Rocki Boulis is a singer/songwriter from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has been singing since the age of three and started realizing around eleven that she wanted to use her talents to seek a career in the music business. Her sound is a R&B/Pop type of vibe and her inspirations musically include Tori Kelly, Christina Aguleria, Jazmine Sullivan, Beyonce, and Jess Glynne. Rocki also enjoys acting, and has been in multiple musicals and commercials. She planned to major in musical theater after graduating in 2013, but decided to take time off school to pursue her music career. She has played in multiple venues around her home town and competed in a few singing competitions.
Catfish and the Bottlemen with Special Guest The Worn Flints
"The most exciting new guitar band to break through in the UK this decade is Catfish and the Bottlemen. Their tightly honed melodic two-guitar rock draws from new wave, indie, garage, and grunge. 2014 debut album, âThe Balconyâ, written by âlithe and excitableâ young front man Van McCann, has just been certified Platinum in the UK.
At the end of 2014, they were awarded Best Newcomer at the BBC Music Awards, and went on to feature prominently at many UK Festivals throughout the summer of 2015, then capping a whirlwind year with an extensive sold out tour of the UK. Over the Atlantic in USA they also didn't stop. Touring consistently, they were announced as the number 1 new artist in USA by Billboard Magazine with single âKathleenâ becoming a firm favorite at alternative radio.
2016 saw them carry on rising effortlessly where they left off the previous year, relentlessly touring both sides of the Atlantic. In UK, A summer of sold out open air shows in support of their Gold status second album ""The Ride"" was coupled with several visits to play Festivals and major cities Stateside. Having been voted Best New Band in the UK at the 2016 Brit Awards Catfish and the Bottlemen have certainly delivered and proved the voters were backing a winner.
The band recently completed an eight week fall tour of
North America before returning to UK to play a short run of sold out Arena dates in Scotland, The Midlands and London.
They begin 2017 with exciting tours of Australia, Japan and South America, and embark upon a major stadium tour of USA summer 2017 with Green Day."
Indigo Girls with Special Guest Dom Kelly of A Fragile Tomorrow - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP
Among rock 'n' roll's many mistresses and muses, California remains one of the most enigmatic, enduring, and enchanting. The Golden State's allure can notably be attributed to the intoxicating melodic excess of the Eagles' "Hotel California" and the finger-picked pensiveness of Led Zeppelin's "Going To California," to name a few.
The West Coast's influence courses throughout The Delta Saints' 2017 full-length album, Monte Vista. Irresistible lead single "California" snaps from a vintage synth swell into a rough-n-tumble guitar riff and bluesy howl. It's an anthem for throwing caution to the wind, skipping town and setting out to find something more. "California has always been a sort of haven for the band both physically and emotionally," says front man Ben Ringel. "We've got a home base at our guitarist Dylan's grandmother's house in La Jolla on Monte Vista Street. That's where the album title comes from. When we wrote the song, we were in the middle of a dismal Nashville winter. We were all feeling the need to escape the cold, but also had this drive that had been building up over the previous year to really push ourselves beyond where we were. I think we all felt a bit stagnate, and 'California' is about us getting up and actually doing something about it."
The Nashville-based quintetâBen Ringel [vocals & guitar], Dylan Fitch [guitar], David Supica [bass], Vincent "Footz" Williams [drums], and Nate Kremer [keyboards]âcraft raw and visceral rock music with psychedelic flares, fuzzed-out guitar riffs, arresting drum patterns and blues tendencies over the course of 10 tracks produced by Third Man Records alum Eddie Spear [Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Chris Stapleton]. It's the triumphant culmination of a long journey comprised of ceaseless touring in the United States and Europe and fan favorite records such as the crowd-funded Death Letter Jubilee in 2013 and 2015's Bones. The latter yielded "Sometimes I Worry," which landed a prominent placement on the most recent season of Showtime's Shameless. It also spiritually set the stage for Monte Vista, an album brimming with a restless spirit and coming-of-age ruminations on life, love, self-discovery and the world at large.
"We started working on the new music shortly after we finished Bones, which was an incredibly transitional record for us," Dylan recalls. "We switched gears from primarily being a foot-stomping bayou blues band into the psychedelic and indie rock realms. We pivoted from harmonica to keyboard. It's a little less roots. And now we're independent again after being on a label. Through the whole process, we had this need to continue writing. There was a lot of stuff going on in the world and a lot to be inspired by, whether it was losing artists such as David Bowie and Prince or the political climate. So, we came up with ideas throughout 2016."
During this time, the band found that their songwriting was evolving as well. Sharper hooks and bigger melodies took shape, invigorating The Delta Saints' sound with a jolt that makes each one soar to new heights. Drawing a heavier energy from Alice In Chains and Rage Against The Machine, a succinct delivery courtesy of The Kinks, Oasis, and Kasabian, and a cinematic expanse a la Pink Floyd and Radiohead, The Delta Saints fell into a groove that finally felt right. They seamlessly began to create undeniable rock songs with Spear at the helm.
"In the past, we wrote the music first and then put the choruses down afterwards," elaborates Dylan. "With Monte Vista, we started the opposite way. We came up with the lyrics and the choruses first. Figuring out what we wanted to say was the initial goal."
"Bones was way more focused on instrumentation," says David. "With these songs, we would show Eddie a jam, and he'd be like, 'That's cool, but I don't care. There are no fucking words!' He wouldn't listen to anything until it had a melody. That forced us out of our comfort zone and established a new system. Ed had a major impact on the album."
The Delta Saints recorded the entire record in just six days at Sound Emporium in Nashville. As a result, a palpable energy carries the music.
"Sun God" blazes with bright bombast as Ben chants, "I am the Sun God. Come take it from me." It's about the conflict that comes with generations giving way to the next; a poignant snapshot into modern day politics. "In Your Head," is a swaggering tune accented with pops of playful, drowsy synths, an adrenaline-spiked chorus and raucous vocals telling the story of an early morning cab ride back to the hotel after a long night out. Inspired by Alabama Shakes, the rollicking "Burning Wheels" ends with a Celesta solo. Throughout the record, the band enriches its sonic backdrop with a 1969 Moogerfoogerkeyboard and delay.
"It's the exact delay you hear over Dark Side of the Moon," Dylan beams. "As soon as you put any instrument, vocal, guitar, or keyboard through it, it takes you to 'Us And Them.' We found some great places to incorporate the sound."
"Space Man" is a tribute to the late David Bowie. An acoustic guitar starts off with Dylan and Nate coming in from out in the atmosphere, before Footz and Ben fade in to fly the ship. "This was one of those really magical moments, when a song just pours out onto the page, and you have to just try to get it all down. Bowie is undeniable. A musical force." says Ringel. The song shows a softer side of the band, but builds until you feel the boosters kick in on the chorus.
Monte Vista concludes with the haunting harmonies of "Two Days," illuminating Ben's vivid lyricism. "I had a stretch where I didn't leave home for a few days, and I started to lose it," the front man admits. "On top of it all, my wife was out of town, so I just stayed in the house and got lost in my head for a little too long. She returned and pulled me back to reality, fed me vegetables, and made me step out into the sun. The song is about needing that person to pull you out sometimes, when you get too deep down in the rabbit hole."
The band proudly continues a rock 'n' roll legacy for Nashville. "While it obviously is the heart of contemporary Christian and Country music, the city has a really incredible rock scene," adds David. "Between Jack White, Black Keys, and Kings Of Leon, I'd argue that the biggest rock stars of today live in this town. I've personally felt a lot of support from the community."
Now, The Delta Saints are ready to bring Monte Vista to listeners everywhere as they hit the road for another marathon of touring.
"I hope that listeners hear the story in the record and can relate to it in their own way," Ben concludes.
"I'd love for people to listen to this record and replay it the way I did when I first heard Aha Shake Heartbreak by Kings of Leon," Dylan leaves off. "I hope we're able to set the bar for what rock music can be right now."
All That Remains with Special Guests Through Fire, American Sin, NeverWake - Presented by Opus One & 105.9 WXDX
Born in 1986 in the south side of Chicago, Shawn James had a hardworking, kind mother and a gambling, abusive, drunk father. He grew up singing in church and was drawn to the emotional and ethereal power that music could have over people. It was there that he found his escape and learned how to harness his unique, soulful voice.
Shawn now lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas and plays a mix of haunting folk and hard-hitting soulful blues. You might catch him playing on the street in the rain some night, with his band the Shapeshifters, or just find him performing an intimate set for friends at a house show. No matter where you see him, just make sure you have your eyes and ears open, his performance will be one you won't forget.
All of Shawn's recordings, solo and with his band can be found on Bandcamp.
Old 97âs with Special Guest Nicole Atkins - Presented by Opus One & 91.3 WYEP
"Rock and roll's been very very good to me," Rhett Miller sings on "Longer Than You've Been Alive," an epic six-minute stream-of-consciousness meditation on his life in music. It's a rare moment of pulling back the curtain, on both the excesses and tedium of the world of a touring musician, and it's the perfect way to open the Old 97's new album, 'Most Messed Up.'
"I wrote that song very quickly and didnât rewrite one word of it," Miller explains. "It's sort of a thesis statement not just for this record, but for my life's work."
To say that rock and roll has been good to the Old 97's (guitarist/vocalist Miller, bassist/vocalist Murry Hammond, guitarist Ken Bethea, and drummer Philip Peeples) would be an understatement. The band emerged from Dallas twenty years ago at the forefront of a musical movement blending rootsy, country-influenced songwriting with punk rock energy and delivery. The New York Times has described their major label debut, 'Too Far To Care,' as "a cornerstone of the 'alternative country' movement...[that] leaned more toward the Clash than the Carter Family." They've released a slew of records since then, garnering praise from NPR and Billboard to SPIN and Rolling Stone, who hailed the band as "four Texans raised on the Beatles and Johnny Cash in equal measures, whose shiny melodies, and fatalistic character studies, do their forefathers proud." The band performed on television from Letterman to Austin City Limits and had their music appear in countless film and TV soundtracks (they appeared as themselves in the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston movie 'The Break Up'). Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan told The Hollywood Reporter that he put the band on a continuous loop on his iPod while writing the show's final scene.
Loudwire Live Presents: Pierce The Veil & Sum 41 - We Will Detonate! Tour with Special Guests Emarosa and Chapel
Over the past 10 years, Seth Walker has become recognized as one of the most revered modern roots artists in the United States; a three dimensional talent comprised by a gift for combining melody and lyric alongside a rich, Gospel-drenched, Southern-inflected voice with a true blue knack for getting around on the guitar. His latest studio album, Gotta Get Back, produced by Jano Rix of The Wood Brothers, is yet another masterwork that further expands upon this reputation.
Growing up on a commune in rural North Carolina, the son of classically trained musicians, Seth Walker played cello long before discovering the six-string in his 20s. When his introduction to the blues came via his Uncle Landon Walker, who was both a musician and disc jockey, his fate was forever sealed. Instantaneously, Seth was looking to artists like T-Bone Walker, Snooks Eaglin, and B.B. King as a wellspring of endless inspiration. The rest is history. He's released seven albums between 1997 and 2015; breaking into the Top 20 of the Americana charts and receiving praise from NPR, American Songwriter, No Depression and Blues Revue, among others.
In addition to extensive recording and songwriting pursuits, Seth is consistently touring and performing at venues and festivals around the world. Along with headline shows, he's been invited to open for The Mavericks, The Wood Brothers, Raul Malo, Paul Thorn and Ruthie Foster, among others.
Seth Walker is currently splitting his time between New Orleans and New York City after previously residing in Austin and Nashville. He's used those experiences wisely, soaking up the sounds and absorbing the musical lineage of these varied places. With a bluesman's respect for roots and tradition, coupled with an appreciation for-and successful melding of-contemporary songwriting, Seth sublimely incorporates a range of styles with warmth and grace. Perhaps Country Standard Time said it best: "If you subscribe to the Big Tent theory of Americana, then Seth Walker âwith his blend of blues, gospel, pop, R&B, rock, and a dash country-just might be your poster boy."
"Despite his success and sense of history, Mr. Paul remains an artist with his eye on the future and an interest in discovering the transformative potential in his music." - The New York Times
Some artists document their lives through their music. Others chronicle their times. Itâs a rare artist who can do both, telling their own story through songs that also encapsulate the essence of people and places who have helped define their era overall. Woody Guthrie comes to mind, and so does Bob Dylan. Bruce Springsteen certainly as well. Yet few others, for whatever genius they may possess, can relate their own history to the history experienced by those who find that common bond, be it in a coming of age, living through the same realities or sharing similar experiences.
Ellis Paul is one of those gifted singer/songwriters.Though some may refer to him as a folksinger, he is more, for lack of a better word, a singular storyteller, a musician whose words reach out from inside and yet also express the feelings, thoughts and sensibilities that most people can relate to in one way or another, regardless of age or upbringing. The exhilaration of the open road. A celebration of heroes. The hope for redemption. Descriptions of those things that are both near and dear. The sharing of love..., intimate, passionate and enduring.
These are the scenarios that emerge from Ellis Paulâs new album, Chasing Beauty, a set of songs which detail, in typical Paul fashion, stories of people and places that reflect larger truths about us all. âKick Out the Lights (Johnny Cash)â pays tribute to that fearless American icon name-checked in its title. âPlastic Soldierâ offers homage to a wounded soldier returning from Afghanistan. A real-life barnstorming pilot takes the spotlight in âJimmie Angelâs Flying Circus,â while iconic Boston blue collar musician Dennis Brennan takes the focus in âWaiting on a Break.â Even the Empire State Building and the Boston Red Sox get their due, via âEmpire Stateâ and âUK Girl (Boston Calling),â respectively.
In reality, these stories are a continuation of tales Paul has told for more than a quarter century, over the expanse of nineteen albums, numerous critical kudos (15 Boston Music Awards alone), inclusion in several movie soundtracks, and stages heâs headlined both near and far. âIâve got a car with over 475,000 miles on it, and it's my third road vehicle,â Paul declares. âIâve been doing 200 shows a year for over twenty years. There isnât a town in the country where I wonât find a friend. Iâm a nomad. And Iâm gonna write and play until Iâm gone.â
No doubt he will. Still, itâs somewhat ironic that Paul gravitated towards this bigger world of intent and expression given that the place Paul considers his hometown these days isnât New York or Nashville, or Boston or Austin or Charlottesville, VA. where he lives, but rather Presque Isle, Maine, a tiny enclave surrounded by three rivers. Not surprisingly, the name translates to âalmost an island.â Presque Isle shares a vanishing tradition with many small towns these days, where family farms are giving way to industrialization and giant corporations, and earning a livelihood from the land is no longer the simple option it once was. Nevertheless, itâs still a haven for traditional values and for people as real and authentic as the soil they once tilled. If thereâs one grace left to cling to, itâs the grace of natureâs beauty, sealed off by the surrounding mountains and fields.
Likewise, his geographical origins also couldnât have been further from the world at large. He was born in the dead of winter in the small town of Fort Kent, Maine, a place nestled right up next to the Canadian border. He came from humble origins, a family of potato farmers who could count among their forebears a veteran of the battle of Gettysburg, whose heroism on that field of honor earned him the 140 acres of Maine farmland that his descendants would continue to sow. It was the place that taught Paul the meaning of hard work and self-reliance, and the values that accompany as much drive and determination any individual could muster.
As a boy, Paul found his escape in athletics, working out as a runner and testing his mettle in the open spaces near his home. He became a star competitor, and enjoyed the advantage of traveling throughout the nation after being given opportunities to compete. Along the way, he saw more of the country than most people do in a lifetime. âI was lucky to be able to travel for competitions all over the U.S. and to see places I once could only dream of,â he recalls. âThe Olympic Stadium in Los Angeles, the endless plains of Texas, the Kansas prairie, the Rocky Mountain in Wyoming. Every trip was funded by a hat the town passed around on my behalf, and it never came back empty.â When Paul finished second in a nationwide track competition, he was met at the airport by the high school marching band and a fire engine with spinning lights that drove him in triumph through town. In an expression of hometown pride, the mayor handed him the key to the city.
No one ever told Paul he had to follow in his familyâs tradition. He was a dreamer after all, and he had seen enough of America to know there was more out there than his little town could ever offer. Consequently, his ambitions were never destined to stay bottled up for long. He would write, paint, play trumpet and sing in the school choir. âI never had anyone tell me I had to be a farmer,â Paul insists. âI had plenty of people telling me how my hard work and talent could take me places. Thatâs enough to get you dreaming, And enough to make you believe those dreams are within reach.â
Indeed, Paul found those dreams were within his reach, at least in terms of his imagination. However their pursuit would take him far from home. His first destination was Boston College, courtesy of a track scholarship. Yet as Paul describes it, his athletic endeavors, combined with his academic responsibilities, served to rob him of his creativity. It was only after he suffered a knee injury which forced him to take a year off that he rebounded with a new form of expression, made possible when his girlfriendâs sister gave him a secondhand guitar. âA mysterious, lustful partnership with the instrument followed,â Paul concedes. âIt became a marriage, a friendship, a lifelong bond that only comes when you find that one thing that becomes an extension of yourself. I played for hours, choosing to write my own original songs and sing instead of studying, socializing or exploring what the Boston streets could offer after hours.â
After graduation, Paul did find time to explore those paths, while taking opportunities to indulge his creative ambitions. Working as a teacher and social worker with inner city children by day and pursuing the possibilities offered by Bostonâs fertile music scene at night, he gained prominence in local coffeehouses and open mic nights. It was the same circuit that opened the door for other like-minded artists of the day, and in turn, gave Paul exposure to such creative contemporaries as Shawn Colvin, Dar Williams, Patty Larkin, John Gorka, Catie Curtis, and Bill Morrissey. It also helped him win a Boston Underground Songwriting competition and placement on a Windham Hill Records singer/songwriter compilation, bringing him his first hint of national exposure at the same time.
The major tipping point in his career came with the opportunity to open for Bill Morrissey, one of New Englandâs most prominent folk artists. Paul would repeatedly ask Morrissey about his own influences and seek his advice on who he ought to listen to. âYou know, thatâs a very smart thing to do,â Morrissey muses. âIt helped set him apart. A lot of young singers I meet are not curious about what went on before; they just say, âI want to sing another song about my life.â Paul has a sense of roots, of connectedness to the whole history of folk music; he sees the thread that runs through all the generations of this music.â
It was mutual admiration that caused Paul to ask Morrissey to produce his first full album, 1993âs Say Something. It was released on Black Wolf Records, the label he founded with Ralph Jaccodine, the man who would become his manager. âRalph was fulfilling a dream to get into the music business,â Paul recalls. âStarting with a folk singer isnât a rocket launch, but we got off the ground. We started a label and began a lifelong, DIY partnership and have been in the trenches for over 20 years.â
Paul also became infatuated with the music of Woody Guthrie, drawn to Woodyâs social consciousness and the humanitarian streak that ran through his work. He even had a tattoo of Guthrie imprinted on his right shoulder, referring to it as âa badge of who he was.â His commitment to Guthrieâs legacy eventually led to his inclusion in a ten day celebration of Woodyâs work held at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in September 1996, an event that included such notables as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg, the Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco and which was presided over by Guthrieâs daughter Nora. Later, when Guthrieâs hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma hosted the first Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in July, 1998, Paul was tapped as one of the headliners. He has since made this an annual part of his touring schedule, garnering the honor of being named an honorary citizen of Okemah in the process. The connection with Guthrie continued into the new millennium when Nora Guthrie invited him to put music to a set of her fatherâs lyrics. He later participated in the âRibbon of Highwayâ tour, a communal salute featuring such luminaries as Arlo Guthrie, Marty Stuart, Ramblinâ Jack Ellott, Nanci Griffith, Guy Clark and Janis Ian, among others.
Thereâs likely no greater evidence of how Guthrieâs insights and humanity have rubbed off on Paul than in this particularly telling tribute from Nora Guthrie. "A singer songwriter is only as good as the times he reflects,âshe said in praising Paul. âIn times like these, when so many nuts are running the show, it's comforting to know that Ellis Paul is actually holding our sanity on his own stage! Wise, tender, brilliant and biting, Ellis is one of our best human compasses, marking in melodies and poems where we've been and where we might go if we so choose to. Personally Ellis, I'm goin' where you're goin'!"
Where Paul is âgoinââ is to practically every place a microphone beckons and a crowd of the folk faithful awaits. Heâs become a staple at the Newport Folk Festival, played Carnegie hall, and venues from Alaska to Miami, Paris and London. In addition to his 19 albums released on the Rounder and Black Wolf record labels, his music has appeared on dozens of distinguished compilations. A Film/DVD entitled 3000 Miles -- part concert film, part documentary, part instructional video -- provides a further prospective on both the man and his music. Heâs also released a pair of childrenâs albums, earning him honors from the Parentâs Choice Foundation for both. His latest, "The Hero In You" has been turned into a picture book, detailing the lives of great American heroes. Ellis' literate, evocative and insightful writings are further showcased in a book of poetry and short stories entitled âNotes from the Road," already in it's third pressing.
Itâs no wonder then that recently Paul received a prestigious honor: an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Maine, which also asked him to write the school's alma mater as well as deliver its commencement address in May 2014.
Happily, his music has been shared with a wider audience as well, through commercials, documentaries, TV shows and in the soundtracks of several blockbuster films, among them three by the Farrelly Brothers -- âHall Passâ (starring Owen Wilson and Alyssa Milano), âMe, Myself, & Ireneâ (starring Jim Carrey) and âShallow Halâ (starring Jack Black and Gwyneth Paltrow). Peter Farrelly summed up the sentiments of all those who have come to know and appreciate Paulâs music by referring to him as âa national treasure.â
Not surprisingly, Paulâs consistently been heralded by others as well. One writer noted âthat it reminds you how much we need storytellers back in pop music -- storytellers with empathy, fine eyes and an understanding that even though we live in a soulless, indifferent would, out music doesnât have to reflect our culture." Another reviewer was even more pointed. âEllis Paul is one of the best singer/songwriters of his generation,â she commented. âAnd for many of us he is the face of contemporary folk music. Few are as smart, as literate, as poetic as Paul. I cannot think of another artist on the acoustic music scene is better loved by fans, or more respected by his contemporaries.â
Indeed, he is all that, and in a very real sense, even more. Heâs an observer, a philosopher, and an astute storyteller who shares with his listeners the life lessons heâs learned, and in turn, life lessons they ought to heed as well. By affirming and defining who he is, Ellis Paul affirms and uncovers the essence of us all.
-- Lee Zimmerman (writer/reviewer for American Songwriter, No Depression, New Times, Country Standard Time, Blurt, Relix, and M Music and Musicians)
(Early Show) Charlie Parr with Special Guest Chicago Farmer
An easily confused and very shy individual, Charlie Parr has been traveling around singing his songs ever since leaving Austin Minnesota in the 1980's in search of Spider John Koerner, whom he found about 100 miles north at the Viking Bar one Sunday night. The experience changed his life, made him more or less unemployable, and brings us to now: 13 recordings, 250 shows a year or more, 200,000 miles on a well broke in Kia, and a nasty fear of heights. Resonator fueled folk songs from Duluth Minnesota
Distinguished by interesting and intricate acoustic guitar and floating vocals with a touch of blue-eyed soul, Jackson Howardâs songs grab your ears and your soul in captivating ways. In an age when lyrics are losing their importance, Jackson puts the poetry back into songwriting while remaining universally relatable.
In April of 2014, Jackson released his first EP A Place to Cross to a packed house at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis a few days after making his first television appearance on Fox2 News. Over the next year he gained momentum locally performing several times a week throughout the greater St. Louis area. That July, Jackson went back to the studio to begin work on his first full length album âAbout Lifeâ, released on January 2nd 2015 at Off Broadway in St. Louis as well as at an East Coast release at Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center in Pennsylvania.
In the summer of 2015, a song from About Life caught the attention of Grammy-nominated producer Billy Smiley. By September the two were recording a new album at Dark Horse Studios in Franklin, TN. The album (set to be released in the spring of 2017) boasts the talents of Johnathan Crone, Daniel OâLannerghty, Andre DiMuzio, Jared Kneale (drums â Kacey Musgraves, Ben Rector); sound engineering by Billy Whittington (Amy Grant), Ritchie Biggs (Civil Wars, Lone Below), and Billy Smiley (White Heart, Newsboys), and production by Billy Smiley.
(Early Show) Overcoats with Special Guest Yoke Lore
Overcoats is the New York-based female duo of Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell. Their debut albumÂ YOUNGÂ captures a sound rich in minimalism and melody: songs of connection and tension, on the depths of love and challenges of family.Â
Overcoats' music draws strength from vulnerability, finding light through darkness, and the catharsis of simple, honest songwriting.Â YOUNGÂ is about a transformation: the passage into womanhood, sung through the shared experience of two best friends.
On their first singleÂ "Hold Me Close," Hana and JJ's melodies are purity in unison, providing two distinct but entwined perspectives on the complexity of love. In their words, "the song is about finding solace in the present when the future and past seem impossible to understand. It's about loneliness and disillusionment that we can feel in relationships, and how we must persevere anyway in hopes of finding the beauty in love."
Elion and Mitchell were drawn to each other when they first met in 2011, finding connection in their diverse love of music and an immediate closeness that verges on sisterhood. Their meeting was transformative emotionally as well as creatively. Both halves of Overcoats describe the first time hearing each other sing as an epiphany: the harmony of their voices leading to personal, individual discovery. This bond forms the foundation of Overcoats, and it fills the ecosystem of YOUNG with its stunning sound and sentiment.
Album opener "Father" unfurls in clouds of three-dimensional sound: a cathedral of echo over waves of delay and the din of incidental noise. There is a rare resonance in Overcoats evident from these opening tones: between their separate (but inseparable) voices, flawlessly intuitive performance, and sublime musical production.Â Their harmonies slide from brassy to silken with elegant ease, floating over muted rhythms wrapped in lush swells of synthesizers.
YOUNGÂ was written by Overcoats and co-produced by Nicolas Vernhes (Daughter, The War On Drugs, Dirty Projectors, Cass McCombs) and experimental R&B artist Autre Ne Veut, with additional production from Myles Avery and mixing by Ben Baptie (Lapsley, Lianne La Havas, Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson).
Their palette is stealth and simple electronics, with traces of folk, pop, and bluegrass embedded within. Like a spectrum from Sylvan Esso to Simon & Garfunkel, Overcoats creates music deeply rooted in emotion, and guided by the search for its innate expression through voice and electronics. Songs that began as bedroom creations flourished into rich but restrained productions, with careful craft illuminating the nuance of Overcoats' unique songwriting.
On YOUNG, Overcoats creates music of mutual empowerment, at once synthetic and organic, wistful and uplifting, triumphant and subdued.
"The Fog" is a bay of lonesome, oscillating synth chords: its boundaries defined by the reflection of echoic finger snaps. Elion and Mitchell find clarity through a lovers' haze, their stoic verses liberated by resounding chorus: Freedom is when I'm without you / When the fog lifts I'm the only one I see.
"Leave The Light On" layers looped and transposed vocals over thumping two-step 808 and punctuations of club-ready brass. Showing the true breadth of influence, songs like "Little Memory" and "Smaller Than My Mother" are laced with gospel and jazz, strands woven in with Vernhes' and Autre Ne Veut's natural touch.
YOUNG has a clear, vertical ambience that lets the topical vibration of the music shine through. This is the arrival of a magical collaboration: a rare unification of two hearts under one imagination. Elion and Mitchell are bound by absolute belief in one another, and the confidence that every creation is compelled by shared purpose.
Like its arc of transformation, from "Father" to album closer "Mother," Overcoats captures the notion that we are the intersections of our parents' greatest fantasies and biggest follies. YOUNG is a startlingly wise portrayal of these complexities: of love, on inspiration, and the legacy of family.
(Late Show) The Lovely Cur / Cape Cod / Gary Smith
From the onset, Liam McCormick, the mastermind behind The Family Crest, knew that Beneath the Brine was an audacious project. But so is The Family Crest itself.
The brainchild of McCormick, The Family Crest was started as a recording project in 2009 with co-founder John Seeterlin (bass). "We were in another band and had become disillusioned about what that band had become about," explains McCormick. "Everyone wanted to be rock stars at the expense of the music. John and I were actually planning on leaving music at that point because we wanted something that in ten years we could be proud of."
Instead of leaving music, they set out to reinvent how it could be created, starting The Family Crest. "We always liked making music with people -- getting a bunch of people together and singing. So we put ads everywhere," says McCormick. "We posted on Craigslist and emailed old friends from school." The outcome was greater than the original duo imagined, with 80 people credited on the first recording the band produced. From that a band emerged, at the urging of the guest musicians, who wanted to hear the songs performed live. "We've worked with a lot of conservatory students as well as people who just sing in the shower," McCormick adds. "It became a lot about giving these people a chance to express themselves without being locked into a commitment."
Now a seven-piece core band, boasting over 400 "Extended Family" members, The Family Crest will release Beneath the Brine in February 2014 on Tender Loving Empire. Just with its previous recordings, the San Francisco band set out to capture a plethora of instruments -- including bassoon, vibraphone and French horn -- in unique places, such as living rooms, churches and cafes across the West Coast.
Following on the heels of last summer's The Headwinds EP (which earned fans in WXPN and Paste), Beneath the Brine shows that McCormick's ambition was well placed. The expansive breadth of arrangements - from dark, classical romanticism ("Beneath the Brine") to horn-laden sounds akin to the Roaring 20s ("Howl") -- are complemented by the incredible range of McCormick's voice. Beneath the Brine also showcases The Family Crest's ability to infuse pop into complex arrangements, with songs like "Love Don't Go" and "The World." The album is a sweeping soundscape befitting the oceanic theme of the title and what SPIN notes as "ambition wide enough to swallow you whole."
It has also proven The Family Crest's belief that anyone can be musical when given the opportunity. "We live in a very disconnected age," notes Laura Bergmann (flute/keys), "so it's a really special experience to have a recording session in a cafe that's open to the public and to sing next to people you've never met before, doing something together that's tangible and very meaningful."
"When I listen to the record," adds McCormick, "it's like listening to the last two years of my life. All of my best friends that I've met are in one place, together."
"A friend told me it was Saturn returns and that may be true. I was about to turn thirty and I knew that if I didnât change direction I was going to end up exactly where I was headed."
At the end of Leif Vollebekkâs twenties, his own songs didnât sound right. He had spent an entire year on the road, playing almost 100 shows, but every night his favourite moment came only right at the end, covering a song by Ray Charles or Townes Van Zandt. Every time he got home from tour he took a hot shower and lay still under a window, listening to Nick Drakeâs Pink Moon, feeling saved, wondering why his own music didnât give him that. Why the songs he had written himself always felt like so much work.
He booked himself a secret show. One night only at a Montreal dive bar â not to play his own songs but other peopleâs. Leif found a rhythm section and they rehearsed once. Then midnight unspooled. Leif called it the most fun he had ever had playing music: Ray Charles and Tom Waits over a locked groove; Bob Dylan and Kendrick Lamar over a slow pulse. The light was dark blue and purple.
It was time, Leif understood, to make a dark blue and purple record. An album of locked groove and slow pulse, heavy as a fever. And the lesson he learned from singing all those other peopleâs songs was that none of those other artists seemed worried about anything except laying down their own souls, flat out. âI used to think, âThis will be kinda like a Neil Young song,â âThis will be kinda like a Bob Dylan song,ââ he recalled. âI kinda ran out of people to imitate. And then there was just me.â
His first new song came to him on his bicycle. He wasnât thinking, wasnât trying, but the rhythm, the chords, the melody â it all just fluttered up. He tried at first to let it go: the song was wasnât meticulous enough, it wasnât studied or conceived. The next morning it still came back to him, incontestable. âI told myself, âYouâre never saying ânoâ to a song ever again,ââ Leif said. âI realized I had been saying ânoâ to a lot of songs, over the years.â Twin Solitude is what happened when Leif stopped saying no. The songs started coming so fast: fully formed, impossible. âVancouver Timeâ took 15 minutes; âTellurideâ took less. It was as if the songs were waiting for him. Instead of obsessing about the details of recording, âI just showed up to the studio and went, âLetâs see what happens.ââ
What happened was, they got it: âBig Sky Countryâ and its patient, coasting tranquility, âInto the Etherâ, which rides to reverie with the Brooklyn string duo Chargaux. Thereâs âEast of Edenâ, an interpolation of Gillian Welch, which doesnât seem like it ever ought to end. For a beautiful album, Twin Solitude is deceptively brave, filled with unexpected refrains. âWhen the cards get stuck together / so hard to pull them apart,â Leif sings, âI think your face is showing.â Then: âAinât the first time that itâs snowing.â
Yet in its heart, above all, Twin Solitude is a gesture back to Leifâs long nights under a pink moon, when a record was the only thing that could keep him company. Besides a wink to Hugh MacLennanâs novel Two Solitudes, this is the unlonely loneliness of the albumâs title. âIt isnât a record I made for other people â itâs the one I made for myself,â Leif said. âItâs the album I wish I could have put on.â
Listen to it in a rental car in cold weather, with the windows all rolled up. Listen to it laying by an open window. Listen to it all the way through, alone. âBy the time the last notes die away, all thatâs left should be you,â Leif told me. âAnd Iâll be somewhere else. And thatâs Twin Solitude.â
The xx With Special Guest Sampha - Presented by Opus One & PromoWest North Shore
In March 2014, The xx took their advanced pop experiment in fortified introspection to its most cripplingly self-conscious conclusion. At Manhattanâs Park Avenue Armory Drill Hall they played a succession of dates that The New York Times headlined âThe Rock Show, Inverted.â Playing to an audience of just 45 people at each of the twenty five shows over ten days, Romy Madly Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith had to bow their heads in penance to avoid looking square in the eyes the effect of their music, at that moment gridlocked in a beautiful communion of the inner life of shy people.
A new touchstone for pop intimacy, the show had been road-tested in the bowels of the city during the previous yearâs Manchester International Festival. The xx debuted a new song at The Armory, Performance. Its chorus ran: âYouâll see me hurting/when my heart breaks/Iâll put on a performance/Iâll put on a brave faceâ, set only to barely audible sub-bass and the kind of intricate, spidery guitar motif that had by now become a signature to their sound. In retrospect, The Armory shows were a line-in-the-sand moment for The xx. They had reached the furthest limits of their experiments in the monochromatic. A hard won light was beginning to beckon.
âThe record sounds triumphant and celebratory,â says Jamie, of their third long-player, I See You, âbut the journey we went on and what we had to go through to get to this point should be acknowledged.â I See You is the spoils of four hard yearsâ labour, a vertiginous new height scaled for the pop group. It is a record that sees them performing with optimum new nerve, transparency and clarity. Because it is made by The xx, its implicit boldness is sculpted from a tough and tender space, one which stretched its limits for expansion against the core musical aesthetic Romy and Oliver first found as 16-year-olds playing on a stage together. âWhat makes us sound like us isnât intentional,â says Oliver. âWhat always surprises me,â says Jamie, âis when they just play the two instruments together they come up with things that I could never come up with, so simple that I wish I could. That particular guitar sound and Oliverâs bass playing will always create this mood which I love and which I canât imagine ever getting bored of.â
I See You is marked by a tonal shift to something close to pure, crisp pop structure, adorned by unusual crescendos that echo a dextrous DJ inching their dancer toward climax without ever quite lifting the house lights. Its lyric sheet moves from the danger and hopelessness of love to its deliciousness and rapture; a move into a more outward looking proposition. I See You is recognisably still The xx but now powered by voluble ambition, of the three perfect counterweights to one another starting to not just realise but harness their full potential. You might even want to think of the decisive move from Joy Division to New Order here, too. The Armory shows turned out to be a double bluff. When they take their plum festival slots in 2017, armed with the ten most robust songs of their career The xx should prick the skin and touch gently the shoulder of an audience reaching to the back of the field.