Category: experimental

Jain “Come”

Jain is one of the most exciting new artists I’ve heard in a while. The 25-year-old singer-songwriter has an extraordinarily multi-cultural upbringing under her belt; she’s lived in Dubai, The Republic of Congo, Abu Dhabi, and currently resides in France. Not surprisingly, you can hear all of these flavorful, diverse influences peppered throughout her debut album Zanaka. Jain’s life-long obsession with drums/beats is especially showcased in the infectious single “Come.” One listen, and you’ll find that her unique vocal style and phrasing mixed with her rhythmic aptitude catapults her clear out of the typical female pop-singer crowd…and I love that!

Emma Louise “Talk Baby,” “Underflow,” “West Side Kids”

I’ve been following the exceptionally talented Emma Louise for four years. I saw her captivate an audience at the crumbiest venue at SxSW 2013 and was convinced then and there that she’d make a massive splash. The three lead tracks off her upcoming release Supercry are further evidence of that. She has grown into her voice. It’s a powerhouse yet still laser-fine enough to cut glass. These three tracks bring the velvet hammer down in entirely new ways. “Underflow” breaks your heart in all the right places at just the right times – it physically pulls you in. Everything her voice does, you feel. “Talk Baby” is a sultry, hypnotic, bad girl anthem that is as delicate as it is fiery and sexy. “West Side Kids” reminisces in a bittersweet stroll through relationship nostalgia.
Something else to note: her videos for both “Talk Baby” and “Underflow” are next level. Dylan Duclos, the man behind the videos, should be lauded for his flawless visual accompaniment for such heavy, beautiful music. Claps all around. Emma Louise’s July 15th release cannot come soon enough!

Maggie Rogers “Alaska”

Though the banjo doesn’t typically lend itself to the mellow, lilting sounds of gentle vocals and soothing melodies, Maggie Rogers has found a way to accomplish just that. Her work is vastly inspired by dance music and sounds found in nature – a combination which marries inherently rhythmic beats to flowing, striking sonic qualities. The three standout tracks from her former Bandcamp release Bloody Ballet (now removed from the internet) are “Resonant Body,” “James,” and “Drift.” The current and quite remarkable new single “Alaska” is available to stream and download now.

Seramic “People Say”

There is very little out there about the mysterious (UK-based?) band Seramic. I love the gospel vibes of this track, complete with choral call and response. Hopefully they will release more music soon, but in the meantime, snuggle up to this warm blanket of a tune!

BEST OF 2015!

Happy Holidays everyone!
I’ve never made my year end lists public, but this year I’ve decided to shake things up. I present to you my personal best of 2015, both songs and albums. The songs can be streamed here if you would like to listen (honorable mentions included at the end):

Albums (in no particular order):
Wolf Alice – My Cool Is Cool
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color
Chris Stapleton – Traveller
CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye
Rayland Baxter – Imaginary Man
The Bohicas – The Making Of
Beirut – No No No
Jason Isbell – Something More than Free
Blitzen Trapper – All Across This Land
Everything Everything – Get To Heaven
The Tallest Man On Earth – Dark Bird Is Home
Coldplay – A Head Full Of Dreams
Ryan Adams – 1989, cover album (Taylor Swift)

Songs (also in no particular order):
“Uptown Funk” (ft Bruno Mars) – Mark Ronson
“Talking Body” – Tove Lo
“Here” – Alessia Cara
“Genghis Khan” – Miike Snow
“Mountain At My Gates” – Foals
“Lydia” – Highly Suspect
“Coltrane” – Amasa Hines
“Your Loves Whore” – Wolf Alice
“Where You At” – The Bohicas
“Getting Ready to Get Down” – Josh Ritter
“Nobody To Blame” – Chris Stapleton
“Heartbreaker” – Daniel Wilson
“OctaHate” – Ryn Weaver
“Electric Love” – BØRNS
“Leave A Trace” – CHURCHES
“Dreams” – Beck
“Stressed Out” – Twenty One Pilots
“Trip Switch” – Nothing But Thieves
“Snakeskin” – Deerhunter
“Adventure of a Lifetime” – Coldplay
“Ship To Wreck” – Florence + The Machine
“Sedona” – Houndmouth
“Pretty Pimpin'” – Kurt Vile
“Spring (Among the Living)” – My Morning Jacket
“Snake Eyes” – Mumford & Sons
“Dunes” – Alabama Shakes
“Brazil” – Declan McKenna
“Gibraltar” – Beirut
“Forget You In LA” – Poema
“Yellow Eyes” – Rayland Baxter
“Empty Handed” – Christof
“Color Decay” – Júníus Meyvant
“Death with Dignity” – Sufjan Stevens
“How Could You Babe” – Tobias Jesso Jr.
“Dark Bird Is Home” – The Tallest Man on Earth
“Between Me And You” – Brandon Flowers
“Hello” – Adele
“Everglow” – Coldplay
“Flagship” – Jason Isbell

Honorable Mentions:
“Outcast” – Mainland
“Mystery” – Boxed In
“Roman Holiday” – Halsey
“Forest Fires” – Axel Flovent
“No Room In Frame” – Death Cab For Cutie
“Borderline” – Tove Stryke
“Hold Me Down” – Mansionair
“Moona Festival” – Polyenso
“Love Grow Cold” – Blitzen Trapper
“Where The Night Goes” – Josh Ritter
“Spring / Sun / Winter / Dread” – Everything Everything
“The Way It’s Always Been” – Brandon Flowers

SXSW 2015 highlights: Tove Stryke, Jack Garratt, Mansionair, United Fruit + Meg Mac, Ryn Weaver, Broncho, Blank Range, Only Real

The 3rd annual SXSW roundup is here!
As always, I start by the numbers: I listened to roughly 2,300 artists (115 of which I was already familiar with), narrowed it down to 165 artists worth considering, re-listened to those 165 artists, and honed the number to 87. I then proceeded to schedule the 87 artists + some of the artists I already knew. Once at SXSW, I managed to catch 41 gigs in 3.5 days, walking an average daily distance of 11 miles.

And now, the highlight reel based on what I was able to catch (sadly, there were a few I attempted to see and ended up missing due to shifty set times…Daniel Wilson, for one):

Tove Stryke


Wow, what an unbelievable surprise! I heard a lot of hype about this energetic Swedish pop starlet, which usually poisons my first impressions – with the attitude of “Oh yeah? Let’s see it then!” – but she aptly crushed all preconceived notions and blew me away. Not only is she genre-bending with a hard-to-pronounce name (not unlike her fellow Scandinavian Lykki Li), she also has some massively catchy tunes and killer stage presence. I love her air of confidence and quirky style to boot! It is so refreshing to see electronic/pop artists who still play real instruments on top of their tracks. It adds so much life (literally) to the sound, and obviously makes for a more exciting live show. Believe all the hype for Tove Stryke!

Jack Garratt


Despite my preference for a live band over a dude and his computer, I’ve got to hand it to Jack Garratt. He pulled it off with true artistry and kept me captivated the entire time. His vocal versatility was remarkable and the songs actually felt like songs, instead of a never-ending club dance track.

Mansionair


These Aussies were super compelling – so much so that I saw them twice! They played with such intensity and created an amazing vibe that seemed to captivate fans no matter what the venue or time of day. Their sound was incredibly full and rich for a three-piece, and it’s hard to beat a band that’s so obviously in love with being on stage and playing music. It makes all the difference.

United Fruit


This four-piece from Glasgow nearly blew everyone out of the venue. It was 25 minutes of Interpol-meets-Foo Fighters- thundering guitar licks, accented by semi-abrasive, yet undeniably appealing vocal melodies. Their newest material shone brightest and was approachable even for those who aren’t typically drawn to hard rock.

Other outstanding acts include: Meg Mac, Only Real, Ryn Weaver, Broncho and Blank Range. I would highly recommend checking them out live whenever or wherever you get a chance.
Honorable mentions go to The Blossoms and Sego.

I can’t rightfully conclude without mentioning the few favorite bands I allowed myself to see, despite the fact I’ve seen them each several times before: The War On Drugs were lose-your-mind good, Wolf Alice completely slayed, and Catfish and the Bottlemen never cease to amaze me. All three of those bands reinvigorate my obsessive passion for music and remind me that while this business is rough, there will always be diamonds in that rough. And the way those make me feel – make us all feel – is the reason it will always be worth my commitment to it.

Polyenso “Moona Festival”

Wow, this song is movingly beautiful. From the absolutely stunning, patient piano intro to the striking yet delicate Thom Yorke-esque vocals woven throughout, I can’t decide what I love the most. This trio from St. Petersburg, FL released their full length debut in 2013. “Moona Festival” is their latest single, which hopefully precedes yet another LP filled with similarly delicious songs.

Yeo “KOBE”

As of late, I’ve struggled to listen to anything that sounds even remotely sugary. Perhaps the undeniable hook of Yeo’s “Kobe” carefully folded within the questionably EDM sounding drum machine/effects/synth wall of sound is strong enough to surpass the songs out there that clearly aim for similar, but end up spoiled with too much sweetness. There’s a majestic feel to the song right off the bat with the organ-sounding pounding chords – I can’t help but think of it as the perfect combo of Arcade Fire’s “Intervention” + Django Django’s “Default.” Yeo does well creating musical texture through layers without alienating the underlying melody. Expect a release from the Aussie at some point this year.