Kramies (pronounced Kraim-iss) is an American singer-songwriter, best known for his work with producers Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Patrick Carney of The Black Keys, Jerry Becker of Train, and Todd Tobias of Guided by Voices. He has also performed with artists such as Spiritualized, Yo La Tengo, Calexico, and Tyler Ramsey of Band of Horses. Kramies has been awarded multiple Songs of the Year as well as EP of the year. His current single "Days Of" entered the US collage charts as a Top 10. Over and Outsider Split single feat. Jason Lytle, Tyler Ramsey, & Kramies As winter approaches and the days grow shorter, homes are dimly lit while dusk quietly creeps in, three unique songwriters come together to create a rare release of emotionally beautiful and raw singles. "Over and Outsider" is the new 3/split single by Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Tyler Ramsey ex Band Of Horses, and Kramies. Released on VanGerrett Records/Bandcamp Vangerrett Records was started by Kramies as a way to bring together unique artists to capture special moments and rarities for fans. Jason Lytle - Drop That Hero Kramies – She’s Low Tide Tyler Ramsey – Arrow To Bow While working on his new 2022 EP with Jason Lytle of Grandaddy and Tyler Ramsey formerly of Band of Horses, Kramies asked Jason and Tyler if they would like to do a split single together with the idea that all three songwriters would write and record a bare-bone minimally tracked song. They all agreed and "Over and Outsider" was born, Jason at his studio in California, Tyler from his studio in North Caroliona and Kramies in Nashville at The Fleetwood Shack Studio. Quotes from the artists: Jason Lytle ----- 'Drop that Hero' Some days I can feel pretty down and at odds with everything. Other days I can feel pretty untouchable and heroic. This song is about getting dumped during a period of feeling untouchable and heroic. I think it fits nicely with this small batch of songs. Kramies ----- 'She's Low Tide' This short song of closure seemed to have fallen into my lap out of nowhere while I was working on something else. I never know what these songs are about until much later, I just know when it feels right enough to pursue. These songs for me are like crows carving out shapes in the clouds, then disappearing quickly. 'She's Low Tide' isn't about anyone particular, I think its more about a time and space I was once in.. It felt perfect for this wintery split. Jason and Tyler are two of my all-time favorite song-creators so this is a huge honor for me. Also I recorded this in Nashville with my friend/producer Bill Reynolds which is another honor. Tyler Ramsey ---- “Arrow to Bow” I met Kramies in Colorado a while back when Carl Broemel and I were on a duo tour driving across country. He opened a show we did in Denver and was such a sweetheart and we stayed in touch. I think he has a gold heart. When he reached out about this split single project I was in the process of writing a bunch of new songs for a new album. This one is made up of blurry images of touring and travel and questioning what is worth giving your time to. Happy I was able to be a part of this project with Kramies and Jason who I love and admire as well. Released on VanGerrett Record/Bandcamp VanGerrett Records was started by Kramies as a simple way for bringing together unique artists to capture special moments and rarities for fans.
Panda Riot is a four-piece dreampop band from Chicago. Their latest album, Extra Cosmic, will be out in Summer 2022. Brian Cook and Rebecca Scott first met at a bar in Philadelphia where Brian was debuting a short film. A first date soon led to more, and they formed Panda Riot while working on another short film together. Their first album, She Dares All Things, was recorded in their bedroom and it showcased a DIY attitude that continues to characterize Panda Riot’s approach to this day. Brian has recorded, mixed, and mastered all of the band’s albums and even builds custom guitar pedals that give Panda Riot it’s signature sound. Although frequently classified as shoegaze, a genre typified by Irish trailblazers, My Bloody Valentine, Panda Riot has a sound that pushes far beyond the noisy guitars and buried vocals characteristic of most shoegaze bands. With hip-hop, electronic, pop, and rock influences, the band stretches the “shoegaze” sound to new sonic landscapes. After releasing She Dares All Things from their tiny Philadelphia apartment, Brian and Rebecca moved to Chicago where the band has grown both in members and experience. Their sophomore release, Northern Automatic Music, was described by Popstache as an album that “further refine[d] the band’s cinematic sound by crafting a wash of shimmery guitars and underpinning it all with a newfound organic, rhythmic intricacy.” With their third album, Infinity Maps current bassist, Cory Osborne (Airiel, Tom Spacey, Lightfoils), joined the band, adding a new sophistication to the rhythm section. The Chicago Reader described Infinity Maps as an “ambitious 18-song album [that] has more than enough shimmering guitars, swelling electronics, and sci-fi movie samples to soundtrack any recreational moper’s dark (but totally pleasant) night of the soul.” Now, emerging from the pandemic, Panda Riot is back with a new full-length album, Extra Cosmic. While maintaining their signature wall-of-sound dreampop with avalanched guitars and dancey drums, they explore an even wider aesthetic range in their most acoustically and emotionally dynamic release yet. With new drummer, Brian Hilderbrand, their live sound has also reached a new level. They are excited to debut the new songs and lineup in their summer tour which will feature a performance at the Schellraiser Music Fest in McGill, NV.
Sisteria is a thunderous new psychedelic band from Norman, OK, spearheaded by folk-singer-turned-rock- goddess Katie Williams. With an alliance of accomplished players at her side, she spelunks into deep, primal consciousness to reclaim buried treasures of the self. If it is taboo to fraternize with raw mineral deposits of untempered life force, Sisteria wears its adultery with the purest scarlet. Dark Matter -- and Sisteria itself -- is a testament to what feels right. From the outset of the album's incarnation, the band unchained itself from streaming algorithms and audience expectations, choosing instead to feed the desires of the art itself. Naturally, this fits the nature of psychedelic rock to a tee, but it also captures the album's themes of embodied spirituality. What better way is there to rekindle unity within (and beyond) the self than through the transformative power of unadulterated music? –Evan Jarvicks, Make Oklahoma Weirder Conjuring Fillmore Auditorium circa 1966 Sisteria burns with an incandescent 21st century psychedelic glow. Williams whispers sex into a throbbing tumult of cheerful aural assault. Cinema soundtrack for a mescaline flick’s montage of bass, drums and guitar. -Doug Hill, Norman Transcript
LIA HIDE Lia Hide is an Athenian dark-art, progressive, alt-pop band. They have collaborated with various artists on celebrated projects and are featured in dozens of International compilations with their originals or inspired covers. Lia Hide is Lia herself on songwriting, arrangements and production, Aki'Base on bass and George Rados on drums. Lia has studied classical piano, operatic singing, music technology and songwriting. Their first album, “Home”, was released by ΕΜΙ-Universal (2013). “Everyone Seems to Know Who I Am”, 2017 (mastered by the multiply Grammy awarded Adam Ayan) and “Tells no Fairytales”, 2019 (mastered by Denis Blackham) were released by their own indie label, DontHideMe. All three albums were produced by Lia Hide and mixed by Yiannis Lampropoulos, in Athens, Greece. In 2020 they released “Fairytales Remixed” (Amour Records) with remixes by renowned international Electronica producers and artists. In the meantime, Lia composed music for theatre and dance productions (Copia Aperta - Dario Fo, 2012 and Genoktonia - Pavlos Kourtidis, 2019). Lia Hide have collaborated and performed with numerous acclaimed Greek and international artists (Tricky, Joseph van Wissem, Anneke van Giersbergen, Kadebostany, Keep Shelly, Molly Nilsson, Kovacs, and more) in diverse festivals in Greece. They have toured Europe extensively and also performed in Montreal and the US. Their latest European tour was a 40-day venture with 28 shows in ten countries. They are currently releasing their 4th album and producing new music from inspiring young artists. Lia Hide spend their time between Athens and London when not on tour. THE MISSING FOURTH GUEST “The Missing Fourth Guest” borrows its title from Plato's 'Timeaus' dialogue opening line. The songs discuss the emotional struggles of the recent Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns, human mortality, and the place of the modern man in the universe. Lia Hide's songwriting is clean, pop, structured and lyrical, yet bears progressive music elements. Glitch and jazz fragments (trumpets by Stelios Chatzikaleas), cinematic guitars (by Denis Morfis) and orchestral layers, electronic sub drones and industrial noises, that all dress up the clarity of the piano trio: Lia Hide is on the piano, keys and vocals, Aki'Base on the electric bass, bass loops and double bass and George Rados on percussion and drums. The conceptual album was produced by Lia Hide, mixed by Ian Shaw at Warmfuzz Productions (US) and mastered by Denis Blackham at Skye Mastering (UK). Lia Hide's influences of Kate Bush and Tori Amos are strongly portrayed, meddling with scents of Massive Attack, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Anne Clark, Cocteau Twins and Radiohead. Hide's classical music training is evident, though carefully unpretentious, and blends evenly with Aki'Base's dark post-wave style and George Rados' laid-back naturalness. The album has 8 tracks, including a three-fold major work, in Sonata form, the Timeaus Sonata.
Crash Taylor shows up with nothing to prove and with everything that stirs the heart to share. Husky baritone mixed with seasoned guitar playing, the music will strike a chord for any folk/rock lover, but the wholeness of his presence in every phrase will make you wonder if a genre is needed to describe it. Crash Taylor will bring you to the present moment and leave you with truths you forgot to remember. Starting on banjo at age 5, Crash quickly became an active participant in his family’s traditional music scene. Whether in family life, social occasions or holidays the focus was always centered around music. Public performance began at age 8 with the family band, Generation Gap, performing at ice cream parlors and church and town gatherings. This created a solid background in performance which he began hurling at rock audiences beginning in his teens. Crash began writing poetry and songs before the age of ten. The devotion and attention to songwriting has led to over 1000 songs in many different genres. Politics, creativity, love, family relations and just telling a good story have inspired a relationship with the art of writing and an ease with the insanity that is creativity. Crash’s first recording, “Crash Taylor” was a project he did for himself with no plans to release it. Over the years he has recorded 100s of songs with great players in great studios, but was always too restless to try and market them. Covid travel restrictions put a chill in his venturesome lifestyle and he wrote a book and decided to release an album. How Crash managed a creative relationship with survival while making art for art's sake is probably best revealed in the book, “Pot Dot Com”.
Born and raised in small town Marion, Arkansas, just outside of the musically historic city of Memphis, Tennessee, Bailey has always had a passion for songwriting. Picking up the guitar at only nine years old, she began to write songs within the first week of playing. With early influences including Joni Mitchell and John Prine, Bailey’s songs represent an era of authentic sound and songwriting that sometimes seems lost in today's music industry. At the age of 17, Bailey won “Memphis’ Best Song of 2017” for her original song “Wildflower.” Since then, she has performed at festivals and venues, including Celebrate Memphis, AmericanaFest, Folk Alliance and many more. She has also recorded at studios such as Dark Horse, Sun, and Ardent. She has been recognized as a top ten up-and-coming Americana artist by Ditty TV, a songwriter you should be listening to by Memphis Magazine, and was most recently named Memphis’ 2020 “Newcomer of the Year” by The Commercial Appeal. Bailey is working on her new release, the full-length "Coyote Red" album, with Madjack Records. Recorded at heralded Zebra Ranch in Mississippi, it will be released March 25th.
When one thinks of a Texas music collective or supergroup of the last 20 years, one might naturally assume the conversation is heading toward THE POLYPHONIC SPREE, a natural assumption given the group's meteoric rise to fame. Though that group's lifespan may have lasted 6 years in total. The Wheel Workers are yet another indie pop group which can be described as less of a band and more of a Texas underground indie music collective that spans more than 15 contributing members and two full decades with only a 3-4 year hiatus. The original band members (first known as The Wheel Works) got their start in Austin, Texas in the early 2000s. The band, led by songwriter, singer, lyricist and frontman Steven Higginbotham, with Giuseppe Ponti on bass, Nathan Maness on drums and Chris Maness and Chad Fontenot on guitar, spent the first few years of the new millennium living together in a house on Houston St., recording music that John Aielli of KUT’s Eklektikos called “truly eclectic.” Featuring violin and keyboards along with traditional rock instruments, the band moved seamlessly between catchy indie rock tunes and introspective acoustic ballads on their 2003 debut album. The band then significantly broadened its horizons on 2004’s “How to Fly a Washing Machine,” an album composed entirely of radical post-rock spontaneous improvisations recorded in the band’s in-home studio. The original iteration of the group disbanded in 2005 when Higginbotham moved to Houston, Texas, but those original members have contributed regularly to later albums from the group. After a hiatus and reconfiguring of the band between 2006 and 2010, The Wheel Workers started up again in 2007 when Higginbotham partnered with Craig Wilkins on the release of the group’s next project, “Unite” (2010). Shortly thereafter, the band began a longstanding relationship with legendary Houston producer Dan Workman (Beyonce, Lyle Lovett, ZZ Top), who would mix their next three highly acclaimed albums: “Past to Present” (2013), “Citizens” (2015 – referred to as “a true masterpiece” by Free Press Houston), and “Post-Truth” (2018). The first track on Post-Truth, “White Lies,” debuted on The Onion’s A.V. Club, who described the track as “hard-charging… successful political art [that] foregrounds the artistry... [and] musically and lyrically, it extends far beyond the political heat of the moment.” Over the years, the band has been nominated for eight Houston Press Music Awards and their intense and compelling live performances propelled them to stages across the United States, from Milwaukee’s Summerfest to Houston’s Free Press Summerfest, where they had the honor of sharing the stage with artists such as Flaming Lips and Phantogram. The Wheel Workers have stood the test of time with a career that spans over two decades and a discography that exemplifies their lyrical depth, sonic diversity and has solidified them as an underground indie rock staple of Texas music. The group is currently composed of lead singer, guitarist, keyboardist, violinist Steven Higginbotham (the longest standing member and group founder), guitarist and keyboardist Craig Wilkins, keyboardist and singer Erin Rodgers, bassist Zeek Garcia and drummer Kevin Radomski. Their latest project, “Harbor,” set to be released August 2022, was recorded over the span of a three-year period (interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that Higginbotham was in law school while recording) in Higginbotham’s home recording studio. The record was produced and mixed by their long-time pal, acclaimed producer Dan Workman, who helped shape and craft the songs into their final form, creating a record that showcases the band’s eclectic underground indie rock prowess with fuzzy guitars and synthesizers. With their latest project the group delves into very personal and profound territory as they explore enduring and overcoming personal, social and political trauma and how the members have come to support each other through their individual experiences. Songs like the title track “Harbor” and “Morning Song” delve into the difficulties of finding love and comfort in another human being and having to make the hard decisions to love yourself enough to know when to walk away. Tracks like “Day After Day,” “Open Up,” “Quarter Page” and “Cold” explore overcoming emotional abuse, dealing with anxiety and struggling with your personal demons and finding a way to push through that darkness. “The song (‘Day After Day’) in many ways represents the heart of the album in terms of the themes,” said frontman Steven Higginbotham. “Taking things one day at a time, recovering from a traumatic experience. Rebuilding your life and trying to rediscover why it’s worth living.” While the album contains heavy subject matter, the group still finds a way to convey the heavy sentimentality through catchy indie rock melodies. Touching upon themes featured in their previous efforts, the band also includes politically charged tracks like “S.O.S.” and “Believers” on the new record. “Believers'' is the most “political” song on the album, said Higginbotham. “It’s about the weird way modern tribalism is warping people’s beliefs and who they trust,” said Higginbotham. While “S.O.S.” is also political in nature, it “packs in a lot of fun easter eggs: multiple percussion parts that tap out the Morse code pattern for ‘S.O.S.’ and the song ends with a selection of greetings to alien life in different languages recorded on the famous ‘Golden Record’ included on board NASA’s Voyager mission in 1977,” Higginbotham explains. The new album titled HARBOR comes to a close with “Love You So” and serves as “a thank you to all the people who stood by me when I was going through some of the hardest moments of my life,” said Higginbotham. Fans of The Wheel Workers, new and old, will be able to find something relatable and true in their newest project, all the while enjoying the indie rock tunes and energy that the group has been bringing to the table for decades. Their newest single is the title track "Harbor" and it's out now gaining press and college radio play months prior to the LP's release. Listen now and take home a piece of a true Texas indie pop collective that may live on another 20 years.
"Soft Rock Beach Country" is an accurate depiction of the feel-good melodic sound and style of Brent Saba. His baritone resonance and reassuring delivery blends several influences - most notably Luke Bryan, Jake Owen, and Dierks Bentley. With his debut single "Carolina Girl" and follow up release "Southern State of Mind" setting the pace in 2021, he looks forward to the release of his debut EP "Country Sound" in early 2022.
Few artists of the south bring such a fierce Rock n roll nature to everything they touch. Indie rock foundations give way to hard edged hooks. Gritty lead vocals pierce the air waves when his music is played on local college radio (WKNC 88.1 and THE HILL 97.9) When it comes to chaotic energy meeting finessed lyrical shapes, accept no substitutes. Though tinges of jazz and electronic influences color his work, the embers of well-aged Rock music smolder and spark through Pappalardo’s pop laced compositions. Creating music since he was 16, he identifies wholeheartedly as a songwriter. He likes to spend his days teaching music and Living the bohemian lifestyle while gigging at night to make ends meet. He gets his sound from an eclectic mix of rock, pop, and jazz music. Tales of unrequited love, voodoo, and ghosting fill his song books. His hope is that by showing vulnerability in his words, that the listener will be able to relate to the situations involved. “Like a ghost in the road” some of his narratives leave him coming up short in the pursuit of love. “Halo” is more of an admission of a loss of innocence. Others are nearly vengeful torch songs. Showing strength against mistreatment and abuse are themes in his rock n roll bangers like “That’s Not How You Love” and “What Do You Stand To Lose?” His latest single, “London Fog” is more of a belated apology for someone who got away. The catchy hooks and slappin’ drum beats don’t fully disguise this melancholic banger’s regretful tonality.
From the outside, Jeff Hulett might seem like a late-blooming guitarist and songwriter. But if you ask any of his fellow musicians they’ll tell you he was writing songs and playing music long before he put pen to paper or strummed a chord. In fact, his first love was not guitar, but drums. He bought his first kit, a used Maxx kit at a consignment store in ’96 after watching Fascist Frank & the German Brigade perform at the historic Antenna Club. A memorable Christmas indeed. His sick beats landed him in the band Snowglobe. Over his many years with this Memphis-based institution, Hulett regularly contributed melodies, lyrics and arrangements to many of the tunes in their prolific cannon. You can even hear a few of his originals in their discography. During his long tenure with Snowglobe, Hulett continued to hone his own voice and develop his own creative projects. He began playing guitar more, and writing his own lyrics. This dedication and passion led to his collaboration with Leah Keys in the band Me & Leah. They released an eponymous and beautiful CD in 2016 featuring nine original folk tunes. Then in 2019, Me & Leah added Jonathan Schallert to the mix to record and partially release a digital copy of their forthcoming 7 inch Most of Your Life. Both albums were engineered by accomplished mainstays Toby Vest and Pete Mathews of High/Low and Andrew McCalla, respectively. But it was when the pandemic struck that Hulett really hit his stride as a songwriter. All alone and with nowhere to go, using an old version of Garageband, he started creating original tracks and collaborating with more and more musicians, writers, and other creators. He was one of the first artists in Memphis--or even the world--to give a voice to our collective feelings when he released his album Safe @ Home w/ Jacob Church early in the pandemic. That record--a seven-song exploration of the new normal we were all just beginning to live--resonated around the globe. It even landed a spot on The English Show, a weekly podcast out of Basel, Switzerland. Then, after going on to release two solo albums on Small Batch Records, Hulett reconnected with old friends Melissa Goodwin and Adam Poor. They formed the band Restless Townies. Their first album, Miles Away, released in April 2021, and the trio has a new full length album on the way. In this outfit, all players write and contribute to each other’s songs. He’s also formed his own solo band with Jacob Church, Jonathan Schallert, Adam Poor and Lehman Sammons. They recorded a 45 at Sun Studios in June which will be out in early 2022. Both songs are further explorations into the storytelling style Hulett continues to live into. As you can see, Hulett has an endless well of positive energy and creative spirit. He continues to foster his many ongoing collaborations, but always seems to have more soul in the tank for new projects with new people. For more information, visit smallbatchrecords.bandcamps.com. You can also follow him at dad_onarrival on Instagram, JeffHulettMusic on Facebook and Jeff Hulett on Twitter. To hear more about his latest albums including some unreleased material, and previous releases, check him out on the Shangri-La Records Podcast here.
Seattle singer-songwriter Carrie Biell has been moving audiences for decades with her gentle, graceful hooks and concrete, heartfelt lyrics. As a twin and daughter of Deaf parents, her upbringing was anything but ordinary. Carrie came out as a teenager, and after connecting with other Queer artists, music became the outlet that found her a home in Seattle's expansive indie rock scene. At 20 years old, her first solo release in 2001 "Symphony of Sirens" launched her music career - landing her on some of Seattle's top stages, and frequent radio play on indie stations like KEXP, KBOO, and KCRW. After releasing four full-lengths and touring the country as a solo artist, Carrie shifted her focus to motherhood with the birth of her son in 2013. By 2016, she and twin sister Cat Biell founded the queer synth rock band Moon Palace. The band has been actively releasing and performing around the country, building an adoring fanbase. The Coronavirus pandemic has been a double-edged sword - as music venues shuttered and artists were isolated and prevented from performing, Carrie found inspiration in the quiet space of quarantine. She wrote and recorded demos at home, which led to the completion of her latest solo full-length, We Get Along, to be released in February 2022. For those who have followed Carrie’s career this record is long anticipated, and this Seattle darling is looking forward to connecting with old and new listeners from around the world.
"In addition to being a fine singer and songwriter, Kimberly Morgan (York) has that natural gift of personality that shines from the stage in a way that interacts with the people in the room. It’s a rare gift indeed.” — Patterson Hood (Drive-By Truckers) If experience is the birthplace for inspiration, and life provides the touchstones for creativity, then Kimberly Morgan York has a wealth of resources from which she can draw. The roads she’s travelled, both personally and professionally, have nurtured her passion and purpose, as well as the ability to convey the lessons she’s learned into music that resonates with honesty and conviction. She’s faced her share of challenges, but she’s consistently shown the strength that’s needed to overcome those obstacles and emerge with the dedication and determination that’s allowed her to persevere. “My life has been a conveyor belt of constant change,” Kimberly suggests. “New cities, new careers, new families….but the one constant in my life is, and has always been, music. When anyone asks me how I would define myself, whether artistically or individually, I point to three constants. I’m a woman, I’m a mother, and I’m a musician.” Indeed, all three elements have made Kimberly the artist and individual she is. Her songs are emotive and expressive, underscoring an easy, affable presence that draws her listeners with comfort and a caress. Kimberly’s first album, Found Yourself a Lady, was recorded under the aegis of The Everlovin’ Band. Engineered by David Barbe — best known for his role in the bands Sugar and Mercyland — the album was indefinitely delayed, but now scheduled to appear in January 2022. July will see the release of a new album recorded this past year, Keep on Going, featuring Kimberly (vocals, guitar), Scott Baxendale (guitar), David Barbe (bass, engineering) Carlton Owens of Cracker (drums), Jay Gonzales from the Drive-by Truckers (piano), Matt Stoessel of Cracker (pedal steel), and Adam Poulin (violin). Not surprisingly, Kimberly claims a wealth of influences. While Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette, and Loretta Lynn figure prominently in the list of artists she most admires, so do Eartha Kitt, John Prine, Dr. Hook, Ricky Skaggs, and the Drive-by Truckers, the latter being no surprise given that she was married to the band’s drummer, Brad Morgan. That said, she also cites the impression left by a somewhat unlikely persona. “Personally, my biggest role model is the fictional character of Auntie Mame,” Kimberly insists. “She famously proclaimed ‘Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!' I could not have put it better myself. Eat up all of life, from the highs to the lows and relish every second that you can. Wallow in your lows and feel them completely. Celebrate your highs with big shouts of ‘wooo hoooo!' “Those ‘woo hoo’s’, of course, drive my teenage daughter crazy!” Then again, Kimberly’s backstory often reads like a Hollywood screenplay. Born in Kentucky and raised in a musical family, she first started singing in church at the tender age of three. When she was 16, she picked up her first guitar in order to start writing her own songs. She began performing solo while attending Cornell University. Kimberly then transitioned into the role of a musical gypsy, writing songs and performing solo from Colorado to San Francisco (funded by a job in market research for the commercial real estate industry.) She ended up spending time in Sausalito, describing it now as “the time of my life,” a place that gave her opportunity to expand her musical horizons, her circle of friends and acquaintances, and her opportunities to perform. Shortly thereafter, Kimberly made the decision to pursue music full-time. Kimberly met Brad Morgan in June of 2003. The two were married after a whirlwind three month romance and shortly thereafter, she relocated to Athens Georgia. Whenever Morgan was out on the road with the Drive-by Truckers, Kimberly would stay home while still keeping her own musical pursuits intact. She connected with a band then known as “Southern Bitch,” consisting of Wendy Musick (guitar), Adam Musick (guitar, pedal steel, piano, and banjo), Chuck Bradburn bass, and Morgan on drums when he wasn’t off with the Truckers. They became featured performers at a number of local clubs and theaters, and eventually went on to help complete that first, aforementioned album. One of its songs, “Glory,” was chosen for an Athfest compilation after the band played the festival’s MainStage in 2007. Nevertheless, the birth of the couple’s daughter, Ruby Kate, in April 2008, and the departure of her bandmates, the Musicks, eventually put her career on a hiatus. Aside from a few solo shows, Kimberly chose to focus on being a parent. However, her musical mindset remained intact. New friends Scott and Pamela Baxendale (Baxendale guitar) moved to town, and soon the trio began making music together — informally at first and then under the aegis of a band they dubbed “The Morgandales.” Meanwhile Kimberly and Brad divorced, although they remained friends. Kimberly kept writing songs and working them up in the company of the Baxendales, a process that culminated in the recording of Keep on Going this past year. Meanwhile, the journey of life kept going. A second marriage ended in divorce and forced Kimberly into what she describes as “survival mode.” However, after reconnecting with the Baxendales and meeting and marrying Kevin York, the man who became the love of her life, she once again dove deep into her muse. With a stockpile of material in hand, she’s already thinking about recording another album next year for release in 2023. “All of my music is based on real life...heart ache, perseverance, joy, abuse, struggle, victory, and love,” Kimberly reflects. “I want listeners to be able to connect to my music… to see reflections of their own stories in mine. I hope my songs make people feel less alone in their journey. I also want to entertain them and inspire people to laugh and let go.”
The Flops formed in December of 2019 out of a garage. The first two members, Tony Boll and Preston Fauver had been co-workers, slaving away, at the hell hole that is Red Lobster. Tony had been playing music for over a decade and truly began to pursue his career in New York City. First he was a part of a four piece rock group, Company, but after a slow start with this group, he left and started a solo career as a folk artist under the name Bodeen Trout. He released two projects under this name. However, when financial concerns took him out of New York, he returned to Virginia where he met Preston Fauver. Preston, who had only been playing the bass for a year, tossed out the idea of starting a band, initially as a joke, but in time grew more serious. The boys met their drummer, Manny Rey, a trained jazz drummer from Uruguay and the work began. Under this line up the boys released two projects: a self-titled EP, "The Flops" and a follow-up EP, "Salir." The projects were met with positive reviews and sold out shows. ETG Music wrote an article on the Flops stating, "Those who wrongly think that rock is dead, need only to look at The Flops for resounding proof that it's alive; perhaps as good as ever." After finishing their full-length album, "Stuck In A Room", Manny Rey unfortunately had to move away for family obligations and thus the boys added their newest member, Devin Ritts, a drummer who had previously played with the punk rock group 14 Pounds. Now with the lineup finalized the boys are eager to participate in their North East tour with Orange Culture and whatever else fate has in store for them.
If you ever encountered electronic lo-fi funk artist Nick Vivid during a pandemic-era Zoom call, you might have noticed a Gold Record on the wall behind him. The industry award, presented to a legendary hip hop group, was sold to Nick for $20 at a Flea Market in Jamaica Queens under the condition of “Get that thing out of my sight” by its original owner. Nick says he displays it proudly for it has a special meaning - “If I ever get confused about what I'm aiming for, I remember the person who legitimately earned this gold record and that it was only worth $20 of happiness to him.” Brushes with disillusionment in music are nothing new to the NYC-based artist. “For years, I was miserable chasing the dreams and ideals of others,” says Nick. Eventually he left the music business, and started his career in what he calls the “Nick Vivid Business”. “That shift in focus changed everything,” says Nick. “Now I do things on my own terms because they’re fun and exciting to do. Music is still my mode of artistic expression, and, like an architect, I am compelled to keep building. But what success looks like is my own definition now. No one else’s.” Raised in Buffalo NY, Nick was introduced to soul and blues music by his father, a DJ on the legendary radio station WBLK. His mom was a fan of 1970s glam rock stars Queen and David Bowie. Nick felt the calling from an early age. “I wrote my first album when I was 10 years old, before I could play an instrument. I would do full production and arrangements in my head. I had no idea that this wasn’t every kid’s experience.” After several years of honing his chops on multiple instruments, hundreds of home 4-track demos, and playing in various local bands, Nick moved to New York City at the behest of original KISS and Billy Idol manager, Bill Aucoin. Upon arrival, Nick co-founded and fronted the underground cult rock band Drag Citizen. Now, as a solo artist, Nick is releasing his fourth studio effort, No More Secrets, on November 12, 2021. The 9-song album’s themes revolve around the loss of both of Nick’s parents in recent years and the life lessons he’s learned from what he calls “intensive meditative pandemic soul searching.” Not beholden to any trends, the sound of the record incorporates Nick’s love for glam rock, funk, hip hop, disco, and lo-fi electronic music into a cohesive, distinctive sound. Fans of Nick’s previous releases will be pleased to find the expected volume of memorable hooks and “as much ear candy as possible” packed into 30 minutes - “I’ve been developing this vibe for the past few records, and with each one I feel I get closer to the mark in terms of songwriting and production,” says Nick. “It’s a sonic palette that I can keep developing for years to come. The possibilities are virtually limitless.” Nick's live concerts are a visual extension of that vibe, incorporating synchronized video and light effects working in time with Nick's dance moves and falsetto vocals. Routinely breaking the fourth wall in his performances, Nick’s entire objective is to give the audience "a high that leaves them charged and energized." Nick also hints at the more unorthodox shows as being his favorites. “I’ve worked in every kind of venue you can imagine, and without a doubt, the shows that take place in unconventional spaces are my favorite gigs to play. They just feel a little wilder and a little more dangerous.” To that end, the No More Secrets release party will be held at the roller skating themed club All Night Skate in Brooklyn NY on November 13, 2021. “It’s not a traditional live music venue by any means, but the energy is perfect for me and the sound system is fantastic.” Nick plans to hit America in early 2022 in support of No More Secrets, starting with stops in Austin, Texas at SXSW and heading around the country to favorite markets such as Detroit, Seattle, Omaha, and Atlanta. “I love being on the road and have such gratitude and appreciation for being able to do this with my life. When a fan comes to a show, all I think about is how that person spent their evening planning to see me. It’s a responsibility I do not take lightly. I want to prove it every night, give 110%, and leave it all on the stage.”
Hand Me Down is Kazyak’s third LP and as indie rock as ever. This time the music is brighter, more optimistic, and puts the band’s strong personal connections on full display. Peter Frey (guitar) and Andy Wolfe (guitar) are cousins. Nick (drums) and Mat (bass) are brothers. Pat Hayes’ (synth) and Frey’s moms were college roommates and their dads have been best friends since childhood. The album is a coming of age and the deep roots yield a personally and musically intimate experience. The concept is about how traits, habits, and memories are passed along from one’s parents, how one applies those learnings to the present, and ultimately what one leaves behind for future generations. The songs explore feelings of love, loss, adventure, addiction, and staying the course.
For any number of reasons, people are displaced and looking for new locations to call home. When the they finally settle in a place, they find that the truest search was not for home but, for family. When it's found, new bonds are formed and a new future dawns. This is the story of DigDog. DigDog is the product of Florida's Brad Metz, Russian Alexei Dotsenko and man of the world, Jack Ringca. Three very different minds, from very different places with very different backgrounds finding each other and resulting in high energy rock n roll with a very different flavor. With traces of virtuosic classical musicianship, quirky progressive songwriting, post-punk spirit and so much more, DigDog is emerging from the trials of the last two years with an album of fresh sounds, and a new approach. While DigDog does have previous releases, the band has spent the time during the pandemic to refocus and produce an album that feels like a true debut. Much of 2020 was spent hold up writing, editing, and rewriting the batch of songs that would become their new release Homeless Theatre. The result is an experience that ensures feelings of positivity, resolve, joy and determiniation. In the end, the album will leave you knowing that you not only found a sonic landscape to call home but, also a new trio of people to call family. DigDog welcomes you.
Down in the holler of the mountains along the Tennessee/Virginia border, in 1946, Loney Hutchins was born the fifth of eight children to a family of sharecroppers who lived in a three-room shack. Times were hard in the foothills of Timbertree Branch, and his family was as poor as the dirt they toiled in. It was a place of paradox: the flourishing, abundant beauty of The Great Smoky Mountains juxtaposed with the scarcity and brutal poverty in an America still recovering from the Great Depression. Hutchins sought out literature and saved discarded batteries to put in his crystal radio at night so he could tune in to AM stations across the country, which led him to develop a deep love for country, folk and gospel music. Because his labor was more valuable to his family than a high school degree, he had to run away from home to live with his aunt and uncle to complete his public school education. His family picked up and moved away while he was gone, and after getting that degree, so did he. Hutchins enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War, so the G.I. Bill could put him through college. This took him all over the world, from the American West to the Soviet border. His curiosity for other cultures and expanding view of his own led the young boy from the holler to find his voice as a songwriter during this time. While permanently stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas, he enrolled at Kansas State, where he started his college band Hickory Wind (named after The Byrds song). They toured honky-tonks and college bars, playing covers of artists such as Commander Cody, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Merle Haggard and George Jones. He also met his wife, Joan Bladsel, during this time. Together they got an apartment, where Hutchins recorded demos on a Sony reel-to-reel tape recorder he bought at an Army PX store. With a collection of songs, Hutchins and his wife headed down to Nashville in 1973, just as outlaws were making ripples in a town traditionally run by publishers and executives. In Nashville, Hutchins quickly found work as a mobile home salesman while making demos, knowing opportunity was not far off. He had been a fan of Johnny Cash since childhood, so with nothing to lose, he decided to make a cold call visit to the House of Cash office in Hendersonville. On the second attempt, while about to leave, he encountered June Carter Cash pulling up in the drive. The two established a connection in the span of one conversation, as she and her musical legacy family were from just across the way from little Timbertree Branch. They were two country folks from the same patch of dirt. She called up her husband and within minutes Hutchins was playing his four-song demo reel for Cash, who hired him as a staff writer on the spot. Hutchins drew $75 a week on future royalties, and took it upon himself to work around the Cashes’ property. Cash noticed his initiative and, after firing his publishing manager, offered Hutchins the job. Hutchins' small family moved their trailer to the Cash’s 40 acres along the Cumberland River-- a setting that provided much inspiration for songwriting. As publishing manager, Hutchins assembled the entire House of Cash songbook with tunes from the Carter Sisters, Statler Brothers, Billy Ed Wheeler and more great talents. He fielded these songs to star producers Billy Sherrill, Owen Bradley, Chet Atkins and Fred Foster. The House of Cash during the ‘70s was a hub for the countercultural outlaw movement, a place where a wide roster of personalities converged. Established artists like Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare and Kris Kristofferson journeyed through, while up-and-coming songwriters like Billy Swann, Carlene Carter and Rosanne Cash got their start there, or in the case of Guy Clark, their first major cuts by a major artist (Hutchins helped place his “Texas 1947” with Cash). Outsider artists, poets and comedians-- all outlaws in their own right-- like Dick Feller, Chris Gantry, Shel Silverstein and Jim Varney frequented the studios as well. Hutchins produced and lent his voice to many demos for Cash and the House of Cash songwriters. A few of his songs were recorded by others-- Tommy Cash, Mel McDaniel-- and Cash cut gospel tune “J.E.S.U.S.” with Mother Mabel Carter for the album The Junkie and the Juicehead Minus Me. Hutchins also found himself as a character in name and voice in Cash’s tongue-in-cheek 1976 bicentennial song “Sold Out of Flagpoles.” In the late ‘70s, he departed House of Cash for new projects. In 1979, he formed a group with a rhythm section from Dolly Parton’s Jolene-era touring band and recorded a country-rock album titled Appalachia— his only studio LP. In the early ‘80s, he started his own label, Appalachia Record Co., releasing a handful of 7” singles that charted on Cashbox and Billboard, independently. The operation was very much a family affair, with wife, kids and family friends stuffing record mailers to radio stations. In 1986, Hutchins began a major career shift into the world of music therapy for traumatic brain injury survivors. And through the company he joined, formed a choral group, The Rebound Revivors, making several national television and conference appearances. In the ‘90s, he and his wife left the corporate world, forming their own localized program for TBI survivors, providing care for families who very often had nowhere else to turn. Having continued with music therapy for 30 years, Hutchins began to feel far removed from his own music. In 2010, he opened a venue on the square of his home of Gallatin, Tennessee, but during this time, became entangled with financial battles involving the rehab company. Though he was always a family man, keeping out of trouble during the ‘70s while some music biz friends stayed high and visited a holding cell or two, it came time for this reverse outlaw to spend his own time in the barrel. Nearing the age of 70, Hutchins chose a plea deal and company resignation over another five years of his life spent in court. He took these events as a sign and silver lining allowing him to return to his first love of music. Hutchins currently writes and performs around Nashville, backed by his band, the Nashville Suite, including members of Teddy and the Rough Riders, Santa’s Ice Cold Pickers and Margo Price’s band. In 2017, Hutchins’ son and Cleft Music label owner, Loney John Hutchins, converted a stash of old tape reels to digital and discovered all of his House of Cash demos from 1972-’78. They were recorded with A-list players of the era: Lloyd Green, Sonny Louvin, Kenny Malone, D.J. Fontana and more. Carlene Carter provided harmonies and background vocals. Music journalist Hazel Smith-- who famously coined the term “outlaw country”-- co-wrote “Stoney Creek'' with Hutchins, as he often stopped in and spent time at her office on Music Row. Resident HoC engineer Charlie Bragg (Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Nashville Skyline), and his son Chuck Bragg, produced many of the demos on the album. Loney John compiled the best songs, bringing in current day A-listers to add light flourishes: bassist Michael Rinne (Miranda Lambert), steel guitarist, Pete Finney (Michael Nesmith, Chris Scruggs), and AMA 2021 Instrumentalist of the Year, Kristin Weber on violin. The recordings were restored and remastered by Grammy-nominated engineer John Baldwin. What resulted is Buried Loot, out Friday, December 10, on the newly relaunched Appalachia Record Co.
The music began for James Cole Burnett when he was 14, mostly due to his aspirations to play in his older brother’s band. He began taking piano lessons and soon started writing songs and playing shows with his brother, Chase Burnett, and a drummer, Matthew O'Connor. James played in the trio and also fronted Dallas band Mankind Forever into his early twenties. At 22, he traveled to Los Angeles to join Chase and Matthew in a band called UNCLES. UNCLES played for a year and a half before breaking up, just before going to record with producer Sean O'Brien. James took the opportunity to work with Sean on his first three singles as a solo act, before departing from LA to return to Texas. Soon after he returned, he recorded the album Casino Dream with producer Will Hooper, and played a string of local shows. In 2019, Burnett met producer Alex Bhore, who recorded and produced GOD OF LOVE's second album just before the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, which pushed back the release of the album of over a year.
Dave Boone’s work as Alberta has spanned many years and artistic iterations. When he first gathered the Dead Eyes crew, which consisted of Erik Washington on drums and Bhuti Bhuti on bass at the time, the trio cut their teeth on the road and then recorded an entire project during the pandemic, mostly collaborating virtually between Detroit and New Orleans. For their newest project, YOU SAID SOMETHING, the band has added Ashlan Ounanian to the crew, bringing lap steel and additional percussion to the group’s ever-evolving sound. Boone’s songwriting prowess is evident, as are his efforts to relinquish creative control over the end product, resulting in tracks that bear a resemblance to his previous work while allowing the work of his bandmates to flourish. Washington’s drum parts lend both steadiness and excitement to the music, Ounanian’s lap steel flutters between atmospheric and blues grit, while Bhuti’s unique approach to bass is a welcome wildcard. The vocal contributions from both Washington and Bhuti add depth and complexity to the melodic content of the songs, and overall YOU SAID SOMETHING is a reason to notice one of the most promising acts out of New Orleans, if you haven’t already. I’m sorry, you said something?
The muse works in mysterious ways. Case in point: John DeNicola. After some five decades in the recording industry, the award-winning songwriter and producer made his first album as an artist in 2019. Fast forward—very fast—to now, for the release its follow-up, She Said. And while DeNIcola’s debut, The Why Because, had him interpreting tunes he’d originally penned for others, She Said was conceived and created for one voice, one touch, and one heart: his own. “The groundwork laid down on The Why Because gave me the confidence to do another record right on its heels,” DeNicola explains. “I holed up in my barn studio and built these tracks from scratch, playing all different instruments from guitars to synths, sitar to congas. I’m comfortable working this way, yet it was new for me and really fun to write purely about what I wanted to say.” The phrase, “This time it’s personal” clearly applies, from the dreamy complexities-of-love story of the title track through nods to the Sixties’ and Seventies’ soul and rock DeNicola grew up on. Somehow, though, the more intimate, the more universal the album’s appeal, whether you’re lofted by the gravity-defying harmonies of “High,” hitting the floor with the irresistibly dance-y “Breathe Deep,” or digging into the darker, guitar-driven single “Float on Hope” (and its hand-drawn animated video, which decries the destruction of the Amazon and the earth’s endangered wellbeing at large). Universal appeal from the guy who wrote “(I Had) The Time of My Life”? Go figure! A Long Island, New York, native, DeNicola began playing in bands as a kid in the 1970s and was a member of the jazz-fusion quintet Flight, which released the acclaimed album Excursion Beyond on Motown. Yet as time went on, he found himself drawn more to a creative life behind the scenes. Collaborating with fellow tunesmith Franke Previte on those “TOML” and “Hungry Eyes,” the two mega-hits from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack — which held the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart for 18 weeks and ultimately sold more than 60 million copies worldwide — netted DeNicola an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Grammy nomination, and ASCAP’s Songwriter of the Year award in 1988. Such success meant freedom, and DeNicola used it to nurture new talent (discovering a little band called Kara’s Flowers, who later changed their name to Maroon 5), supply radio-ready tunes for contemporary chart-toppers while composing for an annual Shakespeare festival, and launch his boutique label, Omad Records. As he puts it: “I had the opportunity to continue in the business and build relationships with people from all aspects of the music world.” Now, a host of those relationships represent on She Said, collaborating on craft and adding some serious chops. Patti Maloney, one of DeNicola’s favorite longtime cowriters, lent her special way with words to four of the record’s prettiest, poppiest tunes, while Procol Harum’s Keith Reid, responsible for the poetry of “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” provided lyrics for “Battered Cloth,” a bittersweet reminiscence simply conveyed with piano and acoustic guitar. For “Float on Hope” and the stripped down, somber closing track “Sky,” he turned to Jason Stutts, an Omad artist who goes by the moniker Rust Dust. Although he does the lion’s share of playing on She Said, DeNicola did call on gifted friends to chime in at all the right places. There’s crystalline keyboards from Vinny Jessel, a spectrum of synths from Ray Weiss and ripping guitar from axeman Zonder Kennedy on the post-apocalyptic “Morning Dew,” written by Bonnie Dobson in 1961. (The record’s only other cover is Steve Winwood’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” which has DeNicola layering on a host of instruments, including cello and tanpura, to remarkably simple effect.) She Said also features a veritable who’s who of percussionists, from DeNicola’s son Jake (drummer for Omad act Fovea) and Chris Ryan, who provided the drum programing on the shimmery “Our Day Will Come,” to alt-rock kingpin Blake Fleming and the legendary Brian Delaney, who’s hit the skins for everyone from the New York Dolls to Wu Tang Clan to Melissa Etheridge. DeNicola even tapped the talents of guys he’s known since his tweens, including guitarist Ken Favre, pianist Alan Zahn and bagpiper Brad Davidson. Assembling such a stellar cast might be daunting at any time; DeNicola managed it during the grip of a global pandemic. “I’d send a cowriter a basic track with a definite melody, possibly a few chorus lyrics, and hope that it painted a picture of what I was going for,” he says of the long-distance dynamic. “For the musicians, it was largely the same, except the tracks were more fleshed out.” Beyond the logistics of lockdown, the crises of 2020 lit a fire in DeNicola, as they surely did for so many artists in that unprecedented year. “It’s hard to explain why and how adversity or turmoil can be fertile ground for creativity,” he says. “These songs came together organically and rather easily, revealing themselves on an unconscious level, yet were nonetheless written in the midst of a pandemic, a challenge to our democracy, and some stark realizations about race relations—an overriding disappointment in the way Americans see each other.” So while in no way planned as a “concept” project, the song sequence of She Said does have a story to tell. “There’s a narrative arc that begins with loving someone and loving each other as humans, countered by a warning of what’s happening to our planet and in our country, that winds up with at least the possibility of redemption,” says DeNicola, who delivers each song in his gently endearing, honest and uncontrived voice. “Rather than a string of singles, I’m hoping that this comes off as a full album that takes the listener on a bit of a journey.” Pack a full heart, an open mind and a pair of eager ears—and come along to hear everything She Said.
Enter Tarot Cat, the band no one, including the members of the band saw coming. The next installment in the “Matrix series” of music; as in the hardcore, boundary pushing, action packed, rock rap music that seems always needs a sequel. Following Rage Against the Machine, Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, and all warriors of the SoCal rock/rap hybrid Tarot Cat accepts the challenge. This supergroup is just as unique, but prophetic as the name. Tarot Cat is 1 single into this great adventure, and boasts an interesting style to their brand. These 4 distinguished gentlemen; Matthew James (guitar) with a background in jazz fusion, alt-rock and just about every major music market the world has to offer, Razrfish: the cowboy from the suburbs thrown into the New York and New Jersey underground battle rap scene, whilst battling emcees also battling internal demons and traveling all over the continental United States while he did it. WTB; the glue in many ways, the french punk hardcore drummer with California dreams a pit stop in Berlin and nothing but results speaks on his behalf. The final piece of the puzzle. Lowsa: the hacker, activist synth and all around hip hop production prodigy who simply wished to hold out before committing. Point being is this; these guys earned their chops on their own, in their own ways, for their own reasons.
Deemed the “Death Cab For Cutie of the South,” Pretty Embers is no newcomer to the music world. While the name might be new, the trio of lifelong friends is not. Originally hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, Kameron Mitchell, Mason Thomas, and Ethan Standard have been writing and performing music together under different monikers since their early high school years. Their unique set of influences, including Bon Iver, Paul McCartney, Tyler the Creator, Death Cab For Cutie, Andy Shauf, From Indian Lakes, D’Angelo, and Radiohead, have given the trio a unique conglomerate of sound. The now Nashville-based, Indie/Alternative Rock trio spent the months before and during the quarantine of 2020 writing and recoding their debut album, Under, on the East side of Nashville, Tennessee. “It was incredible just figuring things out.” Ethan explains. “This was a brand new experience in the way that we went about building out and recording these 10 songs. It was a very organic, explorative, experimental time for us and I think that brought out a sense of vulnerability and honesty that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.” “I think we all matured,” adds Mason. “We really learned how sacred the process is and the value of taking the creation and artistry to a place of focus and sanctity.” Under is an album revolving around the ideas of introspection, insecurity, and unrequited relationships. About the things that aren’t visible to the eye of others, well kept and buried in the depths of our souls. We all often have places, thoughts, and memories of times that we would prefer to not particularly venture back into because it is, quite frankly, difficult. “The cyclical journey of lost love where one day you think you’re getting over it and then the next you’re right back in a hole, it’s really hard,” says Kameron. “I tried to sequence the record in a way that takes you from anger to acceptance and cycling through the emotions over and over again. There’s a lot of self-reflection and contradiction within it all, but I think that’s a representation of how dynamic life can truly be.” The fiery and question-filled “For You” that addresses the frustration and confusion of an initial divide sets the scene for the internal monologue of emotions that ensue from lost love. The ups and downs across “I Don’t Need You,” “Inside,” and “Realize” are reminiscent of the hell of second guessing yourself on everything that has occurred. The break of seeing the light of day and getting a win, per se, is a breath of fresh air and release in “Wish You Well” where the realization that this is all for the best has finally surfaced. But, it is short lived. “It’s Not The Same,” falls back into the numbness and not quite knowing exactly what to feel. Contrarian in the notion that there is feeling in the beginning and none in the grandeur end, it resides in the abode of settling into the fact that things will never be the same. This theme spills into the final track, “Daydreams,” where a sense of despair leaves the record in an unresolved headspace. “Not being able to let it go even when you thought you could,” says Kameron, “feels like sinking back to the place you thought you finally escaped from.” “There are a lot of emotions across the record. Self reflection and introspection, maybe it’s your fault, maybe it’s my fault, maybe you lied, maybe I wasn’t being honest, and maybe it was all damned from the start. It might not be universal, but that was my experience, and I hope someone can gain some solace from it.”
A folk rocker from South Arkansas who goes by the single name Ruark released his first album, When You Coming Home, in the winter of 2019. With the help of his wife, Alexa Joyce, on bass and backing vocals, the trio toured to support the album until the big shutdown. The new drummer and additional background singer is Alexa’s brother, Joseph Bethany. They’re working on a follow up album to be released next year. In the meantime, they’ve released a single which includes the tracks “Into the Sun” and “Over Me” accompanied with videos. Kelly Daniela Norris, known for globetrotting to create her award-winning independent films, produced the video for “Over Me,” which features a whimsical circus theme. Jim (Nappy) Napolitano, who famously created the shadow puppets for Walking Dead World Beyond, produced the video for “Into the Sun.” Ruark grew up skateboarding and playing in punk bands. Once he realized the itch to go to college was not going away, he pursued a degree in music composition. Ruark teaches music and Alexa is a librarian. Alexa and Joe grew up in a musical family with grandparents leading music at school and church. Joe also grew up skateboarding and playing in bands. Joe has played all over Arkansas at venues and festivals alongside bands like Deep Sequence and 1 Oz. Jig.
Abbreviations is an American rock band from Dallas, Texas composed of guitarist/vocalist Ashley Leer, guitarist Matt Leer, bassist Chad Walls and drummer Tony Wann. Before joining Abbreviations, all the members had all performed in many other Denton/Dallas area bands. Ashley Leer fronted rock band, Record Hop, and currently fronts Dallas’ electro-pop band, Def Rain. Matt Leer played in Mandarin, Baptist Generals, History At Our Disposal and Diamond Age, Chad Walls played in Lo-Fi Chorus, Eyes Wings & Many Other Things, Triangulum and currently plays as Fond Phantom and Tony Wann played in Tendril, Record Hop and currently plays in Dallas’ Fake Maker. In 2016, Ashley began writing demos for an un-named band that would eventually become Abbreviations. According to Ashley, “I wanted something a little more poppy than previous rock band, Record Hop, but still something with some grit to it. That same year I found out my dad was diagnosed with ALS and was told he would only live another year, so the thought of death started seeping into my thoughts. I started reflecting on my life and the mistakes I’d made, the people I hurt, the people I loved, etc. That’s what these songs are about.” Ashley Leer began playing and writing music at the age of 14. “My dad taught me two chords at a time and I would just write as many melodies as I could using only those 2 chords until I got my next two” Leer said. Ashley would go on to write two albums for the Denton rock band, Record Hop, two albums for electro-pop band, Def Rain and Abbreviations’ new upcoming album, titled ABBV. Joining forces with engineer Stuart Sikes, who has worked with Jets to Brazil, Modest Mouse, the White Stripes and Cat Power, ABBV was recorded in 2019 in Austin, TX and is scheduled to come out in 2021.
2021 has been quite the year for Parker Longbough. He started off the year with the release of Crackle/Hiss, an 8 track album chronicling Longbough’s time in quarantine in 2020. That release had a decided electronic bent, showcasing the ability of modern recording equipment to record mostly in solitude. Janglepophub described Crackle/Hiss as “an aesthetic that creates melodies out of a general mass of subtle distorted landscapes.” In July Longbough released the 5 song ep 246 Tapes Volume 1. Mostly eschewing the digital recording techniques of modernity, Longbough released a collection of songs recorded entirely on a Tascam 246 4 track tape machine. Longbough enjoyed the freedom to release less conventional tracks like “Applebee’s and a Haircut” and “Bulleyes on Easter” yet still contain very contemporary lyrics on life in a pandemic. Off Front Street is without question the most conventional of Longbough’s releases this year. Off Front Street followed a more conventional recording cycle, with the entire album recorded before the pandemic began. While Longbough has proven capable of mining genres all over the indie spectrum in search of the perfect pop hook, Off Front Street finds Longbough mostly back in his wheelhouse, that is, playing a style of 90’s indie rock that you could find on an album by Pavement, Guided by Voices, or Dinosaur Jr. Another facet of Off Front Street that is very much standard Longbough fare is the lyrical content. Longbough is a storyteller and Off Front Street is an album full of stories. It starts with “Off Front Street” and the story of the Dallas Seavey dog doping controversy, and the stories continue through that of Bintu-Jua, a Gorilla who saved a 3 year old boy at the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois. In between are tales of flying Pintos, Stalin-era scientists, water-rationing, and love after divorce. Off Front Street is an album that examines and searches the character of people living in a complex world where every decision affects the living souls around them, whether those be human or animal. Off Front Street is a rock album with stories about imperfect people in seemingly impossible situations all sound tracked to solid Indie rock hooks.
Queera Nightly is a Bay Area musician and nightlife performer. She is most often seen on nights of the full moon, haunting bridges, bogs, and Bay Area Drag Shows. When she isn’t performing, she can be found in the California hills dreaming up new illusions for your viewing and listening pleasure. "Out of the cold light of her father’s kingdom, the girl who fell finds herself more lost than ever. It was painfully slow and all at once. An explosion of euphoria and fear that pushed her out. She ran into the darkness, eager to love and be loved. Eager to discover herself. The Girl Who Fell Pt. II continues this story; the reflections of a dark belladonna. How she will run forever, losing time and losing sleep, tangled up in vintage telephone lines. She will love recklessly, burn with abandon. The pain of her youth will follow her until there is nowhere left to run, and nowhere left to hide. When all the cards come down, what will become of the girl who fell? Will she rot? Will she blossom? These songs are personal for me, reflections of a moment on my life when I was lost. It was me who was chasing her, her freedom and softness and expression. And when we finally met eyes, it was as though we had never been apart. Heaven and Hell. Love and Violence. We are together again and for the first time. Now, we look back at that game of cat and mouse with a sense of nostalgia. How innocent our games, how reckless. We would rather look anywhere but inside. Deep into the depths of ourselves. Into the hell we made. Into the life we are building now. Perhaps you might see yourself in our story, for it is far more common that one might realize. Not a dream, but a vision. I’ll see you inside."
Good music isn’t just one thing. San Diego-based songwriter James Frolio isn’t tethered by genre. Punk rock attitudes and hip hop back beats are contrasted with leafy acoustic melodies accompanying a journey of personal growth. Somehow all these find some pop sensibility in James’s writing style. Fascinated by the creative process and the impact from inspiration, James has a knack for music that moves you. Big Yen features a revolving line up of Frolio's close friends and creative collaborators which allows for many different flavors and influences to color the music. The 2020 debut single, "Backflip," was produced by John Shields of the rambunctious Hip Hip duo, Little Stranger. Recently relocated from Charleston, South Carolina to San Diego, James has been making records in the studio for years and now combines a southern singer/songwriter experience with a Californian sonic palette for his newest original releases that are sure to make waves on both coasts and beyond; several singles are to follow Big Yen's "Trips Me Out" in a variety of styles as well as a full length eclectic release scheduled for early 2022. Yen, in Chinese, means a lifelong yearning or desire. In this case, Big Yen is the desire to make an impact and inspire others. It even begs the question: What's your Big Yen? James Frolio
If passion fuels purpose, then Hank Close A.K.A. “Hank (!)” is well on his way to realizing a successful music career. He’s no newcomer — far from it in fact. He’s played guitar for the past 20 years and written original music for the last 18. Indeed, he’s already established himself as an astute artist courtesy of the two earlier outfits he was associated with — the prog rock band Absent Boundaries, with whom he performed from 2013 - 2016, and the folk rock duo Hank & Brendan, a group that dominated his focus from 2015 - 2020. He’s also met and mingled with such notables as Sarah Shook and the Disarmers, Lydia Loveless, Dex Romweber, and Mandolin Orange, among the many. Nevertheless, with three recent solo singles under his belt — “Stupid Teens,” “Why Go” and “Lady St.” — and an upcoming album Guilty Pleasures (Are the Best Ones) due this October, Hank is already establishing himself as a proficient and decidedly insightful singer and songwriter capable of making music that’s both personal and prescient. “The singles are more or less about relationships,” Hank explains. “Even though the lyrics focus on specific situations, they can reference any number of events I’ve experienced throughout my life. That’s part of the beauty of songwriting as far as I’m concerned. You can write a song describing one particular set of circumstances, but oftentimes they find connections to similar emotions and events that transpire later on. Eventually, over time, the songs find a common thread.” He describes the emphatic rocker “Stupid Teens” as a breakup song that possesses a decided ambiguity. “I’d say it’s more about me than anyone else,” Hank explains. “It’s a song about the mistakes we make early on and what it takes to move forward. “Lady St.” is a riveting, straight-ahead rumination centering on a circumstance he found himself immersed in while attending college in Columbia, South Carolina. “The chord changes are a reflection of the jazz music I was playing almost exclusively at the time,” he notes. Hank says “Why Go,” another stirring combination of drive and determination, is about a fictional argument between two people in a committed relationship. “At the time, I tended to dismiss it as pure fiction, because I really didn’t know what I was talking about,” he muses. “It was pure fiction. Now, however, I’m finding some meaning that I had not necessarily intended to unearth before. I’m particularly keen on the off-kilter drum fills.” In fact, Hank’s music has a decided depth that isn’t always apparent on first hearing, but which becomes more obvious on repeated listens. “I write about emotions and sensation,” he maintains. “My songs often refer to the coping strategies that I use to deal with certain anxieties. Of course, none of this strikes me as particularly unique, but I do think I’m able to bring a distinct perspective to each situation.” Hank, who grew up in New York’s Hudson Valley and later, Massachusetts and North Carolina, found his first musical connection in the fertile punk scene that was so prevalent throughout the ‘90s, particularly as it applied to hardcore bands like Black Flag and the Dead Kennedys. His tastes later shifted to country music and eventually, to the new alternative sounds of the Killers, the White Stripes and the Strokes. He went south to attend college in South Carolina, where he studied jazz, took up classical guitar, and got a degree in history. It served him well. “Many of my songs have historical references,” he reflects. Looking to find a vibrant music scene, he returned to North Carolina, basing himself in Chapel Hill, a vibrant hotbed of new music. Later, he began to travel overseas. Two of the songs from the forthcoming album — “The Twitch” and “Friend Is Gone” — were written in Greece and Spain, respectively. That said, the subjects diverge significantly. “The Twitch” describes the anxiety encountered during an extended road trip, and also interjects thoughts about an incident encountered while in New Orleans. “Friend is Gone” recounts the feelings he felt after the death of his beloved dog. “I make music to help me move on,” Hank reflects. “I’ve heard others say the same thing. This particular album refers mostly to the last four or five years of my life, and speaks from a very personal point of view. However it also shares some thoughts about the state of the world today in a somewhat abstract abstract way. I’ve found more inspiration from the perceived terror I experienced in some decidedly more mundane situations than I ever did from major events.” That said, Guilty Pleasures (Are the Best Ones) clearly marks a major milestone for this budding artist, one that ought to allow him to make his mark as both a musician and as a man. “It wasn’t necessarily an easy thing for me to tackle the emotions I encountered while making this record,” he says in retrospect. “I’ve listened to these songs repeatedly, and now I’m ready to put this album out into the world so that I can effectively go forward.”
Annalyse & Ryan, an Americana husband and wife duo based in the Hudson Valley region of New York, will release their newest single “Singing with Angels,” a sweeping, whimsical waltz song with a touch of grit, on October 8th, 2021. The single is a tribute to the late legendary songwriter John Prine who lost his battle with CoVID in the spring of 2020. With a stark single vocal in the verses and weaving harmonies and countermelodies which lift each chorus, the tune tells a specific tale but one which all can relate to who have experienced loss. Annalyse & Ryan plan to tour in the US in support of the release September through November. “Singing with Angels” was initially inspired by the duo’s own chance meeting with John Prine while shopping for produce in a Nashville, TN, grocery store. The tune grows to paint the vivid, powerful image of the late songwriter in Heaven, “singing with angels.” With vocal styling and simplicity harkening back to the likes of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, and the steel stylings of 5-time Grammy recipient Cindy Cashdollar, make this song a classic in the making. “Even if you didn’t know him personally, John Prine had this innate ability to make you feel like you were his best friend simply through his music,” says Annalyse McCoy. She continues, “He expressed so well what it was like to be human, even in those tiny throwaway moments when you think no one is watching -- those moments that may seem meaningless, but they’re the ones that always tell the real story.” Ryan Dunn speaks of how the song came to be: “We started writing this tune soon after John passed - having followed his horrific journey through this unthinkable virus and learning that it had taken him, we were devastated as so many in the music community were. The comradery we felt in the entire process of recording this song was palpable - all parties involved put their hearts into this project, and it came together because of this intense sense of community and love. Musicians have had a hard year and we’re just starting to come out of the haze. It’s important to us to pass along the stories, traditions, and styles of those who came before us and inspired us. And there’s nowhere else John Prine could be now but singing with angels.” “Singing with Angels” was engineered and mixed by Joseph Brent (Regina Spektor, Broadway’s Oklahoma!, 9 Horses) in Beacon, NY, and Inwood, NY. Cindy Cashdollar was engineered by Andy Stack at Buffalo Stack Productions in Beacon, NY. Annalyse & Ryan plan to tour in support of “Singing with Angels” this fall.
A highly respected actor for many years, appearing on Broadway (most recently playing King George for the national tour of Hamilton), on Television and in Film, Jon Patrick has increasingly turned his creative energies to songwriting and music-making. Jon released his debut LP, The Guilty Party, in 2013, and followed that up with Josh Kaufman-produced People Going Somewhere in 2016. A six-song EP, “You And I” was released in 2018, and last October, Jon dropped long-player Welcome to the Edge Times, a collection of solo recordings which garnered rave reviews. His latest effort, arriving hot on its heels, The Rented Tuxedo & Other Songs is a masterful 9-track collection of original tunes. Imbued with humor, pathos, wit and musical sophistication, the songs variously recall work by Bowie, Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles, Dylan, and Springsteen, even as JP’s unique sensibility shines through. The album was recorded with legendary producer Roger Moutenot in Nashville (the title-track was recorded in Memphis, at Sun Studio. The closer, “All-Night Diner,” was made in Bushwick on the sessions for People Going Somewhere). Walker lives in Los Angeles with his wife, the actress Hope Davis, their two daughters and their dog, Jennie.
Beyond the fact that “Steadman’s Wake” is the group’s first new release in over 20 years, it is the first Connells’ album to feature their two newest members, guitarist Mike Ayers and drummer Rob Ladd (who have been in the lineup since 2002 and 2012, respectively), and the band’s first record made up of songs contributed solely by Mike Connell, who happens to take on a more prominent role as vocalist. Additionally, the title track, “Steadman’s Wake,” represents the first time The Connells have ventured into overt politics. Previously, the group tended to let actions and implications do the talking when it came to current events. But taking a more concrete and literal stand was something the times seemed to demand. With references to war, the opioid crisis and the white-supremacist rioting that roiled Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 (and were reprised in the January 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.), there is no mistaking the message of “Steadman’s Wake.” “We’ve had some oblique socio-political bits here and there over the years,” says Mike Connell. “But never as direct as this. It seems like it’s time. It’s scary, where we still stand in this country with issues of race. Of the 11 songs on the record, the clear consensus within the band was that ‘Steadman’s Wake’ best reflected the band’s take on the temper of the times and best represented the “spirit” of the record.” Off-record and onstage, The Connells have been no strangers to political activism over the years, going back to benefit shows they played for Harvey Gantt when he was running against controversial Republican U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms. Nevertheless, taking a musical step into current events was not a decision they made lightly. But as frontman Doug MacMillan concurs, the times are dire enough to demand a response. “Even the least politically minded bands are saying things now because they need to be said,” MacMillan says. “Mike’s never been one for hitting anybody over the head with an agenda, and his lyrics tend to be pretty subtle. But I’m glad we did this. I’ll be interested to see what people think.” Even though it’s been 20 years since their last recording, The Connells never quit playing live, and Mike Connell never quit writing songs. Eventually enough material came together to suggest it was finally time to make another record. “Steadman’s Wake” features eight new songs that have never been released, while three of the album’s songs previously appeared in different versions on 2001’s “Old-School Dropouts” – a collection of demos recorded at the group’s practice space. This time, however, they decided to record in a proper studio for the first time since 1998’s “Still Life,” the final album the band recorded for TVT Records. The “Steadman’s Wake” sessions took place at Durham’s Overdub Lane and Fidelitorium Recordings, the Kernersville, N.C., studio run by North Carolina Music Hall of Famer Mitch Easter (famous for his work with R.E.M., Game Theory and his own band Let’s Active). John Plymale, whose studio credits include Meat Puppets, Superchunk and Squirrel Nut Zippers, produced “Steadman’s Wake,” with cameo guests including Ben Folds Five and Surrender Human bassist, Robert Sledge. With the exception of Rob Ladd being sidelined for several months in the wake of a serious 2018 car accident, things went smoothly on the whole. “Rob hit a dump truck head-on at 60 miles an hour,” Mike Connell says. “The first responders were surprised that he actually survived, but he’s a strong guy. That obviously put things on hold for a while, but we kept working on the record in fits and starts when we could. The impulse was to take one last crack at getting back in the studio and do one more proper record.” “Steadman’s Wake” was originally to have been released in 2020 but was held up due to the pandemic, a hard delay for a band that had waited so long for this followup. It joins the catalog as The Connells’ ninth full-length album in a career going back to 1984. That was when the band first formed in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina, debuting a year later with “Darker Days.” Their 1987 Mitch Easter-produced album “Boylan Heights” established The Connells as college-radio favorites, and they went on to work with producers including Gary Smith, Hugh Jones and Lou Giordano on subsequent albums. Three Connells albums made the Billboard 200 charts in America, but their biggest commercial success came overseas. “’74- ’75,” a pensive and moody ballad from 1993’s Giordano-produced LP “Ring,” reached the top-10 in 11 different European countries in the mid-1990s (including No. 1 in Germany, Sweden, and Norway). The song’s evocative time-traveling video, juxtaposing then-and-now photos of alumni from The Connells’ hometown Broughton High School, also earned a cult following with fans making their own video versions. “We’ve been trying to figure out if there’s some kinda theme to this new record,” says MacMillan. “If anything, I’d say it’s 20 years older. The minor-key-heavy chord progressions and the way Mike puts songs together, still give it dark undertones. But the lyrics seem a little more upbeat than before, even if it still has that longing aspect. It feels a little more grown-up than we’ve done in the past – more upbeat and not quite as cynical. Every record we’ve ever made, we’ve thought it was the last one. Maybe this really will be it. Then again, as long as we’re still playing, chances are that Mike will still be writing songs. We’ll see.”
AyoPaco pounds away at his craft every day and all night. Twenty years old, the Athens GA hip hop/trap artist has developed, in no uncertain terms, his own style of banger vibes with his first official EP release called Planet Pac. After years of honing his skills tucked away in a basement studio, Planet Pac delivers fun-loving songs with a polished sheen and clever layers that delight the listener in the car and in the club. On Planet Pac, the self-produced and recorded madcap spins hip hop melodies with party-time antics and bizarro rhymes over carefully curated beats. Vocally, his signature style “uses tools like robotic voice effects in the way they were meant to be used—that is, as an enhancement to the underlying composition, not as a coverall gimmick to obscure lame songwriting.” Planet Pac is a mix of drugs, girls, money, and wheels which might take “a couple of listens through to really catch up with his humor”. “My songs are about partying with friends because I like to entertain people and that’s a much funner place to be than the alternative — which is the dark side.” Originally released during COVID lockdown in October 2020, “Ray Charles” and “Pool Cleaner” together garnered 61K listens on YouTube’s submission-based Bangers Only channel with 1.2 million subscribers. Both made it on playlists around the world. Francisco Marcelino Márquez, (Paco), began recording and performing at age 14 after attending his first concert, mesmerized by the unique sound and swag of hip hop artist Fetty Wap and his breakout hit “Trap Queen”. He soon hit the stage at open mics and local outdoor festivals. Music and the arts run in the family. Paco’s paternal great-grandfather was a famous Cuban opera singer, his grandfather was the manager of the Havana Symphony, and his grandmother was a prima donna ballerina. His Cuban born father, also a songwriter and performer, introduced him to all genres of music from Sinatra to Zeppelin to Cash. It’s no surprise Márquez has a thing for music. “I think about my music every day. I just don’t see myself stopping.”
Combining the elegance of classical music with dark, synth-heavy experimentation, Matthew J Van Howe is a boundary-pushing composer and songwriter based in Chicago. He has consistently challenged conventions and reinvented himself on every new project, resulting in a diverse discography full of abrasive soundscapes and memorable melodies alike. Matthew earned his Bachelor of Arts from Trinity Christian College, where he studied choral arrangement and classical piano, both of which would later come to inform his sound. After a series of EP’s and singles, he made his official debut in 2014 with the full length Transmogrify. The album’s industrial rock influenced sound put Matthew on the map, winning over a small but devoted fan base. In the years following Transmogrify, Matthew branched out into a variety of other creative pursuits. He directed a film called Voice of the Vespers (2014), designed a board game called Hadrian's Line, and maintained a career as a music director and choir director. Music composition was never far from his mind however, and in 2020 he returned newly inspired with Emergent Narrative followed by the improvised piano album, Memories Otherwise Forgotten.