Photos. Music. Musings. Assorted wanderings from a freelance editor, music journalist, photographer, New York Yankee, New York Giant and New York Ranger fan.
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Writing, performing and recording under the moniker of Pony Boy, Marcelle Bradanini has garnered quite a bit of attention across the blogosphere for her bluesy, sultry take on country music. In fact, Bradanini’s voce possesses the ability to express heartache, seductiveness, and toughness within the turn of a phrase — and in a similar fashion to that of the late Amy Winehouse.
Bradanini’s latest single “The Devil In Me,” is a boozy, bluesy stomp comprised of buzzing guitars and tribal-like drumming. Sonically, the song evokes a sweaty, messy debauchery, which the official video accurately captures.
The three core members of the Los Angeles, CA-based quartet Incan Abraham, Giuillano Pizzulo, Teddy Carafo, and Spencer Mandel have been friends since kindergarten; after all, who else should you start a band with besides your very best and longest friends, right? After the members of the band had spent college on different coasts, the band reunited at a secluded house in upstate New York, with instruments in tow — on a whim.
And the result turned out to be the material that will appear on the band’s debut effort, Tolerance. "Concorde," the first single off Tolerance is a shimmering but moody bit of indie pop with layered melodies andguitars played through gentle washes of reverb that sounds as though it owes a debt to 80s New Wave and synth pop — a little bit of the Fixx perhaps? In fact, much the some of sources that informed inspired it, the song wears its heartfelt emotion on it’s sleeve.
The blogosphere has been big on the Los Angeles-based quartet, and I think that after their SXSW sets, you’ll be hearing a lot more about them throughout the course of the summer.
In their native UK, the funk collective of Jungle are a breakout act but they’re starting to make inroads Stateside — their latest single “Busy Earnin’” recently received airplay on KCRW's Morning Becomes Electric. Interestingly, the track reminds me a little bit of Escort — thanks to the horn section and the fact that it sounds heavily influenced by old school disco. But in some way it reminds me of the Stereo MCs, in the fact that the single has a really catchy hook.
The official video has the collective doing some pretty slick, old-school inspired dance moves — you will be properly served.
The New York-based quintet of Walking Shapes, which consists of Nathaniel Hoho (vocals, guitar), Jesse Kotansky (guitar, violin and vocals), Jake Generall (keys, vocals), Dan Krysa (bass, vocals) and Christopher Heinz (drums) has received quite a bit of love and attention from several notable blogs across town including the likes of the Deli NYC, Earmilk and others for a sound that’s been compared to Radiohead and Alt J by some. Of course, that’s arguable, and what we do as critics is a very subjective thing (even when there are occasions when it seems as though it should be objective).
But this much is true, their sound has an art rock, angular sheen with forceful guitars but underneath it there’s a very subtle sense of sleaze and danger just underneath the surface — and it does so in a seductive fashion, as you’ll hear on the band’s latest single “Woah Tiger.” This single also should give you quite a taste of the sound you’ll hear on the band’s forthcoming effort, Take Come On, which is slated for an April 8 release through No Shame Records. Interestingly, the album is reportedly an eclectic ode to New York, one of the most eclectic places in the entire world. Certainly, as i’ve listened to the song I can picture myself rushing off to a dive bar like the Library, Sophie’s or even Clem’s — or being in a bar while listening to the song.
The official video was shot on 8mm film and has the band roaming about locations across South Williamsburg and the Lower East Side, including some footage shot at their residency at Baby’s All Right — the first residency at the venue, which has become one of Brooklyn’s hottest new venues; outside the No Shame Records office; the Williamsburg Bridge; the Hewes Street J,M,Z station; and more.
Originally from Detroit and now residing in New York, singer/songwriter Alex Winston's debut effort, King Con was released early last year to critically praise. She’s playing sporadic live dates while working on a new album, which is slated for a 2014 release but with the release of her latest single, “101 Vultures” Winston’s voice and aesthetic has (understandably) been compared to the likes of Kate Bush, PJ Harvey and others — personally, the introspective and very airy song reminds me a little bit of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill,” thanks in part to Winston’s breathily cooed vocals.
The folks at the Wild Honey Pie invited Winston to take part in their latest, original video series, “On the Mountain,” which consists of a variety of artists being interviewed and performing several songs in and around Stratton Mountain, Vermont — during one of the coldest and snowiest winters in recent memory. It’s also an interactive video series, which offers browsers a unique opportunity to make their own adventure, sort of. This live version of “101 Vultures,” is as intimate as it is straightforward while retaining a sense of the album version’s ethereal beauty.
With the release of his first recorded output back in 1969, Lee Fields has had an incredibly prolific 45 year career in which he’s toured with the likes of Kool and the Gang, O.V. Wright, Hip Huggers, and the like. And as i’ve mentioned countless times before soul music has seen a remarkable renaissance with countless bands both across the country and the world playing the sounds of the 60s and 70s. But what’s truly amazing about this soul renaissance is that it’s brought some great and sadly forgotten talents back out into the light — think of Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, Lee Fields, the late Chuck Brown and so on.
With the release of My World (2009) and Faithful Man (2012), through Truth and Soul Records, Fields and his backing band, the Expressions not only grabbed the attention of the blogosphere, he also won a number of new fans. Emma Jean. which will see a June 3 release is the follow-up to Fields’ last two critically acclaimed albums and it reportedly has the soul legend and his backing band pushing their sound in new directions, exploring where contemporary soul can and should go (which is something that few bands would consider).
The first single is a soulful rendition of JJ Cale’s smoldering, bluesy ballad “Magnolia.” Certainly, Fields’ and the Expressions’ cover retains the bluesy shuffle of the original; however, when FIelds sings “you’re the best I ever had,” there’s a profound sense of regret and loss, and yet throughout the song, a hope that the narrator can get back to home to his love.
Released two years ago, Cody ChesnuTT's Landing on a Hundred was one of my favorite albums as it was the first co-number 1 on this site’s Best of 2012 List, and among a list of my favorite soul/R&B albums released within the last five years or so as it deals with topics in a way that hasn’t been heard in contemporary music in some time — the album’s material explores themes of redemption, faith, love and manhood with a sensitivity and empathy that makes most of the contemporary pop music you’ve heard seem shallow and childish.
Landing on a Hundred: B Sides and Remixes manages to do exactly what ChesnuTT’s exceptional 2012 release does — survey everyday Black life without cliche or stereotypes, and in a fashion that feels approachable and universal; but it also says that life has to be dealt with head on. Featuring the remixes and interpretations of Questlove, Gary Clark, Jr„ Danny Swain, Jay West, Manuel Sahagun and others.
The first single off Landing on a Hundred: B Sides and Remixes has Cody ChesnuTT teaming up with Gary Clark, Jr. on the breezy and bluesy “Gunpowder on the Letter.” Thematically and even sonically it seems to be a counterpoint to “Til I Met Thee,” and “Everybody’s Brother,” as it deals with the struggles of getting by with your dignity and sense of self intact. However, I can also see why the song didn’t make the album — sonically, it seems to owe a debt to the 30s and 40s than the conscious Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder era of soul.
Performing under the moniker of CALLmeKAT, Katrine Ottosen, is a renowned keyboardist, composer and singer/songwriter in her native Denmark. Through old-fashioned word-of-mouth, Ottosen has impressed audiences in Germany, Austria, France and Switzerland, all before an official international release. After the 2008 release of the I’m A Polaroid, Where Are You EP and the full-length album Fall Down, Ottosen won tons of critical acclaim in Denmark, has toured with artists such as Au Revoir Simone and Okkervil River and has performed at festivals such as SXSW,NXNE, Eurosonic, Northside, CMJ and others.
Now officially performing as a trio with longtime collaborators Joe Magistro and Daniel Fridell, CALLmeKAT will be releasing their forthcoming EP Hidden Waters later this spring, and from the sound off the EP’s first single “Rolling,” the EP reflects a bit of a change of sonic direction, as well as reflects growth in both musicianship and songwriting. In particular, “Rolling” has a retro/60s pop sound thanks to the percussive handclaps and piano — and in some way, it reminds me quite a bit of Spoon, believe it or not but with a slick, futuristic feel and a kazoo solo. Yes, a kazoo solo. Still, despite the obvious change in sonic direction. Ottosen is a particularly gifted songwriter, who can craft a song with a remarkably catchy pop hook, while being simultaneously personal.
The official video has Ottosen and her band mates being kind of goofy — in an almost Beatles/Monkees-like way while performing the song. It shows an absurdist sense of humor here and there that’s actually refreshing.
Because the trio has been praised by the likes of New York Magazine, Brooklyn Vegan and others, and because of their connection to both the city’s art and music scenes, there’s a sense among some that they could be the next big thing. Of course, in my time as a blogger and journalist, I have to admit that I’ve seen “the next big thing” pieces countless times, and I think that it’s best to say that it’s something that will be determined in due time.
Their forthcoming EP reportedly has a number of songs that have been described as tales of heartbreak but throughout the the effort are a a Dolly Parton cover — and one in particular by the Misfits, “Skulls.” Their rendition of “Skulls” turns the goth punk anthem into a sparsely arranged bit of chamber pop. In fact, because the lyrics are sweetly sung, it gives the song a strange, detached sense of horror that’s somehow even more fucked up than the original. Yeah, seriously.
Midnight Passenger, the forthcoming sophomore effort from Ex-Cult was heavily informed and influenced by the road and the experiences of relentless touring throughout 2012 — we’re talking about shithole bars, shitty motel rooms and crashing on floors and couches. The latest single off the album, “Shattered Circle,” much like the album’s first single and album title track “Midnight Passenger” possesses an anxious and desperate urgency which makes the buzzing guitars and sneering vocals seem sleazier, rawer and claustrophobic in a similar fashion to that of Disappears modern anthem of unease and anxiety, Era. However, whereas “Midnight Passenger,” had a driving krautrock-influenced rhythm section, “Shattered Circle” is much more punk, along the lines of the Misfits.
So far both songs from Midnight Passenger remind me of the countless hours spent drinking and carrying on want to much in grimy dive bars like the Library, Sophie’s, the Nancy Whiskey Pub, the Rabbit Club, 151 Rivington, Boss Tweed’s and other dark rooms of depravity and regret. Ah memories.
While in France, singer/songwriter Jay Chakravorty met a Mexican woman who used to playfully call him Cajita, which translates into English as “little box,” thanks to the fact that she claimed that every time she met him, she would learn something new about him, as though he were opening a new little box of interesting things.
As Cajita, Chakravorty’s latest effort, Tiny Ghosts has the singer/songwriter and producer employing the use of a variety of instrumentation — including synths, banjo, clarinet, glockenspiel, swirling electronics and swooning vocals, as you’ll hear on the latest single off the album, “Broken Glass,” Sonically and lyrically, the song seems to owe a great debt to High Violet-era the National, in the sense that the song has a pensive introspection — and comes from a very grown place, with the recognition of the bruised psyches, compromises, regrets and dashed hopes of adulthood while possessing a breezy, ethereal air.
On Mardi Gras, our thoughts should naturally turn to New Orleans where massive celebrations are taking place right this very moment. And simply put, there probably aren’t many bands more appropriate to celebrate with and listen to, than the venerable and beloved Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Do512 Austin invited the band to play as part of it’s Do512 Lounge Sessions and this live version of “Go to the Mardi Gras” is an incredibly loose, joyous version. I’ve played this video a couple of times and every time i see it, it makes me not only want to jump, shout and dance, it makes me want to buy a plane ticket and get on down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras — responsibilities be damned!