Take the soft croons of James Vincent McMorrow, the cinematic atmospherics of Sufjan Stevens, and the gut-wrenching storytelling of Bon Iver, and you’ll have the essence of Harp Samuels’ devastatingly tender slow burners. With his sophomore record in the pipeline, we catch up with the Australian songwriter to find out what went on behind the studio doors…
Describe your music in five words.
Deep, thoughtful, unique, melodic, and vulnerable.
What’s the story behind forthcoming album ‘Breathe’?
I lost my Dad last year right when I was in the middle of promoting my debut album ‘Wanting.’ I decided to go home to Melbourne, and I was feeling a lot of tension/ grief and all kinds of stuff. I wanted to put those feelings somewhere so I turned to music and art, initially purely to process what I was going through. It’s about tension, closure, new chapters, and our relationship to the eternal.
Is there a song on the album that’s particularly close to your heart?
The song ‘Closure in C’ (an homage to Canon in D) was played on my Dad’s piano, and the reason is that my family is going to sell it, so I wanted to write/ perform a piece on it as an act of closure.
You’ve said there are a lot of ‘easter eggs’ in the project. Can you give us an exclusive on what to expect?
The track listing is in alphabetical order and the amount of tracks (9) represents in-completion. The songs and project have been carefully named, and are designed to ﬂow as one 30 minute themed musical project.
An artist’s ability to transform personal pain into sonic pleasure is often their greatest asset. A band that know a lot about that process is Slim Loris. Formed in Sweden around 2009, the band comprises of singer/bass-player Mattias Cederstam, guitarist Robert Barrefelt, drummer Jonas Ellenberg and singer/guitarist Leon Lindström. Their earliest releases veered towards to the darker side of life, both lyrically and musically- and that doesn’t even account for the darkness that was manifesting off the record.
This article was originally published on Lightning Nation, continue reading here.
Not many artists can say they’ve outsold legendary acts such as Earth, Wind & Fire, except for Canada’s own Crack of Dawn who are back with Spotlight, featuring a collection of classic tracks.
With other titles such as being the first black band to be signed to a major label (CBS) as well as being picked up by Otis Redding’s producer, Crack of Dawn were anticipated for bigger things, though word from them remained quiet… until now.
Returning with a selection of re-recorded classics from the band as well as some new tracks, Crack of Dawn’s Spotlight is an authentic return to the classic funk and soul sounds of their era.
The overarching theme of the album seems to be nostalgia and sentimentality, what Spotlight does exceedingly well is maintain an authentic sound throughout; it does not do anything out of the ordinary and the album is actually not that adventurous – and that’s fine.
For funk fans, there is something for everyone, from the strong Stevie Wonder vibes on one of the lead tracks ‘Booby Ruby’ to the falsetto vocals on ‘Keep the Faith’ that allude to a sound similar to what the Ohio Players had on their album Honey.
The album opens up strong with the classic and unmistakable funk sounds, ‘Crack of Dawn’ does a great job in laying out what the band is capable of, from the jazz inclined funk virtuosity to the soaring synth melodies and strong bass grooves. The first four tracks of the album maintain that uplifting funk quality as seen with their contemporaries, what Spotlight manages to capture in the earlier parts of the album are different flavors of funk from their era, ‘Somebody’s Watching’ features almost a 1970s “cop-drama” tonality to it with the wah-heavy guitars with a catchy descending riff during the chorus.
Halfway through the album with ‘It’s alright’ changes the pace with an authentic funk ballad that heavily enforces the theme of sentimentality and nostalgia throughout the album. The theme reaches its pinnacle with the track ‘Ol’ Skool’ which sounds like it could have come straight out of the late 70s, the track also pays homage to their contemporaries through the years within the lyrical content, ‘Ol’ Skool’ comes across as a a labor of love and defines the bands mission.
Whilst the album remains authentic to its sound and doesn’t deviate from its purpose, its biggest flaw is the length in which the album tends to latch on to the sentimental ballad sounds. Tracks five through to nine are all sentimental ballads with only slight variations on how they approach the stereotypical funk-ballad sounds, and whilst the dynamics of the album are thoroughly consistent, by track nine the ballads become exhausting, despite how well they are crafted. With only one track left of the album there is very little opportunity to pick up from where the album started.
‘Changes’, the final track finally picks up the pace and invokes a big finale to the album, bringing it back to the big, groovy funk tracks that started the album and brings a full circle to what the band can do.
Spotlight is a great album because it’s an authentic return to funk. In a time where experimentation is key to surviving in the music world, it’s nice to hear something new and modern that throws the listener back to the 1970’s and the dawn of funk. Spotlight is not adventurous and doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary, and that’s okay – because it’s a nostalgic throwback to the times where they outsold Earth, Wind & Fire. It’s the bands opportunity to reminisce the good old days.
You can keep up to date with Crack of Dawn and purchase the latest album by following their social network links below;
When would happen if you took classical music and mixed it with something as niche darkwave? The answer could be in Michaela Polakova and Natalie Kocab’s latest collaboration.
Both hailing from the Czech Republic; Singer & lyricist Natalie Kocab and composer Michaela Polakova join forces in a testament to experimentation, which also features a helping hand from The Verve’s guitarist Nick McCabe and Lou Reed bassist Fernando Saunders.
The album consists of ten tracks and provide a variety of tones and textures, with influences from Patti Smith to Nick Cave, all the way to My Bloody Valentine and The Cure.
The album opens with one of three lead singles ‘Underwater’ which does an excellent job of setting the tone for the rest of the album, providing a strong opening and a strong vocal performance accompanied with poetic lyricism from Natalie which remains consistent throughout the rest of the album. The song features an atmospheric soundscape with a jarring middle eight, comparable to albums such as Pornography by The Cure.
The album then follows into ‘Kiev’, which changes from a soundscape-like structure into something more post-rock influence, with what sounds like a slight oriental twist to the composition. The song follows through with a crescendo; a big finish maintaining that post-rock attribute.
‘These Years’ which is the second lead single changes the atmosphere a bit, the orchestral side to Michaela’s compositions are more apparent here followed by opening with a 90’s or early 2000’s pop melody showcasing its contemporary elements; though like a facade this changes a minute into the track where the melody completely juxtaposes and becomes jarring, maintaining the authenticity to the album.
The album is a collective of melancholic and jarring pop tracks followed by experimental, post punk influenced tracks, Nick McCabe’s guitars compliment the classical compositions and just like Kevin Shields and Patti Smith’s collaboration in 2005 and 2006, vocalizes the instrument.
Tracks that follow such as the title track; ‘Ellis Island’ and the third lead track ‘Social Affair’ are more of a radio friendly take on the sound that Michaela & Natalie have crafted, contemporary structures whilst maintaining a certain melancholy that is not too drastic or dissonant, ‘Social Affair’ features a more alternative rock take on their sound.
‘Zadnej Kod’, which is performed in Czech is again a more orchestral track, which features haunting tonality, the track picks up and features almost an operatic rock dynamic to it.
I do feel however, following Zadnej Kod that ‘Feeling Falls’ and ‘Carry On’ could have been positioned differently on the album, ‘Feeling Falls’ feels very similar melody-wise and Carry On feels slightly anti-climatic in its positioning. And whilst ‘Feeling Falls’ does well in its minimalist, spacious approach it’s light dynamics into a crescendo came too soon after ‘Zadnej Kod’.
The album concludes with the track ‘Backstabbers’ which unlike the aforementioned two tracks is positioned well and conclude the album perfectly, whilst yet another pop oriented track among the final three, the dynamic changes with acoustic guitars at the forefront mixed with the whirling, wall of sound like tonalities of the electric guitars, the song also features lounge-like spoken word vocals, which adds a nice, conclusive shift from the powerful vocal performance which remained consistent, to something that tones down the album.
Whilst the album features a plethora of musical styles and experimentation, it does not sound messy one bit, Michaela’s work on the compositions make the album sound consistent and authentic whilst making the album interesting throughout, the album does not go off on a tangent nor does it become monotonous: It’s a fresh and relevant take on experimentation that rivals the likes of recent contemporaries.
Natalie Kocab’s vocals are personally one of the biggest highlights of the album, the overall vocal performance was powerful and suited the music that was accompanying them,.
Overall, the album genuinely offers something for everyone, a welcoming form of experimentation that is not to alien to the average listener yet interesting enough to keep die-hard alternative music fans listening throughout.
Ellis Island is out now, you can purchase the album from this link; https://wmcz.lnk.to/ellisisland
To keep up to date with Michaela Polakova and Natalie Kocab, you can follow their social networks below;
After a lengthy break from the industry following the perceived ‘kick in the teeth’ by Britpop’s lad culture in the mid 90’s, The Machismo’s are making a comeback with a brand new album set to be released March 3rd. The band was voted in the NME as one of the ‘band’s to watch’ in the 90’s, and were given an NME single of the week for their single ‘My Narghile’, which was also playlisted on BBC Radio 1.
The Machismo’s are back in business ‘putting the punk back into indie’ whilst conforming to a Taoist lifestyle of peace, love, veganism, qi gong and yoga! It makes for a stark and compelling contrast, with elements of Ty Seagall, Connan Mockasin, Alt-J as well as spikier, punchier moments akin to Royal Blood or Thee Oh Sees.
The new album, subtly titled ‘Britpop Fucked My Wife’, has roots stretching back 18 years, before drugs and depression put a halt to one of Indie’s most promising trio’s. But now, reinvigorated and refreshed, The Machismo’s are back to their best with a planned future tour and more new music than ever before. There is an immediacy to their brand of rock that simply just isn’t out there anymore, and it deserves to be celebrated.
For proof, here is the powerfully pounding single ‘My Narghile’ (which is a Greek hash pipe- not something the band wishes to encourage the use of anymore!):
More experienced this time round, The Machismo’s are determined to make their way forward with their unique brand of in your face experimental indie pop, coupled with mellower songs of peace and positivity. The name itself is something of an ironic reaction to the masculinity inherent in the music business, and indeed the world, and the band want to challenge this kind of behaviour in the laudable belief that it is time women should take control of everything, to make the world a better place.
A true one-off in a music industry of copycats, The Machismo’s have overcome many personal battles and demons to return to the stage stronger and better than ever.
Single ‘My Narghile’ will be out Feb 23rd as a digital download, with album following March 3rd on 12″ vinyl and download, on Machismo’s Records.
Links: https://www.facebook.com/TheMachismos http://sturmunddrangrecordings.bandcamp.com/
Formerly dubbed ‘Britain’s Mozart’, Shane Thomas is quite possibly the most talented teenager across the British music industry.
New single, ‘Mrs Matisee’ is to be released 10th December, prior to the release of his debut album, ‘From Me To You’, due for release soon after.
‘Mrs Matisee’ showcases Shane’s incredible talent and beautifully demonstrates the amazing capabilities of this young composer. The tack in undeniably stunning and transpires audiences into the fascinating world of Shane Thomas.
Shane was inspired to write the track earlier this year when he saw a painting by Henri Matisse. He was so taken with the beauty of the painting that he decided to compose a piece of music about it. Shortly after writing the track Shane discovered that Debussy had been inspired by the very same painting and produced a well known piece of music called, Arabesque.
Shane began playing the piano at the tender age of seven and has since taken on the challenge of mastering the art of the cello and percussion. Shane dreams up all of his music. He has never sat at a piano to compose anything. He does it all in his head, then later sits to play the piece. He can immediately play any melody or song he hears.
Aged ten, Shane was the youngest person in history to be signed to a music publisher, E.M.I. music.
Catch Shane in action here: http://4wallsmusic.co.uk/video/volcanic/
Peter Andre, Jamie Cullum, Bradley Walsh and Jason Mansford are all fans of the child star.
Some of Shane’s highlights to date include; appearing on, Odd one In (as Britain’s Mozart), The One Show, London Tonight and at The Young composers award in 2011. Shane has performed at Castle Howard to over 10,000 people as well as to the Duchess of Kent, at the Royal Academy of Music. Both the Daily Mail and Sunday Express Magazine have run full page articles on Shane and his unique talent.
‘Apple Of My Eye’ are one of the most exciting acts around at the moment and they have just announced the release of new album ‘Seven Tides’, due out 1st December.
The London lads are originally from the historic maritime city of Bristol and their songs draw inspiration from both cities and from the sea, a theme that runs throughout their second album. Their engaging storytelling style and four part harmonies explore tales of love, loss, adventure and ruin.
You may spotted the guys at a festival this summer as they played the, Tall Ships Festival Greenwich, Secret Garden Party, Wilderness and headlining Exile festival in Sheffield.
The band describe their music as “brand new old songs” and collectively generate all their own material drawing on personal experiences and carefully arranging the music on the guitar, bouzouki, violin, double bass, mandolin and harmonica.
Catch the guys live in action here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsyM68eQux4
The bands musical talent is most certainly something to boast about, check their credentials…
Kit Massey (Violin) and Phil Cornwell (Bass) are both full time professional musicians. Cornwell is the musical director of West End musical “The Scotsboro Boys’’ and Massey was formally a violinist with the Santiago Philamonia in Chile and has worked as a session musician with artists such as Emile Sande, Dizzie Rascal, Muse and Jamie Cullum. Arran Glass (Vocals and Guitar) and Alex Scott (Mandolin) are both professional Actor-Musicians and Puppeteers who perform and compose the music for a variety of theatre and television. Chris (Bouzouki), Dan (Harmonica) and Ellie Rusbridge (Vocals) are all siblings and come from a rich folk music heritage as their parents met in a folk club and still perform in their own folk band Thornbridge.
Links: www.applesinlondon.com https://www.facebook.com/applesinlondon https://twitter.com/applesinlondon https://soundcloud.com/apple-of-my-eye
Hailing from St Albans after a period of studying in Sheffield, Adam Protz has had several years to perfect his craft of composing. Using delicate piano melodies and intricate instrumentals, Adam Protz has created his beautiful EP ‘Movements’, consisting of four alluring and exquisite tracks. In the past, Adam has written music for films, animated shorts, a dance show, an educational DVD and even a brewery documentary!
Watch his latest video for ‘Movements’ here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vS41YT2sxZ8
Protz has been writing music since the tender age of fifteen and began his journey into music writing heavy rock songs with soft orchestral bridge sections as a contrast, this developed into a desire to write for Hollywood movies. However, after listening to minimalistic meditative piano music, written by the likes of Ludovico Einaudi, Adam soon discovered that he was much more suited to creating emotive music in which he could incorporate his own personality and spirituality.
The lack of lyrics in the music leaves it up to the listener to interpret the piece as they wish. It provokes an emotional reaction and is also incredibly relaxing. The ‘Movements’ EP is proof that lyrics aren’t a necessity to provoke powerful sentimental thoughts
Protz aims to inspire relaxation and offers the perfect setting for escaping to through his music. A firm believer that the world is over-obsessed with Smart-phones and social networks, Protz encourages listeners, from all walks of life, to return to the roots and escape with him into his musical world of beautiful, elegant minimalism.
‘Movements’ is due for release on the 30th November.
Keep up with Protz here: http://www.adamprotz.com/ www.youtube.com/adamprotzmusic www.facebook.com/adamprotzmusic www.soundcloud.com/adam-protz
Twitter – @AdmProtz
Nestled in the heart of Soho, I found myself at a small club that seemed very reminiscent of a dive bar. Posters littered the wall and the floor was a bit…sticky. It was great. I had come to The Borderline for a chance to experience Cody Pennington in person. Once the lights dimmed, he stepped onto the stage wearing his normal snazzy getup composed of a waistcoat and tie, purple shoes, and slim fit jeans. He plugged in his acoustic and introduced himself, “Good evening everyone, I’m Cody Pennington, and I’ll be starting this show out tonight.” He started the gig with two songs from his newest EP, “To Be Me”, I’m Afraid and About Love. Gently playing the opening riff to I’m Afraid, he slowly quieted the crowd to the point of hearing a pin drop. He created an intimate atmosphere that only an acoustic and vocalist could achieve. To which he followed-up with About Love. This track was a change of pace and got the crowd tapping their feet. Very somber lyrics hid behind this happy melody and it was true story-telling at its best. Carrying on with the upbeat-ness, Cody introduced the next song as “one we would recognize.” The kick drum pounded, while he accented the down beat with a harmonic. I had no idea what this song was until he began singing. He started the first lines of the popular song Royals, and it instantly got my attention. He morphed this song into a spawn of Rock and Pop, building up the song and bringing down the house in the chorus. Mr. Pennington continued with a few more covers of very noticeable songs, to include Your Love by The Outfield and I Can’t Make you Love Me by American singer, Bonnie Raitt. Both incredibly emotional performances that completely pushed Cody’s vocal range to the tip-top, and that is pretty far. My jaw nearly dropped at the note Cody went for (and GOT) in the second half of Your Love. To close the show, Cody blew the crowd away with his version of Dirty Diana by the late/great Michael Jackson. This song kept me interested from beginning to end. The crowd shared the same sentiment as they erupted in applause after his final note. This song is actual planned to be released as a single along with a music video, so be sure to look for that. Cody Pennington only took 30 minutes (albeit not the ENTIRE 30 minutes) to swing my judgment on whether or not I would like him. From a first-person perspective, I must say, I’m a fan.
Sophomore album from US funk rockers out now through Chaos Music Company
New York trio The Dream Logic announce breakout sophomore album “My Black Arts’ Free Download of single “Drunken Monkey” on Soundcloud.
Dynamic and unpredictable, The Dream Logic are a trio who deal in impactful funk rock music with several left-field twists. Experienced musicians with eclectic influences, they are a group who keep the audience guessing with some masterful bending of genre.
With added elements of rootsy modern soul, this band is happiest working across styles with influences ranging from country tropes to subtle jazz moments. What every track has in common though, is assured quality.
A ‘band’ of three friends who have gigged together over the years and only recently decided to record together, the trio are now celebrating the release of their rocking second album ‘My Black Arts’.
With songs written over a long period by primary songwriter Charles Compo (guitar, vocals, flute) and developed with long time partners Jerry Brooks (bass guitar) and Camille Gainer Jones (drums), this is their second LP – a follow up to last year’s self-titled debut. Both albums have been the result of organic music making between three skilled musicians who enjoy playing and writing together, but for the new LP the group were joined in the studio by additional guitarists Eric Krasno (Soulive, Lettuce) and Vernon Reid (Living Colour) – a classy pair of players who also laid down their own contribution.
This result second album of 14 genre splicing songs of top quality. For a taster of ‘My Black Arts’, check out funky album track ‘Drunken Monkey’:
The album as a whole is described by the band as ‘the story of the secret life around us’, those intangible moments in life when you know things are happening around you but you can’t put your finger on what, how or why. Recorded in New York’s prestigious ‘The Cutting Room’ studio, the new album echoes the raw talent on show for the band’s 2013 debut, developing the sound further and placing the experienced musicians on a more assured footing than ever.
Between the members of the band, there is a lot of stage and recording experience, having played and toured with the likes of D’Angelo, Joan Jett, Christina Aguilera, Les Nubians and many others. And, if there is anything approaching a ‘mission statement’ for the band, it’s that they want to distil all that experience down into songs that are simple, but effective. Perhaps the band put it best themselves:
“You know how you go someplace like a restaurant or someone’s house and they serve you food that is so simple, you had it a million times before, but somehow it’s just perfect. That’s what we are going for.” – The Dream Logic
‘My Black Arts’ is out now through Chaos Music Company.