Elizabeth Ziman of Elizabeth and the Catapult recorded an "in-the-studio" take of a new song "Wish I Didn't" at Brooklyn's Studio G and fortunately the good folks at Lambkini made sure it was captured for this video. Ms. Ziman and her Catapult will be releasing their new indie album Like It Never Happened on January 21. Gotta love the little smile on her face when she sings the opening line "I wish I didn't give a fuck..." More DC on E&C here and here.
Led by songwriting frontman Daniel Norman, L.A.'s A House For Lions has been receiving some serous blogosphere buzz of late not only for their music but for their innovative approach to fan-fundraising for their forthcoming full-length debut produced by Grammy-winning producer Tom Biller (Fiona Apple, Silversun Pickups). “They’re only just starting out but already they’re purring like a sleek machine with a human heart…seeing a band this good this early is a thing of wonder," raves Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody. "Peace and War," an excellent new song recorded for the latest Lost Ark Sessions collection, may or may not make the final track listing (and in a different version), but we think it's a good one-track read on where the band is headed.
Songwriter and frontman Dieter Sermeus is the creative epicenter of Belgium's The Go Find, a band that happily begs off any hipster indie-rock trappings in lieu of a good rummage around the 70's and 80's pop nuggetry by the likes of The Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac and just about everything in between. Or, as Sermeus translates in his best English, "good sounding danceable pop tunes." Forthcoming album Brand New Love (February 7, Morr Music) is a surprisingly spry and modern-sounding serving of alt-pop delicacies given Sermeus' retro influences. Lead single "We Run" has just the right mix of contemporary indie jangle and low-keyed melodic nuance, the kind of track that goes down less like a bracing shot and more like a savory sip of something sweet and effervescent. Click through to stream an excerpt of "The River," another equally tantalizing and mildy intoxicating preview of Brand New Love.
"Oh don't say that it's over," sing Joy Williams and John Paul White on "Eavesdrop," "oh, no, say it ain't so." For the tumultuous end of what was once the rocketing career of Nashville's platinum alt-folk duo The Civil Wars, the song -- and much of the duo's second and final album -- has particular lyrical resonance. As we noted when the album came out, it's "odd that a couple that could routinely finish the other's sentences would now be unable or unwilling to speak to each other." But now we get to pick through the remains, so to speak, of their music via the new Bare Bones EP at iTunes (exclusively) featuring alternate or acoustic versions of six songs from The Civil Wars. "Eavesdrop" is one of two "alternates" produced by legendary studio master and label chief Rick Rubin.
The Civil Wars - "Eavesdrop" (from the Bare Bones EP)
For The River and The Thread, her first album of original songs since 2006, Rosanne Cash and husband/co-writer/producer/guitarist John Leventhal traveled the American south in search of creative inspiration that would reflect what she calls "the resonance, beauty and longing of the region." From Arkansas boyhood home of her iconic father Johnny to William Faulkner's house in Mississippi to the small towns and Crescent City of the Delta, Cash says she started to "feel a deeper layer of the South than I had ever experienced." Stories were culled, lyrics penned, songs written. As with all Rosanne Cash albums, there's a subtle balance of traditional country overtones with acoustic folk and Americana leanings, Leventhal's shimmering guitar fills and a Cash's voice, plaintive and seductive. In many ways, The River and The Thread is a logical step from her 2009 album The List, a collection of country classics handpicked by her father that connected family roots to the distinctive, decidedly modern singer and songwriter Cash had become. Click through to stream "A Feather's Not A Bird."
Rosanne Cash - "Modern Blue" (from The River and The Thread)
"Awaken," the latest single from the 22-year-old Strat-playing Aussie Kate Martin, gets some artful touches and eyecandy imagery in the fetching new video that also serves as a preview to a forthcoming third album due next year. As we noted in our RADAR feature, "Awaken" is a "dazzling display of finger-picked fretwork, marching beat and driving bass line that dramatically delivers on the promise of her earlier work, particularly 2012's fine Hand Me My Bow and Arrow."
"This song moved me when I first heard it and still does today,” says John Mayer of Ken Yates' "I Don't Wanna Fall In Love" calling it "a REALLY great song." That kind of praise, particularly coming from one of your more notable influences, could easily go to your head but Yates, also named Sirius XM Coffee House Songwriter Discover of the Year, is flattered but unflappable. On his debut full-length twenty-three (just out via Mishara Music), the Canadian-born graduate of Boston's Berklee School of Music lays out his melodious and mostly mellow folk/pop with an artisan's skillful precision and an artist's creative eye (and ear, in this case). Recorded in Holland with producer Joren van der Voort, twenty-three offers personal lyricism and a winning way with a melody via Yates' finger-picked guitar lines, unassuming tenor and some Laurel Canyon-styled harmonies. Album closer, the six-minute "Heart on a Wire," is one of our favorite songs of the year, a touching ballad that quietly builds to a magnificent, guitar-soloing close.
About one minute into Ainslee Wills' "Stop Pulling The String," the song begins its gradual expansion from understated introspection to mesmerizing, pulsing art/pop. Forty-five seconds later, another shift to a snaking, off-beat rhythm as Wills steps back and then steps out onto a groove-tastic, atmospheric plane. Lifted from You Go Your Way, I'll Go Mine, her 2013 album that has won praise from fellow Down Under performers Megan Washington and Missy Higgins, "String" becomes a simply-shot but hypnotic video of light and dark as Wills wades off a nighttime Australian beach and lets the song sweep her into sensuous display of movement and release. "I wanted the album to sound bigger, more dense, more… lush," she says. "I wanted something that wasn’t necessarily tidy." Her goal for the album was "letting go a little." Mission accomplished. Stream the full album at Wills' Bandcamp page.
Ainslee Wills - "Stop Pulling The String" (from You Go Your Way, I'll Go Mine)
“We really feel at home with a lot of worlds of people that don’t really seem to fit together,” says Alynda Lee Segarra, an observation that seems perfectly in sync with Segarra's namesake Hurray For The Riff Raff. And, she continues, "we find a way to make them all hang out with our music." Small Town Heroes (February 11, ATO), the self-produced, highly anticipated successor to 2011's praised Look Out Mama, tosses folk, country, blues, southern soul and New Orleans roots into a fragrant and satisfying musical gumbo, elevating Riff Raff songs from campfire strumming and street corner busking to essential primer on modern Americana. Born in New York and settling in the Crescent City after a coast-to-coast wandering, the 26-year-old singer of Puerto Rican descent found a special kinship with the city, particularly after the devastating wake of Katrina. Songs like the devastating "The Body Electric" and the lovely title track (click through to stream) resonate with an assured clarity of artistic vision, songwriting and musicianship. Segarra, a major new voice, makes Small Town Heroes a very big deal.
Hurray For The Riff Raff - "The Body Electric" (from Small Town Heroes)
In advance of his 2014 album This Marauder's Midnight, Gabriel Rios has released a couple new videos of new songs including "Gold" and "Madstone" with a new song due the third Thursday of every month. The Puerto Rico-born, Belgium-educated and now Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter encamped to a small wooden chuch in upstate New York with Ruben (bass) and Amber (cello) to lay down tracks that may be demos or may be the final versions -- we'll have to wait and find out. Though he's been based in New York for the past three years and performs locally, Rios' bread and butter is still Europe, particularly Benelux, where he can regularly sell out clubs and theaters. Click through to watch the equally fine "Madstone."