Ahh, the mystery. Seems like the new mantra of music marketing is less -- definitely less -- is more when it comes to introducing a new artist. Bio? Who needs one? North London songwriter and ex-session guitarist Bruno Major (formerly Bruno Charles, formerly Charles Bruno -- that much we kinda know) won't remain an enigma for long, however. Signed to Virgin UK on the strength of a handful of promising demos, Major has managed to lay the groundwork quietly but effectively over the past year: getting some prime opening gigs, a few buzzed showcase performances, some tracks laid down at Abbey Road and L.A. As we await word of a full-length (or even an EP), check out "Home," a track performed live in the studio. Clearly, this is one guy who knows how to write a classic melody and like John Mayer is both the sensitive tunesmith and blistering guitar slinger. Click through for a demo of "Old Man" and a killer version of Ray Charles' "Losing Hand" that shows off his guitar playing chops.
One thing about the DIY strategy is that you can pretty much march to your own drummer and on your own schedule. After pair of excellent EP's in 2010 (To The North and Kingdom of Your Own), Matthew Hegarty, namesake of London's Matthew and The Atlas didn't drop anything else but he did pretty much drop off the radar until debuting a fine new track a few months back, "Everything That Dies," along with word that details of a proper full-length will be arriving early in the new year. He also premiered a fine new song yesterday with "Out of the Darkness," another piece of dramatic folk/pop unconstrained by any notion of stripped-down acoustic barriers: the stage has definitely been reset from the buskery pub stomp-a-longs of his earlier works to decidedly more theatrical alt-pop environs. The distinctive rasp of a voice still plays like a beautiful vintage instrument, lending some natural "everyman" gravity to the instrumental grandeur. Click through below to stream "Everything That Dies."
"Daring To Love" is a song Ane Brun wrote for the acclaimed dramatic film A Thousand Times Goodnight starring Academy-award winner Juliette Binoche as a morally conflicted photojournalist profiling female Afghan suicide bombers. It's also a track from her recently-released Rarities album, a collection of non-album singles, compilation songs, covers, live tracks and more. Brun begins a ten-date North American tour in February -- click through to check the specifics and read more about Rarities, the follow up to her May retrospective release Songs 2003-2013.
Colorado has a special place in the hearts of "new grass" players The Infamous Stringdusters. After all, three of the acoustic band's five members call the Rocky Mountain State home. So when the devastating floods hit their communities in September, the band, known for their DIY aesthetic, set out to do their part and raise money for those 1500 families hardest hit by the disaster. The band's upcoming tour and new EPRoad To Boulder, featuring a title track that is the Stringduster's first new music in almost two years, will help raise funds to support the ongoing cleanup and rebuilding in Colorado. Accompanied on the EP by three live concert tracks, "Road To Boulder" is an acoustic studio gem featuring some stellar support from legendary piano man (and wicked accordionist) Bruce Hornsby. "We’re five very different guys in the band," says Stringduster Chris Pandolfi, "but there’s just such camaraderie, and that, above all else, is the thing that makes the music.” That special attitude also makes their music such an exuberant musical experience, particularly in front of an audience as you can hear when you click through for the EP's live version of "Night On The River."
The Infamous Stringdusters featuring Bruce Hornsby - "Road To Boulder" BUY the EP
We could tell you that Canadian singer/songwriter Amelia Curran recently walked off with a handful of Music NL awards (that's Newfoundland and Labrador, naturally) including Songwriter of the Year for her song "Years." Then again we could simply say that we found the right excuse to present the track, noted here as one of the best songs of 2012, another time. Yeah, it's that good. From the albumSpectators.
We've always found a remarkable depth and delicate nuance in the songs of Scottish folk songstress Rachel Sermanni, an intelligence and maturity apparent when we first wrote of her music in the fall of 2011. The Laura Marling comparisons are easy and many, but the 22-year-old Sermanni has found her own voice and her own particular style -- we've called it "sweetly serene" -- over the course of a few EP's and last year's exquisite full-length debut Under Mountains. The perfectly titled Everything Changes EP, due January 28 in the U.K. via her Pledgemusic campaign, is something of a teaser for a 2014 longplayer, an all-too-brief four-song collection that reworks a couple of earlier songs, "Two Birds" and "Blackhole," from this year's Boatshead Sessions but also offers up a couple new songs including the title track. Click through to stream the earlier version of "Two Birds" and watch a live version of new song "Lay Oh."
Rachel Sermanni - "Everything Changes" (from the Everything Changes EP)
Jordan Lee is the creative centerpiece of Mutual Benefit, a one-man-show of experimental pop that discovers that rare space lodged somewhere between lo-fi indie sensibilities and richly detailed orchestral composition. Call it alt vs. art. Or as Lee puts it, "the sound of everything making sense, if just for a second." Originally planned as a cassette-only release, Mutual Benefit's Love Crushing Diamond is one of those great online success stories, from Bandcamp release to bloggy buzz to serious nods from those twin titans of indie gatekeepery: Stereogum and Pitchfork. December 3 marks one more step towards the full monty of album exposure: that quaint artifact known as the CD (with the obligatory vinyl drop scheduled for January 7). The music not only sounds dreamy and lushly cinematic, the listening experience seems to duplicate the nocturnal semi-conscious sensation of random found sounds, thoughts, spoken voices and images floating in and around each track. Stream the DC fave "C. L. Rosarian" and then click through for "Advanced Falconry" and the unofficial video for "Golden Wake."
Mutual Benefit - "C. L. Rosarian" (from Love's Crushing Diamond)
Lots of bands described as alternative/pop lean much more heavily on the latter than the former. No so with Melbourne duo Big Scary -- Tom Iansek and Jo Syme -- who find a way to flash a sharp, serrated edge when the mood is right just to keep things a little more dark and a lot more intereresting. Second album Not Art (January 28, Barsuk), produced by Iansek, amps up the experimental sounds hinted at on the duo's debutLP Vacation (nominee for Album of the Year on Aussie radio Triple J). Propelling the kick behind Iansek's vocals and piano and guitar lines is Syme's stark and stripped percussion -- a sound that takes the form of "Phil Collins", a "non-tribute" track of sorts that echoes Collins' rhythmic (think "In The Air Tonight") while a tremolo Johnny-Marr-styled shimmering guitar riff clears the air. Be sure to jump down to stream "Luck Now" (video, too) and watch the buggy (you'll see) video for "Twin Rivers."
The stereotype of the Nashville singer/songwriter was jettisoned yet again withAndrew Belle's glossy August album Black Bear, a collection of synth and electronics alt-pop that sounds more like Coldplay than anything associated with a large hat and a tractor or the folk/pop of the town's endless supply of budding acoustic tunesmiths. Perhaps it's the influence of producer Chad Copelin who surrounds Bell with some densely layered keyboards and drums that sound 20 feet tall. "Pieces" is one reason why Black Bear is such an interesting musical animal. Will Holland Morgan directed the video.
Norwegian songwriter Thomas Dybdahl isn't exactly a household name on this side of the Atlantic despite his critically acclaimed, platinum-selling track record in Europe and a fine career-spanning retrospective Songs released here a couple years back. But that may change with the release of his sixth album What's Left Is Forever (2014 TBA U.S.) thanks, in part, to Dybdahl's ongoing collaborative relationship with noted producer and bassist Larry Klein (Madeleine Peyroux, Joni Mitchell) who has assembled an A-list cast of backing musicians for the new project. “I can’t remember ever being more excited about an album than I am about the release of this one...," Klein says, "it made me a different person." For a first look and listen, check out "But We Did" created by Dybdahl and Norwegian director Arild Ostin Ommundsen. More on What's Left at DC here...