After her tour with American Idol runner-up David Archuleta earlier this year, Gracie Schram is now living in Nashville, TN. No stranger to the city, Gracie has been coming to and from Nashville for the past few years in order to network and get her name known around town.
Gracie’s first release was when she was just 10 years old and now, she’s releasing her newest EP, “Dear Fall,” which is set to be released on September 30th. This EP was coproduced by Brad Corrigan and Rick Seibold.
I had the honor of listening to Gracie’s new EP before its release this Friday.
The EP opens with upbeat, summery track “Anywhere You Go,” which oftentimes serves as Gracie’s set opener. The song is sure to be a crowd favorite with its melodic “ohs” in the chorus and its lyrics about young love that were written to sing along to. The chorus’ lyrics “Oh / you know / I’ll go anywhere you go /oh / I love you so / I’ll go anywhere you go” are simple and sweet — a combination that makes Gracie Schram shine above the rest.
The second track “Walls” is perhaps the most relatable track on the EP. Gracie says that throughout her tour with David Archuleta, this was the song that got the best reception among the audience. The piano driven music and heartfelt lyrics go hand in hand to make “Walls” the most emotional song on the release and the string section adds that little extra spark.
“You Are My Sunshine” is a cover that combines two classics, “You Are My Sunshine” and “Ain’t No Sunshine.” This track seems destined to be on the hit television show Nashville. The two songs’ lyrics go together like peanut butter and jelly and Gracie makes it even more flavorful by employing beautiful harmonies. You can check out a live preview of the song below.
The last song on the EP is called “Don’t Cry Lullaby,” which is from the Ileana’s Smile soundtrack. Inspired by a girl named Ileana who was born and raised in a trash dump in Nicaragua, Gracie wrote the song for the movie after she was asked by Dispatch’s drummer Brad Corrigan. Just as its title suggests, “Don’t Cry Lullaby” makes you feel like you’re being wrapped in a long-overdue big bear hug. Ever since she was 10 years old, Gracie has been trying to change the world through her music, and “Don’t Cry Lullaby” has the power to do just that.
After the success of her previous release, I Am Me, and the quality of the upcoming EP, Dear Fall, it will be no surprise if Gracie charts on iTunes or on Billboard again like she did last time around. It’s only a matter a time before Gracie Schram has big artists opening for her on a sold out tour.
Originally hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, Caroline Glaser made the big move to Nashville, Tennessee a few years ago — a fact that is highlighted on her self-titled album that will be released on June 24th. Caroline Glaser’s album is uniquely “her.” When you listen to her voice fill the room, you’ll come to find that you want her to tell you her stories. And Caroline definitely has some stories to tell — from spending some time on the hit TV Show “The Voice” to opening up for Straight No Chaser. And although not all of us can be as fortunate to get to know Caroline over coffee in Nashville, we can get to know her through her music. Her raw honestly is as good as it gets.
MusicDash: You’re originally from St. Louis. What initially drew you to the Nashville area?
Caroline Glaser: I found a booking agent in Nashville around 2013 and he set me up with some meetings and writing sessions right away– I just kind of fell in love with the city and people. It’s such an inspiring place.
MusicDash: Was there any specific moment during your life that made you think “I want to do this forever”
Caroline Glaser: My first little headlining tour in 2013 was super pivotal for me. That’s when I really fell in love with performing my original music for people. There were a LOT of ups and downs (probably mainly downs), but I remember on my drive home just thinking about how I could never picture myself doing anything else.
MusicDash: Let’s talk about Caroline and the Chocolate Factory! Where did you get the idea for the EP from? What happens if you get a golden ticket?
Caroline Glaser: Well I LOVE the film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I had it on one day and during the “cheer up, Charlie” scene I thought about how cool it would be to cover that song– it’s so beautiful. It gradually turned into a cover EP exclusively for people who pledged on my pledge campaign (for my new record). I ended up really being proud of the EP though and wanted to do more with it– so I started selling physical CDs on my website and on tour. I hid Golden tickets in 15 of them and they’ll get an exclusive Tee shirt with the first batch of signed CDs once they come out on June 24th.
MusicDash: Your first ever full record is coming out on Friday the 24th! Congrats! What can you tell us about the record?
Caroline Glaser: Thank you so so much! I’m really excited about this one. I co-produced it with a friend of mine, Michael Kight. He had been playing out on the road with me for a little over a year when we decided to do the project together, so he definitely had a good feel for the direction I wanted to go in.
MusicDash: What was the writing process like for this record? Did you do any cowrites?
Caroline Glaser: I wrote/cowrote 8 out of the 9 songs on the record. The second to last track is a cover of “Your Love” by the Outfield and about half of them were written with some awesome writers here in Nashville. I wrote most of the material in 2015m although there are a couple older ones in there.
MusicDash: I know that this is a hard one, but what is one of your favorite songs to perform live?
Caroline Glaser: I guess it kind of depends– my favorite venues to play are intimate theaters/listening rooms. In that setting I really love playing “Waterfall” — it’s probably one of my favorites on the new record. In a more lively/fun atmosphere like a club or something, I like playing “Wolves.” It’s one of the most upbeat songs I’ve written.
MusicDash: What has been your most memorable performance?
Caroline Glaser: Probably when I opened up for Straight No Chaser at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis. I grew up seeing huge acts there, so that was pretty surreal.
MusicDash: What is it about making music that captivates you?
Caroline Glaser: Oh gosh, everything form the lyrics to the melodies. I’ve always been a huge music lover.
MusicDash: Recently you released a live video of your song “Wishing Well” that you recorded at YouTube Nashville. How did you get involved with them?
Caroline Glaser: That was such a fun video shoot– it was just an opportunity that resented itself through my management team. I was really really excited to do it. Such a cool popup event.
MusicDash: You’ve been on tour with artists like Us the Duo, Kris Allen, and Nashville-based Liz Longley. Have any other artists that you’ve connected with so far offered you any words of advice about the industry?
Caroline Glaser: Just really to not get discouraged. There are a LOT of ups and downs in music and I think patience and motivation are truly the most important qualities for success.
MusicDash: If you had to describe your sound for somebody who’s never heard you before, what would you say?
Caroline Glaser: Hmm that’s tough– I would probably put it under the “indie-folk” category, but there are some soft rock/pop elements to the new record. It’s all pretty mellow though.
MusicDash: Besides your upcoming release, what’s coming up for you for the rest of the year?
Caroline Glaser: Writing, writing, writing! I’m already working on some upcoming projects that I am suuuuper excited about. Between records, though, I’m hoping to tour quite a bit. Still working on getting that nailed down.
Originally hailing from Indiana, Harpooner is a three-piece band that has a love for the Beatles, and infuses that influence into their music. Although the band formed in 2012, “Rose Park” will be their first full length release, which is due out in digital stores on June 24th. Surrounding the release, Harpooner has been playing shows all over the US — from Nashville to North Carolina to New York.
Last week I had a chat with Scott Schmadeke of the band, and here’s what he had to say.
MusicDash: What originally drew you to Nashville?
Harpooner: I’ve been touring with Tennessee acts for years and grew tired of taking the Megabus down every other week.
MusicDash: How did you all meet and decide to form a band?
Harpooner: Basement shows in Bloomington (where we are from) are the bloodline of creativity in that town. We played a few of those under different names (Lennie’s House Band, The HawtDawgs, MilkyMilky) but Harpooner stuck finally and off we went.
MusicDash: So you’re currently out on the road with Houndmouth. What have been some of you’re favorite cities that you’ve been to so far?
Harpooner: The Houndmouth guys are great. One of my best buds from Bloomington, Tim Smiley, does FOH for them and gave me the spot once the position became open. Austin was great, until I scraped up my legs falling into Barton Springs naked with many a strangers around.
MusicDash: I saw you were at Shaky Knees this year. I was there too! Which performances did you absolutely love?
Harpooner: Shaky and the accommodations were fantastic. Free Barber and Tattoo Artist for musicians was dynamite. After all the years living in the same tiny town as Murder By Death, I finally got to see them 20 hours away from home. We chummed up real quick.
MusicDash: Tell us about your single “Carolines.” Where did you draw the inspiration from?
Harpooner: Well I was dating three different Carolines at the same time for a long period of time, so naturally, you could say, twice as much inspiration to draw from.
MusicDash: You also just released the video! Who directed it, where did you shoot it, and again, where did that inspiration come from?
Harpooner: Andy Beargie in Bloomington, IN (Blockhouse Studios) pretty much has been our creative champion for this entire project since day one. He has engineered, mixed, produced, finished the album photo and design, and shot the music video. He is the only true inspiration to the band because of how talented and kind he is. Long LIVE ANDY!
MusicDash: Your LP “Rose Park” is due out June 24. What can your listeners expect?
Harpooner: An interstellar, socially injust, and heartbroken year of 2014.
MusicDash: What album has been your favorite release of the year so far? What albums are you most excited for in the coming months?
Harpooner: Life of Pablo – Kanye West. Nothing else is relevant.
MusicDash: Besides your new release, what’s coming up next for you this year?
Harpooner: I’d love to start a family, maybe even open a flower shop with a piano in it… Nah, I’ll probably just be other people’s bitch for another decade or so. A boy can dream though, right?
I’m not even going to try to deny my love for Max Jury’s debut album. When you review, you sometimes just have to give in and just admit you blatantly love something “just because.” And while I’m aware that answer wouldn’t get you far in school, music simply makes us feel stuff, right?
So what’s the deal with this boy from Des Moines, Iowa? So many questions answered with even more questions. Because that’s what’s happening. As you dig into this debut album in the pocket of Max’s corner of the universe, it’s like when you were a kid and your dad built you pillow fort. That excitement when you first drew the blankets to the side and your imagination took you wherever you wanted to go.
‘Numb’ starts of the album, a slow smooth tune, eloquently showing off the vocal chords of this guy. There is a sweetness and lightness to his voice, something a little undefinable but inviting. It seems effortless with the choir on ‘Princess’ and the faster paced ‘Beg & Run’ where Jury sings “Say that you’re alone but you know better / don’t know where you’re going even though you have time / It’s not romantic to take this for granted” (the guitar riff has been stuck in my head for a good two days now.)
Songwriting-wise we’re going to have to touch the subject of the likes of Elton John and Gram Parsons. Drop this kid into the mix and perhaps a new generation will take notice to the art of songwriting before a riff or a beat. “Everybody’s always saying to look over your shoulder / the grass is always greener and I should do what I’m told” he sings on ‘Love That Grows Old’ which is the epitome of that those classics mentioned above. And with that voice, it would seem the soulful Americana was destined for him.
Max Jury fills a space that we didn’t even know was missing from the music scene. Besides the obvious phenomenal songwriting and melody, the final product; what he has put together as a whole — music, feel, atmosphere, authenticity, songwriting and so forth, that’s so rare to hear on a debut album.
You feel like you’re in good hands throughout the extent of the eleven songs. He raises a curiosity. Like peeking into someone’s diary where some of the letters and names have been crossed out. So you listen to the song again, because human nature tells us to continue looking for answers. So many questions answered with even more questions. The fine line of delivering to satisfy and connect with the listener while engaging and still leaving them with questions and want for more. He knows how to walk it.
The Niles Rooker Trio might be young, but the band already has a specific goal in mind — to bring Nashville the vibes of their favorite 50s and 60s hit tracks. With an EP already under their belt and performances at some of Nashville’s hottest venues, the trio is already impressing us over at MusicDash (we can see them taking over your nearest festival stage real soon).
We spoke to Niles Rooker, the lead singer of the band, ahead of the release of their new single “I Won’t Sleep,” due out June 3rd. In the meantime, add their track “Beach Talk” to your Summer Playlist — linked below!
MusicDash: What originally drew you to Nashville?
Niles Rooker: I had always wanted an excuse to move to Nashville. The music scene here is impeccable. That’s basically the gist haha.
MusicDash: When and how did you get your start in music?
Niles Rooker: I started songwriting at the age of 12. 10 years later and I’m a lot better at it haha. I’ve always found people to play with since then but when I got to Nashville, playing with Jeff [Meloen] and Ryan [Lemp] changed everything.
MusicDash: How did you all meet and decide to form a band?
Niles Rooker: Jeff and I met at school and started off as a duo. We were wearing the same shoes on the first day of classes and struck up a convo. From there, we talked music for several minutes. We went from trying to jam in a storage unit to Jeff’s landlord barging in unannounced telling us to be quiet. We wanted to get a third member with a bass so that we could add a new dynamic to my songs. Queue Ryan Lemp.
MusicDash: You have a new single called “I Won’t Sleep” coming out on June 3rd! Tell us a little bit about that. What can we expect?
Niles Rooker: It’s an upbeat Elvis/Cash influenced song that’s full of energy and fun instrumentation. It defines some of our sound as live performers. You can expect quick and catchy hooks that even get stuck in our heads.
MusicDash: I know that you guys changed your name recently. What inspired that change?
Niles Rooker: It’s kind of funny, we were just using my name since I’m doing the writing. However, there was always one drunk dude at each show shouting, “No! Not your name, what’s the name of the band!” We all still joke about that. Even further, I like being called the trio because it emphasizes everyone’s parts and contributions. When you think that only three people are up on stage or in the recording, you can appreciate what is being played more.
MusicDash: You’ve released an EP before. What difference in sound can we expect between your new single and your previous EP, if any at all?
Niles Rooker: The single goes in a more country rock direction. It was highly influenced by Chuck Berry, Elvis, and Johnny Cash. And that’s not to say that’s what the next song will be. We like diversity and right now we’re attracted to a plethora of different directions. We also spent more time filling up the sound of the new single with overdubs and some new instrumentation for us as a band.
MusicDash: What has been one of your favorite or most memorable performances in Nashville?
Niles Rooker: As an artist, a recent show we played takes the cake. We hit the Exit/In for the album release of some close friends of ours, Floralorix. The energy was on fire and our parts were crushed for 35 minutes of euphoria.
MusicDash: Are there any venues around Nashville that you’re dying to play?
Niles Rooker: The Ryman and Ascend! I love all the venues of Nashville and we have played at a vast majority of them at one time or another. I hope to snag an opening slot at Ascend in the near future somehow. 9. What inspires you to write songs? Other musicians. I’ll be listening to music on my phone or at show and I’ll get that feeling, “I need to write.” Everyone should be inspirational. That’s how you can push each other to be better.
MusicDash: What’s coming up next for you this year?
Niles Rooker: We have a tour planned this July/August that travels through the southern states. It’s our first time on the road so we are truly stoked to get out there and rock!
In addition to being the highlight of my summer, Osheaga music festival is one of the biggest and best music festivals in Canada. Based in Montreal, the three day festival attracts crowds of up to 40,000 people per day. While many are there for the biggest names in music, including this year’s line-up of Radiohead, Lana Del Rey, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Disclosure and more, there are many up and coming artists that are worth getting excited about.
MusicDash has rounded up a few of the best and newest artists to keep your eye on. So pack your bags, buy your wristbands, and prepare to dance!
1) The Wombats
The Wombats are English indie favourites, but are less well-known across the pond in Canada. However with three albums to their name and an infectious indie rock sound, they are enough to please any crowd. Their latest record Glitterbug was released in 2015, and with catchy tracks including “Your Body is a Weapon” and “The English Summer” are rock & roll at it’s finest grunginess.
2) July Talk
Canadian favourites July Talk are Juno award winning rockstars who have toured with Weezer and Tegan & Sara. With their edgy, punky sound, and unique vocals, one can easily say they are a truly distinct band with a sound all their own. Their stunning debut album was released back in 2012, yet still feels fresh and new in 2016.
3) The Strumbellas
The Strumbellas are another Canadian group that has a very special sound. A blend of pop, indie and alt-folk makes for a wide array of upbeat songs. They have a sonic fingerprint that closely resembles the likes of bands such as The Lumineers (who will also be playing Osheaga) as well as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (who played last summer.)
4) The Struts
The Struts are sleek, edgy rock straight out of the 80s. They are the band that could be the next biggest rock and roll group, with an earth shattering sound that is well beyond their young years. There is passion and heart behind every note and lyric, and they march to the beat of their own drum unabashedly staying true to who they are. If you want to see a band that apologizes for nothing and owns it, then this is the act for you.
5) Coleman Hell
Another Canadian who is easing his way into the spotlight, Coleman Hell is making a name for himself by securing gigs including opening for popular Ohio duo Twenty One Pilots. Although his smash single “Two Heads” is easily his best known track, his other songs also bring together memorable fusions of indie pop and folktronica.
6) Frightened Rabbit
Scottish indie rock band Frightened Rabbit has been around since 2003 and has six albums to their name. With a beautiful melancholy sound, the band effortlessly makes any song sweet and pure. Crowds will be swaying along to the calming melodies of summer bliss.
Singer-songwriter Soren Bryce went to LA when she was 16, later she raised over $10,000 on PledgeMusic and recorded her debut EP produced by David Kahne (Lana Del Rey, Ingrid Michaelson) which was released last year. The woman is 19, and just reading her short biography leaves you a little breathless.
Soren has a luxurious and rich sound, but that doesn’t negate the haunting authenticity. Build around simple chords, and a vocal that is hard to ignore, you’re invited into the mind of a young woman. It would be a shame to compare her because she has, after all, an already determined sound at such a young age, but if you’re into anything remotely related to Marina and the Diamonds, her self-titled EP is worth a listen.
“I walk the line / between the fight / between the innocent and the riots” she sings on the stunning ‘Sirens’. The production is wisely simple, there’s nothing to prevent you from paying attention to the lyrics and vocals which more often than not happens for up-and-coming artists.
Genre-wise she’s a getting around. Surprisingly, this is only what makes her EP stand stronger. Again, the simple production becomes the red thread throughout an adventurous extended play, where the artist is allowed to try new things without falling under the classically “confused sound universe” category.
‘Stick it’ is just as different as the rest, but I can’t help but have a flashback to early Imogen Heap days, and no bad words about that fantastic lady, (and this might be a bold statement) but Soren’s got a production behind her that carries the skewed universe and quirks far better.
Bryce is hard to put a label on, and I think ultimately if she carries on the way she has begun, she will be carving a brand new category or two for herself.
Remember back in the 90s when delusional music snobs proclaimed piano has no place in rock’ n roll? (They obviously didn’t know of David Bryan, Jerry Lee Lewis or Freddie Mercury.) Well if there was any doubt left, Sunset Sons definitely proves it’s got a place.
The quartet hailing from the surf destination Hossegor (members originating from both Australia and the England) released their debut album Very Rarely Say Die following up on a couple of EPs released last year. This album, however, is unquestionably made to be played live. From the slow catchy ooh’s on ‘Bring The Bright Lights’ to the hit ‘On The Road’ you can almost hear the crowd clap and sing along.
And it’s how the band was made as well. From rehearsing covers in the summer and playing gigs at ski resorts in the winter, the boys are well-versed in stage presence, energy, and musical capability. They supported Imagine Dragons on their latest European stadium tour and the words “best support act ever” kept being thrown around on social media.
There are longing, escapism, and a pinch of catchy rock n roll mixed with a laid back approach. Enough direction to fuse the catchy tunes with the laidbackness, enough escapism to balance the riffs. And that is how you come out on top. Older fans will appreciate the new takes on earlier songs like the beautiful and longing ‘Loa’ (man do this band know how to bring out the harmonies, well done Rob), as well as a predicted new crowd-favourite ‘Bring The Bright Lights’ which for me personally stands the strongest. Slow pace but with a big chorus and a guitar riff that gets stuck in your brain for days.
The band is still in its early years, so the compilation of songs range from old to brand new which suggests they have dabbled a little with the genres. Take ‘Lost Company’ that kind of has a folky vibe to it, and ‘I Remember’ which shines a light on what a brilliant guitarist Rob Windram is. The synergetic relationship between the four musicians is a result of the many live gigs they’ve got under their belt. Jed Laidlaw is a fantastic drummer, bassist Pete Harper and Rob as mentioned before, are on point. And Rory Williams has a voice you definitely want to hear more of.
They do save the best for last, at the end of the album we find ‘I Can’t Wait’ and it is just Rory and a piano. You can feel the end of the summer where the wind is getting a tad colder, the sun sets earlier than you would like, and you cherish the warmth before autumn comes and takes it all away.
Luckily spring is just arriving, you should go and hear the album live. Sunset Sons are currently on a headline tour promoting Very Rarely Say Die. For more info visit sunsetsons.com.
After a couple of years of silence, the Aussie returns with his long-awaited debut album Telluric. And it was a wait worthwhile. Many were hoping that the five EPs he has under his belt, could predict any sort of direction he would take on his debut LP, but if you were hoping for something similar, you’re definitely going to be disappointed.
The meaning of the word Telluric is “an electric current which moves underground or through the sea”. The tempo and feel of the album circles and twirls steadily away, making restrained stops for you to catch your breath before continuing onwards. Current or no current, Matt’s is steering his debut ship in the direction he wants to discover.
“Stood in the corner when we would fight / to act upon a line and hang my shit up out to dry.” He smoothly sings on the soothing and indulgent opening track ‘Belly Side Up’. The slow pace of the record starts here and it doesn’t change much throughout the album. (I refrain from using the word current again but it’s so cunning and cleverly used by Matt himself.)
There are continuing moments of what appears as ambivalent, but what seem to come effortlessly to Matt might be actually meticulously thought out. We just don’t know, and that’s what makes it exciting. For Mac DeMarco fans and in particular listeners of Salad Days, Telluric would be something to dig into.
Paces are kept at a low and mellow speed, from the choirs and clapping on the simplistic ‘Monday’ to the wholesome psychedelic jazz atmosphere on ‘Sooth Lady Wine’. There is a diary-like form to the songs, representing chapters or emotional difficulties you come across in life. The most lifted and upbeat song of the bunch, is the soulful ‘Why Dream’ where Matt discloses “Just to be like you, but you talk too much to listen / and I want you more, and we are meant to be broken / and I forgive warmly, when you’ve got a change of heart.”
Matt Corby’s voice is something you cannot avoid addressing. From his long-forgotten Australia Idol moments, this man has grown vocally as well as in years. The control he possesses, the way a word can bear one meaning in a song and change in the next is outstanding. He’s far from face amongst the crowd when you hear his voice.
The end of Telluric is where we find the hypnotic ‘Empire Attractions’. He asks, “Something’s got to shape us / Boredom’s going to shape us / something’s got to shake us out of this and save us /how can they save you if they can’t help themselves?” Matt’s got vision and we need not worry about where his vision lies in terms of his music. It’s like he has taken the book of soul music, dusted it off, and left his own notes in the margin.
Last month, I sat down with Nashville punk band Break and Enter. Even though they’re just getting started, they’ve been showing their chops playing with various big-name bands around the city. After the release of their debut EP, they added a second guitarist into the mix which helped the band round out their sound and complete their band. Check out the interview below!
MusicDash: How did you guys all meet and decide to come together as a band?
Isaac: Brock heard me playing drums cause he lived below me.
Brock: It all started with Charlie. He posted in the Facebook group “wanna start a pop-punk band?” and one of my favorite bands of all time is Real Friends so I was like “yes, I would love to be in something like this” but I didn’t think I could do it because I had never sang before at all. Then we decided after we talked to a couple of people that we wanted to do more of the music that we were all really into at the time. That all kind of happened around the time when we all went and saw Beartooth play a house show and we were like “why don’t we just do this? This seems like a lot more fun.” Then we needed a drummer and Isaac was above me and annoyed me all the time with his drumming for 5 hours a day so I just decided to just message him because he didn’t seem to have much to do. All he does is play drums. Haha! He was like “yeah, I’ll do it.”
Charlie: I knew Matt because we were in a dorm together.
Brock: We originally had two other members and they committed wholeheartedly to the band at the end of our freshman year and then quit during the summer. So we added Matt during the summer because he was so in to do something fun and then we added Ashley just recently this semester. She played her first show and absolutely nailed it. She was a great addition.
MusicDash: You guys recently released a music video for “Avalanche.” Who shot it and what was that experience like for you?
Matt: Actually, one of my friends shot that at another school. I actually met him through another friend mutually here. We decided to shoot it in a white room because he had a connection to it because of his major. He was a film major and that was what he wanted to do with his life. He shot a repertoire of music videos before us so I had a little bit to look at so I had a gauge to understand what the quality was that we were looking for versus price. Honestly I think that that was the cheapest that we could have ever bought a music video for for that quality and the amount of hours and post production that he put in for us. It was just an incredible outcome.
Brock: Plus doing it now, there’s definitely stuff that if I had known what it would look like and the finished product, I would have done a little bit differently. But I feel like our next video, whenever we decide to make it is going to be really good. It’s going to be insane because we are going to know what it’s like to shoot a video because the entire time we were standing around like “this is incredible. What are we doing?” We were really nervous and we shouldn’t have been nervous. I love what we did now but it makes me even more excited to do it again.
MusicDash: You recently played with Wage War. How did you guys get that opportunity and what was it like opening for them?
Brock: I emailed Music City Booking and had literally never talked to them before because they’re very hard to talk to. I’m sure that they get swamped with emails. I emailed them and said that we were emerging and we will bring people. We love Wage War and would love to open for them. And they were so down to let us do it. They asked if we could confirm, so I ran into Charlie’s room as he was getting out of the shower and I grabbed him and said “WE’RE OPENING FOR WAGE WAR!” And that’s what we did. It was so awesome. It was such a cool experience.
MusicDash: Your EP was released last November. What was that process like?
Matt: It was definitely a rush at first. The very first time that we ever got in a practice room, we knew we wanted something released that semester to have something to play so that we could be on stage and start performing. We were talking about recording so that we could have something to give people because that’s one of the major things that you need to get out there in the world — you need to have something that somebody can physically hold. You’ve gotta have that tangible form.
Brock: They need something to listen to. That was the main thing.
Matt: And then we wrote the first song, which was “Detonate.” We just started to riff write it. Charlie started jamming with me, then Isaac filled in. That’s kind of how we started writing. We just did our own things and fit them together like pieces of a puzzle. We changed one or two things here and there. That’s kind of how we went about doing it and that’s how we’re still doing it now. We just like to come up on things on our own and share them with the group. It’s basically like this is Parliament — we each vote yes or no.
Brock: I always have these ideas and I hear the guitar in my head. I’ll just be sitting in class thinking about whatever lyrics I’ve written, and then I’ll hear a guitar in my head. I never thought about recording myself on my phone but then I tweeted one of my favorite bands, Stray From The Path, and their lead singer replied to me and said “I literally speak the riffs into my phone in voice memos and my entire band makes fun of me.” And I thought that was a good idea so I started doing that.
Matt: And then we proceeded to make fun of him.
MusicDash: Overall, you seem like you mesh together really well as musicians. Why do you think that you work together so well?
Brock: I was really impressed with Isaac because I’ve been in a band before where, especially the drummer, is terrified to write drum stuff. Some people only want to be handed things or can’t improvise anything. I was really worried going into writing stuff that I’ve never done before that Isaac would have to walk on two crutches or have us have to wheel him in to write. But he’s been doing somersaults. He’s just really good at it. That was beyond my expectations and made me feel very comfortable.
Isaac: I think that Brock and I have a good balance because I like not starting from nothing. The previous band I was in last year, the singer wanted to do exactly that. He wanted to give me all of my parts exactly how he wanted them and I hated it. Brock is like “start with this and mold it to exactly how you want it” and I think that works really well. It’s not me coming up with the entire song myself and then everybody else not speaking their mind. But it’s not him coming up with the entire song and me not speaking my mind.
Brock: One thing that I’m really glad we did was last semester we assigned roles in the group chat. I basically told everybody that this was their role. And Matt is the antagonist. So I told him that his job was to always look at what could possibly go wrong and tell it to me. And Matt has 100% kept doing that. Sometimes it’s really frustrating. I’ll be like “hey, let’s get these shirts” and he’ll go “but where can we get them cheaper? How much is the shipping?” I’m like “it’s just an idea” and then I’ll think back and go ‘I’m really glad he said that because it got me working on it.’
Charlie: What was my role?
Brock: I don’t know. I don’t remember.
MusicDash: So Ashley joined the band in January. How has that been different for you?
Isaac: It has been nice though. From the drummer’s perspective, we’ve had all these practices before Ashley and now after Ashley. Getting our music fleshed out a little bit more and playing live with Ashley has been great.
Charlie: It’s nice having a second guitarist in the band.
Brock: I originally texted Ashley and asked her to join the band and she was like “I don’t know. Thanks for the offer.” And then she joined.
Ashley: At first I was like “I listen to the music but I don’t play it. You might be able to find someone else who’s better at playing it.” But it’s a good time and I like it a lot.
MusicDash: What were your first impressions of the band when you first started playing with them?
Ashley: Like I said before, I kind of said no. But when I first tried out and jammed and stuff I tried to play the song that I knew best that was kind of from this scene. It seemed cool with them and I really liked hanging out. I didn’t know them really well so it was a little bit awkward at first. But I kind of realized that it wasn’t as intimidating as I thought it was going to be. The song that I tried out for the band with I learned an hour before by ear.
Matt: We knew that she was good enough for our band with an hour’s practice.
Ashley: Yeah, they seemed to be down and I was like ‘yeah, that’s cool.’ So we played that song that I tried out with and then Brock was like “cool, let’s start making a song. I’ve got an idea.” and I was like ‘wow, that was quick!’ And within two practices, we had our song “Guillotine” done. I think it’s a lot of fun. There’s a lot more to it that I didn’t realize. When I said no, I didn’t expect to meet people, make a lot of new friends, and play fun music.
Brock: One thing that I wanted to mention about my first impression of Ashley was that she sent us a video of her playing an Escape the Fate song. I was watching it in my room and there’s a part in the song where she taps and I’m like “Charlie, can you do this?” And he’s like “yeah, I can do that.” And then she started tapping really quick and he’s like “yeah, I can’t do that.” The biggest thing for me was that we didn’t want to have somebody in the band that wasn’t technically good and couldn’t learn things. But when Ashley told us that she was technically good and then she performed it live for us. I wanted to see how she would perform under pressure because I knew that she was really nervous. She missed a few notes, but overall she did a really good job. The fact that she can learn and the fact that she can write was the biggest thing for us.
Isaac: I was a little concerned. Brock’s role was to be concerned with the technicality stuff but as a drummer I was like “whoever joins this has to be cool.” I was pretty concerned about that and I knew as soon as we saw the other guitarists that tried out, I didn’t think that they molded well. Ashley was pretty chill and it’s been going good so far.
Brock: It went from Ashley saying like four words in a practice to her screaming at Charlie. She was mad. It took like three practices but she adjusted pretty quick.
Ashley: I was kind of intimidated at first because I didn’t know them and I didn’t know how to act. But then I was like ‘this is fine. I can yell at Charlie.’
Matt: To be honest, I can’t remember a time when no one was yelling at Charlie.
Isaac: I’ve always yelled at Charlie. I love yelling at Charlie.
Matt: Maybe that’s your role — the person we can blame everything on. The scapegoat.
Aurora Aksnes explains her album in one sentence, “My album, it’s mainly about how bad experiences can be good memories.” And despite the dark pop delving into the melancholic spectra of songwriting, there is still a feeling of seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, in the debut album of the 19-year-old Norwegian.
It starts off with the tranquil first single of the album, ‘Runaway’ where she sings “And I was running far away / would I run off the world someday? / Nobody knows.” But it steps up the strength in ‘Conqueror’ with big drums and an even bigger lyrical surroundings. And you would be deaf not to notice a pinch of Florence + The Machine reminiscing in between the beats.
AURORA plays around with the elements of the earth and the corresponding elements of light – or the lack thereof. In particular, with the song ‘Running With The Wolves’ she dances gracefully on the right side of the lines. It never engages too much with the heavy melancholy that can drain the life of a song, it keeps a subtle grip on lightness and anticipation which gently knocks on the door for the duration of the album.
‘Through The Eyes Of A Child’ shows a very honest young woman, but with great perception of the world around her, and inside of her. “World is covered by our trails / scars we cover up with paint / watch them preach in sour lies / I would rather see this world through the eyes of a child.” If this were the 90s, AURORA would be the kind of artist you would pull out the booklet of the CD for, and read every lyric on the album. There’s substance to her, and the term an old soul trapped in a young body seem very fitting.
She manages to bring the listener aboard her ship, and it’s a boat you don’t want to get off of. We get to see the world through a pair of spectacles, a reality painted with the words of a fairytale; anecdotes that tell the unsweetened and sometimes unkind truths while remaining hopeful. On both ‘Murder Song 5, 4, 3, 2, 1” and ‘Warrior’ there’s a sincereness in which Aurora spills her realities. She has been playing the piano since childhood, and it shows, because it is by far the piano-driven songs that are her forte.
She might be singing she’s running away, but AURORA is running towards something quite special with her debut album. If this is what she delivers at just 19, even our universe will not limit her.
Mike Nelson, better known to the masses as BANNERS, is a singer-songwriter with a unique sound who is making his mark in the world of indie music. MusicDash caught up with BANNERS as he finished off his first Canadian tour to chat about music and his time in Canada.
MusicDash: What did it feel like when you got signed to Island Records?
BANNERS: It’s an absolute on and a privilege to be signed to Island. It’s funny with major labels. I think in signing to a record label you are always aware of it’s legacy, of the amazing artists and music that are or have been involved with that label. It becomes your responsibility to extend that legacy and that is what I try to always keep in mind.
I think there’s a generally perceived wisdom that the record industry is run by suits and businessmen who are interested exclusively in making money, and the greatest pleasure for me was discovering that that is simply not true, that, actually, these labels are full of people that are intensely passionate about music, and about creating it. It’s been amazing to be so supported and Im working hard to repay that faith.
MusicDash: What made you decide to contact Sephen Kozmeniuk to work on your sound?
BANNERS: Like so much in music, like in life, an opportunity arrises and you have to grasp that opportunity and see where it goes. I was in Canada to do some songwriting with a couple of writers and he was interested in meeting up. I liked him so we tried a couple of sessions and it went from there. There was the opportunity to work with a few other producers but I realised pretty quickly that he was my guy! We have so many similar musical influences and we both want to make music that means something to people!
MusicDash: What have been some of your favourite memories from your time living in Toronto? (It’s pretty far from Liverpool to say the least!)
BANNERS: I really like Toronto. I’ve met so many great people there. My band are all from Toronto too. Truthfully though my life in Toronto has revolved around music so it’s just a pleasure to be in a place where I can just immerse myself into that creative headspace. St Lawrence Market is amazing too.
MusicDash: What has been your favourite show from the Canadian tour?
BANNERS: It’d be unfair to pick one! They’ve all had their moments. Playing these songs live is such a new thing for me that every live experience, good or bad, is important because it gives you the opportunity to learn from your mistakes and figure out how to make the next show better.
MusicDash: “Shine a Light” has really taken the world by storm. Why do you think people like the song so much? How does it feel to have people respond to your sound?
BANNERS: I’ve always believed that if you want a song to mean something to people you have to make sure it means something to you first. And Shine a light means a lot to me, so maybe that’s what helps it resonate. It’s hard to say why people like it, but after spending so much time writing and recording it its amazing to hear that people do like it. That’s one of the pleasures of playing live really. Having the opportunity to meet people and let them tell you their experiences with the songs you’ve created. After the gig last night a guy told me it was the first song he sent to his new girlfriend on a mixtape so it means a lot to him. It’s things like that that make it worthwhile.
MusicDash: What was the recording and songwriting process like for your EP?
BANNERS: The stressful part is writing really, it’s ultimately very rewarding but there are certainly days where you worry you’re never going to be able to write ever again. In terms of the EP i already had “Ghosts” written from a long time ago, but all the other songs Stephen and I, along with a guy called Todd Clark, devoted a chunk of time to writing and the EP is the result. Once the songs were written we built the tracks up into a demo form so we could sit with them for a while. It’s important to give yourself time away from a song because it can be hard to analyze it properly otherwise. And then once we were happy with them we built the tracks up with session musicians.
MusicDash: As you’ve spent so much time in Canada this year, are you exited to step up to play large festival crowds like at WayHome and Osheaga?
BANNERS: I can’t wait. Both festivals sound brilliant and the line-ups are amazing. I love LCD Soundsystem, the Killers, Arcade Fire and Radiohead so I think it’s gonna be a pretty fun summer!
MusicDash: How did it feel to perform on Jimmy Kimmel?
BANNERS: It was great, obviously. Again, it was an absolute honour to be asked to play and from that point on I was just determined to give a good performance. Which is easy because they’re all so professional there that they give you the tools to do as well as you possibly can. I had great faith in myself and my band to do a good job so we all really enjoyed it!
MusicDash: Who are some of your favourite up and coming artists right now?
BANNERS: There’s a few bands back in Liverpool that I really love. Married to the Sea, Silent Sleep and a really cool band called Ex Easter Island head. I’m really proud of my home town and the music that comes out of there and I can’t wait to play there in may.
MusicDash: You recorded the song “Half Light” for the TV show The Royals. What made you decide to do that?
BANNERS: Well, The Royals had been really kind to me, they’d played two of my songs, “Start a Riot” and “Firefly”, on there already and needed some music for their end of season episode. They had a demo that Dan from Bastille has made and asked me to record. Which I was really happy to do because I think it’s a great song!
MusicDash: What are some fun facts about yourself?
BANNERS: When I’m not thinking about music I’m thinking about football, and specifically Liverpool Football Club. I was home for christmas when they played my song over the tannoy in the stadium which was probably my musical high point so far! I can’t imagine what would have to happen to top it!
MusicDash: What is your favourite part about performing?
BANNERS: Like I say these songs mean a lot to me, so to get to play them to people is just brilliant. The guys in my band are brilliant and are my best mates so to get to do that with your best friends is an indescribable feeling. As shine a light has been on the radio a lot seeing people sing it back to me is so much fun!
MusicDash: As you’re heading out on your first American tour at the end of the month, what can your fans expect from those shows?
BANNERS: Well I’ll be in America with all that American food so they can probably expect a slightly larger version of me as the tour goes on. But really they can expect an English boy with songs that mean loads to him playing with people that mean loads to him desperately trying to be anywhere near as cool as Jeff Buckley. The other bands I’m playing with “The Moth and the Flame” and “Pop Etc” are great so everyone should check them out!
”It was a big, big world but we thought we were bigger” Lukas Graham sings on the hit single ’7 years’ which climbed lists across Europe and landed him a number one spot on the UK chart. But he also reached the top somewhere further away imaginable, Australia. The last time Denmark made a mark down under was with Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’ and we have fortunately come a long way since. The Ghetto pop of Lukas Graham is on a roll.
The four piece band joins a dozen of Danish artists like Oh land, MØ and Alex Vargas, making waves and getting noticed by the world outside of Scandinavia. Like with everything else, nothing comes without hard work and effort. But for the Danes, taking a step away from the terminology of ‘Jantelov’ (‘Law of Jante’) which put into few words mean, you’re not to think you are anything special. It has been a social norm imprinted in the society of Scandinavia for generations, and in some ways work as an opposite to the American Dream; wanting to achieve something and speaking up about it is frowned upon. Having people liking your product despite going against the grain of a society is an accomplishment in itself.
In the song ‘Happy Home’ Lukas sings, “Mama called about the paper turns out they wrote about me / now my broken heart’s the only thing that’s broke about me / so many people should have seen what we got going on / I only wanna put my heart and life in songs.” The guy is a solid storyteller, spilling the beans as if in a conversation with his audience, and it’s what sets him apart.
There’s a hazardous honesty to it, and that can lead to two outcomes: A sense of too much cliché which ultimately makes you careless to the message, or, here’s a kid saying exactly what’s on his mind, with no pompousness to it, and it draws people in. I think they are heading towards latter. Media has been having a hard time finding a sound or band and compare them to, which perhaps is the greatest applause you can give them.
Before the break into the outlandish charts, the soulful pop band released their debut album in 2012, and with tireless touring later, so many record labels were out to get their hands on them, they could cherry-pick their own record deal. They ended up signing with American Warner Bros Records at the end of 2013. In between there was the heavy tour across Europe, and selling out stadium gigs in heir home country alone is a bit unheard of. The quartet is steadily climbing charts around the world, and with the new album released on March 25, it is followed up by a tour across the US.
A few years back the discussions were whether or not Lukas Graham would translate to a broader audience. Now the talk is all about how many countries he can beat Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Adele in like he did in Australia and the UK.
Fitting with the long list of English groups before them that The 1975 seem to be forging their way into, the Manchester quartet have created a second album that sounds and looks like a more mature version of their first.
This does not mean that the (the arrogant and annoyling titled) ‘I like it when you sleep for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’ is a direct, boring and lacklustre copy of their debut (and better titled) ‘The 1975’. Rather, it means that what went right on their first try, such as the witty lyrics and experimental mix of electronic beats and rock synth guitar pop, is capitalised on and expanded, and what went wrong is done away with. It means that they’ve taken whatever they learnt after being thrown into fame from their debut after years in a career without any, after touring, dealing with fangirls, pop stars that “want to shag” lead singer Matty Healy, and apparent struggles with cocaine, and turned it into a sprawling, ambitious, and heavenly workable second album that both responds to the questions laid out on their first, and leaves room for The 1975 to grow into the iconoclasts that they seem to be itching to be.
Lyrically, ‘Ugh!’ is the new 1975’s response to the song that first catapulted them into success, ‘Chocolate’, making the first catchy anthem about driving around with soft drugs sound comparably tame to the singer’s electro pop tryst with cocaine. ‘A Change of Heart’ is another answer to their debut – Healy sings ‘never found love in the city’ after telling us on their debut that ‘If you wanna find love then you know where the city is’, perhaps literally making note of this response by telling us that he’s ‘just had a change of heart’. ‘She’s American’ and ‘Paris’ sounds like more tales of the women sung about in ‘She Way Out’ and ‘Settle Down’ from their debut, and ‘The Sound’ is the second album’s festival anthem answer to ‘Girls’ on the first. The link is literally evident by starting the album with a rework of the same track that did the first, ‘The 1975’, showing us from the get go that this album is similar to the first, but the jump into the powerful opener on ‘Love Me’ shows that it’s gone above and beyond what the debut made us expect.
Swapping black and white aesthetics and guitar driven pop for a rose tinted theme and Bowie-inspired riffs hasn’t answered all of Healy’s troubled questions, however. Just as he struggles with belief in God in ‘Antichrist’ on the ‘The 1975’, he continues to plead ‘I’m asking you Jesus, show yourself’ on ‘If I believe you’, contrasting these more serious tones with ‘you shouldn’t have made me atheist’, continuing the link of witty lyricism that is consistent throughout the album, making the scrawling mix of pop, jazz and 80s rock come to life in a way that is new to The 1975’s talents. Some of the record’s best tracks, ‘The Ballad of Me and My Brain’ and ‘Somebody Else’ show us deeper into Healy’s struggling psyche, while always keeping that hint of lightness to the lyrics, ‘I think I’ve gone mad, isn’t that so sad?’. Similarly, ‘Ugh!’’s upbeat tempo and sporadic mix of sound may make it seem like one of the more light-hearted songs on the album, but a closer look reveals that ‘I’m not giving it up again’ may not be as simple as he’s trying to convince us it is.
So much of the album seems unworkable – its 17 track length, variation of genre and style, and almost-too-much instrumentals, but what The 1975 have learnt from their first release has obviously paid off. It’s hard to think of what track they could have cut or where they could have simplified musically – the album’s beauty is contained within its euphoric music, coupled with layered vocals found on ‘Somebody Else’, ‘If I believe you’, and physically manifested on the album’s simplistic artwork. What is most appealing, however, is The 1975’s ability to capture the cultural climate in a way that is lyrically subtle, but visually obvious. In ‘A Change of Heart’ Healy amusingly sings ‘you took a picture of your salad and put it on the internet’, harking back to their video for single ‘Love Me’ where he mocks card board cut out celebrities. ‘Love Me’ is perhaps the album’s marking song – the most literal nod towards the Bowie influence, the characteristic mix of genres, the dazzling bass line (something they’ve thankfully carried over from songs such as ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Girls’ on their debut), and lyrics directly criticising the generation that they’re making music for. The more adept listener will question their own relationship with culture and the celebrities they worship in this internet age.
Healy struggles to find a sense of identity in a world where religion is absent, his friends are overtaken by fame, and his lovers are ‘looking through your phone and then leaving with somebody else’. It’s wholly empty, beautifully depressing and disgustingly perfect – fitting for a band that seem grappled between dichotomies of criticising the modern age and using it for their success. Each listen leaves me so fucking confused, but in the way that only great bands can.
After releasing two well-supported singles in 2015, Manchester indie dream band AFFAIRS is back and ready for the new year. The band brings something special to the table with lead singer Jim Robinson’s unique vocals and the groovy instrumentals of their newest release Play. Like Brothers before it, Play was touched by all of the right people, including producer Ed Buller.
The track draws you in from the first beat of the drums, and keeps you going throughout with its catchy and nostalgic lyrics. The song’s chorus says “if you want it all, then you’ve got it” and AFFAIRS definitely has it. We’re excited to hear what else the band has up their sleeve this year.
Alex Vargas has got something on his mind. With his debut EP, he delivers six heartfelt stories that justify all the buzz and the ones-to-watch articles that have been culminating for the past few years. He was part of our 2016 artist predictions. The EP opens up with the title track ‘Giving Up The Ghost’ which is a funky and rousing sound, clarifying the direction of the EP.
The Dane turned to the England in his late teenage years and has been honing and polishing his sound playing gigs. ‘Solid Ground’ has been a fan favourite for some time, exposing him to a broader audience. This is also where his earnest and heartfelt lyrics comes to show in the chorus “In the arms of another / you’re on solid ground / I’m a fool / I’m a coward / and I’m breaking down”.
With an electronic-based sound, there is always the risk of a disordered sound universe lacking empathy and warmth, but Alex has avoided it, in fact, he reaches a wholesome atmosphere with no worry or confusion. He has a broad approach to the electronic space he has created for himself, and I dare say the live shows have been a help to pinpoint what works and what doesn’t. ‘Wear Your Demons Out’ is a testament to that specifically. My only dislike is the song fades out instead of finishing strong.
His vocal and his falsetto, in particular, is to die for, and on ‘Shackled up’ you’re in for a catchy chorus and a falsetto you can’t help but sing along to. His incredible live performance of the song at The Distillery can be found here. Alex Vargas first debut is solid, and for his debut album, (I’m only contemplating), I would be expecting a wide-range of experimenting directions.
Hoodie Allen is proof that hard work makes a career. While I could leave you with that bold statement, his journey so far is too interesting to pass up on. From successful mixtapes (worth mentioning are Pep Rally and Leap Year), Hoodie started making waves, quite literally. The good old word of mouth rumored this dude to be three things in particularly: 1) Able to put on a tight show. 2) Actually knows his craft. And last but not least, 3) he is immensely polite and grateful to his fans in person and online. Kindness gets you somewhere, and Steven aka Hoodie Allen has shown it works if you mean it.
The buzz kept getting bigger in 2012 when his first EP All American (listen to ‘No Faith In Brooklyn’) debuted at number 10 on the Billboard 200. This was when people started asking the question, when is he going to sign with a big label? We are writing 2016 and that is still an unanswered question, and I do not think it will happen anytime soon. It was followed up by another mixtape Crew Cuts, and in 2014, he released his debut album People Keep Talking which featured Ed Sheeran on ‘All About It’ topping charts like iTunes. Oh, and he then proceeded to be part of Fall Out Boy’s tour Boys of Zummer.
Still an independent hip hop artist, he released his second album Happy Camper in January, which despite being available free, also topped many iTunes charts as well as hitting number one on the Billboard independent album list. He has toured harder than most. The UK, Europe and North America and Australia. The new album will to no one’s surprise be combined with a new major tour in the US.
The repetitive fact here is, that Hoodie Allen is all about the “show it don’t tell it”. The once Google-employed Steven is honing his craft, creating a buzz and repeating it, and if you do it enough times it gets you somewhere. Most artists would at this stage of their career have signed with a major label and given some of their responsibilities away, but there is not a creative angle where Mr. Allen has not been involved. And that shows.
Let Hoodie show you what he is capable of at a gig, and I promise you, will remember it as one of the best concerts of your life.
Andrew Tufano was probably voted “most likely to succeed” in high school. And if not, he probably should have been. He has fire in his eyes and passion in his heart, and that alone could get you far in the music industry. But it’s the talent that’ll shoot him straight to the top. Last summer he came off of a self-booked country-wide tour and released some new music, and this spring, Andrew’s going to get to touring again. But not before doubling the amount of songs he’s written so far in his career. I sat down with Andrew at a Nashville coffee shop called Eighth and Roast last month. Here’s what he had to say:
MusicDash: What are your favorite things about Nashville?
Andrew Tufano: Coffee’s up there. Eighth and Roast is up there. The things that keep me here are the people. That’s really what it is. Everybody’s here: there’s so many musicians and so much talent here. It’s very hospitable. There’s a lot of friendly people. Pretty much everybody I’ve ever asked to get coffee with and pick their brain, no matter how busy they are, they make time. You can’t do that in New York. People would just be like “no, talk to my assistant.” So I really love that aspect. It really makes up for the amount of gigs that don’t pay you. Cause if that weren’t here, I’d be out of here in a heartbeat but that keeps me here. Everybody’s here and I love it.
MusicDash: How did you get your start in music?
Andrew Tufano: My parents kind of forced me to play piano for a couple of years. That was where it started. I think I was in second grade when I got a little Casio keyboard for Christmas. They had me take a lessons for two years and I was like “okay, whatever.” They bought a full sized keyboard because the teacher was like “alright, he’s got to the point where this isn’t going to work.” Shortly after that I really wanted to quit but they were like “no, we just bought this full-sized keyboard. You’re going to keep taking lessons for at least another year.” And sometime during that I started playing a lot of Billy Joel and a lot of other stuff I really liked. Because when you’re first starting out you can’t play those types of songs. I got to a certain level where I started enjoying it and I just got hooked. I did instrumental songwriting a lot. I did a lot of electronic composition. I had Scorewriter and I entered this competition and they flew me out to Dallas to give me Sibelius. I was in that whole sphere and then I completely switched over in eighth grade to guitarist singer/songwriter. I’ve been doing that seriously since high school.
MusicDash: What’s your writing process like?
Andrew Tufano: The writing process is just ridiculous. I’m doing this project this winter where I’m writing 100 songs in 100 days. I’ve been writing a lot because of that. I’ve been writing the songs two weeks in advance so that I can sit with them for a little while before we record them. They’re going to be written within a hundred days but released within a hundred days two weeks later. There’s lyrics all over my room and it’s insanity. The biggest struggle for me is just organization. Mostly my writing process is a logistical nightmare. I’m trying to streamline that. It’s just me spewing out ideas, ferreting at first (either musically or lyrically). Usually I have a melody and chords in my head and I get those down. And then just taking that and editing it. It’s not even creative at that point. It just feels like I’m putting together a puzzle. So in a nutshell, its insanity.
MusicDash: Who would you say that some of your influences are?
Andrew Tufano: I’ll kind of take an artist and listen to them nonstop for a couple of weeks and then I’ll completely drop them. Right now, I’m on Ray LaMontagne. This morning I listened to that 2004 album he had four times in a row all the way through. And then I’ll kind of borrow some of his ideas. That’s kind of what I’ve done, so as far as inspiration goes, there’s this weird collection of artists that I’ll get really into and take some of their ideas or stylistic things and then move on. If I had to name one, it would be Billy Joel. In my childhood that was all I would listen to. I played like his entire discography. Since then it’s just such a collection that it’s hard for me to name a handful of artists.
MusicDash: I know this is tough, but what has been one of your favorite performances in Nashville?
Andrew Tufano: Honestly, one of my favorite performances that I’ve had here happened a few days ago in Puckett’s downtown. Usually when I play there in the winter, there’s not a lot of people there. It just happened to be packed, line out the door and I just lucked out. The people were just having such a good time and it was a good response after every song. I was making jokes with people and there was a lot of communication from the stage as opposed to just a one way “this is my stuff, you listen,” people were interacting and calling out songs. It was a really good time. There have been a lot of different types of shows here. I’ve played some house shows here and a lot of writer’s rounds, and some charities and hospitals. A big variety, so it’s hard to compare.
MusicDash: You went on a pretty long tour of the US last summer. Tell us a little about that. Where were some of your favorite places to play? How did you go about booking it?
Andrew Tufano: Let’s see. I played the Bluebird twice on the tour. Once with a trio, once solo. It was a really long tour! I just love playing there. They have an MC that goes up and says “guys, be quiet. No cell phones, listen.” It’s not a big room but everybody’s staring at you and listening to every word. Even at listening room shows, everybody’s not going to hear every word. There’s going to be people talking. There’s a little bit of pressure and you start second-guess like “I’ve never really thought about this lyric before. Everybody’s listening to it!” Usually I just sing and people forget once I get to the chorus.
My favorite city was probably Seattle. There’s no mosquitos there, everybody’s really chill. I’ve never really spent too much time on the west coast until this summer. There really is a west coast/east coast thing. There’s a different culture. The west coast has this sort of chill/hippy, a lot of tech people there. There’s a lot of art. I really like that aspect of that, so I really liked Seattle a lot. The west coast though, I didn’t have a lot booked. I had a house show in Seattle, but it wasn’t that big. The east coast was more of a tour – we had a show almost every day. The west coast was more of a vacation. We had like seven shows on the whole coast and we were there for about three weeks. It was a show every three days or so. The other days we were just kind of hanging out in the city and exploring and spending all of the money that we made on the east coast. It was such a good experience.
On the tour we played about 35ish and I booked them all myself. The reason that the east coast was so busy was because I was doing independent booking. I honestly just bit off a little more than I could chew. I booked it chronologically, so the further we got into the tour, the less we had booked. The first two weeks it was like every night we had a show. It was great! Then we just kind of slowed down and by the time we got to LA, it was like “alright.” I think there was a five day period with no shows so we were just driving around in Arizona.
MusicDash: So you had your EP that was released in September. Tell us a little bit about it. What was the process like for you?
Andrew Tufano: This was the first professional thing that I put out that wasn’t recorded in a studio. I have two other EPs that were recorded in a studio in Virginia. This one, I did in two different house studios with the Rhett Walker Band. They essentially made the album. They all played on it: the guitarist, the bassist, and the drummer. The drummer was the producer and most of the songs were recorded and mixed in the drummer’s house. Some of the parts were recorded in the guitarist’s house.
That’s something that honestly ten years ago I think wouldn’t have even been practical. Just the way that technology has improved. You can get such good sound out of somebody’s house. So I’m really excited about how it turned out. So I’m really satisfied with how it turned out. That helped save money too. I didn’t have to book studio time and the guys were so cool. Kenny Davis was the producer. He’s just an awesome guy. A really talented guy. He’s the first producer that I’ve worked with that isn’t in the same vein of instrumentalists as I am. I play the guitar and piano, so I’ve always worked with guitarists and pianists. We’d have similar ideas, which I hadn’t even realized until working with him. He’s a drummer and he’s be like “oh, we should do a half-time groove in the chorus.” He thought about things a little differently so it was great working with him.
That was all recorded February through April. I printed the CDs in May and I had them exclusively on the tour. So the songs have been done since May, but the digital release wasn’t until September 1st. There was a release show in D.C and the last leg of the tour was the release, but I actually had it the whole time on tour. It was kind of a little fun thing to give people.
MusicDash: Tell us a little bit about the Amplify Entertainment 100 songs in 100 days project!
Andrew Tufano: How do I put this? It’s going to be the death of me! It’s going to drive me to insanity and back. So I had this idea for a project near the end of my tour. I was trying to figure out what to do next and I have a tour booked February 20th to March 20th. I have another tour in the works from April until May but I had this whole block of time in the winter. I wanted to do something cool and something interesting and I wanted to challenge myself and push myself. I kind of played around with the idea of 100 songs in 100 days. I had done weeks called ‘7 in 7’ — 7 songs in 7 days and that was kind of challenging. So I don’t know why I thought that this would be okay. Like I’m going to go home after this and write a song.
So far it’s been good! I’m just surprised that Amplify Entertainment was on board with this. They’re really talented guys. So we have Forrest producing it, Joey and Mitchell are the Audio and Visual guys. I’m surprised that they’re on board. They all are for whatever reason. I think that the release is December 8th. We have 7 videos recorded already, We’re doing 5 or 6 videos on Sunday. We’re going to try to stay 10 videos ahead because there will be times that one of us goes out of town. So we need to be 10 videos ahead or the project will fail. There’s no other way.
So yeah, that’s the project. I really want to test the relationship between creativity and productivity. I think that’s what it is. I’ve had a lot of people tell me “oh, you’re right brained. You’re really creative, so you’re probably not good at organization or the business side” and I don’t think that being good at one thing inhibits you from being good at another. I don’t think that’s related. I don’t think that that’s very scientific either. You can have two halves of one brain. Like I was talking about with writing is that you have to sit down and write it all and then you have to make it all work. It feels different. I do think that a lot of people will limit themselves. That’s kind of a limiting belief to say “I’m a creative person, so I can’t do this. I need to find a manager. I need to find someone else to do it.” That’s just kind of selling yourself short. So, I kind of want to challenge that.
All of the videos will be finished by February 20th but the last video won’t come out until March 7th or 14th. And I’m giving a Ted X talk about how everything went. I don’t know what I’m going to talk about yet, but it’s the culmination of the whole project just to kind of be like “this is what I learned, this is what I had problems with, this is how it went.” I’ll play a few of the songs. And then we’re hopefully going to do a documentary about the whole experience.
MusicDash: What else is coming up for you in 2016?
Andrew Tufano: I just sat down with a booking agent about my schedule for next year. She’s like “give me all the dates you have booked, where you want to book, where you want to tour.” I have the tour in February and March going down to Florida cause it’s warmer down there. I have a tour in April and May with a band in the southeast. And then after that, I didn’t have much planned. I’m probably just going to move out of my apartment and tour around. I’m never there and I feel like “why am I paying for rent?”
I literally wrote an email saying “I don’t know what I’m doing after May.” I literally told her that I’m down for whatever. I want to go to the west coast again. A friend and I are trying to tour the Rockies. I have a fiddle player and we’re going to tour from Nashville to Boston on these dates, but I don’t care where we go in between. We can hit the east coast, we can go up the midwest. Things are just so up in the air. After I write 100 songs, things will look different. My entire show will be different because I’ll have new songs. I think my style will be different.
Hopefully this will gather a little bit of a following. I don’t have a big YouTube following right now, so hopefully this will get me a little more in the YouTube scene. I think it’s just a matter of adjusting on the fly and seeing where things go. I’ve always been comfortable with that. That’s why I freelance and why I don’t have a job right now. I would prefer to just take things as they go. If I have too much planned, I feel trapped.
Every time I’m interviewed and I’m asked this question, I say the same thing and that frightens me. It’s like “well I have the next few months planned, but after that, we’ll see.” I’ll let you know.
Last weekend, I went to RJ Bracchitta’s album release show at The Basement in Nashville, TN. I arrived just in time for RJ to take the stage. I stood towards the back was in the perfect position to see how the audience interacted with RJ. From what I saw, the audience was pretty content with RJ’s performance and stage presence. I overheard a young woman say “he has a great personality.” Heck, I’m pretty sure that I even saw a couple slow dancing at one point.
The musicians on stage were assisting RJ in making music that stood out. RJ said to the crowd between songs “These guys are some of the greatest musicians I’ve ever met.” RJ is a pretty talented guy himself, playing the piano, the acoustic, and the electric guitar.
The last song of RJ’s set was the title track of his album “Free.” He introduced the song with a little speech in which he said “every single person in this room is completely different and that’s incredible. We should embrace that.” The band then broke into this “super cool synchronized clap thing” (I’m copying directly from my notes here). The clapping was a great complement to RJ’s guitar playing. Musically, this song was definitely my favorite. Crowd participation is a very big deal to me, and RJ nailed it with having us all sing “I wanna be free.” We even had some drunken harmonies from the audience, which actually made a nice addition to the performance. As a Nashville newcomer would say, “only in Nashville.”
In closing, RJ’s songs may only live on our Snapchat stories just for the night, but they’ll live in our minds for much longer.
You can check out RJ’s album “Free” on his website here.
The sound of the resurgence of garage and indie rock has a new face. A few new faces, in fact. The Spanish rockers Hinds have been growing momentum for the past few months through the release of low-fi tracks ‘Garden’ and ‘Chili Town’, and their debut album ‘Leave Me Alone’ is a near-perfect attempt at a bundle of messy nostalgia, a beautiful further nod towards the garage rock scene.
Hinds aren’t the only ones currently nodding in this direction, of course, but ‘Leave Me Alone’ signifies that Hinds are a little more special than the charming qualities of being all female, from Spain, and their obvious The Velvet Underground influence give them. ‘Bamboo’, originally created when Hinds were known as ‘Deers’ and only consisted of singers Carlotta Cosials and Ana García Perrote, is a hazy, acoustically inspired happy-go lucky anthem, while ‘Garden’ and ‘Castigadas en el Granero’ serve as the melodic centrepieces, rivalling with the simplistic funk of ‘Fat Calmed Kiddos’ for the quartet’s best track.
The simplicity of the songs is a highlight rather than a drawback – it continues throughout the album, creating a consistent hark back to their garage inspirations, with the added twist of Mac DeMarco style and much needed girl power. The riff of ‘Chili Town’ perfectly captures Hinds’ musical drawings, with their video encompassing their fun, laid back attitude, which is incidentally what saves the album from becoming too samey.
While the album does admittedly get a bit repetitive, the girls seem to know how to successfully combine their disjointed garage with endearing lyrics. Drinking out of cartons, smoking cigarettes like old Hollywood stars and dancing to an album called ‘Leave Me Alone’ may give Hinds a bit of a tough-girl character, but lyrics such as ‘I am flirting with this guy just to pretend I’m fine’ constitute as the girls’ lyrical equivalent to their similarly fractured, confused and emotionally charged melodies. There’s a mix of apathetic lovesick lyricism, ‘All I’m asking for is you to make a move’, and apathetic teenage musings, ‘you’re getting blinder taking drugs’, sung by voices that tend to crash into each other, rumbling over changing tempos and crackling percussion. All this is highlighted by an underlying sunny disposition, causing you to shift between all consuming thoughts of heartbreak to feeling carefree of such matters, lying on a beach somewhere in Spain. It’s messy, sure, but all good debuts are. Hinds are doing it right.
These past couple of months have been huge for Kyler Daron and his band. They’ve played Belmont University’s Rock Showcase, released an EP called “Whispers in the Woods” which was mixed by Grammy nominated Paul Moak, and played a release show at Nashville’s own The End. Although Kyler Daron’s band is in his name, it is clear that the band members are all about collaboration and fun — just watch them on stage. During their cover of The Killers’ “When You Were Young,” Kyler changes the lyrics to “I look a little bit like Jesus,” and captures the attention of the audience instantly. Combining humor, heart, and honesty, Daron’s music feel a little bit like home.
MusicDash: What drew you to Nashville?
Kyler Daron: I was brought to Nashville, like almost anyone, to be among some of the best musicians and artists in the nation. Choosing to come here was the best thing I could have done for my musical career. Being surrounded by all of these talented people really has made me up my game.
MusicDash: When did you start forming your band and how did you hone in on your sound?
Kyler Daron: I’ve been cycling through bands and members for the last four years or so. Some have stuck around throughout the years, and new friends have been made along the way. The group has really solidified in the last year, and we couldn’t have more fun doing what we do. I’m not sure at this point even that we’ve truly honed in on our song! Everything is still really fresh, and we’re still experimenting with our studio approaches and live performances of the songs. I’m also writing all the time, and trying to create from different perspectives and influences.
MusicDash: You recently performed at the Belmont University Rock Showcase, which is a pretty big deal around these parts. What would you say that you took away from the experience?
Kyler Daron: Rock Showcase was a straight up good time. That was our first time playing on a stage of that size with that much technology and production, and we had a lot of people come out and see us play! Things couldn’t have gone better in my opinion. To be honest, we were just honored to play the gig. There was a great lineup of bands and we made a lot of friends during the few days of prepping and playing the show.
MusicDash: Tell us a little about your new album!
Kyler Daron: ‘Whispers in the Woods” was almost a miracle. A few months after the release of my first EP “Ellie,” we started talking about going into the studio to record a few demos. We scheduled a session, and had about a month to practice for it. At the time we scheduled the session, we had two songs we planned on recording. At the end of that month, somehow we weeded up with six songs. It was wild. What was even more insane was that the recordings came out so well that we decided to just turn it into a record. We got more ambitious and launched a Kickstarter for mixing and mastering. The next thing I knew, I had a physical copy in my hand of something that I was truly proud of. These songs are organic. I almost feel like I didn’t write them, like I stumbled upon them somehow.
Despite how quickly these songs were written, they all kind of stem from a few realizations I’ve come to in the last years. The things I wanted to evoke in this record was inspired by the thought of being stranded, alone in some remote forest somewhere, without the constant pressure and distraction of culture and technology. What would you learn about yourself? What kinds of truths would one come to? What do we think about when we were taken out of the context of society? These songs are for the most part, the musical interpretation of things that keep you up at night.
MusicDash: What inspires you to create art?
Kyler Daron: I think that we have the fundamental desire to create as humans, We all have our own experiences and as artists I think our goal is to convey those things through an expression that can’t be communicated through a written or verbal dialogue. I love the way that people come together in that as well. My desire is to use my creative abilities in such a way that helps people understand themselves better and encourage them to interact with others in the world in a virtuous way.
MusicDash: Since the New Year just started, what were some of your favorite albums/songs that were released in 2015?
Kyler Daron: 2015 was a great year for new records. I have to say though, my favorite overall was probably Brandon Flowers’ new release, ‘The Desired Effect.” It’s beautiful. Such a fantastic collection of tunes.
MusicDash: Any exciting plans for the new year so far?
Kyler Daron: Well, I won’t reveal too much, but we’re back in the studio headed toward new material. Keep your eyes open! It should be an exciting year!
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a “wish list” on the notes in my phone which consists of artists that I want to feature on Straight Outta Nashville. Last month, I found myself at the ASCAP Writer’s Night at school and Katie Buxton played her song “Painted Hearts.” Not even halfway through the song, Katie was on the wish list.
Katie Buxton writes the kind of songs that you’ll carry with you for a while. She captures the uniqueness of the images that she’s hoping to portray through the complexity of words and coated in beautiful melodies. And she makes it all seem so effortless. Katie is definitely an artist worth getting to know and I hope that you’ll take that chance on her. She is so deserving of it.
MusicDash: What originally drew you to Nashville?
Katie Buxton: When I was fourteen I knew that Nashville was just a place that I really wanted to see, so my mom took me over my spring break. While I was here for the first time I visited Belmont and happened to make some connections with people in the industry, so it gave me a reason to come back. I visited Belmont about two more times before I decided to apply and I knew it was my first choice, so when I got accepted I immediately knew where I was going to end up. Those first few trips I took down to Nashville before I made the move really validated that it was the right place to be for what I wanted to do, just through the people I met and everything I could see that was going on in this town.
MusicDash: Tell us a little bit about you session with Amplify Entertainment!
Katie Buxton: Amplify is honestly such a special company and they’re doing seriously awesome things. I found out about them several months ago when they first started filming their Single Sessions and I thought they were awesome. I loved how professional the videos looked and how every video captured the vibe of the artists so well, from the location to the angles and the lighting. I finally signed up to do one a couple months ago and ended up filming at Hound Dog Commons in East Nashville and played my song “Painted Hearts.” I was so impressed with how comfortable they made me feel and just how genuine every single person is that works for them.
MusicDash: Where did you get the inspiration from for “Painted Hearts?” It’s such a beautiful and captivating song!
Katie Buxton: Thank you so much! “Painted Hearts” is definitely a very special song to me. Ever since I can remember I’ve had a really intense and deep connection to the Native American culture that I can’t really describe in words. About two and a half years ago I was attending a summer program at Berklee College of Music in Boston and at the orientation, a faculty member performed a Native American chant with a frame drum. It immediately hit me and that chant just stuck with me. Around a year and a half later, I was sitting in my room with that chant playing in my head again and I had the thought of writing a song and story around it The words seemed to pour out of me without any effort and I think it was finished within about ten or fifteen minutes. It came from a very deep place inside me and it’s still one of the only songs of my own that makes me get emotional almost every time I play it.
MusicDash: You have some really exciting things going on this year so far! You’ve been accepted into Belmont’s Bear House Writer Management. What kind of opportunities will this partnership allow you?
Katie Buxton: Bear House has been really great for meeting other Belmont writers and getting more opportunities to play out. It’s also a really cool way to meet industry professionals because they come in to give seminars and talks fairly often, so it’s easier to get connected since it’s such an intimate setting. It’s been a good way to become familiar with the relationship of writer and manager, because that’s something I hadn’t experienced before. I’m hoping to play more writers rounds, find more cowriting partners and just make more connections in general.
MusicDash: I hear that you have a new EP coming out soon! What can you tell us about it? What can we expect?
Katie Buxton: I do! The EP will be released sometime between now and the end of December. It’s four songs with what I think is a cool variety of styles and a good representation of what I do. I’ve found that it’s almost impossible for me to stay in one genre and I think you’ll probably hear that in this EP. One thing the songs do have in common is that they are meaningful in some way and each has a message of its own. Once it’s released you’ll be able to find it on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, Noisetrade, and basically any service you use to hear music. I want to use this EP to get my name out, as well as just share my own truth and what I’m about as a person and an artist.
MusicDash: What’s some of the best advice you’ve received from somebody in the industry?
Katie Buxton: Recently I was talking to my songwriting professor Jodi Marr about my goals and how I feel like I’m still trying to hone in on my sound. She told me, “Be Katie Buxton but thirty feet tall.” I really love that because it’s so easy to look at other artists who have been successful or that you just like and try to imitate their style in some way, but the artists who stand out are the ones that aren’t like anyone else. It’s a nice reminder that when you’re centered in your own authenticity, you’re magnetic and everything falls into place the way it’s supposed to.
MusicDash: I was looking over your website and I loved what you said in the “my purpose” section. Can you sum that up for our readers?
Katie Buxton: Basically, I want my music to touch people on a deeper level. I want every one of my songs to have weight, to be meaningful, and to hold some kind of intention. With my lyrics especially I really strive to help people awaken to their own light. That’s really my purpose – to spread light. I know that that’s what I’m here to do, and I just want so badly to help people along on their own journeys.
MusicDash: What’s coming up next for you?
Katie Buxton: Hopefully a whole lot! Right now I’m really focused on getting my EP finished and then into the hands of as many people as possible, but I’m already starting to think about what I want to release afterwards. I’d love to do more acoustic sessions as well just because they’re a lot of fun. I’m also in the process of planning shows for the near future. But other than that, I can’t give a clear answer yet – I have a lot of things currently in the works that will manifest in time, so it’s a matter of waiting to see how everything comes together and takes shape.
2015 was a great year for music. “Uptown Funk” was number 1 for 14 straight weeks, and we said “Hello” to Adele after almost a 5 year hiatus. But who’s going to dominate the music scene in 2016? Here are my top picks for ones to watch in 2016.
Those who have watched Troye Sivan grow since his early YouTube days will be proud to know that he’s finally starting to gain the recognition that he deserves. The week of December 26th, Sivan’s new album Blue Neighbourhood charted at #7. Sivan will be touring all over the US through March of 2016. He’s already won some pretty big awards in the past, like a Teen Choice Award with his YouTube BFF Tyler Oakley. He’s been endorsed by Taylor Swift and John Green and, with his album gaining traction, I’m sure that Troye will do big things in 2016.
Hailing from Canada, 19 year old Alessia Cara is signed to Def Jam Records (the same record company that brought you Kanye West and Justin Bieber). Her relatable song “Here” was an internet sensation and MTV called it “a song for everyone who secretly hates parties.” Rolling Stone even voted it one of the best songs of 2015. She’s supported by both the queen (Taylor Swift) AND the king (Jimmy Fallon). Not only was Alessia’s album Know-it-All a hit, but her very first single “Here” reached #10 in the United States. With 2015 being her first year signed to a label, I know that each year after this will be even better for Alessia.
Mr. B always puts on a great show, and this year’s performances were no exception. Every show provides something different and fun for the audience to hold onto. The unique combo of rap music with a horns section makes you want to let loose, and their stage presence as a band is undeniable. Mr. B has his own rap app, which is going to change the way that the world looks at freestyling. Before he was 20, he’d toured with Bone Thugs n Harmony and was featured on the Today Show for his Wendy’s rap video, which has since racked up over 1 million views on YouTube. In the fall, he was one of seven selected to participate in a songwriting bootcamp, where him and the other students wrote and recorded songs to be considered for placement in television advertisements. Although every year seems like a big year for Mr. B, I have a feeling that 2016 is going to be the biggest one yet.
JoJo made her comeback this year, and I’ve been waiting for it. Since signing with her new label, Atlantic Records, Jo’s been one busy girl — performing at SXSW, concert dates, and new music galore. Days ago, she released her second EP in the past few months titled #LoveJo2. With all these new songs and JoJo’s way of not letting the man get her down, we’re sure to see (and hear) a lot more of her in the coming months. JoJo never disappoints, so I’m sure that she’ll continue to come back swinging.
You might have heard of Cimorelli already. They have 3.5 million subscribers on YouTube and have won and been nominated for Teen Choice Awards and have performed their song “Made in America” on Good Morning America. Since relocating to Nashville, Tennessee, the sisters are ready for a new chapter — including even more original songs in 2016! Their fans (the CimFam) are as faithful as ever and are always more than ready for whatever the girls are bringing to the table next. After their mixtape Hearts on Fire,both myself and the fans are excited for new music in 2016. Let’s just call 2016 “The Year of Cimorelli.”
Maren Morris is winning over country-loving hearts everywhere and it’s not a surprise. This year alone, she’s been top 10 on iTunes and has opened for CMA Male Vocalist of the Year Chris Stapleton. Her song “My Church” is about the out-of-this-world feeling of driving around and listening to music and driving around. It’s been gaining support by outlets such as Bose, Vevo, and Spotify, who she performed live sessions for. With the world getting increasingly more excited about her music, I’m sure that we’ll see Maren Morris at the CMAs next year.
Tweet us: Who’s your favorite upcoming artist of the year?
Here’s something that you probably don’t know about me — I get very defensive when people cover Adele. I subscribe to the belief that it is almost always a bad idea. I can think of only a handful of instances in which I’ve been proven wrong. Kylie Odetta is one of those instances. She took “Someone Like You,” a song that is so beautiful but is usually sung one specific way (exactly like Adele), and made it her own. Not only do I give her mad props for this, but I am so impressed with her vocally.
To balance things out so to speak, something that you might not know about Kylie is that she has one of those voices that would allow her to sing whatever genre she wanted. If she were to send any record label a demo of her singing any genre, they would believe that that genre was what she was meant to sing. I heard her live at The Sutler during a writer’s round, so naturally everything was stripped down. Kylie’s performance was just her and the piano (with the occasional accompaniment of the George Twins). They played a song that they cowrote together called “Stuck on Yellow” and it was both fabulous and witty. Overall, I was just so enamored by her talent. Her vocals reminded me of that of Christina Aguilera, and I would SO turn my chair for Kylie on The Voice.
Kylie had been on my radar since I started this project, but she wasn’t from Nashville, so I never contacted her and her team about setting up an interview. Right after I heard her cover, I messaged her manager. Kylie comes to Nashville a lot and performs around town, so I decided that now was the time to expand my reach. Sometimes things work out perfectly, because by the time I set up this interview, Kylie had just finished her new EP, which will be released early next year.
MusicDash: I know that you’re from South Carolina but you come to Nashville quite a lot. What has been your favorite performance here?
Kylie Odessa: My favorite performance so far was a writers round that I did with Moriah Domby and Eli Rhodes at Belcourt Taps. Moriah, Eli, and I actually met while playing a show in Asheville, NC and so it was really fun to re-connect with them for my first show in Nashville last year,
MusicDash: What drew you to Nashville?
Kylie Odetta: I first came to Nashville to record an EP when I was 13 years old and it was such an eye-opening experience. I had never been in a city that was so focused and centered around music. Since then I have been back many times over the years and I find something new that makes it more welcoming each time. I also know a lot of good friends and fellow musicians who live there so it’s nice to come and write – essentially the amount of things going on musically in this town is what drew me to it,
MusicDash: I know that your first release was in 2014 and you will have another EP released in 2016. How have these processes been different?
Kylie Odetta: I released an album in 2014, an EP in 2015, and now I will be releasing another EP in 2016! Each time I go into the studio to record something new, the process is different. For my first album, “Waiting Game” I was really focused on showing people something that was more true to who I was as an artist and would separate me from the “pop” world. We messed around with a lot of different vibes but everything still had an underlying theme. That followed into the next EP “Breaking Habits” where I went into the studio with an open mind to see where the music might lead me. That allowed for some of the songs to turn out fantastic but not necessarily in a style that I felt able to or comfortable with replicating in a live show. The purpose behind this upcoming EP is to break things down and focus on the piano, vocals, and lyrics. Now there is production behind some of them but it’s much less than in the past and everything has a more organic feel. I was hoping to capture the essence of what I do in a live setting and my heart for these songs.
MusicDash: Tell us a little bit about how you got your start in music!
Kylie Odetta: I began playing piano when I was 6 and I started writing songs when I was 8. the only answer that I have as to how it all came about is definitely God. I STILL don’t know how I am able to write these lyrics and melodies that come out of myself and onto the paper! I recorded my very first EP at age 12 in a family friend’s attic and fro there I went on to play at open mics and my school talent show and the county fair. This life is a journey and I certainly can attest to that – one thing continued to lead to another and my first EP got me to work with the producer for my 2nd EP and first music video at 13 which then allowed me to perform in a showcase where I met my now producer and made even more music. Those songs and the shows I had begun to play around town, getting my name out there, evolved into me getting the opportunity open up for bigger artists when they came in town for shows through my local radio station. And so on and so forth… hat’s the beginning of things I suppose but there’s a million little steps and trials and triumphs that I have gone through throughout the years.
MusicDash: Tell us about your affiliation with BMI.
Kylie Odetta: When it came time to decide which PRO to go with we did our research on them all and talked to a few fellow musicians and then settles on going with BMI! I’ve always been told that to own your publishing is an extremely helpful thing so that is why I created a “publishing company” with BMI.
MusicDash: What is your usual writing process like?
Kylie Odetta: Typically I will be sitting at the piano, practicing, and I will end up coming up with a little riff then following it through writing a song. Other times lyrics will hit me throughout the day and I will joy them down in my notes app on my phone and go back to it. The lyrics, the melody, and piano chords usually all come at the sam time, in the same sitting though.
MusicDash: Favorite spot in Nashville?
Kylie Odetta: I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but there’s this place that has cookie dough egg rolls for dessert and it is quite literally the most amazing bite you’ll ever put in your mouth. [editior’s note — Kylie was talking about Jackson’s Bar & Bistro]
MusicDash: What’s coming up next for you?
Kylie Odetta: I’ve been traveling a lot lately and playing a ton of shows so up next for me is the holidays and spending time with family! I’ll also be focusing on getting all of our ducks in a row with press, shooting a music video for the EP release, finalizing the edits of the songs, an promoting it. It’s set to come out either late January or early February.
A static ambience echoes through Café Decuf, an urban bar in downtown Ottawa. Dim lighting showcases a myriad of instruments set up across a small stage. The floor is sticky from alcohol and worn from dancing that has long since faded away. The last few chords of an upbeat rock song pulsate through the air of the tiny venue, with the sound of rain falling on the bustling street outside.
It’s the ninth stop on the Central and Eastern Canada tour for pop-rock band Xprime, a group from Niagara Falls. The trio comprised of Steph Mercier (guitar/vocals), Neil Carson (bass/vocals), and Phil Taylor (drums/vocals), has been on the road to promote its new EP PM. The rain has been following the band around on its journey, presently hitting each member a little bit harder since the departure of former member, Gab Sid in late October.
“It’s been going well; it’s been raining everyday,” laughs Mercier warmly.
“We do the rain dance in the van,” Taylor adds jokingly.
Days weren’t always so rainy and dark for the band. The members met in high school where they came together during music class, eventually taking over the music room to practice. The friends easily transitioned into being band mates, humorously describing the relationship as a “fun business partnership.”
From there the band came up with its unique name, a comedic incident that resulted from a winning battle of the bands performance.
“We all went to French high school in Welland, ON and that’s where we met. There was a battle of the bands coming up and we needed a name that worked in French and in English. We were walking around school and saw signs saying ‘Exprime-toi’, which means ‘express yourself.’ So we took out the ‘e’ and put it with an ‘x’ and it stuck!” Taylor explains.
The band’s adolescent days in the hallways and classrooms of Jean Vanier high school are in the past, as Xprime is striving for success by working persistently to expand into new music scenes across Canada. The band showcased at Canadian Music Week this year, and played renowned festivals including S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival (St. Catharines), Indie Week (Toronto) and Spring Music Fest (Hamilton).
However, what it takes to be a successful band in Canada is changing due to the music industry’s shift towards digitization. Many up-and-coming artists such as Xprime are utilizing social media services such as YouTube to promote themselves, in addition to releasing their content online through streaming services.
Jenia Shukov, the co-founder of Confront Magazine, believes the most successful Canadian bands are the ones that stay active online.
“Whether that’s touring nonstop to make a name for themselves, or creatively promoting their music through social media, they have to keep establishing a name for themselves and networking with the right people. Treating your fans the right way doesn’t hurt either,” she said.
Xprime has taken this to heart, as Taylor details how he always makes an effort to meet fans after the show and memorize their names. It is this true appreciation and love for the fans as well as the music that Xprime hopes will concretize its presence in Canadian music.
DJ Calder Pennie advocates for artists to utilize social media to establish themselves and gain coverage.
“It’s important because acts often don’t get national tours, let alone international concerts until they’ve released multiple albums. Fostering a large online fan base can help kick start opportunities,” he said.
Xprime’s fan base is doing just that. It is growing as a result of covering popular songs online and interacting with fans through funny videos.
A jangly guitar riff beings to play loudly in the background as one of the opening bands, Metronome Jones, begins to sound check. The rain can barely be heard as Carson and Mercier cheer them on. The atmosphere of the room is intimate but welcoming. Perhaps it’s this coziness that prompts the band to open up about how it never imagined music as a full-time profession.
“I thought I was going to be an architect and then a lawyer, and then I was a drummer,” Taylor laughs.
“I was going to be homeless,” Mercier chips in.
Carson jokes he told his mother he wanted to be, “the guy in the back of the cab paying the driver.”
They all erupt in laughter, the genuine kind that only comes with knowing each other for years. There is an easy dynamic between them that ebbs and flows. They play off of one another naturally, and there is an easy rhythm in the way they finish each other’s sentences.
As for the recording process, it has been different each time. After winning the Niagara Falls annual Rock the Ice Nights contest in 2010, the band used its prize—20 hours of free studio recording time—to record an album. The band’s first EP and album were both also recorded in a basement by the band. The latest EP was recorded in The Pocket Studios in Toronto.
“We basically recorded the entire EP in our basement first, and then in the studio,” Taylor said. He acknowledges the band doesn’t have a specific song writing process.
Mercier explains how the songs often write themselves because with three songwriters there is always fresh material.
“Sometimes it starts as an instrumental jam and someone is like ‘I’d like to sing this one!’ and we start writing something on top of it. Sometimes it’s very collaborative and kind of starts from scratch, and other times it’s almost completely done,” he says with a smile.
Each member discusses his favourite song from PM, comparing selecting one to choosing a favourite child.
“They each satisfy kind of a different fetish,” says Mercier. “All the songs are pretty different from each other but we still have cohesion.”
“For me it’s between ‘Ambedo’ and ‘I Can’t Take No More’,” said Taylor.
Both songs are from opposite ends of the music spectrum. With an alternative rock meets pop sound, the band draws its inspiration from a wide range of artists including: The Beatles, Arctic Monkeys, Led Zeppelin, and “lots of French music.”
“I grew up listening to a lot of punk and metal,” said Mercier. “And Vampire Weekend; they’re definitely one of my favourite bands.”
Mercier also lists off Mother Mother, and Taylor bursts into “Baby Don’t Dance” and begins to beatbox. This spontaneity is apparent in the band’s energetic live performances, where the band dances and grooves to the music on impulse.
As for dream collaborations, Xprime fantasizes about working with the likes of Paul McCartney one day.
“If Beethoven was alive today, I’d love for him to orchestrate our next album,” said Taylor.
Xprime is a fan of other Canadian bands such as Arkells, Alexisonfire, and alt-pop group, the Ivory Hours.
“Have you heard Ivory Hours?” quips Mercier. “They’re from London, ON. They just won a big contest that’s got them played on The Edge (102.1).”
“Probably The Guess Who,” Carson chips in. “Got to throw Burton Cummings in there.”
Osheaga music festival has been Xprime’s favourite performance, and its biggest to date. The annual music festival held in Montreal, QB attracts a diverse range of artists and saw Xprime play alongside big acts including Florence + the machine, The Black Keys, Weezer, and Kendrick Lamar.
“It was just awesome to play that big of a stage with that many people. And the catering! Oh my God, the catering!” Mercier exclaims.
“They personally catered the artist’s food,” Taylor explains. “The beer, and the golf carts… it was pretty sweet.”
“That was probably an experience unlike any other,” Mercier and Taylor said in unison.
“They gave me these free Vans,” Taylor says, propping his foot up on the table and pointing to his shoes.
“I stood in line with St. Vincent to get mine,” says Mercier, admiring the sneakers.
Osheaga is one of Canada’s largest music festivals, drawing crowds of roughly 135,000 people. Fans energetically sweat it out in the hot sun and dance in the pouring rain just to see their favourite bands, jumping around to songs in sync with their heartbeats.
“For me, there’s almost less pressure,” says Mercier as he explains how it feels to play a crowd of such magnitude. “When there’s just 20 or 30 people in a room, you see everyone’s face and their reaction. When there’s 50,000 people and half of them clap, it sounds huge.”
“We’re also kind of used to it too. Our second ever gig was at the Olympic torch rally, which was in Niagara Falls and was 7000 people,” says Taylor.
The band also opened for country superstar, Keith Urban on New Year’s Eve last year to a crowd of 60,000 people.
But despite tasting the luxury of playing large crowds and fancy events, the band has a special place in its heart for smaller stages such as The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto. There is always a large crowd of fans that show up and sing along, making the band feel proud.
“We’ve played a decent amount of really large stages for our level of band, which is great,” says Taylor.
As the band tours both the small and large Canadian cities, it is thankful for the music scene in Ottawa.
“All I know is that we love playing here,” Taylor says. “Every time we’ve been here it’s been a great show.”
The last four times Xprime has played in Ottawa, Café Decuf has been the venue.
“It’s just been a great night from top to bottom. The people are really receptive, they like going out and seeing live bands,” Mercier says.
Xprime takes this positive outlook from each performance with each step it takes forward as a band.
“Success is the little things, sometimes it’s things that are completely unexpected like Osheaga. I wasn’t expecting that to happen so soon for us. The things that you create and deploy successfully, like when we release a record; we put a lot of time, energy and love into it and it always ends up really nice,” says Taylor.
The band is resilient in achieving its dream and has not slowed down in the face of Sid’s departure. No tour dates or performances have been removed, and Xprime even treated the crowd to its newest song that is yet to be recorded.
Taylor also hints that plans for the future could possibly revolve around playing frosh concerts at Universities. He mentions the University of Ottawa, where he attended to study Communications and Political Science.
Adrian Deveau is a University student and Xprime fan who described the band as “honest, personal, and energetic” after watching it perform at Osheaga and at The Mansion in Kingston, ON. “Xprime cares about their music, their presence, and they care for the audience to have a good time. Whether it be in front of large crowds at festivals or in smaller local venues, Xprime manages to make the audience dance and get lost in the music.”
This is why Shukov believes bands like Xprime will succeed.
“I don’t think the rest of the world realizes how much talent comes out of Canada because so many of the artists are still emerging or are ‘undiscovered’ internationally. Yeah, you have the big names like Justin Bieber or The Weeknd in the pop side of the industry, but there are so many other diverse artists from this country that cover the most obscure genres. Canadian artists try things that a lot of other artists don’t, they aren’t afraid to dip their toes into different waters.”
The band will navigate its way through the stormy waters minus one member with its umbrellas propped open, hoping for sunny days ahead. Xprime’s rhythm will stay steady as it continues to work on new music, marching forward to the beat of Taylor’s drums.
Live music is a podium for escapism for a couple of hours. It is where an art form comes alive, it is a fluid conversation between the artist and the listener, and every experience is unique. I was supposed to attend the Eagles of Death Metal concert in Paris but plans overlapped and I had to sell my ticket prior to the date. The Bataclan is a venue with a capacity of about 1500 people, it has been visited by countless of artists, and has a somewhat intimate vibe which always makes for a great atmosphere at concerts.
But I do not doubt that atmosphere has changed after November 13th. If not forever, then at least for a long time.
Too many tragedies happen too often, and within a timeframe of 24 hours much tragedy happened around the world. In these past few weeks following the event, even more so. What is important to remember, is that Paris is the center of the white privileged society’s mind, therefore, mainstream media (and dare I say gossip sites and newspapers like The Daily Mail and The Sun) only focus on what feeds the fuel of white privileged people, including myself.
Having acknowledged that, MusicDash, is a website for all things music, and the tragedy at the Bataclan rallied all music fans and industry people together in shock. Because one should not attend a concert, never to return home again. Eagles of Death Metal lost a crew member, and flew home, which is understandable. Along followed quite a few prolific bands’ cancellations of tours and concerts. Deftones (who were in the audience at the Bataclan), U2’s HBO special which was supposed to be filmed at the Bercy Arena in Paris, as well as Foo fighters’ European leg of the tour. Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots stated, “We have three more shows left on this European run and because I can’t justify the risk, we will regrettably have to cancel them. I hate it, but it needs to happen.”
There is a weight on the shoulders of the artist, is it a risk they a willing to take? Not just for themselves, but for the crowd who would without a doubt turn up, had they not cancelled? Behind some of the decisions of the bands mentioned above, there are also contracts, health insurances versus risk taking, and a management involved. It is hard to paint the whole picture of reasons behind pulling the plug, but sparks of speculation began when social media questioned their decisions. Wasn’t this exactly what The Bad Guys wanted? Even though this industry can be a little self-absorbing, I doubt a music venue and the music community was The Great Plan of ISIS.
So, did the terrorists win, when taking withdrawals and reinforced reservations into consideration? Have we succumbed to the fear and what-ifs? Do we go forward changed? Yes. But only yes to the last question. The attack took the innocence out of concerts, which perhaps is our biggest loss when terror happens. For how long is also hard to say. A week later I was walking past a venue with the same capacity as the Bataclan, and outside was armed security guards in front of the entry hall. There are two things you could focus on. The armed guards, or the 1500 people walking into the concert hall. In the end, it is not the two guards that count, it is the big 1500 number.
There will be changes, it is unavoidable. Some venues will have more security staff, possibly armed. Stadiums will experience bomb searches before threats have been made, and every now and then when a person walks into a concert hall, they will for a moment think of the Bataclan and the people we lost.
Music has the power to bring people together despite our differences. It surpasses any obstacle or difference between people. Race, sex or religion. Your background does not matter when you stand in a sea of people singing along to the same lyrics. We are simply music fans, across the world.
In Vice’s interview with Eagles of Death Metal, Jesse Hughes said, “I cannot wait to get back to Paris, I wanna be the first band that play the Bataclan when it open back up.” Terror will never win. A dozen cancelled tours by famous bands do not equal a win, because those tours will be held in the future, and they will continue to be held, no matter what happened or will happen. Negativity and bad people will never win because it is in our nature to prevail, it is in our nature to climb back towards our everyday and our routines. And so will concerts and the humans attending them, because music speaks louder than fear, and we will always find common ground despite hatred and ignorance telling us we can’t.
The Pressure Kids might come from all different corners of the US, but they certainly came together in a big way when they arrived in Nashville. As prolific musicians, The Pressure Kids had 30+ indie rock songs in their back pockets only months after their formation. The band has been playing around Tennessee for a while now, their songs known for getting you up on your feet and making feelings permeate from your heart to deep in your bones. Their music is nothing short of melodic and I know that you’ll love what you hear.
MusicDash: What initially drew you to Nashville?
The Pressure Kids: We were all students at Belmont University.
MusicDash: How did you all connect and start making music together?
The Pressure Kids: We lived across the hall from each other in our freshman dorm. There were a lot of sounds going on those first couple weeks, everyone kept their doors open.
MusicDash: What has been your favorite or most memorable performance in Nashville?
The Pressure Kids: There have been some really stage special memories for us, but I think our EP release party at Exit/In earlier this month takes the cake. Killer energy in that room, tons of our all time heroes have at one time or another like plugged their amps into that stage before. Very humbling stuff. We also got to share that bill with some of our darling friends that are big starry eyed visionaries doing stellar things to redesign the musical landscape of this city. Big night for us.
MusicDash: In September you played at Pilgrimage Festival in Franklin, TN. The Festival had a lot of big artists on it like Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow. How was that experience for all of you?
The Pressure Kids: Wild. It was our first experience playing at a festival before, and to have it be this big beautiful first annual thing in our own backyard, alongside some serious luminaries, it was just big time wow for us. We like got to ride around in one of those golf cart things at one point. Wild day.
MusicDash: Your newest release “Tiger” came out earlier this month. I heard that you recorded it in Brooklyn! Tell us a little bit about the process.
The Pressure Kids: Every step of making “Tiger” was kind of like accidentally walking into someone else’s surprise party, very coincidental and supremely fun. When we left for our trip all we knew was that we were going somewhere in Brooklyn to maybe hopefully record some songs that weren’t even really written yet. I smashed this poor woman’s car the morning we left. We went up with a dude named Tiger we met a week earlier in Memphis. We made the record on the top floor of this big storage unit in Brooklyn with this mega metal dude who has made records with some bands we really adore. It all just sort of unfolded in this thrillingly unexpected sweet strangeness.
MusicDash: You guys have been making music together for about a year or so. How did you go about choosing what songs you were going to record and release on “Tiger?”
The Pressure Kids: We actually ended up writing, arranging, and recording all of “Tiger” on site, As a band we’ve always liked to keep things little risky. There’s a terrifying freedom when music teeters on the edge of existing. We wanted to give all these new colors and characters a chance to seep into the tunes, instead of just taking up some Nashville jams we already had hammered out and recording them in NY. We had a few licks in our pockets, but most all of “Tiger” came to be up in Brooklyn.
MusicDash: Do you have any venues or festivals that you’re dying to play?
The Pressure Kids: Oh man, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the Ryman would be a dream.
MusicDash: What’s up next for you guys?
The Pressure Kids: We’re taking “Tiger” out of town, getting to some new towns close by, making some new friends. Things are going to get really cold soon too, lots of tunes to write.
Confronting, abrasive, crude, alarming; all words that spring to mind upon first listening to this sharp piece of electronica. Brimming with attitude and possessing a ruthless no holds barred approach, this track is either one to have you running scared or craving more. Tight, purposeful production and startlingly provocative lyrical content form the basis of this furious track, putting the sound somewhere in the middle of Die Antwoord and Peaches. The first single to be released by Dusty Wax (the pseudonymous art project of Italian native Angelica Barbareschi), the tune is an ambitious dive into the world of electronic rap/rave, driven by themes of all things taboo. This is our first taste of Dusty Wax and she uses the opportunity to let her intentions be very clear; given the opportunity, she will take 2016 for her own so watch out.
A few weeks ago, I sat down with Katie and Parker of Underground Sound Society at the Nashville coffee shop Bongo Java. There’s not much that I can tell you about the band that’s not already featured in the interview, but I will say that they love Toto’s “Africa.” And the genre of music that they create is called “super human swag monster.” This is a band that has put their all into creating a great EP for the fans and you will not be disappointed.
MusicDash: What originally drew you guys to Nashville?
Parker Van Der Hyde: Well, when I was a high school student I had a few different choices of where my life was gonna go. I was either going to go to [the College of] William and Mary and become a History guy or I was going to go to the University of Miami and do whatever you do there. Or, I was like “well, I play music occasionally sometimes” and then my jazz band teacher was like “bro, have you heard of Belmont University” and I was like “nah dude.” So then I checked it out. I went on the internet and then I visited and the craziest thing that I saw, it was a Saturday, and there were people up doing stuff at 8:00 in the morning. That’s the thing I noticed. When I visited Miami, not at all. Everybody was asleep on Saturday at 8:00 AM and at Belmont people were out doing stuff. Well that’s Belmont and Belmont is in Nashville.
Katie Pruitt: I went to community college in Athens, Georgia for two years because I was just a terrible student in high school. I didn’t go really my entire senior year because all I was doing was playing music with my friends. I was like “what the heck am I going to do with my life. I know that I want to do music” so I went to community college for two years and played in a folk band in Athens. I realized that I loved being on stage with a band. And then toward Belmont I was like “this is my goal. This is what I want to do.” So I came here and transferred in last year and met these dudes.
Parker Van Der Hyde: I’m sort of discovering that I just got super lucky because Nashville is the focal point of a lot of neat things in regards to music. This summer I went to New York City twice. I didn’t go to LA but I went to San Diego which is as close as I want to get. In both of those cities there were like a billion bands and just a trillion million people packed into a tiny little space. Everything’s expensive, everything’s very cutthroat and scary and here I’d say that you have at least the same amount of opportunities if not more. I mean, we have all of the studios, we have all the gear. Everything’s 1/3 of the price and everybody’s 10x nicer. Nashville is the bee’s knees in short.
MusicDash: What’s been your favorite show that you’ve seen in Nashville?
Katie Pruitt: My Morning Jacket at the Amphitheater this summer, that blew me away. It honestly changed my writing style. I wasn’t really into My Morning Jacket that much and then I saw them and I was like “okay, Jim James is my hero.”
Parker Van Der Hyde: This is going to be weird. I’m kind of weird when it comes to music but like Trampled By Turtles. I saw them at Live on the Green two years ago. It was my freshman year and it was like “these other bands are cool and that’s alright” but Trampled By Turtles was just nuts. That’s like the sixth time I’ve seen them. They shred face to the max. As much as a bluegrass player can shred face, that’s what they do. Also The Wailers. I’m also a huge reggae fan. So that’s obviously 100% of the time going to be sick. Yeah, that was pretty amazing.
MusicDash: How did you guys meet and come together as a band?
Katie Pruitt: Oh, this is one hell of a story.
Parker Van Der Hyde: I was in a band the first two years that I was at Belmont. We practiced three times a week two hours each so we were practicing all the time. It was intense. And then all of the sudden, the guitarist was like “peace I’m moving to New Orleans.” Then I had all of this time that I used to play music and I needed to play music but I needed to do that with other people that I’ve never met in my life. So getting here my junior year, anytime anybody came up to me and said anything about music I just said yes. So long story short I ended up being in like eight different bands at once. No exaggeration. I was like “this is working. This is a good idea.” And then two weeks later I was like “I think I’m going to die.” But I was still doing it.
Then one day the drummer in my freshman and sophomore year band who was an RA sent me a text and was like “yo dude one of my residents is trying to build a band and they need a bass player you should check it out.” And I was like “okay fine.” To be honest I didn’t really feel like doing it because I was so super burnt out. So Katie was like “band practice 10:30 tonight, let’s do it.” And I was like “sweet 10:30. I have three band practices before that in the same room oh my gosh.” So I literally get into the room in the Massey Performing Arts Center at like 2:00 in the afternoon and I’m there for like eight hours. I fell asleep on a bench outside of the practice room and I woke up because I heard people walking past. I see Quinn our drummer who’s just this skinny little bro and I just see a pair of drum sticks in his back pocket. And I was like “dude, there’s no way that this kid can throw down. This is my fifth band practice today and I’m going to have to go in there and play with a bunch of noobs.”
So I walk into the room and the guitar player busted out this two rock amp and I was like “whoa this kid’s got some class. He knows what’s up.” And then Quinn is sitting over there cracking jokes and setting up his drum kit like the goofy little dude he is. He sets the whole thing up and just casually has this thing to see what his drum kit sounds like and plays the funkiest beat I’ve ever heard in my entire life. I did like three double takes. How is that sound coming out of that little dude? From there Katie was like “okay, I have this song called ‘Airplanes’ it’s not too hard.” Quinn counted it off and this groove was automatically like BAM. It was the tightest thing ever. This did not bare the hallmarks of tight grooveness but here we are in a pretty tight groove situation. We played through the entire song and I’d never heard it in my entire life but I kind of just knew where to go with it automatically. At one point we played “No Diggity” and that morphed into “Freebird.” At that point I was like “okay, these people throw down. Let’s get serious.”
Katie Pruitt: I had never met Parker and I didn’t know what he would really think of us. This was pretty much our first band practice. Me, Quinn, and Alex hadn’t even met before. We didn’t play all together as a band. And Parker was already talking business after the first band practice. I was like “shit, cool. I guess this guy likes what we sound like.” So I was pumped about it.
MusicDash: How would you describe your music for somebody who’s never heard it before?
Parker Van Der Hyde: Well whenever I get this question I always just like to say where each member is from. Katie singing folk and crazy bluesy soul stuff down in Georgia. Crutchman right here our organ/keyboard extraordinaire started playing organ in Oxford, Mississippi in some churches. Quinn our drummer grew up playing jazz in Charlotte. Our guitar played grew up playing blues in Texas. And I grew up playing funk and reggae in Richmond, Virginia. So it’s really difficult to describe what that sounds like when all of that stuff gets smashed together but I think it’s neat. There’s a little hint of it everywhere. The fact that Katie usually comes up with the chord progressions and the lyrics sort of means that Katie’s got the backbone so there’s a lot of her influence. Crutch is throwing down the circular system. I’ve got the muscular skeletal system. And before you know it, we’ve got this super human swag monster.
MusicDash: You guys have an EP that came out recently. What can you tell us about it?
Parker Van Der Hyde: The EP was recorded in Smoakstack studios at the beginning of the summer. That was a super rad experience. It was produced by Lucas Morton who has been one of my good friends for years and years and that dude has just been killing it in the music world since he was like 13. He’s a beast.
Katie Pruitt: He’s the musician and producer type so he’s got perspectives from both ends.
Parker Van Der Hyde: The EP is four songs. We tried to sort of capture the spectrum of our music in four songs which is tough. I think its got a lot of different stuff in there. Its got some gospel chops, its got some straight rockers. The first track is pretty much just a straight party rager which is neat. But also musically it gets into some weird stuff. Like the second song has got some funky time signature business going on. The third song is kind of a straightforward storytelling song. I don’t want to give too much away about it. I want to maintain a degree of mystery. I’m a little biased to say this but I’m pretty excited about it. I just want to get it out there so that the peeps can hear what’s been going on.
Katie Pruitt: I went through a lot last semester and I kind of told that story, the bad relationship thing. But it also has some glimpses of happiness in it. There’s one song on it called “Song in My Head” that’s just talking about the process of writing a song and how I feel about music today and my outlook on that. It covers a bunch of different topics too which I also feel confident about. A lot of albums today are just the same song. Even if they’re different musically they’re talking about the same thing. That’s what I like about this EP also.
MusicDash: What’s coming up next for you guys?
Parker Van Der Hyde: We’ve got a bunch of songs in the works. We’ve got maybe four or five of those that we’re working on right now. We’ve got the skeletal system. We’ve probably got the cardiovascular system at this point we’re just looking to add the rest of the skin and bones and all of the stuff in between.
Katie Pruitt: Our goal is to try and get a full length album by the summer and do the same thing that we did last summer when we recorded a four song EP but with an album. Lucas is probably the guy that we would go to for that because we vibe really well with him production wise. He knows our sound, he knows what we want to sound like. We want to do the same thing but tack on like eight more songs and then have a full length album. Other than that, just touring and playing shows.
Parker Van Der Hyde: That’s the main thing, We’re trying to get some tour stuff going on because that’s some really fun stuff. It’s easy to sit here all the time and just get in your little bubble. You just kind of reproduce the illusion of success and then one day its like “wait a minute. Not really.” So we’ve got to bust out of here at some point and always keep this as home base because this place is the bomb. Its got the studios, its got the equipment, its got the peeps but we’ve gotta get out there and see the country.
The Sifters are no stranger to the Nashville music scene — they’ve been performing and writing together as a duo for the past 3 years. A mutual love of bands like The Civil Wars shine through in their own music but don’t worry: their music also has hints of country rock and acoustic folk music all wrapped up into one. The Sifters have tons of experience playing out around town, even performing at intimate venue The Listening Room. With tight harmonies and undeniable chemistry, The Sifters are ready to make you feel through their music.
MusicDash: What drew you to Nashville?
Jon Wesson: I was born and raised just north of Nashville, so I have been around this amazing city my entire life. I have had many friends that have moved away from Nashville but what keeps me here is the amazing people and music that come from this area. Nashville is THE best city in the south, from its food, to community, to the amazing musicians you meet and constantly connect with.
Brit Templeton: I moved here with my parents when I was 7. And although I didn’t get to experience all of the amazing things until I was a little bit older, I instantly fell in love with the warmth and kindness of the people! I’m originally from California, so I learned quickly that southern hospitality is a real thing. To be able to live in a place where there is exceptional food, music, and people is a pretty special thing.
MusicDash: How did you meet and decide to become a band?
Jon Wesson: We met at a writers night Brit’s mom was having at her bakery/food shop in Springfield, TN. Both of us were in different groups at the time, but after Brit’s group split, we got together one day to put some songs together for the next writers night. We tested the waters of writing and playing together and had an undeniable connection. Everything just seemed so easy and natural from the get go. We shared a love for the duo The Civil Wars, and began covering a lot of their songs for YouTube viewers, until we had our own material to share with everyone. We have been through a lot together personally as a band, but we have only grown stronger because of it.
MusicDash: What has been your favorite or most memorable show to date?
Jon Wesson: I think our favorite show to date was probably our performance at the Exit In. It was a Hurricane Sandy Benefit show and we got to showcase a couple of our new songs we had been working on. We opened for a friend, Jonathon Jircitano, and his band The Hollywood Kills. The energy in that place was really cool, and there were many different genres playing that night so it was great to come together for such a good cause.
MusicDash: You all do a lot of cowrites. Who would be your dream cowrites?
Jon Wesson: Jason Isbell, a true storyteller. John Mayer, my guitar hero and a very underrated lyricist.
Brit Templeton: Joy Williams for sure. Her songs have so much raw emotion and truth to them. I would love to be able to pick her brain! I think we would both love to write with The Civil Wars together. They are our musical heroes.
MusicDash: What inspires you artistically?
Brit Templeton: We are inspired by the same things mostly. Hearing a great song on the radio or at a performance and we also find inspiration in life experiences, good or bad, Mostly bad though haha! We find it easier to write sad songs about what we’ve experienced. We are also inspired by reading books and/or articles and being outside in nature.
MusicDash: You’re about to start a Kickstarted to support your new EP. Tell us a little bit about that. What are your plans for the EP?
Jon Wesson: We are very excited about it! This will be our first EP as The Sifters and it is a chance to share everything we have been working on with the public. We really try to put our personal relationships (ups and downs) into each song and we hope that people will be able to connect with them. We plan to release it sometime early next year on iTunes and other platforms. If you donate to the kickstarter you will get the EP early along with bonus tracks and artwork! We are extremely excited to get in the studio and start to really craft these songs!
MusicDash: Tell us about a song that you’ve written that’s been the most meaningful for you.
Brit Templeton: “Silence” for sure. It’s about being in a relationship that on the outside looks happy and healthy, but underneath it all, both sides are uninterested in the relationship. It’s pretty heartbreaking which we love haha! It has a very real meaning to us both. We also love it because it sounds happy and upbeat but lyrically it will tear you open.
MusicDash: What are your goals as a band? Any places you want to play? Cities you want to visit?
Jon Wesson: I think our goal for this band is to connect with people through our music. We aren’t necessarily chasing fame our anything we just really enjoy writing and singing and we hope that people can find something to latch in our music. As far as places to play, I mean who doesn’t want to play the Ryman?! It is definitely (to most Nashvillians at least) the Mecca of all venues. From the history of musicians that have graced that stage, to the acoustics, it’s just an amazing place to be for a show.
Brit Templeton: We want to visit as many cities as possible. Jonathan has never been past the Mississippi, so anything is fair game for him!
It’s safe to say Justin Bieber is well on his way to a full fledged comeback, after releasing his smash singles “What Do Mean” and “Sorry”.
Just when you think he can’t outdo himself, the Biebs releases “Love Yourself” with the help of Ed Sheeran. The two songbirds harmonize for a pleasant, sweet and slow song. The song is both acoustic and intimate, and tugs on one’s heartstrings.
With a cheerful melody, the track reminds us that love can really shatter you to the core, and that narcissism is not the way to make a relationship work.
The song pointedly addresses how girls use Bieber for his fame, as Bieber and Sheeran chime in together for the chorus:
Noel Gallagher, Britain’s favourite I-Used-To-Be-Massive-Now-I-Just-Say-Shit-That-Makes-People-Angry washed up rock star (I’m a Blur fan), is Esquire’s December cover star, locked and loaded with a bunch of semi-offensive ranting that got some people from the NME and twitter really going.
Like I said, I’m a Blur fan, but aside from the fact that picking one over the other is a twenty year old phenomenon and therefore about as dead as rivalling bands themselves, I can’t deny Oasis’ major impact on the bands that followed them. I also admire the Gallagher brothers’, and particularly Noel’s, ability to truly act like real “rockstars” and take full advantage of all the sex, drugs and rock n roll that came with it, without ending up in rehab or selling their souls to the perfume-selling money-making career-crushing capitalist devil that so many wannabe rockstars do today. And this issue is where Gallagher really grabs me – I’ve not listened to his solo tries, and to be honest I’ve not gone too deep into Oasis’ albums, although I’ve loved the stuff I’ve heard on throwback-90s nights* – it’s not the first time he’s attacked modern musicians, but in his Esquire interview, he so accurately articulates what is wrong with the current musical climate.
What’s wrong is that everyone is a bit of a wimp. Gallagher hilariously told Esquire “I fucking hate whingeing rock stars…“Oh, yeah, my last selfie got 47-thousand-million likes on Instagram.” Yeah, why don’t you go fuck off and get a drug habit, you penis?’” What’s bottled up in this shameless sentence of spite from a 48 year old man with no filter is a feeling that’s been prevalent in the music industry for a while now – boredom. He continues with “fame is fucking wasted on these people. The new generation of rock stars, when have they ever said anything that made you laugh? When have they ever said anything you remember?… what I want, genuinely, is somebody with a fucking drug habit.” While drug habits are nothing to make light of, and while having one is not usually on anyone’s list for a good musician, you can see where Gallagher’s coming from. Think about your favourite current bands. Think about the last time they actually said anything truly interesting that wasn’t tweeted before being checked by their PR people to make sure it wouldn’t offend anyone. The modern musician – I hasten to call them rockstars – depend on their Instagram captions for any humorous insights, and if they say anything remotely controversial, something that you think a rockstar would be able to do, they get branded by everyone on the internet as ‘problematic’. I’m never one for the whole social-media-is-ruining-our-lives scare stories, but when it comes to bands, the internet age we live in really does make it all a bit… dead.
Take Alex Turner, who doesn’t even have a twitter. Remember the Arctic Monkeys’ 2014 Brit Awards acceptance speech when Turner dropped the microphone? The whole ‘invoice me for the microphone if you need to’ fiasco? That’s the last time I really remember a rockstar challenging the music industry and its followers, in a way that seems so beautifully unnecessary, so arrogant, so damn rock n roll. Still, Gallagher has something to say about Turner; “Alex Turner, Miles Kane, the guys from Royal Blood. They’ve got the fucking skinny jeans and the boots, and all that eyeliner. I’ve got a cat that’s more rock’n’roll than all of them put together.” I’m pretty sure none of those mentioned actually wear eyeliner, but again, Gallagher hits the nail on the head. Alex Turner isn’t actually that interesting, no matter how many leather jackets and sunglasses he has. Sure, the leather and the quiffed hair bring some sense of danger, but what’s really missing from the charts these days isn’t really anything to do with the songs, it’s the artists that are selling them. It’s true when Gallagher says “Record companies now can sell a billion Ed Sheeran downloads tomorrow morning. They don’t want someone like Ian Brown in their offices, or Liam, or Bobby Gillespie, or Richard Ashcroft, or me. They want professionals. That’s what it’s become now.” I’m not saying I want Alex Turner to get back with model Alexa Chung, develop a drug habit, and take to the streets of London at 3am scouring the floor for used needles. But, you have to admit, the Richards, the Dohertys, the Gallaghers of this world – they’re all a bit more interesting to the normal citizen; precisely because they act like real rockstars. We’re all a bit bored with Harry Styles.
Elizabeth Mossell is for sure one of the hardest working people that I’ve ever met and her success as an artist thus far proves it. She was invited to play the legendary Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge’s 55th Birthday Bash, opening up for some Country greats like Randy Houser and Troy Gentry. She sings wherever and whenever she can — Broadway and every other venue around town that you can think of. During her sets, Elizabeth will play covers but it’s her originals that really leave you captivated.
I heard her track “Maybe This Time” a while ago — at least a couple of months. Living in Nashville, you hear a lot of different songs from a lot of different strangers or friends in a lot of different bars and restaurants. But none has stuck with me quite like this song. So when Elizabeth agreed to do an interview with me, I knew that we had to do something special. Thus came the Living Room Sessions — a Straight Outta Nashville first. So, if you have an extra five minutes today, please listen to this beautiful song. I promise that you’ll love it.
MusicDash: What drew you to Nashville?
Elizabeth Mossell: I went to LA my sophomore year of high school and all of my junior year I was homeschooled. I tried to do music and a little bit of acting. I was really set on going to LA for college. My voice teacher from home recommended Belmont and I toured it two or three times during high school. I really wasn’t super fond of it. I didn’t really feel like it was for me. When it got time to apply for colleges my parents told me that the only way that I could go to LA was if I paid for it so I kind of got stuck between the two options of staying home and going to Nashville. That was the furthest they’d let me go, and I didn’t want to go to New York because that’s more musical theater. I randomly chose Belmont, I didn’t really choose it for Nashville. I definitely got really lucky. It’s definitely like a God moment that I’m so fortunate to have picked coming here in general because I don’t even know what I’d be doing right now if I wasn’t here.
MusicDash: Tell us a little bit about your musical background and when you started writing and singing.
Elizabeth Mossell: I started singing when I was around three. My parents have videos of me singing. As a baby I always just loved music and did karaoke and little talent shows at school when I was growing up. I started writing last August and wrote my first two songs and auditioned for the songwriting program at Belmont and got in. I really haven’t stopped writing since then which is crazy because I never did it before.
MusicDash: What is your favorite or most memorable performance in Nashville?
Elizabeth Mossell: I’ve had so many really awesome shows. I’ve been lucky enough to perform literally almost everywhere in Nashville. Probably my favorite was at The Row. This was me first starting out performing in Nashville and I managed to play five different requests and I got requested a song that I had no idea how to play on guitar so I sang it acapella and the entire bar sang along. It was so cool! People were dancing in front of the stage and they loved it. It was such a good feeling.
MusicDash: What is the best advice you’ve ever received from somebody either in the industry or not?
Elizabeth Mossell: The best advice I’ve received is just to have fun with what you’re doing. I think that sometimes I get caught up in the work of it and I have to remember that I’m doing it because I love it. I never want to wake up and have this be a job. It should always be what I love to do. When I get to the point where I’m stressing myself out with it, obviously I’m doing something wrong. You shouldn’t feel that way when you’re doing something that you love. And I do love it.
MusicDash: Has your writing process changed since you first started writing?
Elizabeth Mossell: It’s definitely changed. You’ve heard my first songs to now and they’re a lot better. Another piece of advice somebody gave me on songwriting is just to keep it simple. It’s hard starting out when you first start writing songs. You want to write about everything. You want to write one song that says everything. The amazing thing about songwriting is that you can write about one instance and then you can write about another and another one. It doesn’t have to be one big idea, it can be a small little idea. That’s really the beauty of it. We can write so many things about the same thing in different ways. I think my songwriting has definitely improved to where it is a lot more simple. I started writing my humor songs!
MusicDash: You play a lot around town. Do you plan those by yourself? How are you making your connections to do that?
Elizabeth Mossell: I’ve booked everything since the first day I’ve been performing. I’ve just been super determined and a little pushy probably 😉 about getting booked at different venues around time. I’ve been extremely either persistent or really lucky to get booked cause a lot of people have booking agents or people to help them out and I’ve done it all on my own.
MusicDash: So you recorded an EP in February. What was that process like for you?
Elizabeth Mossell: It was good! It was an awesome experience but I don’t think that I was really ready for recording an EP at the time. But I don’t regret it at all. It was definitely an awesome experience and we had a lot of fun. We spent so many hours up until like 5 AM. We went from 12 noon until 5 AM the next day just nonstop recording. I recorded vocals for hours. It was just so fun to see everybody do what they do best in the studio. I’m still getting songs back even now. I just got my third one and they sound really awesome. I’m already ready to get back to record my new ones. That’s the hard part about it. You record them and the m and the next day you write a better song and you’re like “dang it I should have recorded that one.”
MusicDash: What’s next for you career-wise? What are you planning?
Elizabeth Mossell: I’m just trying to write a ton, just write all the time. I really need to add more songs to my repertoire list: more originals. I’m doing more performing on Broadway which is going to be really helpful with getting experience being a performer and learning how to connect with the audience and how to break the barrier and how to connect to them whether it’s through a song I’ve written or a cover. Building up my social media and getting my name out there and trying to build a fanbase is where I’m at right now.
Florence and the Machine has been taking over everything this year, touring all over the world and performing at festivals to promote “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”.
Just when you think one of Florence’s hits “What Kind of Man” can’t get any better, indie rockers Foals take the song to new heights with their cover.
The band dropped by the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge to cover the song, using synths and drums to make the song a full-on rock anthem. To add a surprising twist, the band even throws in their own track “What Went Down”.
I knew after hearing one song of Anna Vaus’ that she was everything that I was looking for for Straight Outta Nashville. I reached out to her immediately and everything wrapped up within about a 10-hour period. It is always a pleasure to find someone else who works just as hard as you do. Someone who is focused and determined on their dream and will do anything to make it work. As you’ll see in this interview, Anna is as cheery and positive as the sunflower-yellow color of her website makes her out to be. And she understands — whether it be about what small town life is like or what it’s like to be single (but ready to mingle with Kris Kringle), Anna’s got you covered. A lot of people say that there’s a Taylor Swift song for every mood, and I think that Anna certainly lives up to this quote as well.
MusicDash: Tell us about your musical background. How and when did you first start out?
Anna Vaus: Honestly I was just this little kid who liked to make up songs about princesses and butterflies and then make my family listen to me sing them. Until middle school, where I started to experience these real and challenging things that were new, exciting and challenging things for a kid to go through; being left out or having a crush on a boy in math class. But there was this compelling voice that kept telling me not to just go through these things, I had this innate desire to do more than that. So I turned to writing songs. I wrote my first “real” song at 11 about a boy who broke my heart (naturally) and since then songwriting has been and evoking, magical process I get to do every day.
MusicDash: What drew you to Nashville?
Anna Vaus: I grew up living and breathing music and my dad is actually an artist as well, so he taught me that Nashville is a place where you get to do that for the rest of your life if you choose to. I think the other amazing thing about Nashville is that it fosters songwriting like no place I’ve ever seen before. To be surrounded by insane amounts of talent that started because someone picked up a guitar and a pen is the coolest thing to me.
MusicDash: What’s your favorite or most memorable performance in Nashville to date?
Anna Vaus: I think my favorite performance in Nashville would have to be at Kimbros Pickin’ Parlor my freshman year. It was my first writers round I had ever played in town and I was just absolutely terrified. I prayed a lot about it and came out alive, such a shocker I know! But I love that performance because it was this wall I had to break through to be where I am not so I’m thankful for that opportunity today.
MusicDash: You’re going to be playing at the Bluebird (one of Nashville’s most famous venues) in February. What was that experience like and what did you play?
Anna Vaus: I actually randomly stumbled upon an article talking about how the Bluebird Cafe holds writer’s night auditions a few times a year and one was coming up, so I decided “why not go for it?” I kind of just walked into this situation and got to be the quirky me that I am by playing my song “Friendzoned” for about 60 other writers and six or seven judges. I guess they liked the song because I got invited back to play on February 21, so that’s going to be a serious dream come true.
MusicDash: Since you’re already about to play the legendary Bluebird, are there any other venues that you’re just dying to play?
Anna Vaus: Honestly, I’m dying to play anywhere anybody wants to have me. A big part of my heart instinctually wants to play an arena one day but that is so far down the line and an out of this world idea that right now I’m content playing just about anywhere. But yeah, I think my dream is to play in my hometown arena one day, that would be beyond what words can describe.
MusicDash: You write some really incredible songs and you even change the words up on some of your covers (like “Every Bruin’s Got Somebody But Me,” a homage to the life of a single girl at Belmont and “Drunk and Lazy,” the ex girlfriend’s side of the popular country song “Drunk on a Plane.”) These videos have thousands of views. Where do you get your inspiration for these videos and what has the response been like?
Anna Vaus: I think the best way to answer this is to describe myself. Like I said, I’m just this insanely quirky person that enjoys making quirky things as a result, and I think that really shows in my songwriting. Whether it’s a parody of a song like “Drunk on a Plane” or the I’m-sad-because-I’m-single Christmas song that I wrote, “If Kris Kringle Were Single,” it’s a display of who I am, minus the whole sad-because-I’m-single thing… I’m doing alright with that.
In terms of the response, I’m really grateful to have incredibly supportive family, friends, and fans who share and post my songs so it’s a wonderful feeling to see something like that come full circle from creating it to watching people share it across social media. I will say my favorite response to the songs I’ve written and parody/covered has been a comment from a friend of my parents who said to me “you know, you’re really good at writing songs about being single.” I was like, “Oh. Awesome. I’m good at being single, well alright then.”
MusicDash: You recently released ‘Friday Night Crowd” on Soundcloud. The song perfectly encapsulates life in a small town. You must be speaking from experience here! Tell us about your hometown and if it has inspired some of your other lyrics.
Anna Vaus: Yeah, so spoiler alert: I wrote this song about my hometown. I actually wrote it after seeing someone from my high school who had graduated with me post something about how boring a place Poway (my hometown) is, and then that Friday he posted a picture of himself at our old high school’s football game. It was this self-contradicting complex that was humorous but also kind of sad at the same time and that’s what inspired me to write “Friday Night Crowd.” I definitely have some other songs I’ve written inspired by my hometown but that’s more thanks to the people, specifically heart-breaker boys, living in it rather than the place.
MusicDash: What’s coming up for you?
Anna Vaus: Well, I’m really excited for what’s to come! In terms of big things I’m looking forward to: I’ll be playing at Belmont’s ASCAP Writers Night on November 10 and at the Bluebird early next year so I’ll be counting down the days to both. As for now, my mind is totally focused on writing, writing, writing, and just getting better at what I do. The sky is the limit and I’m ready to chase it.
A couple of days before Nothing But Thieves released their debut, they signed with RCA Records, pushing the US release to early 2016, and while they will have to wait, it is without a doubt a great way to kick off one’s debut.
‘Excuse Me’ opens the album with some heavy and steady drums, singing “excuse me while I run” but my dear boys, there is no need for excuses. This introduction has singer Conor stretching his lungs and we have officially boarded the boat of rock. ‘Ban All The Music’ – an ironic title that does not necessarily sound like a hit single — ended up doing well on airplay earlier this year, as well as positive feedback from their fan base.
In the middle of the album, we find ‘Graveyard Whistling’ that was previously released on an EP in 2014. If there is a song you want to play someone to introduce them to Nothing But Thieves, it is this one. In three minutes and 52 seconds, you have an idea what this band is about. An absolute highlight has to be one of the quieter songs ‘Lover, please stay’ because A) Conor’s voice is outstandingly good, it is goosebumps-inducing, and B) here we have the Jeff Buckley Vibe, and that can never ever be a bad thing.
In an article earlier this year, I said lead singer Conor Mason “most of all reminds me of a 1992 young version of (a less disturbed and drug-free) Joshua Homme, mixed with Matthew Bellamy’s vocal range.” And it is true, there is a definite Muse atmosphere when he opens his mouth, and while the easy way out of a review is to compare them to artists before them and say “this I like this I do not like” it’s impossible to not address is vocal. He falls into the same prestigious category of rock musicians alongside Homme, Bellamy, Bono and Thom Yorke. (All singers rock musicians with a broader vocal range than the norm.) That is all there is to it, and it should be applauded.
If you as an artist is strongest as a live act, it can be a downright nightmare to translate that to a recorded album. When you play live, you can feed off the audience, you are in the moment. But what about when you are in a studio? The technique is good and all, but you have got to mean it. You have to break the code and make the connection from stage to studio. Luckily, it sounds like Nothing But Thieves could do it in their sleep.
The closing song ‘Tempt You (Evocatio)’ is the song for your playlist when you are heading home after a gig. It is a comedown, a lure, it is a flirt and a siren drawing you in. And a beautiful one at that. It is splendid in how it builds atmospherically in contrast of lyrics, and if you had forgotten to breathe for a little while, this one is one big breath of oxygen.
They have achieved an album people want to listen to more than once. That might sound like a silly accomplishment, but it is vital for the listener. You want to listen and feel it out again and again. Whenever you click play on ‘Itch’ you discover new layers, you want to keep listening to that intro of ‘Trip Switch’. And with all this, it sounds like they haven’t made any compromises In terms of what product they wanted to attain and deliver.
Borns has rocked everyone – literally – with the release of his quirky electro-pop debut album, ‘Dopamine’. He takes each listener on a smooth sailing electric odyssey with songs like ‘Holy Ghost’ and upbeat tracks like ‘American Money’. There are tinges of funk sprinkled throughout, evident in ‘Dopamine’ and ‘Fool’. This compliments the balance between a few slow songs where he croons soulfully, like on the standout track ‘Clouds’. It slows everything down, transcending time and space as it whisks us away to a higher place.
‘Dopamine’ is a fresh take on psychedelic pop. With the sounds of Tame Impala and MGMT, Borns makes the electronica genre all his own.
Infectious melodies and soft synths make for a pleasant listen, for songs that tackle every topic.
Electrifying and shiny, Borns’ ethereal falsetto brings a new layer of buoyancy making each track flow into the next. A sense of clarity washes over with each lyric, accompanied by a quaint feeling of distance.
Far away enough to be harmless, but one still ponders the emotions given off by the standout track ‘American Money’.
“So take me to the paradise in your eyes/
Green like American money/
You taste just right/
Sweet like Tennessee Honey”
It has a wistful and dreamy Lana Del Rey-esque vibe.
Track 5, ‘The Emotion’ is another slower song, pretty but powerful.
Overall the album is an eccentric taste of bubblegum induced psychedelia.
“Wanna feel that stream of dopamine,” he sings.
Hit play and prepare to be mesmerized, because as the 10th track states, Borns is about to be an ‘Overnight Sensation’.
At the beginning of October, I went to the TowerTube showcase. I’m always on the lookout for new artists to feature in this section and TowerTube has been a great resource for me (three of the artists that they have featured are on my wishlist). I know Nicole Lowe, the founder and one of the producers of the YouTube channel. She told me that when she was planning the showcase, she had to have Hannah Ayrault be a part of it, even though her session had not come out yet. This is the best way that I can describe Hannah’s talent — “we need her on board.” I felt it, Nicole felt it, and I’m positive that a lot of other people who come across Hannah’s music are going to feel it too.
Hannah is one of those songwriters who, if I came across on YouTube when I was 15, I would have been her biggest fan. It was at that age that I discovered that I loved simple, beautiful, and meaningful songs — ones that might break your heart if you let them in the best way possible (case and point “So Close So Far” off her new EP). This is what Hannah Ayrault brings to the table. If you are a lyric lover, you will love Hannah Ayrault. Mark my words.
MusicDash: What drew you to Nashville?
Hannah Ayrault: I chose to come to Nashville because Belmont University had been my top-choice university since Freshman year of high school. I really wanted to attend a school were I could pursue music, specifically songwriting, and when I visited I fell in love with the campus and the city. There’s music everywhere and there are so many opportunities for young artists.
MusicDash: When did you first fall in love with music and what lead you to songwriting?
Hannah Ayrault: I’ve been singing since I can remember, and I started playing piano by ear at age three. Somewhere during elementary school I realized that I really liked to write. But it wasn’t really until middle school until I really put everything together. I wrote my first song in eighth grade and I performed it at the school talent show. I always kind of looked at music as a hobby and something I excelled at but would never pursue professionally. I was accepted into Interlochen Arts Academy, which is an arts boarding school in northern Michigan, for my Senior year as a songwriting major, and that’s really where I decided I could make a career out of this.
MusicDash: What inspires you musically?
Hannah Ayrault: I’m really inspired by other artists. I’ve been listening to Jason Mraz for about ten years now, and he’s definitely my biggest inspiration musically. His music made me want to write songs, and I’m still a huge fan today. I listen to a variety of different things because as an artist, Believe that you need to appreciate many different forms of music, not just music in a specific genre. I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and I still love listening to oldies. I also grew up playing classical piano, and that music inspires me greatly as well. I like weird indie artists that few people have ever heard of (Lo-Fang and LP to be specific). And I’ll find myself listening to Top 40 songs too, they’re a guilty pleasure of mine.
MusicDash: What had been your favorite of most memorable performance thus far?
Hannah Ayrault: I sung the National Anthem for Detroit Tigers twice at Comercia Park in Detroit. Those performance were memorable because tens of thousands of people heard me sing at once and I had such an outpouring of love and support from my friends and family. I also had an EP release party this summer back in Detroit which was really fun. I had a full and and the place was packed. The party was one of those moments where my love for music and performing was reaffirmed, which was really nice.
MusicDash: You’ve recently done some work with TowerTube. You had a live session with them and you were a performer at their first showcase. How was that experience and how did you get connected with TowerTube?
Hannah Ayrault: I met Connor in my Spanish class, and he and Nicole produce TowerTube together. I shows in terse and they had an open spot, so it came together really nicely. TowerTube has been a really great platform for me. They shot a really cool video of me playing an acoustic version of one of my songs, and interviewed me as well. They also just put on a showcase of local singer-songwriters affiliated with Belmont (students and alumni) and it was really great to play there. Nicole and Connor are so nice and supportive and really love music, and that’s something I really like to see. I hope TowerTube takes off because ti’s a really great outlet for artists affiliated with Belmont.
MusicDash: Your new EP “Me Right Now” came out on October 14th! Tell us a little bit about the recording process.
Hannah Ayrault: The recording process for Me Right Now was awesome. My friend Ben, who’s an audio engineering major here at Belmont, recorded and produced one of my songs. He showed it to his friend Jon, who is a producer in Nashville, and we met for coffee in September of 2014 and decided to work together to record this EP. It was a long process – much longer that I expected. We spent two months on rewrites and preparation, and then we spent a few months recording demos. WE didn’t get to the actual recording until January 2015. Our last recording session was in May. It was such a great process, and I’m so glad we took the time to do it right. It’s an amazing feeling to hear your songs come together. It’s fascinating as well to hear other people’s ideas about your music. I had an idea in my head of how I wanted it to sound, but the final product is better than I could have imagined.
MusicDash: What track on the EP are you most excited about releasing and why?
Hannah Ayrault: I’m excited to release all of the tracks! If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the title track, “Me Right Now.” I actually hated this song for the longest time because I had to rewrite almost the entire thing. Lyrically, it’s poignant and sums up something that a lot of people my age feel at this time of transition in our lives. We’re not kids, but we’re not really adults yet and we’re still trying to find our place in the world. It’s short and sweet and the production is perfect.
MusicDash: What are your ultimate goals surrounding music?
Hannah Ayrault: I want to be able to make a living off of music. Whether it’s selling out stadiums or playing small gigs back home, success to me means having the ability to spend my life doing what I love. And I really hope I get to do that. With my original songs, I really want people to connect and feel things. I want to write music that helps people get through life, whether that is a rough transition period or missing a friend or being in love for the first time. And even if one persons touched by what I write and put out there, I’ll consider that a success.
Heavy footed guitar stomps onto the scene, announcing Spares’ presence with an unapologetic level of confidence. This brazen Liverpool based band sure knows how to make an impact, with Adam Boyd’s drumming lending ‘Not Enough’ it’s purposeful stride from start to finish. Vocally, the drawling tone is reminiscent of Miles Kane – which probably has something to do with the latter’s Wirral upbringing. From a lyrical and indeed melodic perspective, it’s quite an angry construction – epitomised by the “you know we’re not enough, you know we’re not enough” cries which bring the song to a close.
The track was first premiered on BBC Introducing last week and has since then been reviewed on a number of blogs. A word that is bandied about all too often in the music industry is “talent”, but these lads really do have a lot of potential, and so it’ll be interesting to chart their progress over months to come.
If you like what you hear you can like Spares on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
I was convinced this band was from somewhere in Scandinavia, possibly Norway. It exudes a northern production. Alongside the band name and the atmosphere of ‘Seventeen’, the trio completely lead me on. Don, Sam, and Maija — two parts male one part female — is from the Bay area of California. Another listen after that discovery and it all sort of make sense. The indie vibe is strong with this one. With strident guitars and a rough baseline and an almost Lana Del Rey piano-vibe, she sings “if you want a second to breathe I’ll give you all of my love / I’ll give you all that you need / don’t worry I’m not in a hurry / not going nowhere.”
Earlier this year three demos was released. ‘Mend’, ‘Love Has Gone’, and last but not least ‘Drifty’ which has been part of my daily commute for a while. The quiet and idling guitar grates away while the vocal takes all focus. I am a blatant fan of the way Maija carries the lyrics “when you leave someone their love lingers on / like a fresh wound with no one to love.” It is delicate, it is familiar and also different all at the same time.
They told me they were “We’re kinda moving things along slowly” and with only four songs released at the moment, I am like a kid before Christmas when I think of a possible EP – preferably sooner rather than later when there is so much potential. Sjowgren is the kind of band you can brag about already knowing in a few years time. There is clear talent and room for growth. They could take this band so many directions, and that is what makes them so interesting.
This summer, my roommate and I went to see Kate Voegele open for Hailey Steele at 3rd and Lindsley. Stella // James was up first, and they knocked it out of the park. Their harmonies were tight and melodic. This is truly a band that was meant to sing together. And when ‘Straight Outta Nashville’ was up and running, Stella // James was one of the first names on my list to interview.
“Songbird” was one of the songs that immediately caught my attention and I immediately knew that Stella // James had something special. Being the first song that they’d written together as a trio you just know that, like the wine they drank while writing it, they’ll only get better with age.
MusicDash: What’s the inspiration behind the band’s name?
Stella // James: The inspiration for the band name came from a song we wrote early on when we started writing together. We created this ideal femme fatale, a muse of sorts, “Stella.” The woman who walks into a room and steals every heart with one glance of her eyes, the woman that always has the room laughing. We started to write songs with this woman, Stella, in mind and writing in the mindset of wanting to make all women feel the magic of Stella. Our band also has a male (obviously) so we wanted to have that strong male presence represented as well in our music so we started to think about who really represented the male version of “Stella” and we all agreed it is definitely James Dean. The ultimate classic cool mystery man on some open Midwest highway or in a smokey bar in Hollywood Hills. If you listen to our music, you’ll surely get to know both Stella and James.
MusicDash: If I recall correctly, “Songbird” was one of the first songs you guys wrote together. What was it about that process that made it something special?
Stella // James: When Stella//James became a trio, it was on Rachel’s back porch, drinking wine and the song effortlessly just came out. It was a really rough time for everyone in our personal lives and “Songbird” was the very song that brought us together. Spiritually and emotionally it has so much meaning behind it.
MusicDash: How long have you all been writing together?
Stella // James: We have all been writing together for quite some time. Almost nine years for Sarah and Rachel. Ty and Sarah have been writing for a few years and Stella//James as a band for almost a year.
MusicDash: What drew you to Nashville?
Stella // James: Music essentially for everyone. But once we all moved here, the songwriting is what made us all really fall n love with Nashville. Nashville is such an artistic, creative city and the music is always evolving and it gives all types of music a chance to be heard.
MusicDash: What’s your favorite or most memorable performance to date in Nashville?
Stella // James: The 3rd and Lindsley show hands down. It was our first big show in Nashville and we had all of our families there and you could just feel the magic. It was our best performance we had ever done and brought us even closer as a trio.
MusicDash: What inspires your sound, as well as your writing style?
Stella // James: We are all and of amazing artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell and many more so our writing reflects a lot of the music we listen to all wrapped in one. We also pull a lot of our inspiration from things each other are going through and have mini therapy sessions while writing music we enjoy.
MusicDash: Is there any venue around town that you’re just dying to play?
Stella // James: The Ryman would be a dream come true!
MusicDash: What’s coming up on the horizon for you guys?
Stella // James: We have our EP coming out soon and our music will be available on iTunes as well as our website and we will be releasing a new music video along with it all! We have lots of shows coming up and are excited about our upcoming show October 20th at 3rd and Lindsley!
Although Judah and the Lion have only been pluckin’ and singin’ since 2011, the band’s career has reached great heights. They’re currently on tour with Ben Rector and have taken selfies with the likes of David Letterman. But naturally, they got their start in the small town/big city of Nashville, TN where they met as “friends of friends.” I had the privilege of interviewing the band’s mandolin player, Brian MacDonald. Here’s what he had to say about the band’s exciting career so far.
MusicDash: What initially drew you to Nashville?
Brian MacDonald: I was drawn there honestly because it’s the “music city.” I wanted to have a career as a musician and I knew that there would be a lot of excited people with a similar mindset in Nashville. We all met at a college there called Belmont University.
MusicDash: What is your favorite/most memorable show?
Brian MacDonald: Ooo, that is a tough question. There are a lot of memorable shows, and each one for a different reason, as you can imagine…!! A lot of shows played outside in the freezing cold, things gone wrong, etc… but if I had to give one favorite, I would say our first show in Athens, Georgia a couple years ago. It was one of those nights where the stars aligned. We sold out a pretty big show at the 40 Watt, the fans loved it. It was a bog moment that’s never been totally recreated. That show felt like our first real rock show, and I’ll never forget the new feeling.
MusicDash: Both of your releases so far “Sweet Tennessee” and “Kids These Days” have made the Billboard charts. What was your initial reaction to the response you got from your music?
Brian MacDonald: We are so thrilled. It seems like each thing we release does better than the thing before, which is really encouraging. We are so thankful to have loyal fans that support us even when we take out music in varying directions.
MusicDash: You have some really great music videos including “Rich Kids” and “Sweet Tennessee” that were shot around Nashville. What was the inspiration behind these videos?
Brian MacDonald: “Sweet Tennessee” is inspired by the state we live in, and the state Judah grew up in. Such a beautiful hilly landscape and a truly special place for us all. We definitely try to create a real fun environment in those music videos. Especially in ‘Rich Kids,” we called upon a lot of fans and close friends and basically threw a party, and caught it on camera. We made a HUGE bonfire, one of our buddies did a firework show. It probably wasn’t very safe, but we had fun, and we were really happy with the video.
MusicDash: You got to perform “Kickin da Leaves” during David Letterman’s last season earlier this year. How was that experience?
Brian MacDonald: It was surreal. We were so honored to be on that, especially on Letterman’s last season. It all happened so fast that it was almost hard to take in that moment. But looking back we are so thankful we got the change to do that.
MusicDash: What inspires you artistically?
Brian MacDonald: Definitely our community around us. We love writing about our friends, lifestyle, love. All through a lens of joy and positivity.
MusicDash: You just started your tour with Ben Rector in support of his new album. What do you think fans can expect from this show and this pairing?
Brian MacDonald: We are loving being on tour with Ben. I think it’s a great pairing. Fans can expect that we will give everything we have each night to create an energetic atmosphere. We just want to get the crows a little sweaty before Ben gets out there.
MusicDash: What are your career goals at the present moment?
Brian MacDonald: We wanna keep making music and sustain a career. We want to create a successful environment for us to start having families too, because that is super important for us. It’s hard to do on the road, but it’s possible. We’re super excited to release another album early next year. I think it will be a little different for our fans… maybe even shocking, I don’t know. It kind of makes me think of folk, hop and roll…. kinda hard to explain but we’re jazzed!!
The instant I heard 10,000 Emerald Pools by Borns aka singer-songwriter Garret Borns, I knew it was a hit. In fact, since receiving a shoutout from Taylor Swift, I’m surprised he isn’t bigger.
But I’m not worried. I know his time will come.
Now he has released his newest single, “Fool” an upbeat disco-electronica song.
There is a certain magic quality to this track, and the fact that Borns used to be a magician only proves what I already know: his haunting electronic track is sheer enchantment. It’s the kind of song I didn’t have to finish listening to the first time around to know I liked it.
In an interview with Beat Magazine, Borns explained his artist name: “I think the O with the stoke looks like a zero and I like that because it goes along with the concept of ‘borns’ and re-birth and zero as a number of no resistance. That’s something as an artist you always have to battle with, that sense of resistance.”
Borns is revving up for the release of his debut album “Dopamine” which is due out October 16th.
In 2013, things started happening to Baldock in Hertfordshire’s RHODES. His debut EP Raise Your Love was released on Hometown Records, (BBC Radio One’s Phil Taggart) and his songs began gaining radio play. In particular with ‘Your Soul’. A few EPs later and some time off, Wishes, the debut album arrived on September 18. It has been produced by long-time collaborator James Kenosha, which was a wise decision.
A new artist tumbles around the first few years with ideas and proposals, trying and fixating in on what their sound should be, coinciding with how their musical voice should be displayed. Choosing to stick with James Kenosha on his debut album meant the silver lining stayed intact from EP to LP.
The album opens up with ‘intro’, and spoiler alert, that track’s title is the only thing that irks me. Intros are simply peculiar to me. It asks the question “I don’t wanna fade away / Am I gonna make you happy?” Now, whether that’s a doubt towards something personal, or uncertainty towards the music industry and dealing with pleasing his audience, I cannot say, but we will leave it at that for now.
The universe of RHODES is filled with grand gestures, cathedral sounds, and I am tempted to mention Florence + The Machine in this context. While she has a completely different lyrical universe with vast metaphors and an almost fairytale way of conveying her songs, RHODES is a classic singer-songwriter when it comes to words.
A handful of songs are from previous released EPs, worth mentioning is ‘Your Soul’ that started it all. As is ‘Raise Your Love’ that takes the award for best song on the album. It’s lyrically the strongest, and melodically a perfect match between radio friendliness and how it is artistically voiced. With precision, he sings “It’s always on my mind now / the world I adore / caught up in a lie now / it feels like a war.” New mixes and productions of the older songs suit them very well. He avoided what many fails at when putting old songs onto something new and something tells me that was not accidental, because if Wishes is anything it is wholesome and nurtured into a complete and full album.
The title track ‘Wishes’ concludes the album with the lyrics “Wishes like a cold wind on my face / wishes I could warm a frozen lake / oh wishing / wishing you were here.” And now there is a possibly that ‘Intro’ was a doubt towards something personal. Because I do not think he has to worry about how he is being perceived. He definitely did not disappoint on his debut. RHODES has got the voice and the artistry, and there is no doubt he will gain lots of new fans from this.
There’s a new London sound from indie quartet Pure Youth. Having already released Jaws-esque electro rock single ‘New November’, newer single ‘I’m Not Yours’ bares resemblance to early Wombats with softer vocals that partner a swinging ‘oh-oh-oh’ chorus that play down otherwise energetic guitars. Pure Youth’s charm seems to come from their ability to write slow build melodies that are as powerful as they are calming, while building upon influences that are clear without distracting from their own unique style. This broad range of influences is shown in ‘Wasted Days’ and ‘I Just Wanted You To Know’ which see the band adapt to an ever so slightly grungier take on their melodic guitars and conversational lyrical delivery, whose vocals tie any loose ends together.
Pure Youth play Camden Barfly on the 28th of October and The Garage, London on the 3rd of December. Check out their bandcamp and souncloud for other tour dates, and have a listen to ‘I’m Not Yours’ here.
Sorry, actually not sorry. Ryan Adams’ 1989 cover album pretty much sucked. Now, I know everyone and their grandma have been talking about this album and everyone and their grandma seems to be in love with it, but really people?
While I enjoy Adams’ clear ode to Swift for what was an insanely amazing album on Taylor’s part, what I don’t understand is people’s obsession with Ryan’s album. I don’t see anything within it “revealing the sadness” of 1989 and I don’t hear what’s so amazing; all in all I just do not get it.
If I wasn’t already being honest, I don’t think this album makes any sense. Practically every cover on this album feels dragged out and showy. Not that I don’t agree with creative license but this is too much. On tracks like This Love and Out Of The Woods he sounds almost like he’s just talking his way through the song. On other tracks like; Welcome To New York and Style he becomes overbearing and makes it sound like he’s singing over the music and not with it. Also once we get to How You Get the Girl he sounds like Bob Dylan?
Listening to the album in its entirety made me feel like I was watching someone try to make the pieces of three different puzzles into one, it just doesn’t really work. The sound of this album had me confused to say the least.
This isn’t to say that Ryan Adams’ didn’t do anything right with this album either. Tracks like; Wildest Dreams, Blank Space, Shake It Off and All You Had To Do Was Stay he actually created something that I can say I liked and that I can say I expected from him. I think that if he made this entire album consistent with the sound he had on these tracks then I might have enjoyed it a great deal more, but he didn’t so here I am.
Although this was a cover album, I didn’t look at it that way. I tried to look at it as if it was it own separate musical entity because obviously the creative differences between Ryan Adams’ and Taylor Swift are vastly deviating. Also, in that respect I think it is fair that if you are going to listen to it don’t look at it as a Taylor Swift cover album and proceed to be upset that it doesn’t sound like her, I don’t at all think that is what Ryan Adams’ was going for in the first place.
So just to make sure everyone understands where my frustration is placed with this album, it is NOT placed in the fact that it doesn’t sound like Taylor. It is placed in the fact that even through I looked at it as a Ryan Adams’ album and tried really hard to like it, I just couldn’t do it.
To me this album felt scattered and unpolished and at some point while listening to it even a little bit anxious. Like I said at the beginning of this article sorry, not sorry to everyone and their grandma, I really didn’t enjoy this album.
Frantic drum beats and cymbal crashes interspersed with a racing guitar line make for an impactful intro to our track of the week. ‘Hell Is My Head’, by Hampshire based band Blaenavon, combines a soaring, confident vocal with deliciously poetic lyrics: “I’m dripping through my soul / time takes its toll / and I’m left cowering behind my disguise”.
As the track builds to an urgent wall of sound, it’s hard not to find yourself crying along with the repeated line: “I’ll be the only one you’ll ever find”. Although Blaenavon have been around for a few years, now signed to Transgressive Records, ‘Hell Is My Head’ sees them turn things up full throttle; it’s the first track from the band’s Miss World EP, set for release on 30th October, and if this is anything to go by Blaenavon are determined to cause more than a ripple in the sea of indie music.
Keep your eye on the band’s projects by following them on Twitter and liking them on Facebook.
Ryan Adams bleeds when he creates music. Okay, the enough with the melodramatics. The man himself have said “Never apologise for your enthusiasm” which arguably is a better way of saying he puts his heart out there, flawed and raw with no excuses. Despite 1989 being a cover-album, he bleeds Taylor Swifts’ songs as if they were his own. On this reinvention of songs, (rather than a simple cover album), mainstream pop meets introspectiveness from the introvert himself.
It has an obvious The Smith vibe which Ryan himself put forth. It was also released just a few days before September equinox which marks the start of autumn, and as the melancholic season begins to lay its iron blanket, it seems like the perfect fit.
One thing that has not gone unnoticeable is that he switched pronounce, which in 2015 is highly frowned upon — it is not the politically correct way to go about someone else’s songs. I’m willing to let that one slip since this is a more a reimagining of songs; as if Ryan is the male counterpart of these stories, singing them back to the girl who got hurt, something Taylor pointed out in the Beats1 interview.
‘Welcome To New York’ meets you with an intoxicating and emotional power. Ryan left New York for LA and got his life back together, and it seems as if this song is a nod to those old times, reminiscing but also very aware of both sides to the fairytale city.
I was on the road when a rock radio station spun a couple of these songs on release day, and I know I wasn’t the only one with a lump in my throat the first time hearing ‘Out Of The Woods’. There’s a hurt, there’s a deep and genuine wound in his voice that produces all the goosebumps you can physically get.
If a song can’t be stripped down to a very basic acoustic guitar version, then it is not a well-crafted piece of art. What is clearly evident is how talented Taylor Swift is as a songwriter. Behind the production and mainstream melodies, you find a true, old school artist. With Ryan’s style, the Swift fans are introduced to a different world of music and vversevisa.
The gigantic hit ‘Shake It Off’ has gently been taken down a notch while embracing the minor chords. There is a wonderful 80’s echo that turns the dance anthem into dejected story, gaining momentum and releases some built-up frustration at the end of it.
So pour yourself a cup of tea, get a blanket, and put on this autumn record and let yourself be fragile for a minute.
At the end of August this year, upcoming band Beach Weather released their EP ‘What A Drag’. Beach Weather consists of 4 members, Lead Singer and Guitarist Nick Santino, Drummer Austin Scates, Guitarist Ian Holubiak and Reeve Powers. The band is currently now on tour with The Maine on their ‘Free For All Tour’ around the US.
‘What A Drag’ consists of 5 tracks: Wolf, New Skin, Bad Seed, Swoon and Rebel Sun. I have to say, this EP has been on repeat for the past week for me. Each song has their own unique personality to it.
This EP is perfect for every single playlist you could ever create. With upbeat tracks like ‘Bad Seed’ and ‘Rebel Sun’ to ‘New Skin’ and ‘Swoon’ which are great for whatever situation you’re in, whether you’re relaxing or going for a run, this whole EP is perfect.