Tag: singer/songwriters

New Audio: Renowned Aussie Folk Duo Oh, Pep! Returns with a Jangling and Hook-Driven Take on Americana

Comprised of Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs, the renowned Melbourne, Australia-based folk duo Oh, Pep! can trace the origins of the group to when they met while they were were both studying at a music secondary school, and as the story goes as soon as the met began writing music together. Now, as you may recall with the release of three critically praised EPs, the duo received a rapidly growing national and international profile — they played a series of attention-grabbing, widely praised at the CMJ Festival, which were praised by  KCRW, and NPR’s Bob Boilen, who later invited the duo and their backing band to perform a NPR Tiny Desk Concert set. The duo also made appearances at a number of prominent folk festivals, including The Woodford Folk Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival, The National Folk Festival in Canberra, and Folk Alliance International, Kansas City, and at the 2014 The Age Music Victoria Awards, the duo was nominated in the Young Folk Performer of the Year and Best Folk Roots Category, winning the nod for Young Folk Performer of the Year.

2016’s Daniel Ledwell-produced full-length debut Stadium Cake found the duo subtly expanding upon the songwriting approach and sound that first won them national and international attention — their uncanny ability to write buoyant and ethereal pop with an underlying bittersweet sadness, centered around fully-fleshed out characters, who suffered from self-doubt, heartache, confusion, crippling indecision and a seeming inability to figure out how to move forward with their lives, all while their cohorts rush past them with successful lives. 

The duo’s soon-to-be released sophomore album I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You . . . is slated for an October 26, 2018 release through ATO Records, and the album reportedly finds Hally and Emmerich exploring the melody-rich expanse between indie pop, alt-folk and folk but through the prism of a women who have both come of age and have seen quite a bit of the world. They’ve accomplished most of their goals and dreams rather quickly  — and when that happens there’s this overwhelming sense of “Well, now what? What’s next?” And typically, there are two responses: you contently sit back and rest on your laurels — or you push yourself out of comfort zone. “This album is a darker form of pop than we have played before,” Pepita Emmerich says in press notes. “Basically Liv wrote a bunch of hits.” 

After touring to support Stadium Cake, Olivia Halley had become an in-demand songwriter. “With this album, in particular, I did a lot of sessions with other people. They weren’t necessarily sessions that were for the album. But every now and then, I’d be writing a song and take a fancy to it, then Pep and I would Oh Pep!-ify it together,” Halley says of the album that was written in New York, Nashville, Los Angeles and Melbourne and was largely inspired by her travels over the course of 2017 and 2018.  Interestingly, I Wasn’t Only Thinking About You . . . ‘s third and latest single, the jangling and anthemic  “Your Nail and Your Hammer” was inspired by words written on her wall in Nashville,  and the city’s long-held reputation for being the home of country and Americana — with a pop leaning, hook-driven sensibility; but while further cementing their reputation for breezy and infectious songs, the song evokes the sensation of someone’s mind whirring and grinding with the obsession over a brief and perhaps fleeting moment with another that leaves you wondering for weeks afterwards.

New Video: A Rollicking Look at a Woman Gone Wild in Visuals for Lola Kirke’s “Supposed To”

Over the course the past year, I’ve written a bit about the British-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, musician and actress Lola Kirke, and as you may recall while she may be best known for starting 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, Kirke is the daughter of drummer Simon Kirke, who’s had stints in 70s hit-making bands Bad Company and Free and Lorraine Kirke, the owner of Geminola, a vintage boutique known for supplying outfits for Sex and the City.

Downtown Records released Kirke’s Wyndham Garnett-produced full-length debut Heart Head West today, and the album which was tracked live to tape is a deeply personal album that the British-born, New York-based singer/songwriter, musician and actress says is “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.” Last month, I wrote about “Sexy Song,” a slow-burning and meditative bit of honky tonk that recalls Chris Issak and Roy Orbison, but with a feminine and self-assured sultriness at its core. The album’s preceding single “Supposed To” is a rollicking and stomping country centered around an armament that features a chugging bass line, organ lines, a propulsive backbeat, and some bluesy power chords, and in some way the song recalls 50s early Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Patsy Cline and the like but as Kirke explains the song “is really about the intense pressure I feel to be what other people think I should be and what I think I should be. How rebellious would you feel if you had spent your life just doing things that you felt that you were supposed to do? That society told you to do?”

Directed by the Lola Kirke, the video is a rollicking and boisterous look at an older woman gone wild, a woman who drinks too much, smokes too much, misbehaves, seduces younger men to rob from them and so on, essentially doing all things she isn’t supposed to — and not giving a damn one way or the other. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Meshell Ndegeocello Releases Tender and Joyful Cover of Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded, JOVM mainstay Meshell Ndegeocello– and as you may recall, the singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist was born Michelle Lynn Johnson in Berlin, Germany and was raised in Washington, DC.  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 a number of local acts including 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 eventually caught the attention of Madonna, who signed the singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist to her Maverick Records. Most readers will remember her commercially successful collaborative coverof Van Morrison‘s “Wild Night,” with John Mellencamp, a single that peaked at #3 on the BillboardCharts 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 coverof 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. Ndegeocello has also collaborated with Chaka Khan, rapping  on “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 Morrissetteand Zap Mama.

Throughout her lengthy career, Ndegeocello has managed the rare feet of achieving commercial success while arguably being one of the most uncompromising and iconoclastic artists of the past 25 years — all while being credited as being at the forefront of the neo-soul sound, thanks in part to a genre defying and difficult to pigeonhole sound that draws from hip-hop, classic soul, jazz, rock, reggae and singer/songwriter pop. Over the past few years, Ndegeocello has been rather busy — she wrote 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 released a gorgeous tribute album to the legendary Nina Simone, which featured collaborations with fellow JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnuTT and others.

Ventriloquism, Ndegeocello’s later album was released earlier this year, and the album finds the renowned singer/songwriter and bassist covering songs by  TLC, Janet Jackson, Tina Tuner, Prince and others, who have been influential to her and her work — but with her unique take. As the renowned singer/songwriter and bassist explains in press notes, “Early on in my career, I was told to make the same kind of album again and again, and when I didn’t do that, I lost support. There isn’t much diversity within genres, which are ghettoizing themselves, and I liked the idea of turning hits I loved into something even just a little less familiar or formulaic. It was an opportunity to pay a new kind of tribute.” Ventriloquism’s first single was a coverof Force MD‘s smash hit “Tender Love,” that found Ndegeocello turning the slow-burning, 80s piano ballad into a folksy, Harvest-era Neil Young/Fleetwood Mac track, complete with shuffling drumming, twinkling Fender Rhodes and harmonica. Though she eschews some of the song’s cheesiness, which makes it endearing in its own right, Ndegeocello’s cover retains the song’s earnestness — pointing out that a well-written pop song can reach for something downright timeless. 

The album’s latest single is a cover of Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity,” that briefly nods at Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” as it’s centered around loose, bluesy guitar chords, shuffling drumming and a New Orleans brass band-like bridge — and while retaining the song’s sultry nature, Ndegeocello manages to pull out and further emphasize the song’s tenderness.  Much like its predecessor, the new single continues Ndegeocello’s commentary on society’s narrow expectations on what music created by and performed by black artists should sound like and be like. 

Directed by the Cass Bird, the recently released video for “Sensitivity ” was specifically released in conjunction with the end of Pride Month — and in our dark and uncertain age, the video is a much-needed burst of joy and humanity, as the video was specifically cast to focus on faces, body types and identities that are less conventional, less celebrated and often misunderstood, capturing these people at their most vital, most joyful and most human — whether dancing, tenderly embracing, kissing and loving. Certainly, the world would be a much better place if there was more love and more gentle and human moments. 

Numb.er is the brainchild of its Los Angeles, CA-based mastermind and primary songwriter, photographer and visual artist Jeff Fribourg, who’s probably best known as a founding member of psych rock/kraut rock band Froth. Thanks to a background in graphic design and visual art, Fribourg has developed a reputation for his work being imbued with a sense of architectural composition with angular guitar riffs and analog synths being layered over throbbing drums and propulsive bass lines. And although Fribourg can trace the origins of his love of synthesizers to when he was in Froth, Numb.er finds the Los Angeles-based songwriter, photographer and visual artist fully exploring his eclectic influences and inclinations with the project meshing elements of punk rock, shoegaze, post-punk and noise rock — without committing to a singular worldview and without sounding overly ironic or forced.

Goodbye, Numb.er’s latest effort is slated for release at the end of the week through Felte Records, and the album’s latest single “Numerical Depression” will further cement Fribourg’s reputation for  genre-defying sound as you’ll hear elements of classic ’77-era punk, post-punk and noise punk as the song is centered around a propulsive bass line, power chord-based guitar lines played through copious guitar effect pedals and rolling drums — and while sonically the song brings to mind Wire, Nirvana, The Clash, Bauhaus, and others, complete with a similar urgency, and yet the song doesn’t find the band resorting to clueless, self-obsessed mimicry and cliches.

New Video: Acclaimed Country Duo Rogue + Jaye Releases a Hauntingly Gorgeous Meditation on Intimacy and Vulnerability

Last year, I wrote a bit about the the country music duo Rogue + Jaye, and as you may recall, the act which is comprised of Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Courtney Jaye, who has spent stints living in Nashville, Atlanta, Austin and elsewhere; and Bay Area-based singer/songwriter Zach Rogue, the frontman of indie rock act Rogue Wave can trace its origins back to a December 2013 songwriting session in which the duo quickly recognized they had an easygoing simpatico centered around the fact that as songwriters, who were deeply influenced by country, their material possesses a wistful, late night, drinking and thinking in a divey honky tonk vibe, reflected on their critically applauded debut single together “Til It Fades.”  

Pent Up, the duo’s full-length debut features a backing band consisting of Bands of Horses’Bill Reynolds (bass), Floating Action’s Seth Kauffman (guitar) and Grace Potter and The Nocturnals’ and Natalie Prass’ Michael Libramento (drums), and it was released last year to critical praise from a number of  major media outlets including  The Associated Press, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, American Songwriter and others, with Rolling Stone Country recently naming the duo one of their “10 New Artists You Need to Know,” and with the album single “Golden Lady,” the duo’s sound seemed to draw from indie rock, 70s AM Rock and Renegade Country, complete with an understated emotional honesty; the sort that comes from living a full and messy life of mistakes, foibles, joy, heartache, loneliness, being lost and found and lost again, and profoundly life altering experiences and experiencing them as completely and fully as possible — and with an effortless gracefulness.

“Open Your Mind,” Pent Up’s latest single finds the duo drawing from jazz, psych rock and psych country in an effortless and slickly produced  fashion — and while sonically the song will further cement their reputation for anachronistic-leaning pop/country that could have been released in 1968, 1972, 1982 or 2012, and much like its predecessor, the song comes from the perspective of those who have lived full and messy lives — with dignity and quiet resolve; but as Jaye says, the song is “about opening up to intimacy and vulnerability without fear, as well as exploring the unknown in ourselves and through another.”

Directed by Ben Bennett, the recently released video for “Open Your Mind” is a gorgeously sun-dappled dream of two people trying to connect in an intimate and powerful fashion.