Feature

Juhan Ongbrian Discusses the Five Tracks on His Jazz-Fusion EP ‘Mood Swings’

Fans of fusion bands the likes of Vulfpeck and Theon Cross, take note! There’s a relatively new cat in town and he goes by the name Juhan Ongbrian. The Los Angeles-based purveyor of formidable jazz-fusion unveiled his Mood Swings EP on November 15th and it is, to recycle poignant words we recently heard, “an absolute head-bobber.”

The album was initially teased on October 25th by the lead single and title track, “Mood Swings,” which was met with (and continues to receive) positive critical response. Ever since, the band—which consists of lead guitarist Juhan Ongbrian, bassist Sly Chong, and drummer Ech0—have been showing off their jazz, blues, and ambient beat combination anywhere and anytime they can. Mood Swings was produced and mixed by Ongbrian himself (except for the “Mood Swings” single which was mixed by Brian Malouf), mastered at Sterling Sounds by Joe LaPorta, engineered by Larry Goetz, and recorded at Culver City, California’s The Lair Recording.

Today, further supporting this incredible, must-hear five-track fusion fest, Juhan Ongbrian joins us for a snazzy track-by-track rundown of the terrific tunes on his creative concoction. Dig it!

01. “Mood Swings” (feat. Ech0 & Sly Chong)
“Single track – A good friend of mine told me that I have mood swings (bipolar, etc.). I don’t disagree with him. This track has some swings and the vibe changes from one section to another. Hence it’s perfect to be called that.”

02. “Wooza (feat. Ech0 & Sly Chong)”
“This track has such a different vibe than the other tracks on the EP. It’s very short and straightforward with a heavy driven guitar. It was initially called ‘Wowza’, but ‘Wooza’ has more oomph to it.”

03. “Moving On”
“This is my most favorite track, personally. I wrote this to remind me that I have to move on from the old things that were pulling me back; lover, experiences, trauma, bad thoughts, and anxieties. This track has a darker / mellower vibe, but I feel most calm listening to it.”

04. “Limelight”
“This track has an upbeat fun vibe to it, kind of reminds me of EDM. People might relate to this track more since it’s bouncier and happier. I feel that this track is conveying stories from one section to another.”

05. “Morten”
“This track is the last track in the EP. It has an ‘alien’ and experimental vibe and the composition helps a lot by conveying stories that are moving progressively from one section to another. I feel that this track is perfect to end this EP and opening up different sounds for the upcoming LP. Morten means ‘Death’ or ‘Martian.’”

Artwork for “Mood Swings” by Juhan Ongbrian
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Matthew Pinder – “Flooded” [Free Song Download]

Matthew Pinder, a Bahamas-based singer-songwriter, is offering a glimpse of his sincere, emotional brand of acoustic indie-folk with a free download of “Flooded,” [right click and ‘save link as‘] from the recent album Give Me Some Time. The record is Matthew’s full-length debut, and, building off of the foundation set by a previous EP, Too Young to Understand is a fresh and unrestrained collection of tracks that manages to sound naive and hopeful, yet, at the same time, refined and sure-footed.

On “Flooded,” Matthew brings us into the writing process by saying, “I had come to a point where I felt like I couldn’t write songs. I was frustrated and believed that songwriting just wasn’t for me. I called up an old English professor of mine and explained my dilemma. She challenged me to write a song a day for thirty days. She said not to overthink it, not to be overly critical with myself; just write a song each day and record it. So I made myself write each day. ‘Flooded’ came during those thirty days. In fact, several songs that are also on the album came out of that exercise. Sometimes you gotta go find the songs, they don’t always fall in your lap.”

Here’s a live performance of “Flooded” from Spanish Wells.

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The tune itself is a pensive, moody reflection on processing relationships through Pinder’s mould of sparse drums and soft acoustic strumming layered with eclectic lead melodies. The heart of “Flooded” though, is most definitely the earnest vocal delivery straight from Pinder’s heart and soul. If you’re looking for some thoughtful self-reflection, check out “Flooded” and the ten-track Give Me Some Time, which dropped on April 12, 2019.

Give Me Some Time Track Listing:

01. Golden Hour
02. St. Paul, MN
03. Break My Heart and Let Me Go (ft. Molly Bush)
04. Flooded
05. Give Me Some Time
06. My Demise
07. Compromise
08. Before the Fall
09. After the Fall
10. Rest

Artwork for ‘Give Me Some Time’ by Matthew Pinder
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Aussie Indie-Folk Artist Anna Cordell Lists Her Five Fave Albums

Fresh off the recent announcement of her new single “Nobody Knows Us” (stream it on Spotify and Apple Music) and first live show, Australian indie-folk artist Anna Cordell today joins us for a fun feature wherein she lists five of her absolute favourite albums. From the psych-folk of Linda Perchas to Melbourne local BATTS to Seattle staple Soundgarden, Cordell dishes on five varied but equally impressive records.

The Melbourne-based songstress is gearing up to release her full-length record, Nobody Knows Us, on February 14th, 2020 via Ditto Distribution, and it’s loaded with winding, elegant tunes propped up by her hypnotic vocals. The overall sound is a nuanced take on indie-folk which challenges the genre’s conventions and pushes ever so slightly into ambient, experimental realms. Should you be in the area, try and hit the “Nobody Knows Us” single launch party on November 24th at The Old Bar in Victoria (FB event and details here). If not, maybe head over to Pozible to support her album campaign.

Impressively, Cordell is coming off a nearly decade-long hiatus from music while she started a family and worked on her own clothing line. Now, with two singles released from the upcoming album – “You” being the debut single – Cordell is prepped to make a triumphant and successful return to music.

01. Midlake – The Trials Of Van Occupanther

“First of all, I love all the music Midlake claims to love – Radiohead and Jethro Tull for a start! Their harmonies coupled with driving bass and rhythm, the poetry of the lyrics, the unpredictability of some of the songs – I can listen to this record over and over and over.”

02. Linda Perchas – Parallelogram

“Once again. Those harmonies! The way she layers simple guitars and vocals and then adds her little psych-folk touches – it kills me! I adore her music.”

03. BATTS – The Grand Tour

“A Melbourne local – I first really got into this record when I was jealous of the fact Tanya Batts got to support Sharon Van Etten when she did her Australian tour. I got really into it and then thought – yeah. Actually. Fair enough. This is amazing! Haha. And then I saw her play solo live and was even more impressed. I can listen to this luscious record over and over as well. Now I’m not jealous, just a huge fan!”

04. Soundgarden – Superunknown

“It’s just my happy place ok? I know.”

05. Jefferson Airplane – Surrealist Pillow

“The warm ‘70s pop-rock – psychedelia – and the voice of Grace Slick – I just find so inspiring and energising, I would love to experiment more in this direction in the future. It’s raw and honest and has an immediacy and freedom about it that I love.”

Artwork for ‘Nobody Knows Us’ by Anna Cordell
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Stephen Fearing Goes Inside His Latest Album ‘The Unconquerable Past’

On his 13th solo album, The Unconquerable Past, multi-JUNO Award winner and co-founder of Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, Stephen Fearing continues to demonstrate why he’s been regarded as one of Canada’s great musical storytellers — not to mention one of its most acclaimed guitarists — for the past three decades. The Unconquerable Past, out November 15th on his own Fearing & Loathing label, adds some new twists to the plot and once again highlights his restless creative spirit.

While fans of his solo work may be more familiar with Fearing’s acoustic side, brilliantly displayed on his 2018 special vinyl-only release The Secret of Climbing, or his electric-trio work on 2017’s Every Soul’s A Sailor, The Unconquerable Past finds him stepping back into the wide-screen world of layered instruments and arrangements in collaboration with Winnipeg-based producer/songwriter Scott Nolan (William Prince, Mary Gauthier, Hayes Carll) and a superb group of players featuring acclaimed pianist Jeremy Rusu, bassist Julian Bradford, drummer Christian Dugas, vocalist Andrina Turrene, and Nashville’s legendary multi-instrumentalist Jim Hoke.

Like other artists who are loosely categorized as ‘folk’ and ‘Americana,’ Fearing questions what those terms really mean. The Unconquerable Past can be seen as embracing and transcending the labels and genres simultaneously. We’re thrilled that he was able to give us his own perspective on the album’s 10 tracks.

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01. “Born To Break Our Mother’s Heart”
“A co-write with Tom Wilson, I loved the first line—‘I left my hometown for salvation, came back banging on my drum’—and knew once I started writing the other tunes that this song would fit well. When Jim Hoke overdubbed his harmonica part, I felt like he brought something really special to the song, capturing more of the sweetness than the bitterness inherent in the lyric.”

02. “Gold On The River”
“This song is the second tune I worked on after writing the title cut. I knew that the phrase ‘the unconquerable past’ was going to influence the whole record somehow and I hear it in this tune. I don’t think any of us can ever pinpoint exactly where we turn from focusing on the future, to looking over our shoulder, we just become aware that we have crossed that river without even realizing it.”

03. “Stay With Me”
“I laugh when I think about this, but the biggest influence on this tune was Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me,’ a song I have loved since I first heard it. I was trying to get under the hood of that song and wrote this one; obviously the titles bear more than a passing resemblance but if you listen past the clatter you can hear echoes of that lovely song in between the lines. I was a teenager when punk and post-punk bands were stalking the land killing off the old blues-rock-boogie bands. I can hear that in this song too.”

04. “Marie”
“I am somehow shocked by the lens with which we see each other these days—post-Twitter, post-Facebook, the unvarnished, raw expression of opinions and often the degree of misogyny, racism and bigotry bubbling under a thick veneer of ignorance is breathtaking.”

05. “Someone Else’s Shoes”
“One of the especially notable thing about humans is our ability to love and to form very complex communities. Much of this comes from our understanding of each other, our empathy and our love. Without which, I believe we are well and truly fucked.”

Artwork for ‘The Unconquerable Past’ by Stephen Fearing

06. “The Unconquerable Past”
“That old quote, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,’ is often attributed to philosopher George Santayana in 1905. My sense is that currently, on so many ‘issues,’ we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater and the past will do what the past always does, namely kick us very hard and repeatedly for ignoring and forgetting the lessons we have already been taught.”

07. “Sunny”
“Another look at the overwhelming power of love. For ourselves, for each other, for our children—wherever their paths take them. Love is a lion.”

08. “Christine”
“This one basically asks the questions, is there love and rock ’n roll after 50?”

09. “Emigrant Song”
“I was born in Canada to an Irish mother and English father, and I am familiar with the relentless pull of ‘the old country’ on the emigrant’s heart. Just ask any Newfoundlander in Fort McMurray—you still love the place you had to leave. I wrote this with Andy White, and both of us, in our own way, found a place in this song.”

10. “No Country”
“Scott Nolan presented this song to me as a potential co-write idea. I pointed out to him that the song was already well and truly written(!) It’s such a great short statement and a perfect coda to the album. In the end, after all is said and done, we are entirely responsible for ourselves. All I have in this world is my word and my name.”

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Dream-Folk Duo Rosu Lup Share Their Top 10 Tour-Worthy Reads

Philadelphia, PA’s Rosu Lup meld orchestral instrumentation, electronic, ethereal and folk sounds into their own special sonic concoction. The two-piece consists of musicians Jonathan Stewart and Josh Marsh who met in late 2013 and eventually formed Rosu Lup, a moniker which means “red wolf” in Romanian and was inspired by a lyric from Sufjan Stevens’ song “The Sleeping Red Wolves.”

The band released its sophomore full-length album, The Ranger, on November 8, 2019, via Majestic Creature Records, and nine-track collection which was recorded between Philadelphia (Miner Street Recordings, Headroom Recordings) and Los Angeles (home studios). Hear it now via Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon. To enrich the album’s final product, the duo enlisted the collaborative help of drummer and producer James McAlister (Sufjan Stevens, The National) who performed drums, keys, and synth. Lyrically, The Ranger touches on various difficult phases of life, but with an underlying message of hope.

As for live performances, well the guys will play Boot & Saddle in Philadelphia on November 14th, and Burlington, VT’s Nightshade Kitchen on November 16th. With that being said, we were inspired by the album, its content, and these musicians to dig deeper, so we connected with both Stewart and Marsh for a special feature in which they each list the five (for a total of ten) must-have reads when they’re on the road, porting their subdued sonics to crowds everywhere.

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01. Between Here and the Yellow Sea by Nic Pizzolatto

Jonathan: “It’s a collection of fictional short stories. Pizzolatto is well-known for creating the hit HBO series “True Detective.” which I have really enjoyed. This book was published back in 2005, and I discovered it after “True Detective.” It’s a great companion while touring because you can finish a story in-between cities while traveling. Pizzolatto is a great storyteller.”

02. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Jonathan: “For fans of Harry Potter and “Stranger Things.” A few years ago a friend recommended Gaiman to me and after taking their advice, I wish I had read his works sooner. It was clear to me that the Duffer’s had to have read “Neverwhere” and found inspiration. Love reading fiction and the world and characters in this book that Gaiman has created are brilliant. Couldn’t put this one down!”

03. Wilderness Essays by John Muir

Jonathan: “Nature, the woods especially, is where I feel like I find myself best. I’ve always been drawn to the west coast since I was a kid. After hiking in Mt. Rainier National Park I came across the writings of John Muir. Muir emphasized the natural world being the place for some of our most euphoric experiences.”

Artwork of ‘The Ranger’ by Rosu Lup

04. The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe

Jonathan: “Obviously there are well-known works penned by Poe. But as a big fan of detective stories, see above, Poe is considered to be the founder. Where would Sherlock Holmes and perhaps Bruce Wayne be without Poe?”

05. The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

Jonathan: “Extremely suspenseful read — dark, and a bit unsettling. Takes place in the Pacific Northwest, and follows a private investigator (Naomi) who searches for lost children. Another read that I simply couldn’t put down. It’s a pretty easy read, once you get past some of the content you’re engaging with.”

06. Rum Diary by Hunter S Thompson

Josh: “Set in the 1950s Puerto Rico, Rum Dairy is a story of love, American greed, and an insatiable lust for alcohol. Begs the question be answered: Is unbridled western progress a good thing? Does it damage cultures more than it benefits them? Sure to start some great conversation in those long drives between shows.”

07. Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman

Josh: “A love story set in 1980s Italy about a 17-year-old who falls in love with a 20-something-year-old scholar who comes to visit for the summer. When you’re away from home you often miss the ones you love. A love story is just what you need sometimes.”

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08. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Josh: “A memoir about self-discovery on the Pacific Crest Trail. When I travel, I feel like I always discover something new about myself. Sometimes that can be a really jarring and scary experience because what I discover often isn’t guaranteed to be something I particularly like about myself. Reading stories about people who have had similar journeys, coming face-to-face with theirselves, helps to bring peace and excitement to the process.”

09. Be Here Now by Ram Das

Josh: “Written in 1971, it’s a book about the beauty and pain of spiritual transformation. Sometimes the writing process has the tendency to get lost in ideals rather than in grounded-ness. Touring can have the same tendencies. It’s very easy to focus on the big picture: are the shows going well, are we on time, how are merch sales, where are we staying tonight etc. “Be Here Now” brilliantly reminds me to stay grounded in the moment, and to soak up the beauty that’s available right at my fingertips.”

10. The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

Josh: “Published in 1949, it’s a book that explores the common mythological structures that thread themselves through every religion, culture, and time period. I love driving through the night while talking about weird heady stuff. “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” is the sort of book I want to think about at 2 a.m. driving across the Midwest. It works out well ‘cause I can talk about it for hours without the need for any of my bandmates to contribute to the conversation. It keeps me awake and puts them to sleep. Win-win.”

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Jerry Leger Reveals the Secrets Behind His Latest Album ‘Time Out For Tomorrow’

Time Out For Tomorrow is Toronto singer/songwriter Jerry Leger’s latest collection, and continues a run of consistently high output that began in 2005 when he burst onto the roots music scene at age 19. Since then, he has earned the praise of peers such as Ron Sexsmith, Doug Paisley and Jim Cuddy, and it’s added up to a body of work that was recently celebrated with the European-only compilation Too Broke To Die, aimed at Leger’s growing fan base in Britain and the EU.

Most of those listeners didn’t discover Leger until his 2014 album Early Riser, his first with Michael Timmins of Cowboy Junkies handling production duties, as well as the first to be released on the Junkies’ label, Latent Recordings. The combination of Timmins’ capture-the-moment production aesthetic and the Rolling Thunder-esque chemistry of Leger’s longtime band The Situation (plus a few special guests) now appears unbeatable. And although Time Out For Tomorrow may not be as expansive as Leger’s previous Timmins-produced effort, the acclaimed 2017 double album Nonsense And Heartache, its more concentrated dose of everything Leger does best is just as potent.

As Leger prepared for Time Out For Tomorrow’s release on November 8, and the Toronto launch show at Lee’s Palace on November 28 (info and tickets here), he took some time to further illuminate each song on the new album, adding that he got the title from a 1960s science fiction paperback. He explains, “Everything around me seems like science fiction these days, and the phrase ‘Time Out For Tomorrow’ fit these songs and my mood in one way or another.”

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01. “Canvas Of Gold”
“Life can be a hustle and if you care enough about what you’re doing you’ll keep picking up the brush.”

02. “Justine”
“I started writing the song after reading the autobiography of early 1900’s burglar Jack Black. It’s not about him but some of the lines and feeling was inspired by his recollections. Who do you trust? Sometimes you can’t even trust yourself.”

03. “That Ain’t Here”
“Some people have thought this is a love song between two people but it’s a love for humanity. It upsets me seeing the way the world can be and the way some people will treat each other. How some leaders selfishly make poor decisions as long as it doesn’t affect them directly. As John Lennon once sang, ‘How do you sleep at night?’”

Artwork for ‘Time Out for Tomorrow’ by Jerry Leger

04. “Tell A Lie”
“I think this is the only time that I tried a song for a previous record and then we re-recorded and it actually made the final sequence. It has a good hook, catchy chorus and fit perfectly with the direction I wanted to go sound and arrangement-wise for this album.”

05. “Read Between The Lines”
“I wrote this for my side project The Del Fi’s but when I played it for my band The Situation they thought I was crazy that I wouldn’t keep it for ourselves. So here we are. It turned out exactly how it needed to. Perfect tempo and great builds until the end. Rolling Stone in Europe described it as being a cross between Marvin Gaye and early Beatles era John Lennon. It’s hard to believe that and I could never sing like those two but I definitely put the passion in it.”

06. “Burchell Lake”
“This is about a ghost town in Ontario that I read about in one of [historian] Ron Brown’s books. There’s some poetic license but has some facts in it too! I sent it to him and he thought it was catchy. Really nice guy.”

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07. “I Would”
“This might be my favourite track on the record ‘cause it’s just nice and simple. It would be a song I’d cover if I hadn’t written it. I just dig the feel, the lyrics and the simple beauty of it. It’s honest, doesn’t try to fake anything or convince you of anything. Actually, it’s admitting its faults and insecurities. I’d love to hear what Elvis Costello or Nick Lowe would think of it.”

08. “Survived Like A Stone”
“People, animals, plants, they come and go. The spirit sticks around and so do rocks and stones. They outlive everything.”

09. “Corner Light”
“This song felt special the moment I wrote it. I think it doesn’t hit some people right away but it has a lot to give if you return to it. I’m quite proud of it.”

10. “Tomorrow In My Mind”
“This song came very quickly. I wasn’t sure that it was gonna make the record, but Mike Timmins and the band kept rooting for it. It kinda made me reevaluate. The band plays great on this, the feel is beautiful. I think it’s take one, live in the studio.”

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Alt-Folk Artist Marinho Dissects the Sublime Songs on Her Debut Album ‘~’

Released on October 18th via Street Mission Records, ~ (read tilde) is the equally gorgeous and sincere debut album from Portuguese alternative folk-rock artist, Marinho. The eight-track offering, which can be streamed/purchased here from various services, sees the Lisbon-born musician bare her soul in a blunt-but-somehow-fun manner. Raised in an emotionally abusive home, Marinho (real name Filipa Marinho) was forced to mature faster than most while enduring both sadness and abandonment themes she covers openly throughout ~.

The album was recorded at Black Sheep Studios with mastering by Philip Shaw Bova, known for his work with Father John Misty, Marlon Williams, Feist, and Andy Shauf, among others. Needless to say, the music is steeped in heavy emotion, but also very much touts an underlying air of triumph and maturation as this intelligent and emotionally-aware woman plucks from her past to forge a fantastic future. Today, as she unveils the video for her song “Joni” (on Joni Mitchell’s birthday of all days) we’re delighted to have Marinho join us for a detailed track-by-track breakdown of the summery songs included on her debut recording.

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01. “Intro”
Marinho: “The album’s intro track starts off with a premise that if we reach a certain goal, whether futile or meaningful, we’ll finally be whole. And that once we get to that finish line, all our troubles will be done with. As if we’re climbing a mountain and at it’s top we’ll look down at our frustrations and heartbreaks and they’ll automatically seem smaller from a distance.”

02. “I Give Up and It’s OK”
Marinho: “Track two reveals that track one’s premise was a lie all along. It came to me while trying to climb a volcano in the Azores and failing to finish due to harsh weather. As I sat there alone and tired, 80 feet from the mountain top, I suddenly realize that sometimes you can’t fight against obvious obstacles — whether harsh island winds or someone else not willing to meet you halfway — it’s best to let go of what you’ve idealized. Sometimes it’s ok to give up.”

03. “Ghost Notes”
Marinho: “As I watched a concert back in 2016 I realized that the drummer’s ghost notes (those subtle notes in-between main beats) are only noticeable if you’re really paying attention. Just like coming out of a troubled relationship that you then realize all the signs were there, but you failed to see them. You failed to hear the ghost notes.”

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04. “Not You” (feat. Monday)
Marinho: “Early 2017 I was living in L.A. and experienced some of the loneliest nights I’d had in my adult life. A city like that can make you fall in love and feel like anything is possible, but it can also take you to a state of dangerous isolation. I felt all of that. The result was me buying a 2nd hand Little Martin (small-sized guitar) to keep me company throughout my lonely times. ‘Not You’ was the first song I wrote in it and it’s about realizing that all that heartache didn’t have much to do with the lover who broke your heart, but more so with a build-up of all your life’s experienced traumas. It’s about clarity. A positive tone to the classic ‘it’s not you, it’s me.’”

05. “Window Pain”
Marinho: “When I was a small kid I had this neighbour who I was infatuated with. One time, on a warm spring day, my brother and I were playing catch with him. At a certain point, as I chased him, I didn’t realize he was standing behind a glass window and I ran right through it, shattering the glass and breaking my head. Now I know this because my mother has told the story many times. But truthfully, the only thing I remember about that day is the fun of running around and being free. The song is about that and about how sometimes bad things can turn into good memories. It was also one of the most fun tracks to record in the studio.”

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06. “Joni”
Marinho: I remember when Counting Crows released ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ with Vanessa Carlton, the song got lots of airplay and I was well into it, sang it around the house a lot. My dad one day was like ‘oh so you like Joni Mitchell’ and I had no idea what he was talking about. That’s when he sat me down to watch her documentary Woman of Heart and Mind and that was it. Love at first sight. Couple of years later I wrote this song and it’s the only one I can bear to listen and play from my songwriting teenage years. It still holds true. And it’s one of my favorites in the album, the bass line my brother came up with absolutely melts my ears.”

07. “Freckles”
Marinho: “‘Freckles’ was the most difficult track to put together in the studio and it was also the most rewarding one to record. It was born out of the bass riff that had been stuck in my head for years. It’s also a very personal song, the last one I wrote for the album and it mirrors a very vulnerable time when I was looking into my childhood and how my upbringing shaped the adult I am today. It’s about disappointment but also about accepting that life is like a tilde (“~”, like the album title) — with ups and downs. And by the end of it, when our skin is filled with aging freckles, it’ll all have been worth it. I hope.”

08. “Outro”
Marinho: “It’s the same song as the intro track but recorded as I wrote it, just me and a guitar. A more naked and true way to say goodbye to the album. An ode to all the mountains we keep wanting to climb.”

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~ (read tilde) was released on October 18th via Street Mission Records and can be streamed/purchased here.

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Psych-Jazz Septet Bethlehem Casuals Discuss Their New Single “Change”

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With praise from esteemed sources the likes of Pink Wafer Club, BBC Radio 6 and BBC Introducing, don’t just take our word for it that Manchester, UK’s psych-jazz seven-piece Bethlehem Casuals is deserving of your time and attention. The hard-working group—consisting of musicians William Hearne, Awen Blandford, Pip Sayers, Joe Woodhouse, George Burrage, Atanas Dochev, and William Graham—melds all sorts of musical influences into a single pot, stewing until perfectly seasoned. The end result is a mixture of jazz, psychedelic, folk, tribal drums, and more that is as odd as it is logical.

Take the band’s exceptional music and combine it with both a relaxed, “music for music’s sake” attitude and electrifying live show, and it is no wonder Bethlehem Casuals have already performed for audiences at major festivals the likes of Bluedot, Kendal Calling, and Manchester Jazz.

Today, to help further spread the septet’s stupendous sound, we’re joined by Pip Sayers who sheds light on the band’s brand new single “Change” which, according to them, follows the narrative “of a pet dog who is escaping a boring life to find out why there is no music left in Manchester.” End of the day, it is up to you to discern if this suits your taste or not. That said, we highly recommend both the band and their new single. (We’re also familiar with the phrase, “we told you so.”)

The Story of the “Change” Single:

Pip Sayers: “We started writing ‘Change’ about a year ago, and it started in the form of a loose structure and melody written by our lead singer Will. Whenever we start writing a song, we often play around with the feel and groove underneath it jamming it out until it either feels wrong and we change it, or it feels right and we keep it. For a while, the song was 4 minutes of hard-hitting disco (this happens with most of our songs), and then we decided to save that for the end of the track and construct something else to go before it. We settled on a triplet feel, with everyone’s parts grew around it into the single you can hear now on all reputable streaming services.

Whenever we have a vague structure and idea of what a song is we stop writing it and perform it live to test the water. We love to do gigs where we’re not sure what’s going to happen, we rarely write set lists and are happy to take risks to keep our performances fresh.  This approach has led to some hilariously sketchy performances, but it also makes anything that doesn’t work plain to see. With Change it was the large instrumental that wasn’t working. Originally this was performed as an unstructured sax solo but it never took off in the way we wanted it to. We added a little more harmonic structure and it helped, but when we got to the recording studio we still weren’t happy.

We spent four days recording our upcoming album and the instrumental of change was left until last, and we still had no plan. Many hours into the night and many drinks later we had written and recorded an entire folk tin-whistle solo – one day we’ll release it, for now, we’ll leave it to your imagination. What is on the record is a drunken sax orchestra doing its best Steely Dan impersonation. It’s all we were left with before we had to pack up the studio – we hope you like it.”

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Heavy Blues Duo The Cold Stares Dissect Their New Album ‘Ways’

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Consisting of musicians Chris Tapp (guitar and vocals) and Brian Mullins (drums), Evansville Indiana’s The Cold Stares play some unavoidably catchy blues-rock that’s been turning heads at an increasing rate since the band’s inception in 2012. Today, as the duo continue to celebrate the October 18th release of their latest studio recording, WAYS, via AntiFragile Music (find pre-save/order options here), we’re thrilled to exclusively share Chris Tapp’s track-by-track rundown of each of the album’s thirteen stupendous songs.

Recorded at legendary Sam Phillips Recording Studio in Memphis, ‘WAYS‘ is a culmination of the various influences that make up the band’s unique sound. Two of the tracks released from the album so far have been chosen as “Track of the Week” in the UK’s Classic Rock Magazine and have been included on 10 major playlists across streaming platforms including Spotify‘s ‘All New Rock’, Apple Music‘s ‘Breaking Rock’ and Deezer‘s ‘La Grange: Blues Guitar Heroes’.

It is genuinely astonishing that a two-piece can create the layers and depth found in the music made by The Cold Stares. Speaking on his first live experience of the band, Nashville radio personality Dan Buckley says “The first time I saw them, I thought they had at least two other musicians secretly behind the curtain. There’s just no way that sound comes from the two of them.”

1. “Any Way the Wind Blows”

“This one I just really wanted to write a straight-ahead rocker that gave a nod to Zeppelin and the ‘70s rock giants musically. The song deals with an indecisive lover, and the dynamics of trying to be in a relationship with someone who can’t make up their mind.”

2. “Ways”

“On ‘Ways,’ we were trying to give a tip of the hat to a bit of old-school soul. I was listening to some Curtis Mayfield, and I just love that era of music where the different styles of rock and soul were blended, and real instruments were king. The subject of the song deals with a woman who’s had bad luck at every turn, and her man is trying to understand what has made her who she currently is–her ‘Ways.’”

3. “I Was a Fool”

“We were referencing a bit of Texas Blues, and wanted to put our spin on that era of Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Texas guitar slingers. Lyrically, I wanted it to be simple and straightforward and not over think it. Just a story of love gone wrong and betrayal.”

4. “White Girl”

“‘White Girl’ is about addiction, and heroin specifically. Heroin has destroyed communities where we are from, and left the devastation of families behind it. We had done a benefit in 2015 for families of heroin addiction, and some of the stories were just permanently etched in my mind. Musically, I was taking cues from Mayfield’s ‘Pusherman’ and just trying to make it as heavy as the topic.”

The Cold Stares - "Ways Art"

5. “Thorns”

“‘Thorns’ is about healing from the loss of a loved one. I had my grandfather on my mind, and a close friend of the band had lost his daughter earlier this year. Lyrically, it’s one of my favorites on the album, and it took the longest to record and have a version I was content with. Lyrics were written in a few minutes, but I wanted the music to cradle them and not cover them.”

6. “Into Black”

“‘Into Black’ is probably the heaviest track on the album, and the one that we had the longest. The track originally had a different title, but the sentiment was the same. Loving someone enough to go through whatever it takes to bring them back—even stepping off the edge of the world and through the gates of hell.”

7. “Down Again”

“‘Down Again’ deals with depression and its impact on those that live with it. On this one, we wanted to do something a little different with the chorus so that it kind of matched the lyrics, and builds to show that every time the listener starts to climb back out, something turns them back ‘Down Again.’”

8. “I Ain’t the One”

“This song’s subject is John the Baptist. I was always fascinated with stories of John when I was young, a wild man that lived in the wilderness and was just a rebel and outsider. I loved the dynamic between John and Jesus, and how John backed out of the way for Jesus’ ministry. This one builds as well, and if you pay attention, you have more footsteps through the entire song until we get to John meeting Jesus to baptize him. I’ve always loved the delta blues greats that could cover Saturday night and Sunday morning on the same record.”

9. “Going Down Easy”

“I had a friend that lost his lady, and basically went down into a hole. He wouldn’t leave his house for months and we finally had to break in and literally drag him out. ‘Going Down Easy’ is kind of his opus, about the peril of a man who’s finally thrown in the towel.”

10. “Angeline”

“‘Angeline’ is the story of a bank robber who was left for dead by his gang in the desert. He makes it to a cabin where he’s healed by a woman that mysteriously disappears after he gains consciousness. With only a picture with a name on it, he spends the rest of his life searching for his angel.”

11. “Headstone Blues”

“I’m a big fan of Mark Lanegan, and lyrically this one is a mash of his influence on me and the early delta blues writers I love. A scorned lover has killed her husband, and even six feet in the ground he can’t escape her tormenting. I am always fascinated with ghosts, and the things left unseen.”

12. “Might As Well Die”

“I wrote ‘Might As Well Die’ after the album was turned in just as a song for my wife, that I might use to pitch later for tv or film licensing. I posted the song on our fan page and the response to it made our record label include it on the album. It’s filled with a bit of western noir and imagery from my fascination with western films, but in the end, it’s just an honest love song written about my wife.”

13. “Jackson Mississippi”

“The true story of a man who was friends with a criminal who left him some money upon his death. ‘Jackson Mississippi’ follows the story of the money and the decisions the man makes that change his life. Not giving the story away on this one… take a listen.”

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