Posts Tagged alt-folk

new music: The Head and the Heart

head and the heart

Indie folk band The Head and the Heart will release its fourth album, Living Mirage, on May 17, 2019. The Seattle, Washington band recorded the songs in Mojave Desert’s Joshua Tree, Appleton, Wisconsin’s The Refuge Fox Cities, West Seattle, Omnisound in Nashville, and Barefoot Recordings in Los Angeles with the help of Tyler Johnson and Alex Salibian (Harry Styles, Sam Smith, Cam) and engineer Ryan Nasci.

The Head and the Heart is:

Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, percussion)
Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion)
Charity Rose Thielen (violin, guitar, vocals)
Chris Zasche (bass)
Kenny Hensley (piano)
Tyler Williams (drums)

About the rousing new song “Missed Connection,” drummer Tyler Williams said: “A lot of the beats on that song are quicker, and there are high hats that were never in our music before.”

Living Mirage Tracklisting:
01. See You Through My Eyes
02. Missed Connection
03. People Need a Melody
04. Honeybee
05. Brenda
06. Running Through Hell
07. Up Against The Wall
08. Saving Grace
09. I Found Out
10. Living Mirage
11. Glory of Music

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music review: Lauren Marsh

lauren marsh

Opening track “Promise” features evocative, potent vocals, an upbeat melody and a catchy chorus–“and we’ll be rocking like a rolling stone/ cruising through time zones/ I promise I, I promise I won’t let you stand alone”– that stays in your head in a positive way. Singer/songwriter Lauren Marsh’s impressive and distinctive vocals make this EP a stand-out. She reminds me of Rachel Platten with the combination of powerful vocals and memorable arrangements. Marsh utilizes major vocal range in a pretty, confident, emotional manner.

Veracity means a devotion to the truth and Marsh absolutely remains true to herself and her talents. Many of us have overcome tragedy and faced challenges but can we all write gorgeous, meaningful songs that stem from these experiences? 24-year-old Marsh faced a hostile stalker, recovered from a severe car accident in 2013 as well as a night in NYC, which ended in the hospital ER when someone deliberately drugged her drink. She started writing songs at age 14 using her poetry. It’s natural that she’d continue to write songs and use songwriting to cope with these anxiety-inducing incidents.

“Wildfire” resonates in a more subdued manner. It’s softer and gentle. It sways although Marsh’s voice generates as much sentiment. Retro influences propel the beautiful “We Hit the Ground.” The vocals plead–“You take my time, my heart and my mind, spinning round and around, we hit the ground “– while the song’s arrangement transports the listener back to another decade. Soaring vocals effectively persuade on “Never Let You Go.” Finally the gentle “Dear Love” features a delicate harmony and contemplative vocals–“in this life we’ll never know what to expect.” Marsh remains thoughtful with her lyrics and consistent with her vocal style. Add this to your must-listen list.

–review by Amy Steele

Lauren Marsh
Veracity EP
Release date: January 22, 2016

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music review: Lauryn Peacock

lauryn peacock euphonia

Nashville-based musician Lauryn Peacock’s sophomore album Euphonia combines piano with lush arrangements for memorable, moving melodies. The vocals shimmy and simmer. Soft and gentle and soothing on “All My Mind” and “February Song.” Just this gorgeous high and sweet octave range. The songs provide a dance-trance groove with depth in the lyrics. The lushly arranged and gorgeous seven-minute track “Weighted” sounds like the film soundtrack for a bittersweet love story. The unusual instrumentation provides the weird circus feel and staccato beat of “Wounds Grow Grass.” With vocals and swirly mesmerizing songs reminiscent of Lush, Curve and Chvrches, this is a collection of exquisitely dark indie folk songs with ambitious orchestration and instrumentation.

Peacock earned a Master of Liberal Arts degree from University of Pennsylvania where she focused on the pedagogical nature of Bob Dylan’s work to the 60s Civil Rights movement and the pedagogical nature of arts to our cultural zeitgeist. Peacock started playing piano at a young age as her mom taught Suzuki piano. She later played house shows in Chicago with Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and toured with mewithoutyou.

Tour Dates [no Boston date!]

08.07 McGuinness Pub, Appleton, WI
08.07 Dr. Jekyll’s , Appleton, WI
08.08 Copper Rock, Appleton, WI
08.08 Jim’s Place, Appleton, WI
08.09 High Noon Saloon, Madison, WI
08.12 Uncommon Ground, Chicago, IL
08.14 The Living Room, New York, NY
08.16 PhilaMoca, Philadelphia, PA
08.19 The Purple Fiddle, Thomas, WV
08.20 Blue Moon Diner, Charlottesville, VA
08.21 Caffe Driade, Chapel Hill, NC
08.22 Common Grounds, Greensboro, NC
08.23 Muddy Creek Music Hall, Winston-Salem, NC
08.25 The High Watt, Nashville, TN

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music review: Joshua Fletcher

joshuafletcher_readyaim_coverart

Nashville-based and former ATL resident, Joshua Fletcher created a bevy of moving alt-folk songs with heart and his baritone vocals. “The Eye and the Storm” is a romantic song with lyrics such as “I get so caught up in your eyes, in the shapes of your smile, in the way the rain comes awash in the blues. I get so caught up in your lips, in the songs of your hips . . .” Beats pick-up on the full band, infectious drumming and harmonica-infused “We are All Alone.” Whispery tender vocals on “To Find Your Name.” Then there’s the compelling arrangement of “Wheels.”

There’s enough variety but definitely a distinctive flair to Fletcher’s songs– a bit wistful, definitely thoughtful and eminently passionate. He sings about relationships and being alone and belonging. Lovely songwriting and a beautiful album. This is what to listen to hanging out on the back porch or during a romantic dinner. Portland, Oregon-based The Damnwells’ Alex Dezen produced the album.

Joshua Fletcher
Ready, Aim
In Music We Trust
Release date: May 26, 2015

RECOMMENDATION: BUY/Download NOW

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music review: Hannah Miller

HannahMiller_albumcoverart

Nashville-based singer-songwriter Hannah Miller composes edgy folk songs on her self-titled album out today. Her sonorous, introspective and sometimes haunting vocals perfectly suit her passionate and commanding lyrics. Portishead vibes through dark, serene electronica blips and hip percussion on “Help Me Out” as well as the ardent “Been Around.” “Fighting” is a contemplative song about relationship challenges. A mesmerizing lounge feel propels “You Don’t Call.” Sweeter lyrics and melody on the soothing “Watchman.” Things grow deep on the rather lovely and contemplative “Outside In”—“always been on the outside looking in/tired of trying doors that don’t open.” Hannah Miller will sonically and spiritually swathe you through this exquisite album.

 

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music review: Colleens

Colleens - Wild Dreams - Album Cover

who:

Josh Harter [singer/songwriter/guitarist]
Jon Harter [drums]
Deric Wynne [bass]
Jackson Floyd [guitar]

Colleens debut album understandably sounds polished and professional. Josh and Jon Harter’s father Keith, a composer, owns San Antonio-based KHM Studios where the brothers work as recording engineers and producers which gives them an inside edge into music production and sound.They’ve been working in the business and know what works and what doesn’t. Fantastic musicianship immediately stands out on “About You.” The album’s brimming with clear, crisp guitar chords, bass lines, soothing vocals and harmonizing. I’m a goner for soothing vocals and alt-folk/ Americana bands with a bunch of bearded dudes. Lovely melodies on “Maybe We’ll Fall in Love.” When they break into wah-wah [“Do You Remember Love?”] and guitar blitzes you get why they’re tagged more psych-Americana and that’s cool. Colleens is also melodious, gentle with 60s and 70s classic pop-inspired flair like on the fantastic “Sun Before I Set.” Impressive 30-minute debut album. I’m looking forward to catching these guys live.

album: Wild Dreams [February 4, 2014]

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STEELE INTERVIEWS: Shannon Carey [singer/songwriter, LURAY]

Banjo likely makes you envision the creepy scene from Deliverance. You think Ozarks, hillbillies, trailer parks, meth heads. Singer/songwriter Shannon Carey decomposes and reconstructs traditional bluegrass into gorgeous songs for her alt-folk band Luray. Unusual, evocative and diverse melodies. sometimes melancholy, sometimes effervescent. always unexpected.

After earning her master’s degree in social work and working in the field, she realized she missed playing music. She’s surrounded by many musical influences in her family. Her father taught music. Mom played guitar. Brother Sean is in S. Carey and Bon Iver and brother Collin is a jazz drummer. A trip to Vermont turned her on to the banjo so she took lessons. After moving from California to Washington, D.C., she formed Luray.

Luray released its debut album The Wilder last year. The band begins a winter tour in Pennsylvania on January 29. Shannon and I spoke by phone from her home in Maryland.

2013_9_5_Luray_RockwoodMusicHall-1472

Amy Steele: How did you write songs on the banjo?

Shannon Carey: With bluegrass you follow the form of the song. I had a teacher who was very traditional. I had to break the habit of playing in the traditional way. Play it differently. There are certain rolling patterns and playing chords in order. “The Crying” is straightforward bluegrass. Lyrics are more challenging. So I wrote a story. It’s hard to make bluegrass lyrics not sound cheesy and not overdone.

Amy Steele: Where did you come up with the name Luray for the band?

Shannon Carey: Named after a town in Virginia. The song came first. It represented the feeling of the album. Just liked the way the word sounded. It’s simple and calming and the place itself is very simple. It’s a small town. It’s famous for small taverns that are surreal. It’s about being outside and being inspired by nature for the song.

Amy Steele: The album is named after title track “The Wilder,” which is about?

Shannon Carey: About place. We lived in Alexandria, VA. There was a green foresty area. You’d walk through this path. There’d be trash and then wildflowers. Also it’s about my spiritual journey to uproot my life and become a musician. That undeveloped space and it was in transition.

Amy Steele: Can you tell me about the song “What Becomes?”

Shannon Carey: I experimented on the banjo. Repetitive and rhythmic and then something jarring. The lyrics came to me in one day. It’s about if you’re quiet and let things come to you.

Amy Steele: How did you come up with the song “Already There?”

Shannon Carey: Seems too personal. Like a diary entry. I struggled with a lot of doubt. That came to me from the universe as a boost. I really like playing it. It’s fun to play. It’s the only song I’ve written on ukulele. I was feeling hopeful when I wrote it. I feel exposed when I hear it on the record.

Amy Steele: One of your songs, the beautiful “Kalorama” is about the street in Washington, D.C. I lived there for a year and it brings back lots of memories for me. What do you like about that particular neighborhood?

Shannon Carey: It’s a vibrant area. I was trying to capture the energy of living in that area.

Amy Steele: What makes a good song?

Shannon Carey: It has to have a good melody and has to evoke something. It has to have something memorable or different about it.

lurayphoto2byshervinlainez

Amy Steele: What challenges do you find for women in the music business today?

Shannon Carey: I think it’s still a disadvantage to be a woman in this industry, though a lot of female-fronted bands are popular right now, we’re still in the minority both on stage and behind the scenes. I know I consider things like appealing to both genders, and not being a ‘chick’ band, whereas men don’t really have to think about that- men are just musicians, while women are ‘female’ musicians.

Amy Steele: How was it working with Sean to produce the album?

Shannon Carey: Working with Sean was really positive, and he was really helpful to me as someone who had a lot more experience recording and arranging- what I gave him were raw demos with all the tracks recorded on banjo and voice, and then we discussed what parts could be played on different instruments. We’d give the demos to the various musicians (most of which are members of S. Carey and amazing musicians and composers)…overall we agreed on most things, but sometimes I heard it in my head a certain way and had to keep going to him and saying that something needed to come out more, etc. But he was very patient with me, and overall I felt a great amount of gratitude to him for producing the album. It was a ton of work!

Amy Steele: Both brothers play music and your husband’s in Luray. What are the positives and negatives? What kind of control do you have as a singer/songwriter?

Shannon Carey: Having my husband and brothers play and sing on the album was really special- and having Gabe continue to play with Luray was also unexpected and it is really fun to play together. When he recording guitar on the album, we didn’t really know what the band would consist of- how many people, what instruments, or any of that, and adding Gabe on guitar at some point happened organically. There have been a couple of tours that he hasn’t been able to make (like this one, coming up), because he has a full-time job at Greenpeace here in DC- but to have him onboard, when he’s available, is really fun – plus he is our van driver and logistics expert when he’s along on tour! As far as my role as songwriter, it’s been my project and vision from the beginning and I think everyone’s comfortable with that- in the future, I could see it being more collaborative with the band- it’s evolved so much since I was writing the songs in my basement three years ago. It’s exciting to play with the band we have now- they are all amazing musicians too, and bring a whole new set of ideas and qualities to the table.

Amy Steele: What can audiences expect when seeing Luray live?

Shannon Carey: We’ll be playing as a five piece, and instead of my husband on guitar, we’ll be joined by Richmond jazz guitarist and experimental/ambient specialist, Scott Burton. He plays in an experimental jazz group with Reggie Pace (trombonist and percussionist in Bon Iver, and also from Richmond) called Glows in the Dark.

My other bandmates are from Richmond as well- Brian Cruse (bass) and CJ Wolfe (drums) play in multiple other groups together in Richmond, which is how they know Scott as well. And lastly, Sarah Gilberg I met in DC when we first moved to town (Kalorama area in fact), and she lived only a couple blocks away from me, and had sang backup vocals with other bands and musicians in DC. The live show is slightly different from the album, though we try hard to reproduce the effect and feeling of the song. We incorporate CJ’s love for African instruments by adding the mbira, a thumb piano, on a couple of tunes- it pairs well with the banjo, which is also an African instrument, originally. We tend to keep the songs a bit more upbeat, and straightforward (less ambient and layered) than on the record, though we do have a couple songs that stay in that style.

thewildercover

TOUR DATES:

January 29 | NEWTON SQUARE, PA | Burlap and Bean
January 30 | NEW YORK, NY | Joe’s Pub
January 31 | BROOKLYN, NY | 17 Frost
February 1 | HOLYOKE, MA | Dark Dining Room Series
February 3 | BOSTON, MA | The Middle East Upstairs

February 4 | BURLINGTON, VT | Radiobean
February 5 | PROVIDENCE, RI | 150 Carpenter
February 6 | HAMDEN, CT | The Space
February 7 | ARLINGTON, VA | The Iota
February 8 | CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA | The Garden
February 9 | RICHMOND, VA | Gallery 5
February 15 | MADISON, WI | Mickey’s Tavern
February 16 | CHICAGO, IL | Music Means Family House Concert

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