Tag: singer/songwriter

New Video: Sophie Jamieson Shares Hauntingly Gorgeous “Boundary”

Rising British singer/songwriter Sophie Jamieson released two EPs back in 2020 that caught the attention of Bella Union Records, who signed Jamieson — and then released her Steph Marziano-produced full-length debut Choosing today.

Choosing is a subtle rework of the sound that Jamieson quickly established through her first two EPs: While those EPs flirted with playful experimentation, Choosing‘s sound is simultaneously more organic, simpler and intimate, centered around arrangements of live drums, bass, cello and piano, which are roomy enough for Jamieson’s mesmerizing vocals to take the spotlight.

Jamieson has described the songs on her first two EPs as “black holes,” and while Choosing manages to cover similar ground, it never takes its eyes from what lies beyond, never fully releases its grip when its telling her to let go. The album is deeply personal documentation of a journey from the painful rock bottom of self-destruction to a safer place, and imbued with a faint light of hope. Focusing on the bare bones of each song, the album’s material is influenced by songwriters like Elena TonraSharon Van Etten and Scott Hutchinson, and sees Jamieson singing openly about longing and searching, of trying, failing and trying again, and the strength of love in its varying forms. 

“The title of this album is so important,” Sophie explains. “Without it, this might sound like another record about self-destruction and pain, but at heart, it’s about hope, and finding strength. It’s about finding the light at the end of the tunnel, and crawling towards it.” 

Ultimately, the album asks the listener to look deep within themselves and to show them that they can take whatever pain they’re experiencing, and choose, to some extent, how they let it affect them; whether they let it burn them down or whether they choose to look it straight in the face. “The songs are bursting with something, and that energy just needs to be reshaped into love for the self,” Sophie explains. “I can say this from a place of having learned now how to love and care for myself. The love that reverberates through this album is like the green shoots of something I have happily learned to nurture into my present day.” 

“The few times I have listened to this album from start to finish, I have realized that there is a huge amount of love in it,” Jamieson says “I think there is a strong potential for real, healthy, healing love. It’s like a line of relief that runs along through all the songs. It’s never unleashed, it hasn’t yet learned how, but it’s present in an underlying tension and potential.” 

Earlier this year, I wrote about Choosing‘s devastating first single “Sink.” Centered around a sparse arrangement of twinkling and wobbling keys that seem simultaneously childlike and ironically detached, skittering boom bap-like drumming, “Sink” is roomy enough for Jamieson’s weary and heartbroken delivery to take the lead. The song is an unflinchingly honest look at someone on the edge — and not quite know what’s next. “Sink” was written as a love letter to alcohol amid an increasing dependence upon it, informed by a recurring image Sophie had of herself on a desert island, a quiet, calm place that was just too good to be true. “’Sink’ presents a purgatory between being able to choose and begging not to be pulled under,” Sophie explains. “It’s about teetering on the edge, looking over the cliff, asking not to be pulled over before realising you only have to choose not to jump.” 

The album’s latest single “Boundary” is a slow-burning, meditative and sparsely arranged track centered around strummed guitar, and subtle bursts of keys before paired with Jamieson’s gorgeous, achingly yearning vocal. The first time I heard this one, I stopped dead in my tracks, stopped everything and got lost in her

“This song comes from a kinder place than some of the others on this record. It steps back and acknowledges self-inflicted pain and the repeated effort to heal,” Jamieson says. “It’s about trying and failing, knowing there is something you’re trying to grasp but that keeps slipping out of your reach. The journey isn’t smooth or pretty but it’s hopeful, and the light starts to creep in once you choose to be honest with yourself.

Directed, edited and shot by Jamieson, the accompanying video captures both the endless passage of time and of change. “I filmed this video over 4 months, between February and May 2022 in my garden, on my cycle journey to work through South East London and several stops along that journey,” Jamieson says. “It started with an interest in how things change, the idea that nothing ever lasts and the healing effect of time – and ended up being a joyous documentation of spring unfolding. The process of making this video has been incredibly healing, and an act of choice in itself – to stop and look up, to find beauty and become intimate with how time moves nature. I noticed details as though I’d never seen them in my life, things I’d always struggled to see from the pit of self-destruction.”

Los Angeles-born and-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, poet, essayist, visual artist, Dum Dum Records founder and head, and JOVM mainstay Taleen Kali (she/they) has made a career out of crafting romantic punk songs with a cosmic sound that features elements of shoegaze, psychedelia, and grunge that’s simultaneously dreamy and defiant. Kali has also been influenced by melodies and imagery from her Armenian heritage and her parents’ birthplaces of Lebanon and Ethiopia, managing to fuse her cultural heritage and identity with the sounds of the modern countercultures she grew up embracing and eventually exploring as a musician. 

Her poetry, essays and visual art have appeared in digital and internationally recognized publications including The OnionSpin MagazineRazorcakeLos Angeleno, and The Bushwick Review.

Kali’s music career started in earnest with a stint in Los Angeles-based band TÜLIPS. After TÜLIPS closed up shop in 2016, she stepped out into the limelight as a solo artist, eventually touring across the US with Ex Hex, Alice Bag and Seth Bogart

Her solo debut, 2018’s Kristin Kontrol-produced Soul Songs EP was recorded at Hollywood-based Sunset Sound Studios and was mixed by Machine’s Brad Laner. The EP, which found Kali’s riot grrl ethos maturing into a polished multifaceted punk sound with elements of noise pop and New Wave, was released to praise from BUST Magazine and Stereogum, who likened her sound to a contemporary BlondieSoul Songs was also included in Pitchfork‘s Guide to Summer Albums and LA Weekly‘s Best Indie Punk Albums. 

Kali and her backing band followed up with an unplugged version of the EP and covers of The Supremes‘ “Baby Love” and Garbage‘s “#1 Crush.” She also recorded a two-song pandemic project called Changing with her TÜLIPS-era producer Greg Katz.

Taleen Kali’s Jeff Schroeder and Josiah Mazzaschi-co-produced full-length debut Flower of Life is slated for a March 3, 2023 release through Kali’s Dum Dum Records. Sonically, the album reportedly sees the rising Los Angeles further cementing her fuzzy and noisy take on psych punk paired with vocals that run the range of femme punk and shoegaze siren. 

Over the course of this year, I’ve managed to write about two of the album’s released singles:

  • Album title track “Flower of Life,” a grungy psych punk ripper centered around fuzzy power chords, thunderous drumming, soaring organ chords and Kali’s sneering delivery paired with mosh pit friendly hooks and choruses that sonically was a bit of a synthesis of My Bloody Valentine and riot grrl punk. “‘Flower of Life’ was a spiritual concept I held onto for a long time before writing this song,” Kali explains in press notes. “The flower is a fractal, a cycle, ever blooming, ever decaying. 
  • Trash Talk“, a jangling Brit Pop-inspired anthem centered around a chugging motorik-like groove, fuzzy power chords, Kali’s unerring knack for rousingly anthemic hooks and a sneering “fuck off” attitude towards haters, trolls and toxic bullshit that almost anyone can relate to. “‘Trash Talk’ is a track that speaks out against haters, trolls, and toxic bullshit in the hope that it gives a voice to anybody who’s been silenced or worn down,” Kali explains. “I wanted to write a song that embodies my favorite jangly Brit-pop songs and the energy of ‘do no harm, but take no shit.'”

Flower of Life‘s third and latest single, the Too True-era Dum Dum Girls-like “Fine Line” is a gorgeous pop confection centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a forceful and driving rhythm section paired with Kali’s plaintive delivery and her unerring knack for well, placed, rousingly anthemic hooks.

“‘Fine Line’ kicks off side B of the record. I wanted to explore the ways we feel marked by love and pain. How much of an impact the smallest of impressions can make. And how they can feel when they fade,” the JOVM mainstay explains. “I wrote this song in the summer of 2018 right when the last album Soul Songs was coming out. The process of putting out my first solo record was so strange and cathartic that a handful of new songs just came spilling out during that time, and this was the first one. I really wanted there to be a demarcation for side B of Flower of Life so ‘Fine Line’ is written in a minor key, setting the tone for the 2nd half of the album.”

M. Byrd is a German-born and based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalists and producer, who can trace the origins of music career, and his passion for music to when he was small: When Byrd was three, he played drums in front of the TV. Eventually, he found his dad’s guitar. Encouraged by a teacher, he picked up electric guitar and attended countless roots jam sessions at local joints. Influenced by Alice Coltrane, Tom Petty, Elliott Smith and David Lynch, Byrd began writing his own material.

The German-born and-based artist turned heads back in 2020 with the release of “Mountain” and “Morning Sun,” tracks that amassed millions of streams and praise from Ones to Watch, Earmilk, Atwood Magazine and several others while firmly cementing his sound and approach: Byrd’s work pairs intensely personal songwriting with shoegazer textures and pop accessibility.

At the end of 2020, Byrd along with producer Eugen Koop holed up in Detmold, Germany in a WWII-era British Corps squash hall, turned recording studio, where they worked on The Seed, the German artist’s forthcoming, full-length debut, an effort that sees Byrd personally playing guitar, synths and bass. The album’s material reportedly draws you in to inspire your own evolution. As Byrd says ““When you listen to the album, I hope you feel like you can grow with me. Maybe you’ll find confidence in yourself. We’re planting this thought with The Seed.

The German artist’s latest single “Over You/Over Me” features Byrd’s plaintive and balmy vocals floating over a textured, shoegazer-like soundscape paired with a motorik groove and an enormous hook. Much like his previously released work, the new single is rooted in a bright, hopeful sense of the future.

“I dreamt there were snakes all over my apartment,” Byrd recalls. “A snake is a symbol for drastic change in your life and you’re repressing it. There’s a lot of change for  me.  I’m  starting  to  be  a  full-time  musician.  There’s  still  a  pandemic.  I  tried  to  dress  up  this darkness nicely. I talked to a friend who is into interpreting dreams, and she said that snakes in dreams meant that I was going through a profound change in my life. I remembered a quote I once read in an essay by Freud:  ‘A  dream  is  the  liberation  of  the  spirit  from  the  pressure  of  external  nature,  a detachment of the soul from the restraints of matter.”

The Seed is slated for release next year through Nettwerk Music Group.

New Video: Fabien Gravillon Shares a Breezy, Swooning Bop

Paris-born singer/songwriter Fabien Gravillon specializes in Zouk, Kizomba and Afro pop — but in his native France, he may be best known as an actor, who starred in the hit French soap opera Plus belle la vie.

After the release of his debut album through Because Music, Gravillon went to Los Angeles and appeared in several videos by internationally acclaimed artists including Macklemore and Patrick Stump‘s “Summer Days,” Collapsing Scenery and others.

He also participated in several projects filmed at Fox Studios in Hollywood and for The Jim Henson Company. Interestingly enough, inspired by animation and by his experience as a voiceover artist, Gravillon decided that his music videos should be cartoons. . .

“Bonita,” Gravillon’s latest single is sleek and swooning, genre-defying bop featuring skittering, reggaeton beats. glistening synth arpeggios and Gravillon’s sultry and vulnerable cooing (in French and Spanish) paired with a two-step inducing hook. While being slick and modern pop song, “Bonita” is a sweet and old fashioned plea of devotion and love.

The animated video features cartoon version of Gravillon and the song’s titular Bonita on a romantic date that’s sweet in its old-fashioned feel.

Live Footage: Larry & Joe Perform “Caballo Viejo”

Larry & Joe is a new duo that performs a fusion of Venezuelan and Appalachian folk music on harp, banjo, cautro, fiddle, maracas, guitar, upright bass and whatever else they decide to throw into the van. The duo features:

  • Joe Troop, a North Carolina-based Grammy-nominated bluegrass and old-time musician, who spent over a decade in South America with his acclaimed “latingrass” band Che Apalache. With the pandemic, Troop got stranded in his old stomping grounds and as a result, his primary project was forced into hiatus. Troop shifted into action, working with asylum seeking migrants.
  • Larry Bellorín, a Monagas, Venezuela-born, North Carolina-based Llanera music legend, and asylum seeking migrant. Bellorín works construction to makes ends meet, and writes and performs music in whatever spare time allowed.

Currently based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, Troop and Bellorín are versatile multi-instrumentalists and singer/songwriters on a mission to prove that music has no borders, that music is the universal language. Their work is a distinct blend of their musical and cultural inheritances and traditions paired with storytelling about the ways that music and social movements coalesce.

The duo’s debut single is a subtle re-imagining of “Caaballo Viejo,” one of the most beloved and popular Venezuelan songs of all time. The song features the duo on their primary instruments: Bellorín on harp, Troop on banjo and vocals. While featuring a wildly different yet gorgeous arrangement, that gives the song a bluegrass twang, the Bellarín and Troop rendition is still centered around a timeless and deeply human heartache and longing that somehow effortlessly translates in every language.

The duo is playing a show at River Spirt Music, Hastings-on-Hudson, NY on January 28, 2023. For tickets and other information, check out the link: https://cliveshows.com/events/rsm-larry-joe/

Springfield, MO-based Molly Healy is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who may arguably be best known for being a longtime fiddle player for the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. In 2015, Healy stepped out into the spotlight as a solo artist after the purchase of a looping pedal.

Healy’s solo debut, 2015’s Nightbirds saw her crafting material that blended her voice and strings together into atmospheric and experimental, orchestral folk. Since Nightbirds‘ release, Healy has released two more albums, 2017’s Human, and 2019’s Circles, which have revealed a restlessly experimental songwriter, expanding upon and refining her sound and approach.

The Springfield, MO-based artist’s recently released third album, Lotus may very well be her most ambitious effort to date. Influenced by an eclectic array of artists including Radiohead, Andrew Bird, Zoe Keating, and Rasputina, the album’s material pairs lush string arrangements with beats and electronic production. Some songs feature a full choir and/or orchestral arrangements — and Healy’s daughter joints in on electric guitar for a track.

Lotus‘ latest single “Us and Them” is one-part 70s orchestral disco, one-part orchestral chamber pop, one-part psych soul, centered around a dance floor friendly groove and Healy’s ethereal and sultry cooing. But like countless dance music-related songs before it, “Us and Them” is rooted in incisive political commentary, informed by our unusually heightened moment: in this case, the polarization of political ideas and the dangers it creates for all of us.

Andrea Aguilar is a Venezuelan-born, New York-based signer/songwriter, arranger and visual artist. Growing up in a deeply musical family, Aguilar started writing her own songs when she was just six. Around the same time, she developed an interest in the visual arts, and specializes in acrylic painting.

As a singer/songwriter and musician, Aguilar’s work draws from dream pop, alternative pop and electro pop. Her work is frequently sees her expressing raw emotions through melancholic metaphors, dreamy atmospherics paired with ethereal melodies.

Last year, the Venezuelan-born, New York-based artist graduated from Berklee College of Music with a degree in composition and music business. To date, Aguilar has collaborated on a number of projects as a singer/songwriter, co-producer and/or illustrator, including with her own music: Each song of hers features a cover with her artwork, along with videos directed and edited by her.

Aguilar’s second and latest single,”Pociones,” is her first Spanish language song. Centered around the Venezuelan-born, New York-based artist’s beguilingly ethereal delivery paired with glistening and atmospheric synths, a propulsive backbeat and a soaring, euphoria-inducing hook, the swooning and”Pociones” brings to mind JOVM mainstays Still Corners. While seemingly rooted in a wistful and aching nostalgia, the song evokes the sweet feeling of being in love, as though a spell has secretly been cast on the listener.