in the States. 

Earlier this week, I wrote about EP track “Un jour la vie.” Centered around Leighton’s coquettish vocals, a sinuous yet propulsive bass line, thumping beats and shimmering guitars, “Un jour la vie” is a playful and infectious invitation to dream of an escape to Italy, to drink endless Aperol Spritzes and to dance the night away without a care in the world. A wondrous dream considering the last 18 months, eh? The EP’s third and latest single, EP title track “Flueriste” is a hook-driven pop confection featuring shimmering synths, a buoyant bass line and Leighton singing the song’s lyrics in a gorgeous and breezy English. The song manages to address the plight of contemporary musicians unable to work — but hoping for a bright future of live shows, and all of things we missed so very much.

New Video: Mackenzie Leighton Releases a Breezy and Escapist Pop Confection

Mackenzie Leighton is a rising San Diego-born, Paris-based indie folk singer/songwriter and musician. Leighton’s family moved to a small, seaside town in Maine, where she grew up. The San Diego-born, Paris-based artist can trace much of the origins of her music career to her father taking her to classical piano lessons as a young girl. When Leighton turned 18, she attended my alma mater, New York University — and while in New York, she played in several jazz and folk inspired bands.

Upon graduation, Leighton relocated to Paris. She landed a day job as a florist and launched a solo career with the release of 2017’s self-titled EP, a singer/songwriter folk effort that was released to praise and comparisons to Phoebe Bridgers and Julia Jacklin. Leighton’s sophomore EP, last year’s Tourist(e) was a decided change in sonic direction that found the rising American-born, French-based artist working with French musicians and producers while pairing folk-inspired songwriting with lush yet contemporary instrumentation and production. Leighton has supported both of her recorded efforts with shows in and around Paris, as well as with tours in Italy, Belgium and here in the States.

musician focusing on the reality of life as an expatriate, torn between two different cultures and hemispheres. And much like its immediate predecessor, Flueriste sonically continues in a similar vein. In the lead-up to the EP’s release, Leighton recently released the EP’s second and latest single, “Un jour la vie.” Centered around Leighton’s coquettish vocals, a sinuous yet propulsive bass line, thumping beats and shimmering guitars, “Un jour la vie” is an infectious invitation to dream of an escape to Italy, where you’d drink endless Aperol Spritzes and dance the night away without a care in the world. Considering the last 18 months, that sounds like a wonderful dream to me.

shot and edited by Celia Marie Petersen and Adrianna Lankford, the accompanying visual for “Un jour la vie” follows the adorable Leighton as she plans for an escape to Italy to drink cocktails, be fashionable, eat fantastic food and dance the days and nights away. That’s life, ain’t it?

New Video: Tape Waves Release an Intimate and Playful Visual for “Invisible Lines”

Charleston, SC-based dream pop duo Tape Waves — Kim and Jarod Weldin — have released three albums through San Diego-based label Bleeding Gold Records, which have garnered comparisons to the likes of Mazzy Star, Cocteau Twins and Best Coast while receiving glowing praise from the likes of SPIN Magazine, who once described the duo’s sound as “wistful, lens-blurred dream pop to soundtrack nostalgia daydreams and sleepy weekend afternoons.” 

The duo’s two most recent albums were also released through 2670 Records in Japan, where they toured to support 2018’s Distant Light.

The South Carolina-based act’s fourth album Bright is slated for a June 4, 2021 release through Emotional Response Records — and the album reportedly finds the duo combining their long-established sun-drenched pop with the influences of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Teenage Fanclub.

Earlier this week, the Chucktown-based duo released “Tired,” a lush and sunny track equally indebted to dream pop and shoegaze that reminded me quite a bit of Slowdive’s gorgeous 2017 self-titled album. Bright’s latest single “Invisible Lines.” centered around shimming acoustic guitar, gently oscillating feedback, padded drumming and Kim Weldin’s plaintive and ethereal vocals, “Invisible Lines” — and as a result, the track is arguably one of the album’s more contemplative yet dreamy tracks, evoking the sensation of daydreaming on a gorgeous late Spring or early Summer afternoon. (Much like today — May 13 — in New York.)

The recently released DIY video for “Invisible Lines” is an intimate yet playful look into the Weldin’s world: we follow the duo as they ride bicycles down the street, head to a local ice cream shop, play with their cat, pull out the album’s that they love and have insisted them, and of course, play the song in their home.

Charleston, SC-based dream pop duo Tape Waves — Kim and Jarod Weldin — have released three albums through San Diego-based label Bleeding Gold Records, which have garnered comparisons to the likes of Mazzy Star, Cocteau Twins and Best Coast while receiving glowing praise from the likes of SPIN Magazine, who once described the duo’s sound as “wistful, lens-blurred dream pop to soundtrack nostalgia daydreams and sleepy weekend afternoons.”

The duo’s two most recent albums were also released through 2670 Records in Japan, where they toured to support 2018’s Distant Light.

The South Carolina-based act’s fourth album Bright is slated for a June 4, 2021 release through Emotional Response Records — and the album reportedly finds the duo combining their long-established sun-drenched pop with the influences of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Teenage Fanclub.

“Tired,” Bright‘s latest single is a lush and sunny track, equally indebted to dream pop and shoegaze, centered around shimmering guitars, cavernous drumming, Kim Weldin’s ethereal vocals and rousingly anthemic hooks. Interestingly, “Tired” reminds me of Slowdive’s gorgeous 2017 self-titled album, complete with a similar sonic depth.