For the Record: Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold

mudd 01

by Mark Anderson
Senior Editor

Holy hotcakes, Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold have (finally) released their debut album and it was certainly worth the wait. It’s good. Damn good.

Given that they joined forces in 2012, five years may certainly seem like a longer-than-normal time frame for a band to release their first album but it’s certainly not unheard of. Within that time the duo, Tyler Matock (vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, kazoo) and Jesse Gray (banjo, electric guitar, suitcase drum) have amassed quite the local following and are known for their hootin’-hollerin’-boot-stompin’ shows all across the Valley.

For you see, Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold play a “bastard child of rock, alt-country, blues, Appalachia, and bluegrass.” The music gets rowdy sure, but it also gets down right contemplative and even sweet.

“You Never Loved Me” is the perfect opener for the album, Jesse’s banjo setting the immediate tone. As Tyler’s guitar and then vocals come in with “Don’t change your mind/Go grab your things/I got the time honey/You got your dreams” you’ll know right away what you’re in store for with Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold.

Although they do a tremendous job on their selection of covers (“Killing Floor”, “Bad Gasoline”, “Mole In The Ground”, and “Rex’s Blues”), I prefer their originals with “Ain’t That Bad”, “Goodbye Mama”, “Fight the Urge” and “American Dream” some of my top songs right now by any band locally or otherwise.

I was able to catch up with Tyler and Jesse via the Internet and ask about the new album, what’s upcoming, and, yes, even their sense of style.

YabYum: How long have you lived in Arizona? Are you from here?

Tyler Matock: I’m born and raised here in Phoenix. A second generation at that.

Jesse Gray: I’ve lived here about 6 years. I was born and raised in Kansas and Missouri, and also spent a few years in Portland, Oregon.

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All photos copyright and courtesy of Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold

What drew you personally to the music of Appalachia? Who are some of your influences as songwriters?

Tyler: As far as Appalachian music goes, I really hadn’t been exposed to that particular type of music at all until I started jamming with Jesse. I think its impossible to be around (a real banjo player) without being exposed to Appalachian music. However, I was listening to music very similar in sound both regionally, and aesthetically before I had met Jesse.

After my dad had taught me how to play a few simple chords on guitar, I tried learning songs that worked with the chords that he had taught me. Early country and blues music lead me straight to an affection for any thing out of the American South – which is responsible for almost all genres of music to this day.

I discovered this music by becoming a “nerd” for finding my influences’ influences. I became compelled to research what influenced Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, John Prine, and the endless list of iconic songwriters. It was like my own crash course for understanding and appreciating the heart and soul of what American music is, and all about. That being said, as much as I write, I never try confine myself into to sounding just like those guys – that just sounds exhausting and not very fun to do, because that stuff was so groundbreaking for it’s time, and it’s almost damn near untouchable still to this day.

I just think with all those older influences in tow (Jimmie Rodgers, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Tom T. Hall, Lee Hazlewood) and combing influence from more contemporary artists and songwriters I like (early Avett Brothers, Langhorne Slim, Ryan Adams, Dr. Dog, Neutral Milk Hotel, and maybe one of my top 5 albums of all time called, Return of the Frog Queen by Jeremy Enigk) – I sort of subconsciously draw from the past and the present in hopes to make something that is relevant to myself and of course the audience or listeners as well.. Wow, that’s a really long answer.

Jesse: Part of what drew me to the music of Appalachia was having an intense love for the mountains. Some of my favorite memories are of finding gold with my family in the mountains of Colorado. When I first heard Clarence Ashley’s “The Cuckoo”, it completely captured that feeling for me. Though not technically Appalachia, I think the feeling is the same.

When I started playing banjo, I naturally gravitated toward that feeling. But I wanted to rev it up, too, and add some rock, punk (just in the sense of being aggressive) and blues to the mix. Then I discovered Roscoe Holcomb and Dock Boggs, and found that they were already playing clawhammer and “oldtime” banjo in a really aggressive, dirty, bluesy style way back in the ’20s and on, before that style became a bit diluted. They really crystallized that “mountain” sound. I think it’s a beautiful sound, and I can only hope we catch a little of that in what we do.

It’s incredible to find out Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold was the late Dan Somers last record he worked on. Would you speak a few words about him for those who didn’t know him?

Jesse: Dan Somers was an amazing guy, and I really miss him. He was so intelligent – but with a modesty that often doesn’t go with that – funny, genuinely nice, and fun to hang out with. Truly one of my favorite people I’ve met since I’ve been out in Arizona. He added so much to the album, and I feel incredibly lucky to have worked with him – the album wouldn’t be the same without him – but I really just miss him as a person. Weird to say that about someone you only hung out with a handful of times, but some people you just feel an instant connection to. I’m glad people got wind of the things he had to say, because I think they’re really important. All I can hope is that his words saved some people from having to go through the things he went through.

Tyler: I couldn’t be more honored to have met and been given the opportunity to work with Dan. It pains me to this day knowing now, what he may have been suffering from then. I’ll always remember how sweet of a person he was – how kind and insightful he was – how hard he worked – his poignancy and wit. He immediately lead me striving to be a better musician and most importantly a better person. His band, Lisa Savidge, remains to be one of the coolest bands I’ve ever heard come out of the local scene.

mudd 05You guys have played a lot of shows. Any one in particular stand out in your mind that’d you care to mention? The release show looked like it was a grand ole time!

Jesse: There are a number of shows that really stand out, and we’ve had the privilege of playing with some really great bands at some great places. But the release show is a night I’ll never forget. Last Exit was packed, and when we got up on stage, virtually everybody had moved up front waiting for us. We wanted to give them everything we could, played for an hour and a half, and every song felt top of our game. We got to show them a lot of newer songs, expand, and go to different places with the music that we can’t often go to during shorter sets. And the crowd was right there with us from start to finish. We have a lot of sides to our music that people haven’t heard yet, and we’re excited to show them.

Tyler: I’d just like to sort of echo what Jesse said. The CD release was such an unforgettable show for us amongst so many others we’ve had prior to that. I think why its one of my personal favorites was to see all the hard work that was put in to make it happen. I had put a lot of pressure on myself to reach out to everyone I knew. I even mailed out letters with a flyer invitation and a little note to family members and close friends. To see almost all of them show up and support us – and then to deliver them a show to remember was quite the achievement. We’re a live band and a good performance is very important to me. Giving the crowd everything we’ve got and leaving it all out on the stage is the ultimate goal. I feel like we made that happen, and I can’t wait to show more people what our live show is all about.

You played with a drummer for your Tiny Desk Concert submission. Have/would you ever play with other musicians or is the music you create as Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold inherently a two-man show? I can certainly hear fiddle, washtub bass, mandolin, mouth organ, and any other manner of instruments joining in with the sound…

Jesse: We’re definitely open to playing with other musicians. I think the first step would be adding a rhythm section. Then other musicians could come in on top of that. The music has been moving in different directions that would call for that type of thing, so it’s definitely something that could happen. We’re both drawn to expansion and different sounds – rock, garage, soul, psychedelic, shoegaze, etc – and have no intent on staying exactly the same, being purists, or treating the music like a museum piece.

Tyler: The songs I wrote on this album came to me when I was pretty young as a songwriter. Most of them were the product of being a young 20 something-year-old. And I personally don’t regret or discredit any of those songs because we still play most of them to this day, however, they were written at a time with no expectations and more of just a catharsis for myself. I think now, as a growing and practicing songwriter, I’m adapting to the world and life around me as a 30 year old – which brings a little more expectation upon myself to adapt with music artistically.

A lot happens in life from then until now. People change. People grow. And just like music or art, they grow and change as well. The growth seems to be a natural progression into what can be the best possible way to create our best art, or in this case, our best possible songs. Jesse and I are naturally comfortable working with the “less is more mentality” because that’s all we’ve ever known as a band – but we’re now also beginning to realize the potential of adding more parts and tools to follow what the songwriting is currently calling for.

mudd 03You guys sport some awesome threads. Are these thrift store finds or are there certain Western stores you’d care to name drop at all?

Jesse: For me, the threads are all thrift store finds. Being in a band gives you a bit of a license to dress like a fool, and we have fun with that. I’m still looking for assless chaps – that’ll be the holy grail.

Tyler: First of all thanks for diggin’ the threads haha. I think fashion and style has always been something important to me, even before music. That being said, I don’t AT ALL claim to having any “cool” fashion sense, but rather just wear what makes me feel good on a “trial and error” basis.

When I first started playing out, (just for open mics), I would wear the best 3-piece suit I could get my hands on. Even if it meant literally piecing all different types of brands of clothing together (old & new). Somehow though, I think I made it work. I think Justin Townes Earle, Pokey LaFarge, and Langhorne Slim, all have great styles, and I realized they pulled from American classics. So that’s what I try to do. Just pull from what I dig all the greats wore. Jimmie Rogers and Samuel Lightnin’ Hopkins were two of the coolest, sharpest dressed dudes in music, in my opinion.

Clothes make me feel good. Especially well made clothes – old and new. I feel like I can perform better when I’m dressed right. I consider clothes as my tattoos, except I get to change them whenever I feel like it. I’ve worn a hat as long as I can remember, I’d love to have my own signature Stetson someday. Retro Ranch, Buffalo Exchange in Phoenix /Tempe, and Incahoots Vintage Clothing in Flagstaff might be one of my all time favorites for go-to threads in AZ.

~

Follow Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold on Facebook and listen to Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold 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.

~

 

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 Singer-Songwriters for an Easygoing Afternoon

7 singer-songwriters 004Ben Zaidi

“Irene”

Ben Zaidi certainly has as promising a start as any artist could hope for. After growing up in Seattle, Zaidi moved to New York City before attending Harvard University to study music and creative writing. The new single from the artist, “Irene”, is soulful and soft-spoken. The minimal texturing keeps the track’s focus where it belongs: on Zaidi’s subtly emotive voice and the poetic narrative within his lyrics. This is definitely a songwriter to watch. Give “Irene” a spin below and, if you like what you’re hearing, delve further into Ben Zaidi’s online musical offerings through Soundcloud here.

Julia Lucille

“Eternally”

Singer-songwriter Julia Lucille might be a California native, but she spent time in Portland studying music at Lewis and Clark College before moving to Austin, where she currently resides. I can definitely see Lucille’s ambient-folk sound doing well in any one of the aforementioned locations. There is a desolation that can be heard on “Eternally” that denotes a Western sensibility – something a little mystical yet still a little hopeless. “Eternally” comes to us from Julia Lucille’s forthcoming album, Chthonic, which comes out on April 7th so mark your calendar. Before that happens, sink down into “Eternally” below…

Jordan Prince

“Woman (One of These Days)”

Jordan Prince made the jump over the Big Pond, bringing his Louisiana folk all the way to Munich, Germany. His new single, “Woman (One of These Days)”, comes to us from Prince’s upcoming ep, No Manual. I love the simple, earthy sound and easygoing attitude. The lyrics don’t really describe your typical romantic sentiments, as the title might suggest. Instead, the author suggests the subject delves even further into “man’s perverted obsessions, and how he can’t control or forgive his own guilt as he becomes self aware of his action.” Despite the weighty topic, Jordan Prince keeps his melody lithe. Listen to “Woman (One of These Days)” below…

Stevie Talks

“Pollyanna”

This Costa Mesa artist has a distinctly coastal vibe in his indie-folk sound. Stevie Talks claims “Pollyanna” is about “a girl [he] cannot stand” but I think the songwriter might be a little conflicted on that particular point. In the same breath, “Pollyanna” comes across as anguished and wistful, but with enough bounce to keep the mood light. Give the single a spin below and, if you like the summery sound of Stevie Talks, you can move on to his previous single “LYM (Leave Your Man)” which came out a few months back. Let’s hope more songs are on the way.

Sasha

“Gracious”

The North London singer-songwriter who goes simply by the moniker Sasha creates ambient dreamscapes of sound. On her new single, “Gracious”, Sasha sets her nimble voice afloat the gentle current of a stark yet beautiful arrangement. “Gracious” is the perfect song for a mellow and meditative morning. Or perhaps you can find four minutes to zen out with the single before launching into your litany of tasks for the day. I can almost guarantee a calmer sense of being will stay with you throughout the rest of the day. Listen to “Gracious” below…

Alessandra

“Your River”

The Swedish musician known as Alessandra not only wrote and performed her new single, but she also produced the track. That’s rather ambitious for any young artist, but Alessandra pulls off the feat with great success. On “The River”, powerful vocals are met with equal energy from the underlying soundscape. “Your River” marks the first single from Alessandra’s soon-to-be-released debut EP.  This emotive number centers on an experience of bittersweet summer love. And, for anyone who’s been there, you feel the sudden return of those heart-wrenching highs and lows as you listen to “Your River”. Which you should do. Right now.

Carmen Rosa

“Wild One”

London singer-songwriter Carmen Rosa is gearing up to release her debut EP with this new single. “Wild One” combines smokey vocals with an aural landscape that has a cinematic feel. I can easily imagine this song playing as a dramatic scene carries out on the silver screen with slinky satin dresses and plenty cigarette smoke. This is a promising start for the EP to come from Carmen Rosa which should be available next week (March 31) through Hometown Records. Until then, enjoy “Wild One” below…

7 Awesome Americana Music Videos

Courtney Marie Andrews
“Put the Fire Out”

Bad Dad
“Sum Bunny Gun Love Me”

The Rayo Brothers
“Coronet”

Lydia Ramsey
“Ghosts”

Jill Brown
“Loaded Gun”

The Settlement
“Clean Trouble”

Bart Budwig
“So You’re Sick”

7 Singles for a Mellow Morning

mellow 000Daniel Trakell

“Paradise”

Hey Melbourne, I think someone needs to hug Daniel Trakell. Or maybe several someones. “Paradise” is the most beautifully depressing, elusively suicidal thing I’ve heard since Elliott Smith’s posthumously released New Moon – I can’t stop listening and it breaks my heart every single time I hear it. There is a sublime peace at the core of “Paradise” that is carried in Trakell’s voice. The artist sought a “deliberately funereal feel” and I guess it was a success. I want this song played at my funeral. The complete EP, which shares its name with this single, comes out on March 24th. Before that happens, listen to “Paradise” below so you can share in the anticipation.

Candy Cigarettes

“Stockholm”

The Portland indie act known as Candy Cigarettes released this single earlier this year and I’ve amassed quite a few listens since then. “Stockholm” kicks of with an indie-folk sound before moving into more dream pop terrain and back again. The song presents a strange sense of isolation or, maybe not so strange, considering Candy Cigarettes is the solo effort of singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, Lane Mueller. As you move through “Stockholm” it will probably surprise you when you remember that this track is the creation of only one artist. This song isn’t quite as brooding as others, but it is no less meditative. Check out “Stockholm” from Candy Cigarettes below…

Willetta

“Books”

Willetta released a collection songs earlier this month, and if you haven’t already taken a swim through the cool, murky waters of Frisson, you should. “Books”, the middle child of this three-track, proved my favorite, and for more than just the personal obvious affinity for its title and narrative. On this single, Anna shares both a gravitas weight and gossamer lightness which her voice is capable of in full splendor. Implementing both aspects helps give to shape the emotionally complex soundscapes that define Willetta’s drone-folk sound. This song, like others from Willetta, present more of a thinkpiece rather than a traditional “single” so plan on repeat listens. Sink into “Books” below and then check out Frisson (available here). 

Timid, the Brave

“Alice”

I don’t know what I found most compelling about this new single from Ontario’s Timid, the Brave: the understated beauty of the music or the emotional depth of the lyrics. Tim Selles, the musician behind Timid, the Brave, wrote the song “Alice” after his grandmother passed away. According to the artist, “Alice” is “a song about love and life and death, and finding a way to fight through the varying levels of devastation that we all experience.” That seems like a hefty order to fill, but Timid, the Brave does just that with such grace you won’t even notice the sorrow that’s carved out a chink in your chest. At least, not immediately. This track comes to us from the album Firesale which Timid, the Brave released on Feb. 24th through Other Songs, an independent label based out of Ontario.

 Jesse Jo Stark

“Driftwood”

L.A. lass Jesse Jo Stark might be a relative newcomer on the scene, but she’s been locking down new fans fast with her single, “Driftwood”. Stark’s voice clambers from brooding depths to uplifting heights with the easy grace of a mountain goat. There is something earthy and authentic that one might not expect from the likes of a longtime La La Land resident. Rather than going for the glitz, Stark keeps it simple and honest as she delves the seemingly aimless intentions of love. Stark co-wrote “Driftwood” with Jonathan Rice who you might know from his work with Jenny Lewis. Rice also produced the single. I’m certainly hoping this song only marks the beginning for Jesse Jo Stark and more tracks follow soon. Until then, give “Driftwood” a spin below…

The Elephants

“I Can Feel You”

This indie-rock duo from the Ukraine crafts out a dreamy but melancholy sound on “I Can Feel You”. The instrumentation on this single has an ethereal air that is met with muted vocals. Nothing grating or jarring will abscond your sense of inner peace as you float on the gentle waters of “I Can Feel You”. This single comes to us from The Elephants’ 10-track LP, Colors, which is available here. Give “I Can Feel You” a spin below and  follow up the full release.

Skin & Bones

“Lightless Star”

We dig the roots rock music of Skin & Bones and first featured them back in November last year. And now, the Cali-duo is back with a new number. “Lightless Star” still has that blues-rock feel that drives the band’s sound, but this single is a little more mellow and a little more passionate. I guess one should expect as much from a song somewhat inspired by the poem “For the Anniversary of My Death” by W.S. Merwin [see here]. Give “Lightless Star” a listen below…

7 Flavors of Folk

folk 002

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Old Star

“Out Here Alone”

Old Star comes out swinging on their debut single, “Out Here Alone”. Seriously, this indie-folk number will kick you in the heart, but it does so with such beauty that you’ll want to go through the ache all over again as soon as the song ends. “Out Here Alone” erects a solitary atmosphere around the listener that feels a bit windswept and desolate, but there’s a warmth there too. Check out “Out Here Alone” from Phoenix’s Old Star below. Let’s hope there are more tracks to follow…

Bad Dad

“Some Bunny Gun Love Me”

This came across my desk labeled “Oklahoma City based country vapor wave-blues music” – so I was definitely interested. “Some Bunny Gun Love Me” might leave you feeling a little forlorn but that doesn’t mean you won’t be hitting that play button again and again. On this new single from Bad Dad, bourbon smooth vocals hover over dreamy Americana tinged with just the right amount of loneliness thrown in for authenticity’s sake. Give “Some Bunny Gun Love Me” a listen below…

The Fair Wells

“Where is Your Heart”

This duo might have the polish you’d expect of a Los Angeles-based band while holding to an earnest sound that one might expect to hear at a county fair in North Carolina or maybe Virginia (their home state). The Fair Wells craft a simple, sweet-tempered sound on “Where is Your Heart” that will hit you right in the sentimental side. Spirited harmonies meet earthy folk as The Fair Wells  pose the question, “Where is Your Heart”? This single comes to us from the band’s debut EP, Hurricanes, which is available for preview or purchase here. But, first, give “Where is Your Heart” a listen below…

Jordan Merrick

“Untitled #1”

The single comes to us all the way from Australia. Yes, what we would term “Americana” is considered just a good ol’fashioned Australian Bush Ballad down under. Folk knows no boundaries, geographic or otherwise, I suppose. Jordan Merrick’s “Untitled #1” sounds straight from the American Heartland from the anguished vocals to the rustic guitar. After you give the single a spin, it won’t surprise you learn that Merrick drew inspiration from Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. Both Merrick and Dylan share an unadorned candor in their music that I love. Check out “Untitled #1” by Jordan Merrick below…

Ryanhood

“Alright Tonight”

This Tucson folk-pop duo dropped their new LP, Yearbook, earlier this month. Ryanhood is the combined effort of Ryan Green and Cameron Hood. Together, the pair create indie folk with a bit of bounce, but don’t let the feel-good attitude in the music distract you from the seriously dexterous guitarwork on the album. “Alright Tonight” is the opening track from Yearbook and offers listeners a sampling of what’s in store as they progress through all nine songs. Give the single a spin below and, if you dig the Ryanhood brand of folk, delve into Yearbook here .

The Roads Below

“I Want Us”

This Nashville 3-Piece puts a country spin on folk-rock with “I Want Us”. Now, if I’m being totally honest here, I’m not particularly partial to Contemporary Country as a style in either music or fashion, but I find myself quite taken with all the syrupy feelings in “I Want Us”. The Roads Below managed to unearth the squishy center of my black punk heart. This is the first single from the band, but I’m hoping that more will follow. Check out “I Want Us” from The Roads Below, uh, below…

Sam Coppenger

“Between Your Heart and Mine”

Sometimes it’s good to get in touch with your inner innocence. I bet even the most cynical of you out there harbors a little lost love for Mayberry (or maybe this generation is more Stars Hollow). “Between Your Heart and Mine” will bring you back to a time when love was earnest, the streets unlittered, and life seemed a little less complicated. Coppenger comes to us from Nashville by way of Pensacola, FL and you can give his single a spin below. To hear the album from whence this track came, head here.

Is it Summer Yet? 6 Singles for Warming Weather

Garrett Hazen

“Some Brutal Love”

The L.A. vibe on this track matches up with the very L.A. story of the man behind the music. Garrett Hazen (along with his twin brother Kent) were child actors in the 90s (ever see Roseanne?) but Garrett devotes himself to the musical arts these days. There’s a beachy brightness to “Some Brutal Love” as it blurs the line between indie rock and garage pop. Hazen nails that right amount of careless-cool that feels like hanging out at the gas station and smoking cigarettes, before you’re old enough to buy them, all while drinking an inhumanly sized serving of soda pop. You know, that teenage summertime feeling. “Some Brutal Love” marks the first solo single from Garrett Hazen. Let’s hope more tracks are to follow. Give the single a spin below or head here to add the track to your personal collection.

Ryon’s World

“Grandma’s Car”

Man, this is one of those singles we can’t cover fast enough to fit with our unwritten motto: find ’em first. Between the time we added this single to the schedule before it dropped and now, “Grandma’s Car” was a Spotify pick for New Music Friday and landed the track on Spotify’s Viral 50. Although the Ryon of Ryon’s World is a D.C. native, this pop hit has an island atmosphere that will have you reaching for sunblock and a frozen fruity cocktail before you hit the first reprise. Ryon’s World is a summer anthem for those kids too broke for vacation, but no less deserving of love. Chill out in Ryon’s World with “Grandma’s Car”. Head to iTunes to get your own digi-download for those poolside playlist.

Miseryslims

“The Machine Stops”

A surf rock band from Manitoba? Maybe all that chilly weather has the Miseryslims dreaming of warming climates and that longing comes through in their music. “The Machine Stops” doesn’t really have that California surf sound, but seems like it might come from a different coastline. Miseryslims mix in some Britpop hues into their indie palette. And, frankly, I’m loving this combination. Give “The Machine Stops” a listen below and head here to check out the EP from whence it came.

Matadors

“Trumpet of Conscience”

After you listen to “Trumpet of Conscience”, it will probably surprise you to learn that the Matadors are a DIY, one-man-band who records tracks in his bedroom. The British act definitely sounds like he’s working from a studio setting with a full band at his back. On this new single, crunchy guitars drive the buoyant summertime melody that hearkens back to an earlier era of rocknroll. Matadors are definitely an act to keep an eye (or ear) on. This single was released as part of the RIP Records Introduces Series which was created to introduce little-known acts to the larger world. So far, so good, RIP Records, because without the series I might never have found Manchester’s Matadors. Listen to “Trumpet of Conscience” below…

The Starter Wives

“How Weird is Now”

The sunny energy of The Starter Wives’ new single feels like that summer breeze when you’re out skateboarding in a pair of homemade cuts offs on a listless afternoon or like drinking cold keg beer from a plastic cup in some stranger’s backyard while sweat dribbles down your back. “How Weird is Now” is luminous garage rock for those days you want to put the top down and sing-along. This Vancouver three-piece definitely sound like they’re from further south along that Western Coast; a place of perpetual sunshine, surfboards, and slender blondes. Basically, this might be your new summertime jam. Check out “How Weird is Now” by The Starter Wives below or head here for that digital download.

The Arcadian Wild

“Envy Green”

Maybe you’re not about tearing up the city in a convertible or backyard keggers. Maybe you’re summer is more about hammock naps, lemonade, and hiking along streams to the perfect picnic spot. If that’s the case, The Arcadian Wild just might be for you. The latest single from the band, “Envy Green”, paints a lush landscape with its orchestral indie folk. This Nashville trio seems like they’d feel equally at home playing barefoot on your grandmother’s front porch or for a crowd of bearded hipsters. Check out “Envy Green” by The Arcadian Wild below or head here to add the single to your personal collection.

7 Stellar Singer Songwriters

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Alexander Wolfe

“I Can’t Get to Sleep”

Uh, wow. This new single from London folkster Alexander Wolfe really hits hard on an emotional level. That is partially the result of the subject matter which explores “the stigma and struggle surrounding mental illness today.” But it’s the songwriter’s confessional approach that gives “I Can’t Get to Sleep” its life and force. I can tell this is going to be one of those songs I listen to on “bad days” over and over until my boyfriend threatens to leave and take the dog with him. There is comfort in understanding and Wolfe’s got it in spades. “I Can’t Get to Sleep” is a powerful number that transcends indie-folk. Listen below or head to iTunes to add the single to your Rainy Day playlists.

Lynette Williams

“Au Revoir”

I don’t know what hit me first: the haunting beauty of Lynette Williams’ voice or the stark beauty of her compositions. “Au Revoir” gives the listener both. Terse lyrics flourish when delivered in Williams’ emotive voice against a minimal backdrop. The New York songbird switches between French and English on “Au Revoir” which might add to the sense of intimacy that emerges from this single’s intentionally raw sound. This track comes to us from Lynette Williams’ recently released EP – Love Thee, Not Chaos – which came out a couple months back. Give “Au Revoir” a listen below…

Danny Starr 

“Ease My Mind”

This 18-year-old singer-songwriter from Britain is already making waves with his brooding, noir-tinged modgepodge of folk, rock, and pop. Danny Starr might not be old enough to drink in the States, but this song belongs in a dark, smokey barroom where lipsticked women sway while their drink glasses collect condensation. “Ease My Mind” is a promising start for this young songwriter. Check out the single below &/or head here for the complete EP, Elixir.

Mama Ghost

“So Close”

The singer/songwriter known as Mama Ghost “grew up watching her Mother preform all over the Irish country side in bands surrounded by Musicians, Hippies, Buddhists and Gypsies.” Now, she’s in the U.S. but those unusual roots stretch out in the  earthen sound of her music. Mama Ghost has a unique style of strange folk that will echo with all you Joanna Newsom fans and the like. Her latest single, “So Close”, has a sweet simplicity that is made a little more complex by its slightly melancholy air. If you enjoy “So Close” from Mama Ghost, you can find her EP of the same title on Spotify/iTunes/Soundcloud/etc. through the thoughtfully provide link hub here.

S. Grant Parker

“I’m Fine”

This singer-songwriter based out of Nashville starts off his new single, “I’m Fine”, which a bit of a West Coast stoner-folk vibe, but don’t let that throw you off. “I’m Fine” has some real emotional push in its mellow indie rock groove. You’ll find smart lyrics sauntering beneath the slightly depressed slouch of “I’m Fine”. S. Grant Parker only has two singles to his name by out count, but we’re hoping for more soon. Start with “I’m Fine” below…

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George Ogilvie

“Foreign Hands”

Canterbury’s George Ogilvie might only be twenty-two, but his voice and lyrics both echo with greater depth than his age might imply. Ogilvie worked with Mercury Prize Winning producer Jonathan Quarmby on “Foreign Hands” to craft a rich emotional landscape with a sound that is both intricate and totally fluid from start to finish. Listen to the “Foreign Hands” by George Ogilvie below or head here to score your own digi-download of the track.

Sara Ontaneda

“Aprovechar (Sencillo)”

Sara Ontaneda is a NYC-based songwriter, but the Ecuadorian-American artist mixes R&B and folk with a little South-American flare in shaping her own unique, and richly layered, sound. “Aprovechar (Sencillo)” is the first single from Ontaneda’s forthcoming LP, Entre Espacios y Colores. The single creates a dreamy atmosphere enhanced by Ontaneda’s airy vocals. You don’t even need to understand the words to understand the feel of this song. Listen for yourself below or head here to download the single from Sara Ontaneda.

7 Mellow Singles

mellow featureCAT

“You Belong to Me”

L.A.’s Cat Pierce, formerly of The Pierces, has ditched the surname and embarked upon a solo, and single-syllable, project. CAT penned the track while, and I quote, “micro-dosing with mushrooms,” but don’t expect some tripped out, SoCal stoner jam sess. The artist’s journey is ultimately a spiritual one, not just some played-out party grrl antics. Her music gets a little bit darker and goes a whole lot deeper. “You Belong to Me” has a modern noir sense of style and CAT possesses the sultry vocal prowess to fully embody that aesthetic. Give the single a spin below or head here for your own digital copy of “You Belong to Me” by CAT.

Rosie Carney

“Awake Me”

Rosie Carney might still be shy of twenty, but she encapsulates both a sound and wisdom well beyond the limitations of mere lifespan. The introspective lyrics and simple folk sound shape out the listener’s path, but it is Carney’s hauntingly tender voice defines the song. Rosie Carney’s voice has a delicate expressiveness that, at only 19, sets her apart as a bit of a phenom. I’m definitely excited to see what’s to come from this Irish songbird. Give “Awake Me” a spin below or head to iTunes for your own copy of the single.

Chase McBride

“Control”

Chase McBride is another artist from the Cali Coast, but he comes to us from San Francisco. I would contend that there’s a bit of that easygoing NorCal attitude that comes through on his single “Control” with its stripped-down folk and breezy melody. This is a track to chill out with in a hammock built for two. “Control” is the opening track from McBride’s 2017 release, Cold Water, which can be previewed through Soundcloud or purchased through iTunes.

Louis Vivet

“Pulse (Acoustic)”

The duo known together as Louis Vivet decided to revisit their hit single for what I’m going to refer to henceforth as an un-remixing. That is, they took their dance hit and stripped it down its acoustic bones. Usually, it seems to be the other way around. Both renditions of “Pulse” have a mellow vibe and feature the vocal stylings of Kirsten Collins, but the new acoustic version brings new emotional layers to my attention that might have slipped past me on the original. Decide for yourself. You can check out the new acoustic version of “Pulse” from Louis Vivet below or head here to peruse the music video for the original version.

Allston Horses

“Every Last Breath”

This indie folk artist out of Boston might be best avoided if you’re currently making adjustments to your anti-depressants. Save Allston Horses for a stable week. However, while the lyrics might be dark, clinically so, the music is entrancing; somber, thoughtful, and paced to match the deeply confessional lyrics. Tyler Lavoie, the man behind Allston Horses, throws in some post-rock electronic texturing to bring “Every Last Breath” into its fully fleshed form. This single is the closing track from Allston Horses’ debut EP1 which is available for preview/purchase through Bandcamp. I suggest you delve into “Every Last Breath” below…

un:ted states

“Silent Spring”

This single is an early offering from the forthcoming LP by the Tucson quartet known as un:ted states. “Silent Spring” has a dreamy feel, but that of a daydream, when the warmth of the sun still lingers on your skin and pinks the back of your eyelids.  The psych-tinged indie rock of un:ted states combines ethereal vocals with a shoegaze sense of structure as it takes its time meandering through “Silent Spring”. The band’s LP, The Earth and The Sea and The Stars, is available for pre-order (or direct purchase after Saturday) through Bandcamp.

Arpeggi

“Never Meant 2”

If you enjoy some bedroom indie, I suggest checking out the music of Gav McIsaac who records under the moniker Arpeggi. “Never Meant 2” is the opposite of the overproduced singles we usually see churned out of L.A. Arpeggi might share the area code, but he opts for a simpler style, something more honest.  This December release carries a bit of winter chill in its tale which seems to place the narrator at the unfortunate point in a love triangle. “Never Meant 2” offers listeners a lofi expression of loneliness, but there’s beauty in it. Give the single from Arpeggi a spin below…