Tag: singer/songwriters

Earlier this year, i wrote about the up-and-coming Bristol, UK-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Katey Brooks, and as you may recall, with the release of 2016’s I Fought Lovers EP, Brooks quickly earned a national and international profile for a sound and songwriting approach that has been compared favorably to the likes of Jeff Buckley. In fact, material off the EP received enthusiastic airplay on  BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6 and  the CBC, and praise from Billboard, Pride and The Advocate. Adding to a growing profile, Brooks has shared bills with an eclectic yet impressive list of artists that includes Newton Faulkner, Ghostpoet, Martin Simpson, Deaf Havana, Lamb‘s Lou Rhodes, Mike and the Mechanics, and Mystery Jets, and has played at some of the world’s biggest festivals including Glastonbury, WOMAD, the 2012 Paralympics and Australia’s National Folk Festival. She also has appeared on a compilation with Anais Mitchell, Ane Brun and Marissa Nadler and recorded a track with The Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman and Paloma Faith

Interestingly, Brooks has a complicated and messy upbringing. She grew up in a cult, and as a child, she found refuge in music.“It was a very chaotic upbringing, full of some pretty colourful and sometimes unsavoury, characters. But when I sang, I felt free and connected. For as long as I can remember, it’s been my way of getting what I need to say out,” she reveals in press notes. She began singing gospel, old spirituals and the songs from the likes of John Lennon and Elvis Presley — but by the time she was a teenager, she entertained her peers with soul renditions.

When she turned 16, the Bristol-based singer/songwriter turned down a spot at the renowned BRIT School. “It would be interesting to know what would have happened if I had gone there, but I try not to dwell on that,”Brooks says in press notes. “I always think that you’re where you’re meant to be. And if I had gone, I probably would have ended up writing slightly less authentically to myself. But who knows, because if all the things that have happened in my life nevertheless happened, maybe I still would have written the way I do.”

When Brooks turned 20, she became extremely ill and her life was on pause as she was convalescing; but as she was convalescing she joined a songwriters group led by her friend, Strangelove’s Patrick Duff. “We would get together and play our songs to each other. It was really therapeutic.” Around this time Brooks was convinced that she had to devote her time to music. “So one day I just put on my own gig at the (Bristol) Folk House,” she laughs. “I sort of became an artist and promoter overnight,” Brooks recalls.

Sadly, shortly after making the decision to focus on her music, the Bristol-based singer/songwriter experienced a turbulent period of heartbreak and tragedy: the year she turned 22, her mother became ill and died — and shortly after that, one of her best friends went missing and died. “That’s definitely had an effect on the course of my life, and my writing,” Brooks says in press notes. “People have come up to me after gigs, particularly after songs I wrote during that time, saying ‘there’s a lot of sadness in your songs’ and it’s like ‘well, yeah.’ But I guess I’m lucky that I have songs that I can write, as a means to deal with things.”

Along with those hardships, Brooks has struggled to come to terms with her own sexuality. “In my most recent work I’ve finally been able to sing directly about women instead of using the mysterious ‘you,’” Brooks mentions in press notes. “I’m a private person in a lot of ways and I never wanted to be a poster girl for anything. But a few years ago I just thought screw it; I want to sing completely honestly. It felt like a weight lifted.”

Brooks latest single is the classic soul-inspired ballad “All of Me.” Centered around a spectral arrangement featuring a looping 12 blues guitar, a gospel-like backing vocal section, a two-step inducing rhythm section and Brooks achingly plaintive and soulful vocals, the new single will further establish the Bristol-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s ability to mesh craft, earnestness and ambitious songwriting in a thoughtful and natural fashion. But along with that much of Brooks’ material comes from real, lived-in places — in particular, the song’s narrator bitterly calls out a lover on their ambivalence. It was inspired by a personal situation with someone I was prepared to give my world to. They proclaimed deep love, but then proceeded to behave in ways that were completely incongruent with that proclamation”, revealsBrooks. Words can be very powerful and beautiful, but ultimately, when it comes to showing someone you love them, they’re cheap and easy to deliver. Actions tell us everything we need to know about how someone feels about us, and if they respect us – in every kind of relationship.” 

 

 

 


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New Video: The Poignant and Heartbreaking Visuals for Mike Edel’s “Houdini”

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Linden, Alberta, Canada-born folk singer/songwriter and guitarist Mike Edel, who currently splits time between Seattle, WA and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  And as you may recall, Edel can trace the origins of his music career to around 2008 — and since then he’s released two EPs, 2008’s Hide from the Seasons and 2012’s The Country Where I Came From and two full-length albums 2011’s The Last of Our Mountains and 2015’s India, Seattle.

Edel’s latest album, the Chris Walla-produced THRESHOLDS is a decided change in sonic direction for the Canadian-born singer/songwriter and guitarist, as he adopted a “consistency-is-boring” mantra before spending a year in the studio evolving his sound and working on new material. The album’s latest single, “Houdini” prominently features around pedal effected power chords, an anthemic hook that sounds indebted to David Bowie‘s “Heroes,” and a swooning, heartfelt sentiment — that in desperate times, sometimes the only thing you can do is lean on those closest to you. The song also suggests that the brightest days generally come after the darkest ones; that adversity is temporary and that things frequently can and do get better.

Written and directed by Keenan O’Reilly, the recently released video for “Houdini” follows a man, who suffers a terrible and inconsolable loss in a terrible car accident, that leaves the protagonist scarred and battered physically and psychologically. Through a slow process and the assistance of a kindly nurse, the video’s protagonist learns to overcome his fears and move forward with his life. It’s poignant, heartbreaking and profound.

New Video: The Sultry and Cinematic Visuals for Winona Oak’s “He Don’t Love Me”

Born Johanna Ekmark, Winona Oak is an up-and-coming Solleron, Sweden-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist. Oak has had one of the most unique backstories I’ve come across in some time. Growing up on the small Swedish island known as the Island of the Sun, the Solleron-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist grew up encountering more animals than people; in fact she grew up as a trained horse acrobat — and because she grew up in a musical home, she was encouraged to pursue creative endeavors as much as possible: she began playing violin when she was 5, piano when she was 9 and she wrote poetry and songs at a very young age.

Ekmark eventually moved to Stockholm to pursue her passion in music; but a leap of faith to attend a Neon Gold Records writing retreat in the Nicaraguan jungle led to her to meet Australian-born and based hit making producer and pop artist What So Not. From this seemingly serendipitous meeting, she went on to co-write “Better” and “Stuck In Orbit,” before stepping out into the spotlight as both the writer and featured artist on the Aussie producer and pop artist’s “Beautiful,” which was released last year.

Adding to a busy 2018, the Solleron-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist covered HAIM’s “Don’t Save Me” for Neon Gold Records’ 10th anniversary compilation, NGX: Ten Years of Neon Gold. She closed out the year with a co-write and vocal contribution to The Chainsmokers viral hit “Hope,” a track that has amassed over 250 million streams across all digital platforms globally — including over 100 million streams on Spotify. And as a result of a rapidly growing profile, Oak signed to Warner-Chappell Music Publishing and to Neon Gold/Atlantic Records.

Oak’s long-awaited debut single “He Don’t Love Me” is centered by sleek, trap meets electro pop production featuring twinkling and arpeggiated synths and keys, stuttering tweeter and woofer rocking beats, and the Solleron-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and pop artist’s ethereal yet sultry vocals — and while revealing an ambitious songwriter, who can write a sultry and infectious hook, the song has an achingly bittersweet air. “We’re all capable of falling for people who don’t value us, grasping for a leaving hand. But we must understand that we’re just as capable of realizing that our worth does not lay in those heavy hands,” Oak says of her debut single.

Directed by Andreas Öhman, the sultry and recently released video for “He Don’t Love Me” pairs cinematic black and white footage with brief bursts of animation, the use of prisms, gender-bending doppelgängers to create a visual that’s captivating yet imbued with heartache.

New Video: Follow an Astronaut in Search of the Happiest Planet in the Galaxy in Adorable Animated Video for Mind of Max’s “Lost in My Love”

Max Weiner is an American-born singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and visual artist. His visual art is influenced by the folk and psychedelic movements of the 60s and 70s, as its centered by a bold and trippy vibrancy, while his music with his solo recording project Mind of Max has been comparably to the likes of Fleet Foxes, Paul Simon, and Bon Iver.

Following the release of his second EP, 2013’s Seasons, Weiner was invited to The Netherlands to open for Dutch folk rock act AlascA on a two-week tour of Germany and Holland. While driving to Amsterdam, AlascA’s Frank Bond played an album by the country folk act Plainsong. And as the story goes, Weiner was hooked by the melodic bend of the pedal steel, the delicate slide of the dobro and the close knit vocal harmonies of the band.

Returning home from the tour, Weiner began writing and recording demos influenced by the sounds he’d heard while on tour; in fact, he purchased a pedal steel guitar and taught himself how to play in a style that he felt would compliment his new sonic direction. Those demos would eventually inform the material on his full-length debut The Key.

Unable to secure a producer that felt right for the album, Weiner produced and performed the songs on the album by himself. Four years later, the album was finished. “Recording an album on your own can be a brutal process,” Weiner says in press notes. “At times, I felt like I was losing my mind and I wanted to call it quits. But I’m so proud of the work I’ve done on this record. I’ve grown in my ability to serve the song and not my ego. Above all else, I’ve learned to believe in and trust myself as a musician and producer. I’d like to feel that everyone can find something within these songs that identifies with their struggles as well as their triumphs. We’re all on a similar path in this world, and I hope you feel a bit of peace knowing you’re not alone on your journey.”

The Key’s latest single is the breezy, Crosby Stills and Nash-like “Lost in My Love.” Centered around twangy, country folk-like guitars paired with some gorgeous layered harmonies, the song is a tale of being so infatuated with the idea of having someone in your life that you miss the obvious red flags — and learning from it so that the next time you’re in that situation, you see it with clear eyes.

Featuring bold and colorful animation from Aishwara Sadasivan, who wrote the video’s story in partnership with the folks at The Wild Honey Pie, the recently released and adorably sweet video follows an astronaut in search of the galaxy’s happiest planet. “We pulled from design elements used on my album cover and Aish’s vibrant, colorful creatures and world building brought a real sense of whimsy and magic. Her unique narrative of an astronaut in search of the galaxy’s happiest player was a fresh approach and I’m thrilled to see it all come together so well.”

Lyric Video: Minor Poet’s Breezy “Tropic of Cancer”

Andrew Carter is a Richmond, VA-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who has spent the past few years writing and recording music by himself in various bedrooms and basements with his solo recording project Minor Poet. His full-length debut, 2017’s And How combined Carter’s love of carefully crafted pop with a loose, fun, off-the-cuff production that eventually received press from American Songwriter, Magnet, The Wild Honey Pie, Impose and others, while helping Carter develop a small but devoted fanbase. Naturally, this has allowed Minor Poet to grow from a labor of love into a nationally touring band.

Carter’s sophomore Minor Poet album The Good News is slated for a May 17, 2019 release through Sub Pop Records, and the album, which was recorded over the course of four days at Montrose Recording, reportedly finds Carter expanding the boundaries of the project’s sound over the course of six songs. While previous Minor Poet releases featured Carter playing all the instruments and handling production duties, the material on The Good News was written with the understanding that the Richmond, VA-born and -based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist had to reach outside himself to do justice to the songs. “I couldn’t capture the sounds I heard in my head,” Carter explains. “I wanted something that was vast and expansive but that at the same time could hit you immediately in the gut.”

Paying homage to the classic “wall of sound: techniques made famous by Brian Wilson and Phil Spector, Carter and co-producer, Adrian Olsen overdubbed layer after layer of Carter playing an array of guitars, pianos, organs, synths, and percussion, as well as Carter singing harmonies. The members of the touring band were brought in to perform the core rhythm section parts with handpicked local musicians stopping by to add crucial flourishes to the material. Interestingly, at the center of the album’s material is Carter’s vocals, singing lyrics that mix allusions to religion, mythology, art and philosophy, as each song’s narrator questions himself, his place in the world around him, what he owes to his relationships, and in turn, what he needs to ask others to stay healthy.

“Tropic of Cancer,” The Good News‘ infectious latest single is centered by layers of shimmering and tropicalia-inspired arpeggiated synth lines, shuffling guitar lines, a soaring hook and a lysergic-tinged guitar solo. And while the deliberate crafted track bears a subtle resemblance to Elvis Costello‘s early work, the song manages to be deceptively breezy as the song’s narrator describes a constant and repetitive struggle with depression, delivered with an unvarnished emotional honesty and a tongue-in-cheek awareness.

Sophie Brochu is a Savannah, GA-born, Chicago, IL-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who can trace the origins of her musical career to feeling frustrated with the constraints of her craft, after completing her masters in fiction writing. And as a result, she turned to music for its raw and immediate emotional release. Beginning her musical career as a member of Chicago-based bands Astrobrite and Videotape, the Savannah-born, Chicago-based singer/songwriter and guitarist also leads her own project, Fauvely.

Featuring Dale Price, Scott Cortez, and Dave Piscotti, the Chicago-based band led by Brochu have received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for crafting deeply personal dream pop. The Chicago-based dream pop act’s debut, 2017’s EP Watch Me Overcomplicate This featured confessional material that ranged from delicately self-effacing to hauntingly sad; but its follow-up, last year’s Tides was inspired by Brochu’s birthplace and the effort found Brochu and company expanding their sound and approach, with bolder and brooding material that thematically focused on coming to terms with haunting and unsettling memories in a place revered for its beauty.

Slated for a May 17, 2019 release through Chicago-based indie label Diversion Records, Fauvely’s forthcoming This is What the Living Do EP derives its name from a collection of poetry by New York-based poet Marie Howe. The EP’s first single and title track, the brooding yet ethereal “This Is What the Living Do” is dedicated to her friend, who lost her mother to cancer. And while the sparsely arranged and hauntingly spectral track bears an uncanny resemblance to Mazzy Star, its centered by the grief and heartache of inconsolable, unfathomable loss.

 

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Lola Kirke Teams Up with Wyndham Garnett on a Gorgeous Cover of Ted Lucas’ “Baby Where You Are”

Last year, I wrote quite a bit about the British-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, musician and actress Lola Kirke. Although she may be best known for starring roles in  Noah Bambauch’s Mistress America and the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle, and a supporting role in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, the British-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and actress is the daughter of drummer of drummer Simon Kirke, who was a member of the 70s hit-making rock bands Bad Company and Free and Lorraine Kirke, the owner of Geminola, a New York-based vintage boutique known for supplying outfits for Sex and the City.  

As a solo artist, Kirke’s Wyndham Garnett-produced full-length debut, Heart Head West was released last year through Downtown Records, and  the album, which was tracked live to tape was a deeply personal effort that was as Kirke said in press notes “about basically everything I thought about in 2017 — time, loss, social injustice, sex, drinking, longing — essentially everything I’d talk about with a close friend for 40 minutes.” 

Wyndham Garnett is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who first made a name for himself as an original member of Elvis Perkins in Dearland and a touring member of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. And as a result, he has shared stages with the likes of My Morning Jacket, Cold War Kids, Levon Helm, Pete Seeger, Dr. Dog, The Felice Brothers, Marco Benevento and a lengthy list others. 2016 saw the release of his self-produced full-length debut WYNDHAM and the Gus Seyffert-produced EP Double You, which featured lead single “Gypsy,” a track that landed on Elle’s “Best New Songs of December 2016” with singles by the legendary Neil Young and Childish Gambino. Now, as you may recall Garnett is a frequent collaborator with Kirke that has included her self-titled EP, last year’s Heart Head West and a pair of Christmas-themed songs. 

Garnett and Kirke continue their ongoing and extraordinarily successful collaboration with two Valentine’s Day-themed singles “Lights On” and a cover of Ted Lucas’ “Baby Where You Are.” The Garnett and Kirke cover of Lucas’ “Baby Where You Are” is a fairly straightforward and atmospheric rendition of the song with a twangy 12 bar blues-like solo, the song is rooted in cold and lonely nights, longing for that special someone, who’s far away — although the song hints at the hope of being with that person again. “When we first got together, Wyndham and I rented a house in upstate New York and spent the majority of our time drinking too much wine and learning songs we liked on guitar so we could at least sing them at parties and maybe one day even record them,” Kirke says in press notes. “Ted Lucas’ ‘Baby Where You Are’ came into our lives then and has remained a staple because of how simply it expresses the truth of love and longing. I’m always excited by art that achieves that balance, which is why I fell so in love with Wyndham’s song ‘Lights On.’ I feel like the two songs express different sides of desire, one that is more certain and the other less, but both hopeful and both very known.”

New Video: The 80s Inspired Visuals for Swooning Phil Spector-like “Can’t Help The Way I Feel”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the Indianapolis, IN-based folk pop duo Lily & Madeleine, And as you may recall, the act, which consists of siblings Lily and Madeline Jurkiewicz can trace its origins to when the Jurkiewicz Sisters began singing together while attending high school, uploading home videos of various covers to YouTube. Those videos caught the attention of Bloomington, IN-based producer Paul Mahern, who invited the sisters into his studio to record what would become their debut EP, 2013’s The Weight of the Globe when their class schedule permitted. Kenny Childers (Gentleman Caller) assisted by co-writing the material off the EP with the sisters; but it was video of the sisters singing in Mahern’s studio reached the front page of news aggregator Reddit — and as a result, Sufjan Stevens signed the Jurkiewicz Sisters to his label Asthmatic Kitty Records.

Adding to a growing profile, John Mellencamp asked the Jurkiewicz Sisters to contribute guest vocals to the soundtrack of his musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. After playing some of their first sold out shows in their hometown, they made their national TV debut on CBS This Morning to promote their self-titled, full-length debut, which was released in February 2013. The album was praised from a number of major media outlets, including The New York Times, which praised the album for their extraordinary sibling vocal blend, “deep and seamless and relaxed.” Since then the Indianapolis-based sibling folk pop duo have released two more albums — 2014’s Fumes, which was released through Asthmatic Kitty and 2016’s Keep It Together, which was released through New West Records.

Now, as you may recall, the Jurkiewicz Sisters kicked off this year with the inclusion of “Just Do It” on the first Spotify New Music Friday playlist of 2019 and the track, which was co-produced by Grammy Award-winning production team Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuck, who worked on Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour pairs the Lily and Madeleine’s gorgeous and effortless harmonizing with a shimmering dance pop-like production centered around a sinuous bass line, twinkling keys, hand claps and fluttering electronics; but at its core, the song not only talks about taking chances, it talks of confidently coming of age as a woman — and demanding what you need and want from yourself and others.

Canterbury Girls, the Jurkiewicz Sisters’ the fourth full-length album is slated for a February 22, 2019 release through New West Records and interestingly, the Phil Spector-like “Can’t Help The Way I Feel” is centered by what may arguably be the tightest and funkiest groove on the entire album, with a razor sharp and infectious hook, handclaps, twinkling keys and the Jurkiewicz Sisters easygoing yet gorgeous harmonizing. At its core, the song’s narrator is proud and defiant, openly saying that while her friends may disapprove of her love interest, she simply can’t help how she feels — even if the relationship isn’t good for her. Somehow, I suspect that many of us can relate.

Directed by Horatio Baltz, the recently released video for “Can’t Help The Way I Feel” features the Jurkiewicz Sisters are swooning and lovestruck 80s teens. Owing a visual debt to John Hughes films, the video features some slick split screens and some dreamy glamor sequences.