MONDAY: TEEN DAZE
In 2010, Jamison, the person behind Teen Daze, had no idea what "Four More Years" would bring. That debut EP, a collection of blissful home recordings, was the work of a carefree 24 year old. By 2012, things had changed, as they tend to do: relationships dissolved, illness affected his family, windows for outward communication were closing. The gravity of it all made for constant output; he reached for futuristic utopia with All Of Us, Together, found a devotional sanctuary inside The Inner Mansions, and embraced hibernation on Glacier. In hindsight, this was an artist coping through various forms of introverted escapism. While proud of the material, Jamison sought to break this cycle when approaching the next record. He knew it would take a few leaps of faith, most directly: out of his bedroom… out of his comfort zone. For the first time, he gave up some control, inviting the input of others. Bearing over 30 demos, Jamison joined one of his musical heroes John Vanderslice at Tiny Telephone, his all-analog studio in San Francisco. Beyond the immediate sonic advantages of recording to tape, the sessions with Vanderslice and co-producer Simon Bridgefoot encouraged a new positivity and confidence to his craft. The result is Morning World, eleven fully built, balanced, and expressed songs, the most vulnerable and honest Teen Daze LP to date. Thematically, Jamison paints a familiar picture: a Garden of Eden, a place of transcendent, painfree beauty, but with one key distinction... it’s not real and time there is finite. With vocals boldly up front—surrounded by strings, piano, guitar, and live percussion—he details a realm that, for the first time, has room for more than one. “Where does life go when it’s done,” he poses in the closing moments of “Post Storm”, before lending an answer that evokes the omnipresent wisdom of All Things Must Pass: “a moon replaces morning sun."
Sounds like: Millionyoung, Memoryhouse, Memory Tapes
Indie folk unit Saintseneca were founded and led by songwriter and lead vocalist Zac Little. They are a mercurial group that melds folk music from Appalachian and international traditions to postmodern pop and acoustically driven indie rock. Little had been playing in folk bands with friends from a small Ohio town. The group moved to Columbus to attend college and began playing dozens of house concerts. Their first self-titled EP was issued in 2009, and by then the lineup had changed. A second EP, the cassette-only "Gray Flag", was released in 2010 and Saintseneca became a national touring ensemble, playing wherever and whenever they could, working college radio hard and continually shifting their lineup. They were signed to Anti in 2012. Their debut album, Last, was released in the spring of 2013. By this time, the band's lineup had changed yet again and Little remained the only original member. He immediately began recording a follow-up album in a friend's attic. The early-2010s lineup -- Little, Steve Ciolek, Maryn Jones, Jon Meador, and touring member Matt O'Conke -- also collaborated with other musicians. After filling a computer's hard drive with songs and sounds, Saintseneca moved their operation to Nebraska to work with producer Mike Mogis, where they revisited each song utilizing a plethora of electric instruments in their mix. Anti released "Dark Arc" in the spring of 2014. Little decided to further challenge himself by writing songs that could more easily be identified with pop. To that end, he cut dozens of songs with producer/engineer/multi-instrumentalist Mike Mogis and a small cast of like-minded players. He whittled the final selection to 15 tunes. The finished album was issued as Such Things by Anti in 2015. [All Music]
Sounds like: Lady Lamb, Jesse Woods, Mimicking Birds
WEDNESDAY: SEAN NICHOLAS SAVAGE
This fall sees the release of Sean Nicholas Savage’s latest record, Other Death. Savage, a master of tenderness, reflection and projection, has released and toured relentlessly in pursuit of the rarer beauties found only in the nuance of pop song and performance. Other Death was recorded in Santa Monica, Los Angeles as a collaboration with Agor, of Savage’s Arbutus labelmates Blue Hawaii, while Errhead of Doldrums plays on much of the record. Ramona Gonzalez Nite Jewel also makes an appearance, as do TOPS’ Jane Penny and David Carriere. This is Savage’s highest fidelity recording to date, with daring, captivating, and as always minimal and soft production style. In contrast to his usual introspection, Other Death is immediately more upbeat, uptempo, confident, inspired and delivers more consistent pop singles than any of his previous records. Savage is not playing to the middle. Here he gives his listeners, those who crave a harder SNS smack, the energy they crave. This is the release fans will turn to when they want to feel the sophisticated, delicate, and enchanted music of Sean Nicholas Savage at its most brave, free and loud. It’s as if upon being tossed a copy of Other Life, Savage reads the message; “Other Life?” and throws it back at us in blood red, “Other Death”. [Arbutus Records] Sean Nicholas Savage is a Canadian Singer and Balladeer. Savage’s gift for bracing, timeless song craft and prowess as a philosopher reaches a new zenith with Bermuda Waterfall.
Sounds like: Emily Reo, Mutual Benefit, Widowspeak
The son of Sudanese and American parents, Amir Mohamed was born and raised in the United States capital city of Washington DC, spending hot summers in Khartoum learning Arabic and swimming in the Nile. Growing up amidst the sounds of New York hip hop, his father playing Oud, Go-Go, and gospel, Amir took his first steps as an MC producer in the analog basement studio of his legendary neighbor, Garry Shider (Parliament Funkadelic). Convincing his entrepreneurial father that he too had business acumen, Amir laid the check from his first commercial release on the kitchen table before his 21st birthday and never looked back. Though Oddisee has gone on to perform with The Roots, produce for Freeway, Jazzy Jeff, Little Brother, De La Soul & Nikki Jean, and has MC’d on production from Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke and Kev Brown, his proudest moment was the birth of his critically acclaimed group Diamond District with fellow Washingtonians X.O. and yU. Known in the music industry for his independence, Oddisee consistently debunks the scatterbrained artist myth - doing everything from booking international tours to photography to marketing and promoting himself and even other artists. He now works as both artist and consultant with Mello Music Group, one of the foremost emerging independent labels to take advantage of the digital revolution to build a successful business.
Sounds like: Apollo Brown, Blue, Black Milk
FRIDAY: THE SHEEPDOGS
From the prairie city of Saskatoon, Canada come the Sheepdogs, 4 young gentlemen who revel in the joy of rock n roll so wholeheartedly, it's downright contagious. Sporting the long-haired looks of their musical forefathers, the lads make the most of their 2 guitars, bass and drums combo. Soulful vocalizations, everybody harmonizing, old-school guitar chops winding, riffing and chiming, and a grooving rhythm section that keeps it all going. Having already cemented their reputation as dynamic performers in their hometown, the Sheepdogs now turn their attention to spreading their affection for rock n roll cross-country. They have spent the last year covering the great white north, playing from Vancouver Island to Montreal. They have played festivals, headlined a bill during 2007's Junofest, opened for the likes of Matt Mays and el Torpedo, and performed before thousands at 2006's Saskatoon Centennial Celebration. In January 2007 they released their debut LP Trying to Grow, a collection of guitar-driven originals that recall classic rockers like the Stones, CCR, and the Kinks. The album's title-track was featured in a province-wide campaign in their native Saskatchewan. Early 2008 has already seen the completion of their follow-up album, which mixes elements of southern rock and moody soul with gleeful straight-forward rockers. Once again, the boys are hitting the road, spreading their rock n roll revival to the rest of Canada. [last.fm]
Sounds like: J Roddy Walston And The Business, Gary Clark, Jr., The Stone Foxes
SATURDAY: KING DUDE
As King Dude, Cowgill plays folk, country and blues mired in doom and dread; a sound so dark we might have to downgrade Johnny Cash from The Man In Black to The Man In Medium Grey. Live, Cowgill and band take to the stage in front of a stars and stripes flag daubed in black, playing songs like "Lay Down In Bedlam", "Cloven Hooves" (Of Fear) and "You Can Break My Heart". "But please don't break the rest of me…" pleads Cowgill on the latter, like Roy Orbison being held at gunpoint. Since 2003, Cowgill has fronted Seattle death metallers Book Of Black Earth. But folk is in his blood – his father was a fingerpicking guitarist in the vein of John Fahey – and when he decided to embark on a solo project, he says, it was with the rationale that "one-man metal bands are kind of difficult to pull off compared to one-man folk bands". King Dude is not, by and large, a vessel for venting feelings. "Those incredibly personal songs people write about breaking up just make my skin crawl," he says. Instead, Cowgill's songs toy darkly with the narrative folk tradition. On the brilliantly sinister Barbara Anne from last year's Burning Daylight LP, he's a patsy under the spell of a femme fatale, singing of slaughter and arson in a sinister gurgle that sounds like he's just about ready to be measured up for a casket. Cowgill's stated aim on new album Fear was to make "the most horrifying music I could". Cacophonous lead single "Fear Is All You Know", with its nightmarish, NSFW video set in an S&M strip joint, certainly fits the bill. But Fear also finds Cowgill writing about himself for the first time. "Sometimes, I'm the protagonist or narrator, but in a situation that hasn't happened to me personally. It's as close as I'll get to writing songs about my personal life." Outside of King Dude, Cowgill runs clothing label Actual Pain, which sells hoodies, snapbacks and leggings emblazoned with pentagrams and inverted crucifixes. "I love religion and spirituality, good or bad," he says. To grasp the true meaning of Fear, he says, listeners need to enact a ritual of their own, using the perception-warping packaging of the gatefold vinyl. "You can listen to the record on its own and enjoy it just fine. But to really experience it, you have to hold the sleeve up in a mirror while listening to the record beginning to end." [Guardian UK]
Sounds like: Cult Of Youth, Chelsea Wolfe, Hexvessel
SUNDAY: A SILENT FILM
“The first time we drove into New York we were all crammed in a tiny rental car. We came out of the Lincoln Tunnel and ‘You Will Leave a Mark’ was playing on the radio,” A Silent Film vocalist/pianist Robert Stevenson says, recalling hearing his group’s career-opening single scoring a powerful moment of its inaugural 2010 U.S. tour. The Oxford quartet had just released its debut of epic and ambiently anthemic indie rock, The City That Sleeps, on Bieler Bros. Records, a Florida-based indie with an incongruously niche heavy rock profile. Despite the curious association, A Silent Film had an impressive American welcome. The group became the longest charting band on Sirius XM’s Alt 18 Countdown, shifted 200K downloads as iTunes’ Discovery Download, and sold 75K digital singles.
“Never in my dreams could I imagine the songs I wrote in my bedroom as someone else’s soundtrack to the skyline of New York City. It was only three and a half minutes but it opened my eyes to the greater possibilities of sharing our music,” Robert says. The American tour was a transformative experience for A Silent Film and the group decided to relocate to Arizona and record their sophomore album in the rustic environs of the West. The band’s 2012 release, Sand & Snow, is a snapshot of the fevered creativity inspired by an impulsive tryst with Americana. [...]
In addition to Robert Stevenson, A Silent Film is rounded out by Karl Bareham (guitar), Ali Hussain (bass) and Spencer Walker (drums). A Silent Film formed in 2005 and has garnered favorable comparisons to Coldplay, The Killers, and Snow Patrol. Its new offering is aligned with its formative poetic and expansive pop-rock aesthetic but there is a freshly confident depth and distinction evident in the writing. Sand & Snow is searchingly hopeful with emotive hooks and romantically purposeful lyrics. The album gently unfolds with ‘Reaching the Potential’s’ lone, winsome but dreamy vocals bathed in bittersweet strings. [...] A Silent Film had a 5 year history with a highly respectable alternative radio campaign and an impressive tour itinerary, highlighted by jaunts with One Republic and Civil Twilight, The Temper Trap, Smashing Pumpkins, Athlete and Sleigh Bells, but the band found itself when it found America. Sand & Snow documents the wisdom and romance gleaned from self-discovery from band with proven songwriting chops and buzzing career potential. “Our story got started when we got on a plane and came to America in 2010, we felt like we had something to offer America,” Robert says. “We felt defined by the music we made.” [MTV] The band released their latest (self-titled) album earlier this year.
Sounds like: Morning Parade, Animal Kingdom, Jukebox The Ghost
Blog by Gina Reis