Tag: Tom Petty

Throwback: Happy 49th Birthday Snoop Dogg

JOVM celebrates Snoop Dogg’s 49th birthday.

Interview: A Q&A with The Sighs

Holyoke, MA-based rock band The Sighs can trace their origins back to 1982 when its founding members Robert LaRoche (vocals, guitar) and Tommy Pluta (bass, vocals) met and bonded over their mutual of love of acts like The Beach BoysCrosby, Stills and Nash and other that employed the use of multi-part harmonies. Interestingly enough, it helped that while the Holyoke-based band’s founding members were jamming together, they discovered that their own voices blended together beautifully.

Tom Borawaski (drums) and Matt Cullen (vocals, guitar) were recruited to flesh out the band’s sound and to complete the band’s initial lineup. Shortly after the band’s lineup was finalized, they quickly began makin a name for themselves as a must-see live act across the region. As Tommy Pluta explained in press notes, “One luxury of living in Western Mass is that we played all the colleges and clubs for years and years. By the time things started happening for us, we were primed for it — we sounded really tight and everything was just spot on.”

As luck would have it, the members of The Sighs crossed paths with John DeNicola, an Oscar Award-winning songwriter and producer, who co-wrote “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life,” and his production partner Tommy Allen at the China Club in 1990. And after meeting DeNicola and Allen, the Holyoke-based band signed with  Charisma/Virgin Records, who released their full-length debut, What Goes On to critical acclaim. Adding to a rapidly growing profile, the band toured with nationally touring acts like Gin BlossomsDada and others.

The band eventually split up with members of the band pursuing individual creative projects and/or focusing on family life. Interestingly, the material on the band’s third full-length album, 2017’s Wait On Another Day can trace its origins to an unearthed batch of demos that the band’s Matt Cullen stumbled upon. Originally recorded in the early 1990s, and later placed on hard drives, the demos had been forgotten about for the better part of 20 years – until Cullen played them. He was so impressed by what he heard, that he shared the demos with his bandmates and their longtime producer John DeNicola.

Feeling that the band had unfinished business – and that they should continue the collective story they started 20+ years previously, the band decided to reconvene at DiNicola’s Upstate New York-based studio to revise a handful of songs. But as the band’s Tom Borawski explained at the time “. . . it all came together so well, and we were having such a great time, we ended up making a whole album. It really just took on a life of its own.”

“All the years of playing together left a permanent mark on us. It wasn’t too difficult to tap into our musical and personal bond again,” LaRoche said of the five-day recording session that produced Wait On Another Day. Borowski added “Everything had more of a spark to it than when we made What Goes On, where we put all the songs under a microscope and tried to get it all completely perfect.” As a result, the material possesses a urgency and vitality to it that many contemporary bands wish they could capture on record. Interestingly, while much of the album’s material focuses on many of the things that they wrote about in their youth – girls, getting kicked around, hopes and dreams and falling in love but tinged with the wistful and aching nostalgia of middle-aged men, who have been forced to accept the passage of time, their impending mortality – and the old adage that the more things change, the more they remain the same: no matter how old you are, heartache is heartache and life is ultimately about figuring out how to learn from it and move forward.

Building upon the attention they received from Wait On Another Day, the members reconvened to write and record its highly-anticipated follow-up, the five song Tearing My Heart Again, which OMAD Records released today. The EP’s material finds the band continuing where its predecessor left off but while revealing a band that has grown in the past three years. While they pull in some new ideas to the mix, they do so without straying too far afield from what has been successful – carefully crafted, hook-driven rock paired with earnest songwriting.

I recently exchanged emails with the members of The Sighs for this edition of the JOVM Q&A. World events have found a way to impact all of us – and as a result, they’ve managed to bleed into every aspect of our professional and person lives in ways that will reverberate for quite some time to come. With COVID-19 forcing cities and localities across the world to indefinitely shut down bars, restaurants, clubs, music venues and countless other non-essential businesses, the impact on musicians and the music industry will be far-reaching and devastating. Over the next few months, I’ll be discussing how COVID-19 has impacted the careers and lives of artists of all stripes – and the members of the Holyoke-based band openly and honestly discuss where they stand right now and what may be next. Of course, we chat about the recently released EP at length, the band’s tour with The Gin Blossoms and more. Check it out below.

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Support these artists by buying their work. You can order The Sighs EP here:

https://www.omadrecords.com/store/the-sighs-tearing-my-heart-again-ep

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WRH:  Most of the country has been enacting social distancing guidelines and stay at home orders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. How are y’all holding up in such a difficult and uncertain time? What are you doing to preoccupy yourself? Anything you’re binge watching? 

Robert LaRoche: Been pretty much staying home. Except to go for a daily run and food shopping.

Working on new songs. Binge watching Peaky Blinders on Netflix.

Tommy Borowski: Been binge watching bad 70’s movies…

WRH: Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, festivals have been postponed or canceled outright, artists of all stripes have postponed or rescheduled tour dates, album releases have been rescheduled. I’ve asked this question to a handful of artists already – and I suspect that for some period of time I’ll be asking a lot of bands this: How has COVID-19 impacted you and your career? 

Matt Cullen: Well, we’re all at a standstill. We had a Sighs gig booked in mid-March in our home base of western Massachusetts. Robert flew in from Austin and I flew from Des Moines. After couple of spirited rehearsals, the gig was cancelled. I’m now home and have seen all of my gigs here cancelled for the foreseeable future. I don’t make my living entirely from music but playing roughly 100 gigs a year certainly helps the family kitty. Those lost wages will hurt and the loss of that enjoyment, performing, making music, that hurts equally.

WRH: Who’s the funniest guy in the band? 

RLR: It depends on the given day I suppose! We all have our moments. [But] I’m going to go with Tommy Pluta on this one 💙

MC: If you asked Tommy Pluta……..😎

WRH: Who are your influences?

Tommy Pluta: Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, Shoes, Foo Fighters.

RLR: I was heavily influenced by The Everly Brothers. And tried to incorporate their two-part harmony style into The Sighs music. Also love early American Rock ‘n’ Roll pioneers like Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry. And, of course The Beatles and Beach Boys were a big influence.

MC: Too many to name. The typical ones. The British Invasion bands, particularly The Beatles. A lot of 70’s rock and pop rock: Aerosmith, Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, Raspberries, Queen, The Cars. I could go on…….

WRH: Who are you listening to right now?

TP: Fountains of Wayne.

RLR: Jenifer Jackson, a local singer/songwriter here in Austin

MC: My current go-to is a live record by Bo Ramsey and the Backsliders. Bo is a spooky, great player, known for his work with Lucinda Williams and Greg Brown. He’s an Iowa guy and I’ve opened for him here and have gotten to know him a little. I’m crossing my fingers to do some playing with him. Also, and sadly, I’ve been revisiting Fountains of Wayne since the news of Adam’s death.

WRH: How would you describe your sound to those unfamiliar with The Sighs? 

TP: Classic Power Pop / Rock sound. Two guitars, bass, drums, melodic with three part harmony.  The Smithereens, Gin Blossoms

WRH: The band can trace its origins back to when its founding members – Robert LaRoche and Tommy Pluta – met back in 1982. Tom Borawski and Matt Cullen were the recruited and the band then spent next eight years gigging around Western Massachusetts. In 1990, the members of the band crossed paths with John DeNicola, who became your producer and you signed with Charisma/Virgin Records. So, the band went from playing the college circuit to touring with the Gin Blossoms, who were selling millions of records and being played on the radio every single day. How was that experience like? 

TP: We always tried to make the most of every opportunity.

We had been on the road for months prior to touring with the Gin Blossoms so we were ready to take the next step.  Getting the chance to perform our music to their fans night after night was a terrific experience.  They were especially nice to us, and we found a lot of commonality with our music and influences. It would be great to do some dates with them again. . .

WRH: The band eventually split up after the release of their sophomore album with each of the individual band members focusing on other creative projects, on raising families and working day jobs. 20 years pass and as the story goes, Matt Cullen stumbles upon some demos that the band recorded in the early 90s. What was the experience of hearing the demos for the first time in so long like? 

MC: It was really cool to find the old recordings. I had transferred a boxful of 1/4 tapes to a hard drive, without listening to them. That was in 2010. It was 6 years later that I opened the folder labeled Sighs. We had been cranking out demos from 90-93 (?), both for the Charisma album and also for what we hoped would be a follow up with them. None of us recalled recording a few of them. You’d finish a song and move on. I got goosebumps when I realized what I had stumbled upon. I did rough mixes and sent unnamed mp3s to the guys. They were really surprised, and we were all excited by how well the home recordings had held up.

WRH: How was it like to revisit material that you wrote some 20 years prior? How were the first writing sessions for Wait on Another Day? Did your songwriting process change between your sophomore album and 2017’s Wait on Another Day?

RLR: The WOAD songs were written before, during, and after the recording of our debut CD What Goes On, during the period between 1987 and 1993. We had a lot of songs to choose from at that time. And only a dozen were chosen for What Goes On. The tracks on WOAD were songs already included in our live performances. We were a pretty well-oiled machine by then. Revisiting and re-recording this material over 20 years after their inception was great fun! And genuinely satisfying.

WRH: The five song EP, Tearing My Heart Again was recently released. In some way the EP finds the band continuing where they left off, as though the lengthy hiatus had never happened. While the material is centered through some passionate performances as collective whole, the EP – to my ears – reveals quite a bit of growth. It seems to capture old, wizened pros, who have gotten back on the proverbial horse but with some new ideas. How does Tearing My Heart Again differ from your previously released work? Was that intentional? What inspired it? 

TP: We drew inspiration from the fun we had recording WOAD in the Fall 2016. Recording new Sighs music (20+ years later) was something we discussed a couple times, and the possibility came around again in August of 2019.  We had a couple songs and several ideas, we just had to find the time to all be in one place to record which ended up being 3 days starting New Years’ Day 2020. The process of writing was the same in some ways and very different in other ways. We always shared ideas to see which ones we though would fit, and then developed them, but sharing ideas is so much easier with technology. A lot of text and email.

 WRH:  What does the EP touch upon thematically?

RLR: The five songs on “Tearing My Heart Again” deal with personal relationships.
In the title track, the protagonist is involved in an unhealthy love affair. Where heartbreak is an ongoing concern, and dark attraction becomes a fatal flaw.

WRH: “Over the Line” is one of my favorite songs on the EP. It’s probably the most Smithereens-like on the five songs. Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s about?

RLR: “Over the Line” is about the near hopelessness and futility of caring for someone in active addiction. With the resignation that although you cannot judge the person you care for, and will continue to be there for them, the possibility of the active addict to cross over the line and become another fatality statistic, is forever present.

WRH: Oddly enough, there are sections of EP closing track “Rise” that somehow reminds me a bit of Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage.” Maybe I’m hearing thing but, did that influence the track at all about 

RLR You’re spot on with the Pink Floyd reference on the EP’s closing track “Rise.” Tommy Pluta initially sent me the guitar riff and chord changes. Which were already quite psychedelic sounding. We put a two-part harmony over the music in the vein of Waters and Gilmour. Our producer John DeNicola used an old school tape echo on the vocals. This gave the track the retro feel we were striving for.

WRH: What advice would you give to bands/artists trying to make a name for themselves thematically

 MC: I don’t know that my track record qualifies me to give advice but I will say that you must absolutely love what you do. There are many obstacles and it’s a long road. In today’s music world, I’d say you need to have a strong presence online. Sales are a different animal than what I grew up with. Touring is always helpful in spreading the word but can be financially daunting. CD mailers to college or community radio in your area are helpful. Try to grow it steadily. Again, you better love it!  :/)

WRH: What’s next for the band

MC:  It’s hard to say what is next for us. I’m not sure anyone of us would have guessed that we would have released a full-length record and an EP in the last three years. We never say never and leave ourselves open to all possibilities.  We have a strong personal relationship which leaves the musical door open at all times.

  

New Video: Carriers Releases a Hallucinogenic VHS-Styled Visual for “Another Guy”

Over the past handful of years, Cincinnati-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Curt Kiser played in a number of national touring bands while meticulously crafting his own work as a songwriting and solo artist — in step with his own development as a person. Kiser’s latest project Carriers can trace its origins back to 2014 — and since then, he has collaborated with a collection of friends and associates including The National‘s Bryan Devendorf and The Afghan Whigs‘ John Curley, who have helped him bring his sound and vision to life.

Kiser released his Carriers full-length debut Now Is The Time For Loving me, Yourself & Everyone Else was released last year through Good Eye Records, and the album thematically found Kiser taking stock of life, death and his relationships — all while being grateful for being around another day. “Overall it’s about what we have and remaining present, while still being able to have an honest perspective of the past and our future,” Kiser explained in press notes. “I’ve personally found a lot of peace in just working hard and staying focused on what I’ve got going on, trusting, rather than being consumed with striving. This record process has taught me a lot about patience. Life will continue to teach me to have more. I’m just trying to accept what happens and handle it the best I can. Patience is forever.”

Album single “Another Guy” is a shimmering, brooding and hook-driven bit of guitar pop, centered around a deceptively uptempo arrangement, and deeply personal, confessional songwriting — and in a way that recalls Dire Straits and Tom Petty but with an aching sense of heartache and loss. 

“When you’re writing a song and in the midst of capturing what is inspiring it, you usually don’t think about anything else but just staying focused on that moment and letting the song appear and become realized. At least, that’s how it happens for me,” Curt Kiser says in a lengthy statement.

“‘Another Guy’ is a song that I knew I needed to write but I never knew if anyone else would really hear it beyond some close friends and family. It’s a song about a dream I had that holds a lot of weight and significance for me. While trying to tell the story of this one, I’ve had trouble coming up with the right words to do so. How do you explain a spiritual encounter and fully convey what it meant for you?

“I was lifted into the air, saw a statue of Jesus break apart, come to life and we had a conversation. It was pretty weird. I think I’m okay with letting this song speak for itself. It was a dream. It was extremely vivid. It changed my life & my overall outlook of myself and the depths of the supernatural realm. It opened me up to new possibilities and something I had never been shown before while also confirming some things I’ve held as truth.

I know what it means for me and when people hear this song, I hope that you can feel something similar to what I felt while having the encounter and that it changes the atmosphere wherever you are.”

Directed by Polish filmmaker Sztuka Naiwna, the recently released video for “Another Guy” was filmed on fuzzy, VHS-styled visual that’s hallucinogenic and feverish while possessing a wistful air.  “The idea of a video began in August, a fews days before the song’s premiere,” Kiser recalls in press notes. “I received a message from an Instagram user in Poland, Sztuka Naiwna, offering to create a video for the song. He said he’d heard it on David Dean Burkhart’s playlist and was really moved by it. I was cautious since I wouldn’t be able to work very closely with him, but after a couple months he sent over an edit and I loved it. I think he really captured something special for Carriers’ first music video.” 

Last year, I wrote about the critically acclaimed Northern Idaho-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Jeff Crosby. Crosby’s work draws from and meshes folk, rock, American and country in a  way that feels and sounds warmly familiar and radio friendly. Dropping out of school when he was 17 to pursue a music career with a touring West Coast band, the Idaho-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist has spent a significant portion of his life on the road, playing night after night, show after show, from load-in until the last drink is poured and the house lights are finally turned on.

Crosby’s material is deeply inspired by the beauty found in his travels and the unconventional stories of the people and places he has encountered along the way, giving his work the feel of being like a page ripped out of intimate and personal diary, detailing the love won and love lost and experiences of someone who has relentlessly kept on the move. Throughout his career as a solo artist, his work has been compared favorably to singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle while building up a profile by sharing stages with Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Charley Crockett, Widespread Panic, American Aquarium, Niki Lane and a list of others.

For about five years, Crosby lived in a small apartment off Los Angeles‘ Sunset Boulevard. Giving up coffee so that he could pay rent, Crosby played with The Homeless and the Dreamers — and while struggling get to get by, he found a way to thrive and make poignant music. Through a chance encounter, he met and befriended a music editor for the critically applauded TV series Sons of Anarchy and wound up with two of his songs being featured the show. During that same period, Crosby split his time touring with his band and later with Widespread Panic’s Jerry Joseph, which found Crosby traveling abroad to tour the UK, Iceland, Mexico, Colombia and Nicaragua. His experiences in each of those countries helped influence the material off his Gregg Williams and Geoff Piller co-produced album Postcards from Magdalena, an effort that received praise internationally.

Crosby’s forthcoming Geoff Piller-produced full-length album Northstar is slated for release this year. So far, I’ve written about the album single “Laramie,” a deliberately crafted song that that recalls 70s AM rock and Full Moon Fever-era Tom Petty — but with a wistful and nostalgic air. Northstar‘s latest single “If I’m Lucky” is an upbeat and country-tinged rocker centered around an enormous hook and earnest lyrics, written from lived-in, personal experience. In this case, the song is deceptively ambivalent: the song’s narrator expresses the hope to be lucky enough to hold onto love, the motivation to keep on going when things get tough — but there’s also the acknowledgement of time passing by quickly and getting older and of the mistakes and poor choices piling up.

“’If I’m Lucky’ is about getting older and avoiding the inevitable end of relationships I’d neglected while spending the last year on the road,” Crosby told Parade. “I finished the verses watching a couple fight in a Motel 6 parking lot in Sacramento, California. I felt kinda lonely and envious that they at least had someone to fight with!”

Steve Smith (guitar, vocals) is a Sydney, Australia-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has earned a reputation for crafting a good tune, abrupt disappearances at inopportune times and for pulling together some of his hometown’s finest musicians and producers to bring his songs to life, writing and recording five albums with Fallon Cush — 2011’s self-titled debut, which introduced the band’s signature breezy and jangling 70s AM rock-like sound; 2012’s April, which premiered on American Songwriter; 2016’s Bee In Your Bonnet, which revealed a tougher alt-country leaning song and led to the band opening for Son Volt; and 2017’s Morning, which reportedly threatened the band’s future. “By the time we’d finished the last record, Morning, I thought that’d be the end of it. It was really quite difficult getting that record finished for a number of reasons,” Steve Smith says in press notes.

Produced by the band’s Steve Smith, the band’s latest album Stranger Things Have Happened was released last November through the band’s Lightly Toasted Records and was recorded and mixed at Endomusia Studios, near Australia’s Blue Mountains by Josh Schuberth with additional recording by Michael Carpenter at Love Hz Studios in Sydney. Featuring a backing band consisting of Suzy Goodwin (backing vocals), Casey Atkins (guitar, backing vocals), Tim Bryon (keys), Peter Marley (bass, backing vocals), Russell Crawford (drums) and Josh Schuberth (lap steel, percussion), the album’s material finds the members of the backing band drawing from a wider sonic palette while continuing to display Smith’s unerring knack for crafting a tunes that frequently get compared to Tom Petty, Ryan Adams, Wilco and The Jayhawks among others. “This record feels like a bit of a fresh start, there’s an energy around it. It’s a good feeling. Strange but good,” Smith says about the new album

Stranger Things Have Happened‘s latest single is the bittersweet “The Key.” Centered around shimmering and jangling guitars, razor sharp hooks and earnest, a twangy guitar solo and 70s AM rock-like songwriting, “The Key” is the sort of song you’d expect to hear late at night in darkened dive bar or old-timey honky tonk: the song captures a ruminative sense of regret over the mistakes and failures of one’s life — and how they manage to reverberate in your life as time passes. As the band says in a statement, the song “features Casey Atkins’ twangy lead guitar throughout. Casey’s a renowned and in-demand player in Sydney, and an integral part of our sound. His parts on this were his first pass. When it came to the mix, we didn’t bother looking for any other takes.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Dan Sadin’s Decidedly 80s Inspired Visual for Anthemic “Sucker”

Dan Sadin is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has spent the past decade or so playing, writing and performing with an eclectic array of artists and bands including FRENSHIP, Holychild, MØ, Jessie Ware and Sabrina Claudio. Deeply influenced by the likes of Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith among others, Sadin’s songwriting draws from life’s intimate moments — the quiet conversations and moments often had in darkened bars, bedrooms and therapy sessions.

Interestingly, Sadin’s forthcoming, self-titled debut EP finds Sadin stepping out into the limelight as a solo artist and songwriter — and for an artist, whose own work was hidden out of self-consciousness and fear of rejection, it’s a a bold unveiling of an artist, who pairs earnest lyricism with rousing and enormous hooks and a pop sensibility. Thematically, the material focuses on a familiar and fairly universal personal battle that we’ve all fought and continue to fight: that choice to conform and be accepted and liked — or standing out an individual and risking rejection and loneliness. And while acknowledging that it isn’t an easy decision to make, the material suggests that it’s better to be hated for who you really are than to be liked for who you’re not.

“Sucker,” Sadin’s latest single is an earnest track, centered by an arena rock friendly hook, layers of buzzing and distorted guitars, explosive and ebullient blasts of horn, thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and Sadin’s plaintive vocals. The song manages to be heavily indebted to Springsteen and Petty in particular but while avoiding soulless and cliched homage and mimicry, as the song is rooted in hopeful yearning for something more, for a deeper connection based on lived-in personal experience and hard-fought, hard-earned wisdom.

“I’m terrible at small talk. I’m always pushing for the deeper, more serious conversations,” Sadin says in a lengthy statement. “When I’m out being social, talking about that stuff feels taboo and I think I end up coming across as awkward or disengaged. So I had become actually afraid of ‘going there’ and creating genuine relationships, actively trying to avoid that part of myself. But I’ve reached a point where that just isn’t working for me anymore.

“‘Sucker’ is an outpouring of that need for a deeper connection with the world around me and myself,” Sadin continues. “I had been feeling lost, caught up in a very surface level existence. I was overwhelmed with anxiety created by ignoring the things in life that really mattered to me, that were a part of my core, because I felt like I had to live up to cultural, communal and familial expectations. I felt like I had to be my own curator of what other people think is a ‘perfect life.’ And while I knew that living like that might be a way to receive instant gratification, it was also a way to avoid being with myself. Living in a world of curated successes and one-dimensional projections, only seeing what people what you to see or hear, I was riddled with anxiety about how I compare with someone else’s end product, As a result, I believed that this end goal, whatever it might be, should be something immediate when it really isn’t. I don’t see someone else’s journey, their deep, dark demons…but that’s the exciting part! That’s the part that I live for. That’s the part that makes us all human and connects us together. I know that we all struggle, we all feel lonely. We are all bound to this human experience by these very feelings, struggles and challenges I had been trying to pass over. And in doing so, I had buried my deepest most authentic self, more concerned with trying to be what I think others want to see than asking myself how I really feel and what I really want.

“This song is for my five-year old self who was in perfect alignment with his dreams, his feelings and who he was. It is meant to honor that part of myself that craves the real talk, the real connections – not just surface level interactions. And it’s a helpful reminder to not take myself too seriously. Life can be both fun and meaningful at the same time!”

Directed by Joachim Zunke, the recently released video for “Sucker” touches upon celebrity culture, social media obsession and a growing sense of disconnection — even when you’re in the company of others. But it’s also a stylish visual that follows Sadin through the streets of downtown Los Angeles, as he’s hounded by fans when he simply wants to be left alone for a little bit, and then as he dances through the streets of Los Angeles in a decidedly tongue-in-cheek 80s music video-like scene. 

“JoJo’s visual realization of “Sucker” has so many direct and indirect references to the song itself, but it’s never in your face or overly self-explanatory. Joachim had the idea of playing with reality vs fantasy in a loose way – ultimately the video could be taking place on a few different planes of existence and I really love how it leaves the choice up to the viewer and how they see the world. It’s also shot in a way where it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Despite touching on the theme of searching for a deeper connection, I think there’s a stronger presence of ‘dance like no one is watching you'”

Dan Sadin is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has spent the past decade or so playing, writing and performing with an eclectic array of artists and bands including FRENSHIP, Holychild, , Jessie Ware and Sabrina Claudio. Deeply influenced by the likes of Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith among others, Sadin’s songwriting has long been inspired by intimate moments — the quiet conversations and moments often had in darkened bars, bedrooms and therapy sessions.

Interestingly, Sadin’s forthcoming, self-titled debut EP finds Sadin stepping out into the limelight as a solo artist and songwriter — and for an artist, whose own work was hidden out of self-consciousness and fear of rejection, it’s a a bold unveiling of an artist, who pairs earnest lyricism with an rousing and enormous hook. Thematically, the material focuses on a familiar and fairly universal personal battle that we’ve all fought and continue to fight: that choice to conform and be accepted and liked — or standing out an individual and risking rejection and loneliness. And while acknowledging that it isn’t an easy decision to make, the material suggests that it’s better to be hated for who you really are than to be liked for who you’re not.

“Sucker,” Sadin’s latest single is an earnest track, centered by an arena rock friendly hook, layers of buzzing and distorted guitars, explosive and ebullient blasts of horn, thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and Sadin’s plaintive vocals. The song manages to be heavily indebted to Springsteen and Petty in particular but while avoiding soulless and cliched homage and mimicry, as the song is rooted in hopeful yearning for something more, for a deeper connection based on lived-in personal experience and hard-fought, hard-earned wisdom. 

“I’m terrible at small talk. I’m always pushing for the deeper, more serious conversations,” Sadin says in a lengthy statement. “When I’m out being social, talking about that stuff feels taboo and I think I end up coming across as awkward or disengaged. So I had become actually afraid of ‘going there’ and creating genuine relationships, actively trying to avoid that part of myself. But I’ve reached a point where that just isn’t working for me anymore. 

“‘Sucker’ is an outpouring of that need for a deeper connection with the world around me and myself,” Sadin continues. “I had been feeling lost, caught up in a very surface level existence. I was overwhelmed with anxiety created by ignoring the things in life that really mattered to me, that were a part of my core, because I felt like I had to live up to cultural, communal and familial expectations. I felt like I had to be my own curator of what other people think is a ‘perfect life.’ And while I knew that living like that might be a way to receive instant gratification, it was also a way to avoid being with myself. Living in a world of curated successes and one-dimensional projections, only seeing what people what you to see or hear, I was riddled with anxiety about how I compare with someone else’s end product, As a result, I believed that this end goal, whatever it might be, should be something immediate when it really isn’t. I don’t see someone else’s journey, their deep, dark demons…but that’s the exciting part! That’s the part that I live for. That’s the part that makes us all human and connects us together. I know that we all struggle, we all feel lonely. We are all bound to this human experience by these very feelings, struggles and challenges I had been trying to pass over. And in doing so, I had buried my deepest most authentic self, more concerned with trying to be what I think others want to see than asking myself how I really feel and what I really want.

“This song is for my five-year old self who was in perfect alignment with his dreams, his feelings and who he was. It is meant to honor that part of myself that craves the real talk, the real connections – not just surface level interactions. And it’s a helpful reminder to not take myself too seriously. Life can be both fun and meaningful at the same time!”

 

Live Footage: Acclaimed Singer/Songwriter Dylan LeBlanc Performs “Renegade” at FAME Studios

Dylan LeBlanc is Shreveport, LA-born and based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who grew up in a very musical home. LeBlanc’s father was a country singer/songwriter. who performed in various bars and clubs across the region. At a very young age, LeBlanc acquired a unique musical education, in which he frequently spent late nights watching his father and other musicians record at the studios, where his father play as a studio musician. Naturally, the Shreveport-born and-based singer/songwriter and musician was intrigued and became a musician himself, eventually playing in his first band, an alternative rock band by the name of Jimmy Sad Eyes Blue with another local musician Daniel Goodwill. 

As the story goes, Goodwill inspired LeBlanc to begin writing his own music. After spending a few years with Jimmy Sad Eyes Blues, LeBlanc was forced to attend rehab. Following rehab, LeBlanc decided to pursue music full-time instead of returning to high school. He joined Muscle Shoals Punk Rock band, replacing its lead singer, who left the band to join Sons of Roswell — and as a member of the band, Dylan toured throughout the region. A few years later, he co-founded the band Abraham, a band that also featured Alabama Shakes’ Ben Tanner, who at the time was also the house engineer at FAME Studios. 

When LeBlanc turned 19, he left Abraham to pursue a solo career. He signed with Rough Trade Records, who released his full-length debut, 2010’s Paupers Field, which featured “If The Creek Don’t Rise,” a collaboration with Emmylou Harris. To support the album, the Shreveport-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist opened for the likes of Lucinda Harris, The Civil Wars, Laura Marling, George Ezra and Calexico. Building upon a growing profile, LeBlanc’s sophomore album 2012’s Cast the Same Old Shadow was released to critical praise, with The Guardian calling the album’s songs “as beautiful as they are bleak,” and the album itself, “eerie rather than unsettling.” That year, LeBlanc opened for Bruce Springsteen, First Aid Kit, The Drive By Truckers and Alabama Shakes. 

Dylan LeBlanc’s third full-length album, the John Paul White-produced 2016’s Cautionary Tale featured Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard and was praised by the likes of NPR and No Depression. Supporting that album, he wound up touring with the likes of Anderson East, The Wood Brothers and others. 

Interestingly, LeBlanc’s fourth album, the recently released Dave Cobb-produced Renegade finds the Shreveport-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist and his backing band attempting to write the sort of songs that matched the atmosphere that they were bringing live. “So, I started with ‘Renegade,’ which was fitting since I felt myself going in a new, more intense direction with this record. In the studio, I let go almost absolutely and let Dave Cobb do his work. It was a different experience for me-how focused Cobb was and how quickly we would get live takes down, mostly in one or two takes and never more than three. It left me spinning at how quickly it all came together. Over the course of ten days Renegade was complete and ready for mastering. And I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you.”

“Renegade” the album title track and first single off the recently released album is a shuffling and atmospheric, minor key rocker, centered around an atmospheric hook, shimmering, pedal effected guitars and LeBlanc’s lilting falsetto, and while clearly being indebted to Damn the Torpedoes-era Tom Petty, the carefully crafted reveals a novelistic attention to psychological depth, as it tells the story of two star-crossed lovers — one, who seems desperate to leave, the other, who is desperate to stay. 

Directed by Alysse Gafkjen, the recently released video was filmed at Muscle Shoals’ legendary FAME Studios. Interestingly, the live session was a sort of homecoming for LeBlanc, who who began working at the studio when he was 16 — and where he later began recording his own music. “It was surreal and brought me back to a time and place that I had almost forgotten,” LeBlanc says of the sessions. “The only place where time always seems to stand still.” 

 

Earlier this year, I wrote about Photo Ops, the folk-tinged, dream pop recording project of Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter Terry Price. And as you may recall, Price began Photo Ops as a way to find meaning within an onslaught of of traumatic and life altering events — a sudden and serious medical condition, his father’s death and the breakup of his longtime band Oblio. All of those things wound up inspired 2013’s Photo Ops debut, How to Say Goodbye.

Building upon a growing profile, 2016’s Patrick Damphier-produced sophomore album Vacation was released to critical praise with several songs off the album making appearances in film and TV, including the trailer for the motion picture People, Places, Things, several episodes of ABC’s Blood & Oil and CW’s Valor — and as a result, the album and its material amassed several million streams on Spotify. Adding to a big year, Price eventually signed a publishing deal with Secretly Canadian.

Like countless sensitive and thoughtful souls, Price was shaken and dazed by the 2016 election. He quit touring for Vacation, went dark on social, left Nashville, where he had lived for 15 years and relocated to Los Angeles. “I needed to shed my skin,” Price recalls in press notes. “I needed to look outside myself for inspiration,” Price explains. “It’s a matter of survival to know that there is beauty in the world. So that’s my mission now: to show that there still is beauty in the world. I honestly don’t know how else to write right now.”

Slated for release later this year, Price’s third Photo Ops effort, Pure at Heart was partially inspired by his listening and careful study of  Bob Dylan‘s Sirius XM show, Bob Dylans’s Theme Time Radio Hour while driving through the Southwest. “They were mostly old songs. What struck me was the spirit that was behind them. They’re just people in a room with a microphone, so they would have to self-correct and really conjure a spirit in the moment. Something about that felt so vital to me. It sounds like a time and place,” Price says. And as a result, the forthcoming album, which continues Price’s ongoing collaboration with Patrick Damphier is based around a production that emphasizes a sense of immediacy that’s a sort of Jack Kerouac-like first thought, best thought fashion. Along with that, the arrangements throughout the album’s material are also based around immediacy and ease with Price using an intentionally limited set of instruments: one acoustic guitar, one electric guitar, a vintage, 60s Ludwig drum kit, a stand-up piano, a Hofner bass and a small Casiotone keyboard. And although for this album Price is working remotely with the Nashville-based Damphier, the album’s songs were recorded as soon as they were written.

Reportedly, one of the biggest and most noticeable changes throughout the album is in Price’s voice, as the album features Prince singing with a relaxed, easy-going, upper register. “It’s partly an accident of location,” Price explains. “In Nashville, I had a garage. I could go out and make as much noice as I wanted. In L.A., you have to be more thoughtful about your neighbors.” Unsurprisingly, the need to sing quietly opened up the opportunity to experiment with space and restraint.

Now, as you may recall, the buoyant, at Full Moon Fever-era Tom Petty-like “July” featured an infectious hook while its narrator sighs with a mix of clinically and highly ironic detachment and compassion over the end of a major relationship centered with the understanding that all things must end at some point. “Palm Trees,” Pure at Heart‘s latest single is a breezy and twangy, 70s AM rock-inspired track — and while bittersweet and wistful, the track finds its narrator following a wandering train of thought on a beach without judgement of interpretation, as though he were observing and meditating on the fleeting and pointless nature of everything around him. (You can small the salt in air, see the palm tress waving back and forth in the breeze . . .) “One nice thing about L.A. is that when you go to the beach, you are forced to reckon with profound wealth on display,” Price explained to Buzzlands.la. “This song is about trying to disentangle natural beauty from conspicuous consumption. And missing your friends.”

 

Model Citizen is an 18-member Brooklyn-based band that features a core group of collaborators, Mark Ciani (songwriting, production, keys), Matt Musty (drums), Alvaro Kapaz (guitar), Ryan Gleason (bass) and Fernando Lodeiro (engineering and production), who have collaborated together on two full-length albums released under different names — Stone Mountain Station‘s Electric Sile_ce and The Alternative Facts‘ Don’t Worry, Babe. Josh Logan, a former contestant on The Voice joins the project along with a rotating cast of players to fill out the band’s lineup. Interestingly, the Brooklyn-based collective’s newest album The Next Life is slated for release in July, and the album will further cement Ciani’s long-held reputation for kaleidoscopic exploration of genre and sub-genre  — with the album’s material bouncing across a dozen different styles and genres.
Interestingly, The Next Life‘s latest single is the Springsteen meets Tom Petty meets Foo Fighters meets blue-eyed soul-inspired “Magic Trick.” Centered around a soulful horn arrangement, enormous power chords, a propulsive rhythm section, a rousingly anthemic hook and some soulful crooning, the single reveals a deliberate attention to old school craft while being a politically charged song, that features its narrator openly calling out hypocrisy, bullshit and racism in everything he sees and is surrounded by.