Tag: singer/songwriter

New Video: Art d’Ecco Releases a Stylish and Noir-ish Visual for Anthemic “Desires”

The mysterious and enigmatic British Columbia-based singer/songwriter now known as Art d’Ecco is a grizzled Vancouver music scene vet, who once played in a band with acclaimed producer and ACTORS frontman Jason Corbett; but in 2018 he emerged as a dark bobbed hair wearing, androgynous and charismatic glam rocker with the release of that year’s critically applauded, full-length debut Trespasser. 

Since the release of Trespasser, the Canadian art rocker has played a live session for Seattle’s KEXP and played more than 75 clubs and music festivals across North America. Last spring, d’Ecco opened for acclaimed UK-based psych rock act Temples right before the pandemic struck. “Trespasser was the start of a two-year ride taking me to all sorts of places I’d never been to,” the acclaimed British Columbia-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “Seeing how different cultures interact with entertainment was the genesis for In Standard Definition. A lot of this record was actually written on the road late at night in motel rooms – with the flickering light of a television in the background.”

Slated for an April 23, 2021 release through  Paper Bag Records, the Colin Stewart-produced In Standard Definition was recorded on two-inch tape with a handpicked, rotating cast of musicians that featured jazz and blues-trained horn players, Victoria Symphony Orchestra string players, soul singers and his backing band on a 50 year old console at The Hive. Sonically, the album will reportedly find the acclaimed Canadian art rocker further establishing a sound that some critics have described as neo-glam. But interestingly enough, the album’s overall sound and aesthetic pushes the boundaries of glam rock, as it draws draws from a diverse and eclectic array of influences including elements of 50s pop, psychedelia, Velvet Underground-like art rock, Grimes-inspired electronics, Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and Brian Eno among others. “I’m obsessed with tape, film, and sounds of yesteryear, so recording could only be analogue – in standard definition – the way entertainment was once created,” d’Ecco explains. “I wanted to go back in time, exist in a different era and breathe my creativity through it.”

Thematically, the album holds up a mirror to pop culture and explores our obsessions with entertainment and celebrity. “No matter where you live or what language you speak, there’s an entertainment god for you,” d’Ecco explains in press notes. “Whether on TV or writing the books you read, it’s an odd sense of purpose we allocate to these humans whose talent is in distracting us from the doldrums of daily life. We’re constantly searching for something… glued to our phones… consuming various forms of entertainment. We feel less close with each other, and closer to the strangers who make us feel good.”

So far, throughout the year I’ve written about three of In Standard Definition‘s previously released singles: 

“TV God,” a synthesis of ’77 punk, Ziggie Stardust-era Bowie and Pleasure Principle-era Gary Numan, centered around anthemic hooks, twinkling piano stabs, punchily delivered lyrics, soulful backing vocals, propulsive bass lines, a scorching guitar solo and squiggling synths. 
“Head Rush” an infectious boogie that owes a sonic debt to Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, complete with an enormous horn line and glistening synths. 
“I Am The Dance Floor,” a shimmering and strutting disco take on glam rock that may remind some of Bay City Rollers “Saturday Night,” Echoes-era The Rapture and In Ghost Colours-era Cut Copy. 

In Standard Definition’s latest single “Desires” is a jangling, densely layered, glam rock anthem centered around rousingly anthemic hooks, blasts of twinkling synth arpeggios, soulful horn blasts, an angular bass line, strummed rhythm guitar and shimmering guitar solos and punchily delivered vocals. Sonically, the song is a slick synthesis of Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie, Gary Numan and The Cars — all while being carefully crafted. “A tale born inside the dark underbelly of old Hollywood, then repackaged and reimagined as a rock and roll tragedy,” d’Ecco explains. “’Desires’ is about the entertainer at the end of their career — soon to be phased out by the next wave of rising talent, and shifting audience tastes. For the old guard, this spectre of change is a constant existential threat that will challenge their ability to keep up with the times and to remain relevant in this brutal industry of show business.”

Directed and edited by Brandon William Fletcher, the recently released video for “Desires” is a stylistically shot, noir-is black and white visual that features d’Ecco and his backing band performing the song — but underneath the stylish surface, there’s this sense of an artist fearful of being phased out by an indifferent and bored audience and industry. Certainly, as you get older in an industry that often values beauty and youth before wisdom and experience, those fears become increasingly real — and the desire to be relevant more desperate.

r

Joseph W. Salusbury is a rising Toronto-based singer/songwriter and producer, who started off his professional career with a number of songwriting and production credits include cowrites on Majid Jordan‘s “Something About You” and Illangelo‘s “Your Future’s Not Mine, and vocal production on Nelly Furtado and Blood Orange‘s “Hadron Collider.” Back in 2017, Salusbury stepped out from behind the production booth and the relative anonymity of being a go-to songwriter with his solo recording project Joseph of Mercury. That year, he released three singles “Without Words,” “Young Thing” and “Find You Inside,” which quickly established the Canadian singer/songwriter and producer’s sound — slow-burning synth pop that drew from the likes of  David BowieElvis PresleyFuture Islands and Lower Dens among others, paired with his baritone crooning.

Since the release of his debut EP Find You Inside, the Toronto-based Salusbury has been prolific, releasing a number of singles, including his latest single “Pretty Blonde Boy.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, strummed reverb-drenched guitar, a languid backbeat and Salusbury’s achingly plaintive baritone, “Pretty Blonde Boy” is a slow-burning Tears for Fears meets The Smiths-like track inspired by it’s creator’s deeply personal and devastating experience of loss. “Two of my oldest, closest and dearest fiends, both taken too young and barely years apart. If there’s a word beyond ‘brother’ than that’s what they were,” Salusbury explains. “Love wasn’t just enough to balance out all that they carried on their shoulders. Their losses were devastating, breaking me in a way that I’m not sure will ever heal. It was in such eerie succession. They were mirrors of one another, both drawn into this senseless and tragic spiral of prescription pain meds and heroin, combined with fentanyl. Often the brightest lights go out the fastest . . .

“Overwhelmed with grief, I recorded the vocal performance in between tears and clenched fists. As time passed and I gained a resigned joy and acceptance among the sadness, ‘Pretty Blonde Boy,’ began to like an open road, rolling hills… the sun rising, or maybe setting, with that warm magic hour glow and a cool breeze, driving with nowhere to be. In tribute and memorial, for those burdened with pain or crisis, this is a testament to trying to be okay again. To find beauty, appreciation and gratitude in what feels hurtful, hollowing and unfair. ” 

Live Footage: S.G. Goodman Performs “Space and Time” at FAME Studios with Spooner Oldham

Murray, KY-based singer/songwriter and guitarist S.G. Goodman was born and raised in a strict, church-going family of row crop farmers, near the Mississippi River. Goodman went from singing and playing in her local church three times a week to becoming a prominent member of her hometown’s art and music scene, as well as an impassioned voice and presence in the various sociopolitical movements she supports.

Goodman’s Jim James-produced full-length debut Old Time Feeling was released through Verve Forecast Records last year. Recorded at Louisville, KY-based La La Land Studio, because it featured three of Goodman’s favorite things — “a creek, a big porch and a kitchen” — the Old Time Feeling sessions were imbued with a down home, familial and community touch: in between the recording sessions, Goodman cooked meals for the studio staff and her backing band, which features her lifelong friends Matthew David Rowan (guitar) and S. Knox Montgomery (drums.) 

The album is a brutally honest and loving look at the complexities of rural Southern life that debunks rural stereotypes while drawing from Goodman’s personal experiences as an openly gay woman with OCD in a deeply religious and close-knit community. Thematically, the album touches upon things like estrangement and reconciliation, and living your family and community despite the fact that you may completely disagree with them on political and social issues.

I’m going to tell you a bit of an unsurprising secret: I often get advanced streams of artist’s albums and songs. Goodman’s publicist sent me an advanced stream of Old Time Feeling before her first New York area show, and I was immediately enthralled by album single “Space and Time,” a gorgeous track full of heartbreaking yearning that reminded me quite a bit of Patsy Cline. And I absolutely adore Patsy Cline. (I once bonded with an ex girlfriend’s mother because of my love of Patsy. Seriously y’all.)

The JOVM mainstay recently released a live performance video of “Space and Time” featuring legendary session player and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Spooner Oldham (keys) filmed at the legendary FAME Recording Studio, a studio famously known for hosting the recording sessions for artists like Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding. Featuring a stripped down to the bone arrangement of Goodman’s aching vocal and Oldham’s shimmering keys, the FAME Studio session makes the song feel like an old church hymn while pulling the heartache and longing at the center of the song, devastatingly closer.

“The highlight of getting to play one of my songs with a living legend came at the end of the night,” the JOVM mainstay says of her time at FAME Recording Studio. “The boys and I were about to make the trek back to Kentucky from Alabama, and Spooner stopped me to give me his number in case I had any trouble on the road. That told me everything I needed to know about him. ‘Call ol’ Spooner’ the note said.”

New Video: Robert Finley’s Strutting and Soulful “Country Boy”

67 year-old, Winnsboro, LA-born, Bernice, LA-based singer/songwriter Robert Finley was born into a family of sharecroppers, and was one of eight children. As a child, a young Finley was unable to regularly attend school and often worked with his family in the cotton fields. When he was a teenager, he attended a segregated school, but dropped out in the 10th grade to help financially support his family and himself.

Finley is an army veteran and was a skilled carpenter, who has lived a full, complicated and often messy life: he’s survived house fires, a bad auto accident and a divorce. Sadly, Finley lost his sight in his 60s as a result of glaucoma, and although he was forced to retire, the Winnsboro-born, Bernice-based singer/songwriter realized that he had an opportunity to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a musician. Finley believes that his sight was improved by the power of prayer and his faith has also helped him focus on launching a music career in his 60s. According to Finley “losing my sight, gave me the perspective to see my true identity.”

Robert Finley’s rise has been rapid: As the story goes, Dan Auerbach immediately saw Finley’s potential, quickly proclaiming that the Louisiana-born and-based artist is “the greatest living soul singer.” He walked in like he was straight out of the swamp.” Auerbach recalls in press notes, adding, “He had leather pants, snakeskin boots, a big Country & Western belt buckle, a leather cowboy hat and a three-quarter-length leather duster. The final touch was the folding cane the legally blind Finley wore on his hip, in a holster. Basically, he was dressed for national television.” 

Auerbach went on to produce Finley’s 2017 breakthrough sophomore album Goin’ Platinum, an album released to widespread critical acclaim from the likes of the Associated Press, who praised Finley’s ability to lend “instant credibility to any song” and The Observer, who wrote “Finley’s versatile voice ranges from prime Motown holler to heartbroken falsetto croon.” The Louisiana-born and-based singer/songwriter went on to support the album with tours of 10 countries — with his live show drawing praise from a number of publications, including The New York Times and several others. Finley was also profiled on PBS NewsHour, which led him to becoming a contestant on the 2019 season of America’s Got Talent, eventually reaching the semi-finals.

Finley’s third album Sharecropper’s Son is slated for a May 21, 2021 release through Easy Eye Sound. The album, continues the Louisiana-born and-based singer/songwriter’s successful collaboration with Auerbach and features songwriting from Finley, Auerbach, Bobby Wood and Pat McLaughlin and an an All-Star backing band that includes Auerbach (guitar); Kenny Brown (guitar), a member of R.L Burnside’s backing band; studio legends Russ Pahl (pedal steel) and Louisiana-born, Nashville-based Billy Sanford (guitar); Bobby Wood (keys and as previously mentioned songwriting); Gene Chrisman (drums), who’s a Memphis and Nashville music legend; as well as contributions The Dap Kings’ Nick Movshon (bass), Eric Deaton (guitar); Dave Roe (bass), who was member of Johnny Cash’s backing band; Sam Bacco (percussion) and a full horn section.

Sharecropper’s Son may arguably be the most personal album of Finley’s growing catalog, drawing directly from his life and experience. “I was ready to tell my story, and Dan and his guys knew me so well by then that they knew it almost like I do, so they had my back all the way,” Finley says in press notes. “Working in the cotton fields wasn’t a pleasant place to be, but it was part of my life. I went from the cotton fields to Beverly Hills. We stayed in the neighborhood most of our childhood. It wasn’t really all that safe to be out by yourself. One of the things I love about music is that, when I was a boy growing up in the South, nobody wanted to hear what I had to say or what I thought about anything. But when I started putting it in songs, people listened.”

The album’s latest single “Country Boy” is a swampy and funky bit of country soul, centered around a tight, strutting groove, bluesy guitar licks, shimmering organ and Finley’s soulful and creaky falsetto. The song’s autobiographical lyrics were improvised on the spot with the tape rolling and the band setting up the song’s sultry groove. “When we play live, I always leave room in the show for lyrics I make up on the spot while the band hits a groove,” Finley explains. “I guess the younger generation calls it free-styling, but for me, it’s just speaking from my mind, straight from my soul.” While the lyrics hit upon classic blues fare such as heartbreak, loneliness, being broke, being a stranger far away from home and so on, the song is informed by lived-in personal experience: Finely has been that poor, country boy, moving far from home and busting his ass to make a better life for himself — to be broke, lonely and desperate, and longing for his beloved home. For me, the end result is a song that aims to be timeless in its sound, feel and themes and manages to hit every single mark with a heartfelt sincerity.

Directed by Tim Hardman, the recently released video for “Country Boy” was filmed in Finely’s birthplace of WInnsboro, where his family worked and lived as sharecroppers in the Jim Crow era South. While featuring an incredibly dapper and badass Finley strutting and dancing to the song and playing in a small, divey blues joint, the visual is also a gorgeously shot slice of daily life in America’s small towns.

20-something Aledo, TX-born, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Sloan Struble is the creative mastermind behind the rapidly rising, critically applauded indie rock/indie pop project Dayglow. The project can trace its origins to Struble’s teenaged years, growing up in a Fort Worth suburb that he has referred to as a “small football-crazed town,” where he felt irrevocably out of place. Aesthetically and thematically, the project finds Struble crafting material centered around a hard fought, hard won optimism.

Much like countless other hopelessly out of place young people across the globe, Struble turned to music as an escape from his surroundings. “I didn’t really feel connected to what everyone else in my school was into, so making music became an obsession for me, and sort of like therapy in a way,” Struble said in press notes. “I’d dream about it all day in class, and then come home and for on songs instead of doing homework. After a while I realized I’d made an album.”

Working completely on his own with a minuscule collection of gear that included his guitar, his computer and some secondhand keyboards he picked up at Goodwill, Struble worked on transforming his privately kept outpouring into a batch of songs — often grandiose in scale. “Usually artists will have demos they’ll bounce off other people to get some feedback, but nobody except for my parents down the hall really heard much of the album until I put it out,” Struble recalled. With the self-release of 2018’s Fuzzybrain, the Aledo-born, Austin-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer received widespread attention and an ardent online following — with countess listeners praising the material’s overwhelming positivity. 

In 2019, Struble re-released a fully realized version of Fuzzybrain that featured Can I Call You Tonight,” a track that wound up being a smash-hit lat year, as well as two previously unreleased singles “Nicknames” and “Listerine.” With the two new singles, the album further establishes Struble’s reputation for illuminating emotional pain in a way that not only deeply resonates with listeners but while managing to make that emotional pain feel lighter. 

Struble kicked off 2021 with the infectious and sugary pop confection “Close to You,” a track indebted to 80s synth-led soul — in particular Patti Labelle and Michael McDonald‘s “On My Own” Cherelle’s and Alexander and O’Neal‘s “Saturday Love” and other duets, but imbued with an aching melancholy and uncertainty. He then made his national late night TV debut on Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he, along with his backing band, played “Can I Call You Tonight.

Continuing upon that momentum, Struble’s highly-anticipated Dayglow sophomore album Harmony House is slated for a May 21, 2021 release through his own Very Nice Records and AWAL. He’d been writing new material after the release of Fuzzybrain and at the time, he found himself drawn to piano-driven soft rock from the late ’70s and early ’80s. Simultaneously, he was also watching a lot of Cheers at the time. “At the very beginning, I was writing a soundtrack to a sitcom that doesn’t exist,” Struble recalls. And while actively attempting to generate nostalgia for something that hadn’t ever been real — as well as something most of his listeners had never really experienced — the album’s material thematically is about growing up and coping with change as an inevitable part of life.

“Woah Man,” Harmony House‘s third and latest single is a carefully crafted, slow-burning ballad. Featuring an airy, soft rock-inspired arrangement of strummed acoustic guitar, electric guitar and atmospheric synths, “Woah Man” is centered around lyrics informed by personal experience and newly acquired wisdom — and Struble’s unerring knack for writing an incredibly memorable hook. Interestingly, the song reveals a young artist, who is readily accepting that the only certain thing in life is change and that moving forward often means letting go and experiencing the ride for better or worse.

“’Woah Man’ is one of my favorite songs I’ve written so far. I initially wrote it for a friend who was going through a hard time, but then later realized that I was really writing about myself,” Struble explains in press notes. “In the middle of so much change, growth, and responsibility, I found myself feeling a lot of pressure. After months of feeling like I had the world on my shoulders and that I was growing up too fast, I realized that in order to grow, you have to move on sometimes. You have to let some things go. And for me, what I needed to let go of was the feeling of being in control of everything. I had to let go of holding on (very meta, I know). I just remember finishing the song and feeling so much relief and clarity about who I am becoming. The song has continued to help me through so many different stages of growth in my life— I hope it does the same for you.”

Live Footage: MAGON Performs “Shackles of the Wretched” at Basement

With the release of Out in the Dark, the Israeli-born, Paris-based singer/songwriter and guitarist  MAGON established a sound that he described as “urban rock on psychedelics,” which to my ears seemed indebted to David Bowie and T. Rex. 

The Israeli-born, Paris-based JOVM mainstay released his critically applauded sophomore album Hour After Hour through December Square/Differ-Ant Records late last year. Featuring tracks like  Change,” a dreamy meditation on the passing of time, “Aerodynamic,” a decidedly glam rock-inspired take on psych rock and the No Wave meets post-punk like album title track “Hour After Hour,” MAGON’s sophomore album is a decided change in sonic direction: sonically, the album as the rising singer/songwriter and guitarist says is “somewhere between Ty Segall, Allah-Las and The Velvet Underground.”

Earlier this year, the rising JOVM mainstay played a live set for Groover Obsessions‘ Les Capsules sessions at La Marbrerie. Building upon the attention that live session received, MAGON filmed another live session at The Basement, featuring material from Hour After Hour. The first video sees the Israeli-born, Paris-based JOVM mainstay and his backing band playing the Jim Carroll Band-like “Shackles of the Wretched” with an insouciant and swaggering co

New Video: Willy Mason Releases a “120 Minutes”-like Power Chord Anthem Paired with Mischievous and Lo-Fi Visuals

Willy Mason is a White Plains-born, West Tilbury, MA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has released three full-length albums — 2004’s Where The Humans Eat, 2007’s If The Ocean Gets Rough and 2012’s Carry On.

Slated for an August 6, 2021 release through Cooking Vinyl, Already Dead is the White Plains-born, West Wilbury-based singer/songwriter’s fourth album — and the first batch of full-length material from Mason in over nine years. Thematically, the album reportedly explores honesty, deception, anonymity in the digital age, good intentions with unexpected consequences, freedom, colonialism, love, God and purpose. “Already Dead is a spiritual state to aspire to; it is freedom from the trappings and inhibitions of one’s ego, culture, and mythology. It is freedom and love and freedom to love in the face of death,” Mason explains. “It’s about the necessary destruction of one’s mythology; mythology of species, sex, race, nation, self. It’s about the pain and tragedy that comes with such destruction, but also about the freedom, possibility and opportunity for reconciliation; reconciliation with the natural world and with each other.”

Reportedly one of the harder songs in his growing catalog, Already Dead’s latest single “Youth On A Spit” is a 120 Minutes MTV-era alt rock-like anthem centered around scuzzy power chords, propulsive drumming, and Mason’s ironically delivered lyrics, which are both a bold declaration of insouciance and invincibility and an incisive commentary on post-modern life. And because of its relatable yet rousingly anthemic hook, the song may remind some listeners of 90s era Beck.

“‘Youth On A Spit’ is about the struggle for freedom and identity that comes from growing up in an advertising based culture. The refrain ‘you can’t kill me I’m already dead’ is about the liberation that comes with disillusionment,” Mason explains.

Director by Noel Heroux is a lo-fi and lysergic romp that’s partially a journey through boring suburbia and a partially a journey through hell, competed with Mason being practically in the hellfire.

John Andrew Stallings is a McKinley, TX-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, and the creative mastermind being the emerging solo indie dream pop recording project Juno Uno. Much like countless other singer/songwriters across the globe, Stallings began songwriting exploring sounds and song structures with an acoustic guitar but he quickly expanded upon his sonic palette when he learned other instruments, eventually finding his voice with electric guitar and various synths.

During a brief relocation to Austin, Stallings began to further explore his expanded sonic palette and began prolifically writing material. He started a few musical projects under various names and identities, but then decided to leave Austin to travel across the country. Inspired by a newfound spiritual growth and mysticism, Stallings returned home to McKinley, where he built studio and committed his time to writing and recording material inspired by Tame Impala, Toro Y Moi, 1980’s synth pop with his latest solo recording project Juno Uno.

Stallings’ Juno Uno debut, “Sides” is a dreamy single centered around a sinuous bass line, atmospheric synths, squiggling guitars, Stalling’s plaintive falsetto and a shimmering guitar solo, that may remind listeners of Tame Impala and Washed Out. As Stallings explains in press notes, the song “is about a shift in perspective. It is about how the world is changing and it is up to each individual to interpret what that change means.” Stallings adds that “‘Sides’ came out of a time spent living in an apartment with rappers and electronic music producers. Their influence pushed me in a direction I was uncomfortable with at first, but eventually led to an expansion in my sonic development. This experience taught me how to trust the flow of the universe, as well as may own confidence in the creative process.”

Throwback: Happy 52nd Birthday, Mariah Carey!

The first two weeks of Spring and of the astrological sign Aries is rather auspicious for music — Aretha Frarnkin, Diana Ross, Elton John, Damon Albarn, Lee “Scratch” Perry are all among an incredibly talented and legendary array of artists who were born between March 21-March, 31. Of course, we can’t forget Mariah Carey, who turns 52 today.

Carey is the voice of a ridiculous amount of smash hit songs — many which I know deep in your soul you love, and will happily sing along to in the shower or while doing karaoke. Personally, I’ve always adored her cover of The Jackson 5’s “I’ll be There.” So, to that end, Happy birthday, Mariah. May there be many, many more!