Tag: singer/songwriter

Rayvon Owen is a Richmond, VA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, who can trace the origins of his musical career to when he was a child; in fact, at a very young age, Owen sang in church choirs, toured with gospel musicians and performed in local musicals. Influenced byLionel Richie, (who has become Owen’s mentor) John Legend, Katy Perry, and Stevie Wonder, Owen has developed a reputation for being a introspective songwriter with an expressive and easy-going soulful vocal style. After studying at Belmont University. the Richmond, VA-born singer/songwriter spent time in Nashville, TN, where he spent his time writing and and performing with local musicians at a number of local events and showcase before relocating to Southern California, where he eventually wrote and recorded his debut EP  Cycles which featured his standout hit “Sweatshirt.”

However, Owen found national attention when he appeared on American Idols 14th season in which he was a “Twitter Save” champion and Top 4 finalist. And although, it’s been a while since I’ve personally written about him, his single “Can’t Fight It,” which was released on Valentine’s Day, featured visuals in which the singer/songwriter publicly came out as gay. As Owen say in press notes, “I was working on “Can’t Fight It”, and one of my close friends passed away. He was struggling with who he was and what he wanted to do, and never really accepted himself. And I really was thinking like- what legacy will I leave- is it going to be my authentic self?”

Interestingly, “Gold,” Owen’s latest single continues in a similar vein, as it’s a shimmering and anthemic club banger with a swooning and anthemic hook that captures the giddy sensation of finally finding the love you’ve been seeking for so long while simultaneously being a contented, celebratory “hell yes! this right here!”  As Owen told Billboard, “I wrote the song with my buddy Nate Merchant, who I worked with on “Can’t Fight It.” That day, we were feeling good. There was a good energy in the room. Whenever I write, it’s a stamp in time that captures the emotion of what I’m feeling that day. We were talking about coming out to L.A. and being out in the industry and how stressful that can be. He was kind of diggin’ someone, I had just started dating my boyfriend and exploring being a gay man — I’ve never felt that emotion before, being with someone like that. I’m getting chills right now just thinking about it. It’s been a long time coming for me to feel that. I know there’s so many other people who don’t get to feel that, but I’m hoping that they do when they come to terms with who they are.

So that fueled us, and I just wanted to say, “Hey, you got me feeling good as gold.” What better feeling do you have? Falling in love is such a beautiful thing. I love singing about love in general — the good and the bad — I write sad songs too, which will be on the future project too. You’ll kind of see the whole gamut. But in that moment, we were feeling good and thankful.”

New Audio: Meshell Ndegeocello Releases a Folksy Cover of Force MD’s “Tender Love”

Born Michelle Lynn Johnson to US Army Sergeant Major Jacques Johnson, a saxophonist and Helen Johnson, a health care work, the Berlin, Germany-born, American-based singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello was raised in Washington, DC where she attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Oxon Hill High School. When she turned 17, she adopted the name Meshell Ndegeocello, with the surname, as she has explained meaning “free like a bird in Swahili.”

In the late 80s, Ndedgeocello gigged around DC’s go-go circuit, playing with bands like Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essence before unsuccessfully trying out for Living Colour’s bassist spot, after Muzz Skillings left the band. Deciding to go solo, Ndegeocello, has the distinction of being Madonna’s Maverick Records first signings and while achieving a fair amount of commercial success. Her collaborative cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night,” with John Mellencamp peaked at #3 on the Billboard Charts in 1994 and “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” peaked at #73 later that year. Adding to a rapidly rising profile, she collaborated with the legendary Herbie Hancock on a track for Red Hot Organization’s AIDS awareness, tribute compilation Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, which was named Time Magazine’s “Album of the Year.”  Her cover of Bill Withers’ “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)” was a #1 Dance Hit in 1996 and was briefly featured in the major motion picture Jerry Maguire, and she landed Dance Top 20 hits with “Earth,” “Leviticus: Faggot,” and “Stay.” Along with that she collaborated with Madonna, playing bass on “I’d Rather Be Your Lover,” and contributing a verse at the last minute, after Tupac Shakur had criminal charges filed against him. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with Chaka Khan, rapping “Never Miss the Water,” a single that landed #1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Charts and peaked at #36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with the likes of Basement Jaxx, Indigo Girls, Scritti Politti, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morrissette and Zap Mama.
Ndeogecello has also had her music featured in the soundtracks of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Lost & Delirious, Batman & Robin, Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Talk to Me, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, The Best Man, Higher Learning, Down in the Delta, The Hurricane, Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom and Soul Men.

Interestingly, Ndegeocello has managed the rare feat of achieving commercial success while arguably being one of the most uncompromisingly, iconoclastic and unique artists of the past 25 years — and she’s been credited as being at the forefront of the neo-soul movement, thanks in part to a genre defying and difficult to pigeonhole sound that draws from hip-hop, classic soul, rock, reggae, jazz and singer/songwriter pop. Adding to that iconoclastic nature, Ndegeocello has written and composed a musical influenced by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, titled Can I Get a Witness?: The Gospel of James Baldwin and she released a gorgeous tribute album to Nina Simone, which featured collaborations with JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnuTT and others.

The renowned bassist, singer/songwriter and rapper’s latest album Ventriloquism is slated for a March 16, 2018 release and the album will feature covers of songs by TLC, Janet Jackson, Tina Tuner, Prince and others, all of which have been influential to Ndeogeocello’s work — but with a unique take. The album’s first single, her cover of Force MD’s smash hit “Tender Love,” finds Ndegeocello turning the slow-burning 80s piano ballad classic into a folksy, Harvest-era Neil Young/Fleetwood Mac track, complete with shuffling drumming, twinkling Fender Rhodes and harmonica. In my mind, what makes Ndegeocello’s cover truly fascinating is that she manages to completely eschew the 80s pop ballad cheesiness of the song, which makes it endearing 30 years after its release but without doing away with the song’s earnestness — while pointing out that the song manages to possess something that listeners far removed from the song’s initial release can grasp and connect to on a very visceral level. That’s what separates the great, timeless songs from the countless songs that will be forgotten 6 months or more after they’ve been released.  And on another level, the song will continue the renowned and iconoclastic Ndegeocello’s commentary on society’s narrow expectations of what black music should sound and be like.

New Audio: Jay Som Releases Previously Unreleased Single from Her Critically Applauded Debut

Melina Duterte is an Oakland, CA-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, whose solo recording project Jay Som received national and international attention last year from the likes of NPR Music, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Stereogum, Paste, Consequence of Sound, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Spin, Newsweek, Exclaim!, Under the Radar and a number of others elsewhere.

Building upon a growing profile, Duterte, recently announced the release of two previously unreleased songs that were recorded during the Everybody Works sessions as a 7 inch single titled “Pirouette”/”OK Meet Me Underwater,” that will be officially released both on vinyl and digitally on January 26, 2018 through Polyvinyl Records. Both of these tracks were made during the spring of 2016 – the first demo stages  for Everybody Works. They were fun to write and record but felt out of place on the track list during the finalization of the album. These tracks remain close to my heart and I’m really grateful they’re finally out in the world,” Duterte explains press notes about her soon-to-be released 7 inch single. And as you’ll hear on A side single “Pirouette,” Duterte specializes in a jangling, hook driven, 90s alt rock inspired sound, reminiscent of The Breeders but with an incredibly bold yet breezy self-assuredness.  

New Video: Up-and-Coming Swiss-born, New York-based Singer/Songwriter Sam Himself Releases Gorgeously Bittersweet Visuals for New Single “Out of Love”

With the release of a genre-defying EP Songs in D last year, the Swiss-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sam Himself received attention for pairing his Americana-inspired guitar-based torch songs with his bluesy, whiskey and cigarettes tinged vocals. His latest single “Out of Love” featuring renowned, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter denitia (of denetia and sene) is the sort of slow-burning and old-fashioned inspired duet that immediately brings to mind Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash — in particular, I’m reminded of their gorgeous rendition of “If I Were a Carpenter;” however, the major difference is that the song as the Swiss-born, New York-based singer/songwriter explains “is a desperate promise to keep a lover from leaving.” And in some way, the song possesses a bitter recognition that those desperate promises may not amount to much when the relationship is sputtering to what seems to be an inevitable and heartbreaking conclusion.

Shot by Johnathan Frey at Berlin NYC and the Ace Hotel as part of its Artist in Residence Program, the video features both Sam Himself and performance artist Ashley Robicheaux. And as the Swiss-born, NYC-based singer/songwriter and guitarist explains, “in the clip, the two lovers never interact, though they’re both making the same plea to one another. They’ve passed that breaking point where your words can no longer reach the one you love.” 

New Video: The Eerily Psychedelic Visuals for Lowpines’ “We Come Right”

Oli Deakin is a London-based singer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist, who has received airplay from a number of BBC DJs, including Huw Stephens, Lauren Laverne and Steve Lamacq, as well press attention for his mostly solo recording project Lowpines. Initially begun through a series of lo-fi phone records, which were then overdubbed with multiple layers of reverb soaked instrumentation, Deakin eventually released several EPs and a full-length cassette over the past few years.

In Silver Halides, Deakin’s official full-length debut was written in rural England during the winter and recording began the following spring in a greenhouse, during an unseasoned heatwave. Understandably, the heat and sunlight created some intense recording sessions that were frequently interrupted by either the artist or the equipment overheating, which gave songs written with wintry imagery a new and very different direction. Opting to record with doors and windows throw open, much of the early demo recordings are filled with the ambient noises of the surrounding countryside, which managed to echo through the layers of reverb soaked instrumentation. Additional recording sessions were produced by IggyB at Bella Union Studios and featured Oli Deakin’s brother Jamie (drums) and Jesse Chandler (flute).

The album’s slow-burning and haunting first single “We Come Right” pairs Deakin’s plaintive and aching vocals with shimmering guitars, cinematic strings and subtle echoes of distant vocals and ambient sounds — and in some way, the song evokes the accumulation of lingering and inescapable ghosts.

Directed by Rupert Creswell, the recently released video for “We Come Right” features a variety of liquids gently undulating to the accompanying music, which further emphasizes the video’s haunting ambiance. 

Rosie Carney is an up-and-coming, 20 year-old, Hampshire, UK-born, Downings, County Donegal, Ireland-based singer/songwriter, who has started to receive international attention for pairing mature beyond her years songwriting with vivid lyricism paired with minimalist arrangements and her effortlessly gorgeous vocals. Recently, the British-born, Irish-based singer/songwriter released a hauntingly spectral cover of Cigarettes After Sex‘s “K,” which features gently strummed guitar, swirling feedback and Carney’s gorgeous vocals singing an equally gorgeous melody — and although her cover is a bit more straightforward, sonically it bears a resemblance to Mazzy Star and Widowspeak.

As Carney explains of her decision to cover “K,” “I wanted to record a song that was released by one of my favorite artists this year. I chose ‘K’ by Cigarettes After Sex because, firstly I’m a huge fan of this band and their music and aesthetic, and secondly because this song definitely resonated with me the most from their new record. It’s such an honest song and I just love the message it carries. I love how relaxing and transcending the melody is. It’s one of those songs that I wish were mine.”

 

 

Comprised of Dana Janssen, a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, best known as a member of renowned indie act Akron/Family, and long-time collaborator Justin Miller, Dana Buoy is a decided change of sonic direction for those familiar with Janssen’s work with Akron Family. In fact, Dana Buoy finds the duo of Janssen and Miller focusing on sweaty, late night, dance floor-friendly, analog synth-based, pop that is frequently equal parts lysergic and sensual, as you’ll hear on the duo’s exuberant yet deeply introspective and shimmering, Neon Indian meets Cut Copy and Painted Palms-like new single “Ice Glitter Gold,” off the duo’s forthcoming album of the same name, slated for a February 23, 2018 through Everloving Records.

 

 
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Live Footage: Alice Phoebe Lou Performing the Oscar-Shortlisted Song “She” in Berlin

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.”

Live Footage: Warhaus at Music Apartment

Maarten Devoldere is  Belgian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has received national and international attention for both his primary gig fronting Balthazar and his side project Warhaus. And if you had been frequenting this site over the course of 2017, you may recall that Devoldere’s side project has managed to further cement his growing reputation for deftly crafting urbane and hyper-literate and decadent art rock with an accessible, pop-leaning sensibility in a way that’s reminiscent The Church, Sting’s The Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, Edith Piaf, Leonard Cohen and the poetry of William Blake. In fact, unsurprisingly, Warhaus’ debut We Fucked a Flame Into Being derives its title from a line in DH Lawrence’s seminal, erotic novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover — and naturally, the material on Warhaus’ debut thematically focused on lust, desire, the inscrutability of random encounters,  bittersweet and aching regret with a deeply personal, confessional nature of someone baring the sinew and fiber of their soul as you would have heard on an album track like the slow-burning and soulfully sensual “Machinery.”

Interestingly, the material on Warhaus’ self-titled, sophomore effort reportedly found Devoldere’s work at points giving way from decadence, lust and sin towards sincere, honest, hard-fought and harder-won love, with songs partially inspired by Delvodere’s relationship with backing vocalist Sylvie Kreusch. “We’ve very different people,” says Devoldere. “She’s this natural force which I don’t understand at all and I’m the guy who thinks everything through. It’s an interesting combination.”  Reportedly, the recording sessions for the self-titled album was a much more spontaneous affair, heavily influenced by Dr. John‘s legendary The Night Tripper period, as you’ll hear hints at voodoo rhythms and hints at jazz — and although his touring band, aren’t technically known for being jazz musicians, as Devoldere says of his band, “they’re good at faking jazz.” And as you may recall, album singles “Love’s A Stranger,” and “Mad World” are slow-burning, ruminative songs with a late night, boozy vibe — after all, “Love’s a Stranger” focuses on love’s fleeting and impermanent nature while “Mad World”  focuses on unfulfilled lust and desire but within an angst-filled world that’s gone mad. And while focusing on different things, the songs seem to focus on our own desperate escape from loneliness in a bitterly cruel, uncaring universe. 

I recently came across some live footage of Warhaus performing a set featuring material off both of their albums live in an intimate and gorgeously shot showcase for Music Apartment back in 2016. Simply put, more people should know about this act.