7 Flavors of Folk

folk 0000

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Old Nobodaddy

“Bury the Hatchet”

I like my folk music tall, brooding, and murderous which, thankfully, is waaay different from how I like my men. Well, all except the tall part, I guess.  Old Nobodaddy sounds like his roots run deep, down into the sludgy wetland woods of Louisiana, but it’s New Orleans he currently calls home. “Bury the Hatchet” offers listeners back-porch gospel subtly refined so as not to lose that salt-of-the-earth feel. This is gospel for the for the soulless and god-fearing alike. Give “Bury the Hatchet” from Old Nobodaddy a spin below…

Ola Sweet

“Strange Lately”

All you music fans who prefer your Americana mellow and bluesy, make sure you check out Ola Sweet. This Boise quartet has a retro rock vibe that calls to mind 70s dad-‘staches and snap-down shirts. And, I mean that in the best way possible. Ola Sweet isn’t just another Band of Horses/Black Keys revivalist act. There’s something earthy and authentic that comes through in their sound on “Strange Lately” that has me hooked. Take the single for a spin below…

Jessica Frech

“Already Won”

Jessica Frech comes to us from the indie-folk side of the spectrum with her new single “Already Won”. The song possesses an effervescence in its sound that will lift your spirits as the lyrics empower you to face the challenges of your everyday. Frech has a lissome voice that lends itself well to the uplifting charge of “Already Won”. This artist has already developed a bit of a following for her quirky folk-pop but you’ll hear a more serious, but never sullen, sound on this new single. Give “Already Won” a listen below…

John Timothy

“The Longest Line (Daniel)”

The SoCal songwriter has a straight-from-the-heartland sound that could easily be at home in Nashville or Amarillo, but it’s Los Angeles where John Timothy resides. Timothy’s alt-country style has a rusted edge that adds to the authenticity of his sound. This song “was recorded in conjunction with ‘Words Uncaged’, a graduate class that worked with inmates on Life Without Parole at Lancaster State Penitentiary,” so maybe that authenticity is also derived from the narrative recounted in the lyrics. Whatever the case may be, “The Longest Line (Daniel)” by John Timothy is a powerful number that will continue to resonate long after you listen.

Johnny Stimson

“I’ll Be Fine”

Songwriter and self-proclaimed time traveler, Johnny Stimson, will take you from anguish to acceptance on his new single, “I’ll Be Fine”. Stimson’s emotive voice drives this pop-infused indie-folk single with its heart-wrenching realness. The track is stripped down to just the vocalist and his guitar, but it suits the self-revealing lyricism quite nicely. Check out “I’ll Be Fine” by Johnny Stimson below, and if you like what you’re hearing, delve further into the online musical offerings of this Dallas artist here.

The Solars

“Potter’s Field/Dockery”

For those of you who feel you might have been born in the wrong era and would have been better suited to prancing through fields with the Flower Children of the 1960s, we have the band for you. The Solars from Boston (MA) craft a folk rock sound chalk full of nostalgic for the days of Jefferson Airplane and Jethro Tull (organs included). Their meandering single “Potter’s Field/Dockery” is a dynamic journey of sound and sight; of rich harmonies and oscillating energy. Hit play below to take the trip that is “Potter’s Field/Dockery” with The Solars.

The Four Corners Quartet

“I’ve Just Seen the Rock of Ages”

For those of us in Arizona (where we’re based), the “Four Corners” refers to the northeast region of our state and its surrounding areas that all meet in an intersecting, four-corner border. In the case of The Four Corners of Quartet, however, the moniker refers instead to the Four Corners of the Globe from whence the participating musicians originated: Jordan, the United States, Palestine, and the United Kingdom. The quartet is not just a meeting point for people of different cultural backgrounds, but a merging place for various musical traditions, including middle-eastern, jazz, western classical, and American-folk. Sink into the orchestral folk of The Four Corners Quartet and their song, “I’ve Just Seen the Rock of Ages”.

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7 Awesome Alt-Rock Singles

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Welles

“Life Like Mine”

The Nashville band known as Welles is set to break big so you should check out this single so you can say you knew them when. The band performed at SXSW and they’re on the bill for Bonnaroo, but it might be this single that pushes them into the mainstream. “Life Like Mine” offers a slouchy vibe and sharp musicianship while catchy, Sgt. Pepper-made-modern vocals (provided by Welles’ frontman, Jehsea Wells) seal the deal on this hit-in-the-making. Give “Life Like Mine” a listen below…

 The Edisons

“5 Reasons I Stopped Drinking Tequila (and Why I Started Again)”

Woah, did we almost miss the bus on this release or what? Phoenix 4-piece, The Edisons, released their debut, Space Whales, back in October and we’re just getting to it now. Don’t judge. We’re busy. These feisty alt-rock get downright gritty at moments on “5 Reasons I Stopped Drinking Tequila (and Why I Started Again)”. But The Edisons like to keep their sound dynamic so expect some shifts, not only on this single but on Space Wales as a whole, as you move from start to finish. They are seeking to explore their sound on this first release, not to define it. Make sure you check out this single and, if you dig what you’re hearing, I highly recommend diving into Space Wales

Slowkiss

“Forever Together”

This alt-rock quartet from Santiago, Chile now divides their time between has made the jump from South America to Southern California. Honey-sweet vocals over a sludgy sea of shoegazy rock on their single, “Forever Together”, brings me back to my 90s-era youth; a nostalgic time for me of grumpy baristas and Juliana Hatfield. This single is just the first from the band’s forthcoming EP, Ultraviolet. I’ll be keeping watch for that release. And maybe after you give “Forever Together” below, you’ll be a Slowkiss fan too.

Absofacto

“Light Outside”

I can imagine this new single from Absofacto really catching on with alt-rock radio stations across the country. It has just enough of an electro-pop punch to really hit home with contemporary audiences. Of course, once it starts to enjoy that regular radio play, I’ll probably start to hate it, but right now I’m jamming “Lights Outside”. The track premiered with Earmilk back in February and enjoyed some HypeMachine attention early on, but my guess is that we’re just hearing the start of Absofacto. Hop on that fan-train early and give “Lights Outside” a listen below…

HUNNY

“Shy”

The SoCal act known as Hunny puts a sunny pop-punk spin on their alt-rock sound that makes it perfect for warming weather. “Shy” marks the first single from their forthcoming collection. The energy on “Shy” can buoy your spirits in the middle of a rough week so it’s no surprise to us that , even though it only dropped last week, it’s enjoying some serious early attention from listeners. HUNNY plans on setting out for tour with Bad Sun soon so check for dates in your area. But, first, give “Shy” a spin below…

Maude Gun

“On High”

The Brooklyn duo, comprised of Molly Murphy and Jenni Lind, goes in for that raw, emotive sound first popularized by the alt-rockers of the 90s: something gritty and a little aggressive. Maude Gun calls their debut single, “On High”, a “mystic-folk riot grrrl anthem” and that description pretty much hits the head on the nail. There is something simultaneously earthy and otherworldly in Maude Gun’s sound. Give “On High” a listen below…

The Great Dictators

“Blood”

The Danish indie rock trio The Great Dictators combines forceful guitars with hazy vocals to erect a wall of shoegaze sound on their new track, “Blood”. The Great Dictators stomp all over the divide between post-rock and alt-rock; allowing elements from both traditions to seep into their own brand of indie. The effect is a hypnotizing blend of textures and sounds that you can really sink down into. “Blood” comes to us from the band’s new album (due out later this year). I’m definitely interested in hearing more of what The Great Dictators have to offer. Listen to “Blood” for yourself below…

 

Artist Spotlight: Lauren Ruth Ward

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

I have a thing for Lauren Ruth Ward. It’s not like a sexual thing; it’s definitely a music thing. However, the feeling is so intense that the previous statement might not make it any less uncomfortable at this point.

Now, the first time I heard Lauren Ruth Ward perform “Did I Offend You” on Sofar Sounds, I was stunted into an ineffable state which, as a writer, is a terrible condition to be in. Nevertheless, when I heard that she would be releasing the track as a single in prelude to her forthcoming album, I jumped at the chance to tackle the block and find the right words to express my newfound music obsession.

I had the opportunity to chat with Ward after she returned home to Los Angeles after SXSW about her new single, life in Los Feliz, and the new LP that looms on the horizon.

But, before I get too carried away, why don’t you check out “Did I Offend You” so it can play while we continue our discussion…

So I had to seriously examine this burgeoning love I feel for the music of LRW. I mean, is it her voice? Ward possesses this stunning voice capable of breaking your heart in one verse and then sending you soaring with the very next. In fact, the emotive power of her vocal delivery had me wondering if this wasn’t some theatrical training secretly shining through in her musical performances.

So, during out chitchat, I made sure to ask about the performative aspects of her work. Much to my own surprise, Ward seemed surprised herself by the question and, in the conversation that followed, I realized that emotional charge that hits the listener when they hit PLAY is not the result of some crafted stage show. Her music is raw and real and intensely revealing. Therein lies the power.

Photos by Matt Sternberg

While this is certainly a focal point of my affection, it’s not just Ward’s voice that really stands out for me. That’s just the bright red cherry on top of the swirled and sprinkled sundae. There are some serious style choices being made here that really make the music compelling.

Lately, we (at YabYum) have been noticing a revivalist push brewing for that earthy folk rock of the 70s. Ward’s introduction to music, like many Millennials, came from her parents’ record players. That meant classic rock, Motown, and disco. I had a similar musical introduction myself.  I remember fierce femmes of the era, like Linda Rondstadt and Bonnie Raitt and Heart, blaring from those tube amplifiers while my mom did her dance-and-clean routine around the living room. A routine, I might add, that I continue to this day in my own home.

The music of Lauren Ruth Ward brings the best parts of 70s folk rock into the present. Her songs are revitalized rock; merging vintage and modern elements into one fresh sound.

And, Lauren Ruth Ward’s stylistic sensibility extends well beyond her music to just about everything else she touches. Take, for example, her music video for her last single, “Make Love to Myself”. Ward directed the production herself and even costumed her friends to play their assigned parts. For the setting, she selected the ultra hip Harvard & Stone where both shiny shirts and flipflops (amongst other faux pas fashion choices) are discouraged. Ward’s sharp eye for smart style choices comes through in everything from the cinematography to the shine of her silver boots and those soon-to-be iconic bangs.

“Make Love to Myself” was my first introduction to Lauren Ruth Ward, but “Did I Offend You” was the single that took our relationship from it’s-complicated to fully committedI was totally taken aback to discover that this was the first song she penned with her songwriting partner, and “right-hand man,”  Eduardo Rivera.

Over the course of the three minute track, Lauren Ruth Ward moves from an unnerving vulnerability to showing her mettle of steel and sand. “Did I Offend You” is the second single from LRW’s new album which, rumor has it, is due to be released later this summer. Hopefully, Ward has another single (or maybe a music video) to help tide fans over until they can secure their copy of the full release.

And I certainly plan on being at that release show. Los Angeles is just a short desert-filled hop from Phoenix and Lauren already filled me in on every place I need to stop while I’m in town starting with Gracias Madre in West Hollywood for, and I quote, “The best, spiciest margaritas you ever put in your mouth.”

Afterward, she suggested a hike to Griffith Observatory or maybe some thrift shopping in the Los Feliz neighborhood of L.A. at SquaresVille. And, in case you  haven’t yet checked out her music videos yet, a thrift store recommendation from Lauren Ruth Ward is worth its weight in gold.

If you love “Did I Offend You” like I love the song, you’ll want to be at that release show too. We’ll keep you posted on that development as we learn more. Until then, make sure you spend some time with the music of Lauren Ruth Ward. I might be totally obsessed, but I’m not the jealous type. I’m willing to share.

~

 

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7 Fabu Folk & Americana Singles

fabu folk 00by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Huckleberry

“Working Backwards”

PHX Americana favorites, Huckleberry, are gearing up for a brand new album. Yes folks, on April 7th, Huckleberry will be releasing their latest LP on limited edition vinyl. In prelude to this momentous occasion, the band shared a couple early tracks from the album with fans and friends, including this gem, “Working Backwards”. As soon as that slide kicks off the easygoing summer sound on this track, you’ll be hooked. At least, I was. Huckleberry put out “Working Backwards” in February and followed up with the March release of “Tether” which definitely puts the ALT in alt-country. Check out both singles, starting with “Working Backwards” below, and don’t forget to pre-order your vinyl copy of Natural Selector from Huckleberry here. And, you can catch the act live on April 8th at Valley Bar with Luau, Fairy Bones, and Saddles so make sure you mark your calendar (more here). Do it now. I’ll wait…

The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers

“Lay Down Low”

This Gospel/Americana act out of L.A. sounds straight from the Heartland. The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers go full-on church choir with their harmony-rich melodies and salt-of-the-earth sound on “Lay Down Low”. No surprise that this act has already played some “prestigious festivals such as Winnipeg Folk Fest, Montreal Jazz Fest, Austin City Limits, and Voodoo Fest of New Orleans.” Once you hear “Lay Down Low”, you’ll totally want to add The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers to your bucket list of bands you have to see perform live. The ERGS will be releasing their sophomore album this Spring so make sure you keep your ears open for that release. Until then, enjoy “Lay Down Low” below..

Sam Valdez

“Don’t Want To Be Yours Anymore”

Inspired by the Water Protectors fight at Standing Rock, Pop Cautious Records will be releasing a compilation album to support Native American Rights this coming June. “Don’t Want to Be Yours Anymore” by Sam Valdez is the first single from that forthcoming effort. The Los Angeles-by-way-of-Las Vegas songbird delivers a Westerly stoicism with her lyrics and voice – both stunning and subdued. “Don’t Want to Be Yours Anymore” will leave you in a somber mood but you’ll still be reaching for that repeat button because it is also lovely. Give the new single from Sam Valdez a listen below. And, don’t forget to check out the comp from Pop Cautious when it drops in June! Mni Wiconi!

Forever Son

“Crumb Kitchen”

Forever Son’s indie folk sound reminds me of summertime as a kid: homemade jean shorts and Bomb Pops and my mom listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young while she tans in the backyard. “Crumb Kitchen” provides a gentle reminder of an earlier era of folk-rock when hair was long and distortion still something to avoid. Forever Son is the musical undertaking of Melbourne-based musician, Jack Robbins. I don’t know what I like more: the early morning atmosphere of “Crumb Kitchen” or Robbins’ bourbon-smooth voice. Thankfully, I don’t have to choose and neither do you. Both can be heard on the single below…

Tow’rs

“Liminal” 

Ugh, how long has this band been in Flagstaff? Why haven’t I been told? Come on, Arizona, we’re all supposed to work together to keep each other informed and I feel I’ve been left out cold on this whole Tow’rs thing. This indie-folk act shapes out a breathtaking number of subtle grace and beauty on “Liminal”. I even did a search on our site to make sure they hadn’t slipped by me quietly one July morning, but no, this is the first track I’ve heard from them. And I’m completely enamored. Tow’rs is currently out on tour and I’m hoping they’ll add some PHX shows to their schedule once back on hometurf. Until then, enjoy “Liminal” by Tow’rs below…

A Different Thread

“Big Crane”

On “Big Crane” we find a Brit-folk take on the Americana sound. A Different Thread combines the musical talents of singer-songwriter Robert Jackson and calssically-trained cellist Isaac Collier. And, if there sound doesn’t sell you on their Americana spirit, the pair met while busking and were playing together just a short couple of months gaining the attention of BBC Bristol. Maybe that has something to do with the honeyed vocals and astute instrumentation of A Different Thread which comes through on “Big Crane”. Check out the single for yourself below…

Hana & Jessie-Lee

“Maryses”

Australia has an Americana/Alt-Country music community?? Well, they do and I know that because Hana & Jessie-Lee come to us from the land Down Under with their dusty and soulful country sound on “Maryses”. Hana & Jessie-Lee draw inspiration from artists like Hank Williams, Bonnie Raitt, and The Staple Singers so expect to hear some American steel strengthening the core of this musical pairing. They’re joined by their band, the Bad Habits, on this track so the sound is fully fleshed out with double bass, fiddle, drums, and keys. Give “Maryses” a listen below…

7 Rad Indie Rock Singles

rad indie rock singles 00Hollow Coats

“Fold”

There seems to be a holy trinity of musicians that sits at the center of Austin’s Hollow Coats but additional players help flesh out the sound on the band’s new single, “Fold”. And the sound here is fleshy: opulently layered and packing a hefty punch on the production. But, what really sold me on “Fold” were the atmospheric vocals and the haunting beauty of the lyrics they delivered. This is the debut single from Hollow Coats so let’s hope more releases are in the works – and soon! Give “Fold” a spin below…

The Ricky Fitts

“Nightmare”

This indie/alt act from Phoenix is making some waves in our dry desert. Yes, The Ricky Fitts only launched their sound only last year and they’ve already scored some pretty notable gigs since their inception. That might have something to do with their slick, radio-ready sound. “Nightmare” comes to us from the band’s debut LP, The Great Beyond, which dropped at the end of January. Infusing electropop and alt-rock elements with a hefty splash of revivalist New Wave, The Ricky Fitts craft out a fun sound on “Nightmare” that has enough of a dark overtone for all you brooders that still want to dance. Take the single for a spin below or head here to check out The Great Beyond.

Soft Animal

“Stay with Me”

“Stay with Me” is the opening track from Soft Animal’s concisely titled EP1 which they released last month. This single has a lofi psych-rock sound with a little bit of garage grit that will come in more as you continue through the full EP. The sound descends into moments of intentional disarray before meandering back to a more structured, but never too structured, sound. Check out “Stay with Me” from Soft Animal below or head here for that digi-download of EP1.

Bryde

“Less”

I really loved the grrrls of the 90s alt-rock scene and Brixton’s Bryde just might fill that hole in my life. On “Less”, Bryde moves between breathy angst to full on fury over grungy guitars. All you PJ Harvey fans should definitely spend some time with Bryde. If you want to delve further into what this artist has to offer, I suggest moving on to “Back to Believing” – a new, and gentler, single that is really quite enamoring. Get your growl on with Bryde below…

Bucolic

“Cold Clean”

If you like your post-rock with an extra heap of melodious sorrow, Bucolic is for you.  “Cold Clean” sets a somber scene that reminds me of a street lined in freshly fallen snow on a morning you have to be at work before 5 AM. Sure, it’s beautiful, but one’s inability to pause and really take in that moment lends an existential anguish to the biting cold. “Cold Clean” is beautiful, but it kicks you when you’re down… and I, uh, mean that in the best way possible. Bucolic is the brainchild of NJ artist Seth Carpenter and this single is part of an impending release that is due out in April so get on that Bucolic bandwagon sooner rather than later. Start with “Cold Clean” below…

St. Tropez

“Democracy”

The band known as St. Tropez is not actually from St. Tropez but Amsterdam. Their lively new single, “Democracy”, clocks in at under two minutes but there’s a lot of energy crammed into that time. The texturing gets heavy, but not in a full-on post-rock way. No, the vibe on “Democracy” stays more NYC scene rock than secret warehouse show. This single opens Debate, band’s 2017 EP, which (btw) does go full-on post-rock at moments. St. Tropez has enough of an experimental edge to keep things really interesting without ever totally abandoning form entirely. And, there’s a bit of a political slant that those of us in present-day Amerika can really appreciate. Give “Democracy” by St. Tropez a listen below…

MYFEVER

“Golden”

The alt-rockers from the ATL known as MYFEVER are gearing up for a new recording effort with the release of their latest single, “Golden”. Though the trio calls Georgia home, you might get a bit of a L.A. or Long Beach vibe from “Golden”. And, when I say Long Beach,  I’m talking in the alt-indie vein of Cold War Kids… not Sublime. MYFEVER will hopefully be hitting the studio soon to lay down Born for Spaces, their next album. Until then, spend some time with “Golden”.

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