7.16.2014

Vacationer

As summer is winding down for me, I'm wringing the last drops of sun and freedom. Vacationer caught my attention simple because their name seemed appropriate. Their new album Relief also seemed to fit the bill for my state of mind, and boy does this Philly band deliver. Filled with laid back grooves and easy melodies, Vacationer sure do know how to put the listener in a specific state of mind. 

The best of the bunch come in a duo of songs that have, rightly so, been released as singles-"The Wild Life" and "Paradise Waiting," with the latter being a musical representation of an actual paradise. A slow saloon piano groove plays throughout and even comes complete with the warming sounds that only a turntable playing a well worn record can create. Lead singer Kenny Vasoli paints an image of a paradise not only in the literal sense but what mood is created when you're anywhere with that special person. ("When you look in my eyes you'll find the pleasure is mine, there's a paradise waiting for us in summertime.")

Vacationer create feel good summery music that should be played while enjoying the last drops of summer. 

Vacationer- Facebook
Paradise Waiting-

5.24.2014

Jesse Thomas

Jesse Thomas does not fit into today's pop music scene and that is a shame. Her brand of singer/songwriter tunes deserves a spotlight that lesser talented acts receive. Jesse's voice has a Stevie Knicks quality with sharp lyrics to boot. Her sophomore album Burn the Boats is a triumph in the smaller moments. 

She fills her album with introspection on relationships like on the heartbreaking "Beverly," where she sings about a break-up that should happen but can't quite pull the trigger. (I can't do this again turning lovers into friends I should know so much better by now)

The bouncy piano-driven "Leather Jacket" finds Jesse fending off a guy that is trying way too hard to impress, but she's smitten anyway singing, "I should have seen it coming like a freight train running down the tracks like a bullet screaming out like a warning." On the chugging "Stunner" which seems like a response to the guy in the aforementioned song, Jesse wraps tons of imagery in a blues soaked stomp. 

Jesse's voice is the star here with a quality that immediately pulls the listener in and demands that we hang on to every word. A talented artist that is definitely worthy of your attention. 

Jesse Thomas- Facebook
Stunner-

5.13.2014

Animal Years

5 months. That's how long it's been since I have been excited enough about a new band to blog about. (Digging For Days doesn't post, just to post) Animal Years kind of came out of clear blue sky for me. A perfect blend of indie rock and Americana blues, this Brooklyn based band hits all the right notes for those looking for an up and coming band. "Let Go of Your Head" is a pounding track with a blistering opening line, "I wish a woman would say what she feels instead of me wondering if this thing is real." (Hits a little too close for me) And it is the songwriting that separates Animal Years from the others. "Heart on Heart" beautifully sums up falling in love, "You should hear the sound of your heart on my heart."

Lead singer Mike McFadden's emotional, searing vocals are allowed to soar and will continually bring the listener back for seconds. On closing track "Walking Slow," the band let's their rockabilly flag fly with banjo front and center. Animal Years have something for everyone- amazing vocals, catchy melodies, meaningful lyrics. One thing is certain this band will not remain under the radar very long.

Animal Years- Facebook
Let Go of Your Head-

1.18.2014

TEAM

OK, I'm taking a break from the rootsy stuff to bring you some good old fashioned alt-rock. 

Formed from the various pieces of other (pretty well known) bands, TEAM finds a way to take those pieces and build upon them. Each member brings their strength to solidify a stellar result. With several singles and an EP under their belt, this group specializes in thoroughly modern indie music. It's great to hear that not only are the vocal hooks strong, but also on songs like "Am I Alive," the guitars get equal time to shine. 

This soaring standout track questions a daily routine filled with repetition and what it means to actually live, singing "Am I alive or just breathing?" Another propulsive track that ruminates on the meaning of life is "Human War Machine." With its sing along chorus yearning to be "something other than machines," TEAM finds itself with a touch of '90s nostalgia guitar riffs

So far all of TEAM's pieces seem to fit the bill for an excellent upcoming EP. 

TEAM- Facebook
Am I Alive-


1.08.2014

Grace and Tony

You've got punk music in my bluegrass. You've got bluegrass in my punk music. Like Reese's peanut butter cups before them, Grace and Tony are a perfect blend of two great tastes that taste great together. Hailing, from Tennessee Grace Schultz Tony White could very well stand on their on two feet as solo artists, but they combine the lilting melodies and storytelling of bluegrass music with the fierce power of punk rock to electrifying results. 

Their album November came out fittingly this past November via Kickstarter and it brings to mind that other dynamic folk duo The Civil Wars (It doesn't hurt that Tony's brother is John Paul White of The Civil Wars) And while that group may be on a permanent hiatus, Grace and Tony are more than capable to pick up the gauntlet that was thrown down. Their  voices are the stars here, his pipes showcase a well-worn grit while hers are sweet and smooth. Apart they are great, but it's when they sing together that the listener is truly transported. 

On tracks such as the mandolin toe-tapper, "Hey Grace, Hey Tony" they trade verses about how much they can't live without each other, and it's about as sweet and romantic as you can imagine with lines like, "Scooch right up beside me, peck me on my cheek, put your hand in my hand, baby just be sweet to me." And the the title track is musically dark and foreboding but the lyrics are full of the hope of finding that special someone. Again, the mixture of themes fits perfectly here.

Grace and Tony provide instantly enjoyable Americana music with a punk rock edge that will definitely make music fans, regardless of genre, sit up and take notice. 

Grace and Tony- Facebook
Hey Grace, Hey Tony-

12.15.2013

The Tennessee Whalers

Let's chalk it up to the fact that I just got through watching O' Brother Where Art Thou? 6 times in a row, (I teach for a living) but I am really digging The Tennessee Whalers. These harmonizing, down home, mandolin playing guys have exactly 2 songs for consumption and one of them is a Christmas song! Nevertheless, the Whalers aim to meld crystal clear harmonies with a modern edge. 

On their gently scathing song "Locks," they sing about a love that did quite a number on them begging her to give their heart back while simultaneously warning not to "come around here no more cause if you do I'll lock the door." These contradictions perfectly captures the confusing nature of a break-up that wasn't so easy. The Tennessee Whalers meld Americana folk with pop sensibilities much in the same way that other band cough-Mumford-cough does. "Locks" is just a taste and I would encourage everyone to definitely come around to listen to these guys more. Grab their free EP on NoiseTrade

The Tennessee Whalers-Facebook
Locks-

12.13.2013

Colony House

Not much can be found about Colony House, an indie alt-rock band from Nashville. Made up of former members of the now defunct band Caleb, Colony House consist of brothers Caleb and Will Chapman and their friend Scott Mills. They renamed the band after an apartment complex in which they all lived at some point in their lives, a way to take Nashville with them on the road. 

But if it's singer/songwriter, down home material you are looking for, these guys from Nashville don't really have those influences to deal with, not on their self-titled EP at least. "Keep on Keeping On" focuses on Caleb's soaring vocals with a powerful message of perseverance. There's also some excellent chugging guitars. You can also catch their song "Caught Me By Surprise" on the 2014 compilation album Nashville Indie Spotlight. It's a mid-tempo rocker that shows off everything to love about this up and coming band- catchy melodies, excellent vocals, and uplifting lyrics. Keep your eye out for their debut full length album When We Were Younger in 2014. 

Colony House- Facebook
Keep on Keepin' On-

11.09.2013

Jonny & Shim

Athens, Georgia is a hotbed of up and coming music. It seems everyone is starting a band and trying to breakthrough there. (R.E.M., The B-52's, Widespread Panic and Alabama Shakes all cut their teeth there after all.) Jonny & Shim are a pop-rock looking to be the next big thing. And the funny thing is-they just might be.

On their self-titled EP, Jonny & Shim navigate laid back beats and melodic guitars that would fit in nicely on a Sublime record or even Jason Mraz. They shine on tracks like the groove filled "Blurry" which has a summer-y hook masking darker lyrics- "All of my days they're getting blurry/I was born to live and die". It's a definite highlight. 

But it's on the expansive sounding "One Little Lie," filled with soaring vocals and lush guitars, that really show Jonny & Shim's potential. It starts with clean guitars and snares but melds into a harmonious chorus. It's on this track where they shine both musically and lyrically. If this EP is any indication of where this band is headed, there are big things in store. 

Jonny & Shim- Facebook
Blurry-


One Little Lie

11.02.2013

Hydra Melody

Full-blown alternative rock is not dead. You just have to dig for it. Hydra Melody fuse big choruses with catchy guitar hooks and soaring vocals. This San Antonio 5 piece rocks with a modern edge that is reminiscient of Third Eye Blind, which is fitting because they are opening for the '90s mainstays on their fall tour. 

They shine on singles like "California" which  is arena, not to mention radio, ready. Lead singer Jordan Berlanga pleads with a lost love singing "It's been a long time coming, but I can wait for years. Just come back to me," over a shimmering guitar line. And wait for years all of us alt-rock fans have been doing patiently. Hydra Melody provide a much needed rock boost to your playlist. They'll be right at home next to Imagine Dragons and Young the Giant. 

Hydra Melody- Facebook
California-


9.21.2013

Jared &the Mill

Folk-rock seems to be having its Golden Age right now. Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, and even Avett Brothers are leading the charge. Banjo is no longer the death knell for rock music. In fact, folk-rock lends itself to multiple genres and thus can reach more fans. Jared & the Mill is a six-piece band from Arizona that produces toe-tapping tunes with a plumb. (The American answer to Mumford & Sons if anyone wants a comparison.)

Their debut album Western Expansion is loaded with twang and hooks to spare. Their signature tune Breathe Me In is a testament to being accepted fully in a relationship. It begins with gorgeous harmonies and acoustic guitar before the tempo picks up to full force. The title track though is what stopped me in my tracks. It's a classic follow your big city dreams song. Lines like, "The call you always thought was best was the very one that drove you out west," sets the tone, and the band builds to such a climax with lead singer Jared Kolesar reaching his vocal limits. It closes out a very solid debut from such a young band. 

With a powerhouse of a debut, Jared & the Mill are sure to force the folk-rock genre to sit up and take notice.

Jared & the Mill- Facebook
Breathe Me In-
 

8.17.2013

Grizfolk

 You know that juicer you bought because you wanted to get healthy. And then you read the recipe on the box and you're like, "Spinach, cucumber, flax seed, and a banana is not going to turn out great." And then you taste it...and you're like "uhhh...this combination is delicious. Who knew?" Grizfolk is like that. Americana rock with synth-pop sensibilities just does not sound like it would go down smoothly. One listen and you'll wonder why more bands aren't mixing it up like these guys. 

Lead single "The Struggle" is a bouncy synth-filled ode to 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' with hopeful lines like, "The struggle you are up against makes you who you are." Lead singer Adam Roth kills the vocals at every turn. On some tracks his voice is buzzed out against a percussion heavy beat as on "Hymnals," and others it's piercing with no effects as on the road weary "Vagabonds." 

Grizfolk is mixing genres with expertise and are definitely worth a taste. Pick up their EP sampler Indian Summer right now on NoiseTrade.

Grizfolk- Facebook
The Struggle- 

7.26.2013

James Bay

If James Morrison and Ray LaMontage vocally morphed into one person it would be James Bay. The acoustically driven EP, The Dark of the Morning, is filled with soulful moody tracks. The most familiar may be "Move Together" a haunting melody delivered in a slow burn vocal. But it is on the more upbeat "When We Were on Fire" that really shows what Bay can do. With an underscore of an organ, hand claps, and of course, Bay's gravelly vocals, he forcefully sings of a relationship's better days. (We're losing light/Take me back when we were on fire.)

It seems cliche to say that James Bay could sing the phone book and make it sound good, but it fits here. If this is what Bay sounds like on an EP, only good things are in store for a full length. You can get The Dark of the Morning for free on NoiseTrade.

James Bay- Facebook
When We Were on Fire-