For the Record: Levity by The SunPunchers

sunpunchers 01by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

The SunPunchers released their much-anticipated debut LP last month and I’ve been entrenched in Levity pretty regularly since then. There’s something about the band’s vintage sound that takes the listener back to a more hardscrabble time. So, the longer I listen to this album, the more stoic I become. Levity reminds me of the beauty in the struggle for honest and simple living.

From the start of the opening track, “Brown Metal Box”, the listener will realize they’re in for something special. The arrangements are subtly exquisite beneath a warm, front-porch veneer. “Screwtop Head”, one of my personal favorites, comes next with its haunting grace and ruminating lyricism.

In all honesty, every track on Levity is unique and enchanting. There are all these tender moments of aural beauty that sit nicely next to the wry, unflappable humor interwoven into the lyrics.

In keeping with the series, I had a chance to ask Betsy Ganz of The SunPunchers some questions about Levity, influences, what’s next for the band, and more. Check out our Q&A below, but first, maybe hit play while you’re reading…

Carly Schorman: So, to get us started, who are The (official) SunPunchers? And who else joined in for the recording of Levity?

Betsy Ganz: The official Sunpunchers are myself, Lindsay Cates, Dominic Armstrong and honorary member Jon Rauhouse. Great and giant thanks to the amazing musicians Jon Rauhouse, Robin Vining, Jeff Schnuck, Megyn Neff, Mike Wolfe, Aldy Montufar, and Rachel Ludeman who lent their mighty badassery to the record.

How did The SunPunchers first start playing together?

I started playing as a duo with a mandolin player named Jeff Schnuck and recorded an EP in 2013 and played with Lindsay Cates on bass, Jon Rauhouse on pedal steel and banjo when he was off tour, Henri Benard on drums and Fred Reyes on bass clarinet/alto sax. We met Dom when we were recording the record at 513 Recording and he was available moving forward.

The lyricism in this album is so vibrant, as is the instrumental arrangement. Just curious what the songwriting process is like for The SunPunchers? Do you work on songs together or do different band members assume different roles until you achieve your end?

I wrote the lyrics and melodies and had some of the instrumental parts layed out (see attached photo of road map). Jon Rauhouse came in and has this intuitive gift to create and play a part that cements the feel and intention of the song. Thanks forever to Jon and his sense of humor and practical advice.

Dominic, Lindsay and I improvised a lot in the studio- Dom is really good at production , helping to trim down or build up the song to reveal it’s essence. He played more than a few instruments himself to get to the heart of things and mixed the record with input from the band and Catherine Vericolli of 513 Recording. Lindsay improvised some bass hooks that are so unexpected and killer. She knew what she wanted to play and why and had a clear eye on the direction we were going.

There’s a vintage charm to the sound of The SunPunchers that I think contemporary listeners will really love. What musicians do you draw inspiration from to give shape to The SunPunchers’ sound? Does that list vary considerably from band-mate to band-mate?

In the middle of the Venn Diagram is John Prine, Tom Waits, Nina Simone, Lucinda Williams, Fleetwood Mac, Calexico, Neko Case, Feist, Gillian Welsh and Dave Rawlings, to name just a few.

I love the image that was used for the cover art on this album. Where did you find the artwork? (I hear it might be a thrift store find.)

Indeed! I found that etching in a thrift store on Mohave Ave. I took it apart and found that it was drawn in Germany in the early 1900s. The artist name and title is illegible, but beyond that we thank the thrift store goddesses for their generosity, and we hope to someday track the artist down. It’s an amazing image and captures the mood and feel of the record.

The SunPunchers hosts a weekly jam (and toast) session at The Lost Leaf. Can you clue in our readers as to what they might expect at Tuesday Toast?

We host Toast Tuesdays at The Lost Leaf every second Tuesday of the month starting around 9 PM. We invite and encourage singer songwriter’s to air out their new song undies in a safe environment, while we prepare and serve free Nutella Toast to the people! We received a sponsorship from Dave’s Killer Bread for this community building event and encourage everyone who shows up to donate new underwear/socks for the men and women of Circle the City, healthcare for the homeless.

Now, that the album is out, any plans for a short respite or are you right back to working on new material? I also hear the band will be participating in some fun festivals in the post-summer months.

Getting gigs on the books as we speak, and demo-ing new material. We’ll add dates as they are confirmed onto facebooktwitter, and insta.

~

5 Stellar Songwriters You Should Know

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Young Mothers

“They Were Right”

After a three-year hiatus, Young Mothers is back with a slinky new sound and the same clever lyricism that initially sparked our musical love affair with the Phoenix band. “They Were Right” deals with the crushing disillusionment that comes with, well, growing up. It fucking sucks but Young Mothers manages to capture that angst with a mix of wry wit and brazen honesty. Songwriter Zach Toporek hits home on more occasions than I have space to recount. I might just tattoo the line, “I got a big fucking problem with all the little things,” on my face to save time with all future conversations. Check out “They Were Right” below… Oh, and hey Young Mothers, glad to hear you’re back.

Jeremy Tuplin

“O Youth!”

Jeremy Tuplin comes to us from London-via-Somerset and you can hear some BritPop influences in his easygoing indie sound. It’s Tuplin’s unique vocal style and thoughtful lyricism that drew me into his new single, “O Youth!”, which will be released as part of his forthcoming debut album, I Dreamt I Was An Astronaut. Combining electronic elements with acoustic instrumentation for an organic sound that will warm away the weariness of your soul. Give “O Youth!” by Jeremy Tuplin a listen below and join me in the wait for the complete LP which is due out this coming September. Or you can head here for your own digi-download of the single.

Angharad Drake

“Baby”

“Baby” is the opening track from Angharad Drake’s 2017 LP, Ghost, which came out in April. This folk artist from Brisbane has an elegant sense of pacing which you can hear on “Baby” in its gentle breath and subtle energy shifts. And, did I mention Drake’s voice? There is a lovely litheness to the vocals on “Baby” that sit well against the haunting melody, reinforcing the ethereal atomsphere. Give “Baby” a listen below or head here to secure your own copy of Ghost, the complete LP, from Angharad Drake.

Emma Guzman

“Last Page”

Ugh, that calm and pensive voice of Emma Guzman burrows straight into the center of my heart. “Last Page” presents Guzman’s brooding songwriting style with the earnest force that defines her work, tempered but powerful. This single comes to us from Emma Guzman’s 2017 LP, Roots, which is available in full here. But, first, settle down with “Last Page” below…

Emay Holmes

“The Deployment Song”

Emay Holmes holds down an interesting day job while penning pensive songs by night. Holmes is a currently serving airman aboard the USS Nimitz and in his new single explores the strain of military life on the personal connections back home. “The Deployment Song” comes to us from Holmes’ forthcoming LP, Deep Down. That’s a release we’ll certainly be keeping watch for. Give the single a spin below…

7 Feel Good Music Videos

Raye Zaragoza
“Fight for You”

Quinn DeVeaux
“Left This Town”

Jordan Prince
“Sophomore Year”

Pace
“Through Your Fingers”

FELTWORTH
“Forget This Feeling”

Shaheed and DJ Supreme
“Glorious Day”

Life of Dillon
“Focus”

5 Mellow Morning Singles

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Novo Amor

“Colorway” 

For our regular readers, you might already be familiar with the haunting music of Novo Amor. Oftentimes, listeners will find Novo Amor’s celestial vocals and gentle orchestrations create emotional complex dreamscapes for wandering minds in need of soothing. “Colorway” proves no different. This latest track comes to us from Novo Amor’s recently released EP, Bathing Beach, so if you dig the single make sure you delve the full release. But you can always start with “Colorway” from Novo Amor below…

Simple Man

“Freedom of Smile”

This genre-blurring quintet from Highland Park (NJ) known as Simple Man (even though there are four of them)  released their s/t debut earlier this year and “Freedom of Smile” comes to us from that EP. The song kicks off with some gentle alt/indie permutations, but as we move through the track, some other elements begin to sneak their way into the sound, up to and including reggae. The EP was produced by Jeremy McDonald at the Brooklyn-based studio Mason Jar Music. I suggest giving “Freedom of Smile” a spin below and then heading here for the complete EP.

Flora Cash

“California”

Flora Cash brings our only electropop number to this mix, but one that approaches with the ease of a pleasant dream rather than a club-banger. Unlike all those Cali-based bands who write songs about their homestate, Flora Cash calls Stockholm home and approaches our Western neighbor more as a place of mind rather than a physical locale. According to the artists, the song “describes a longing to be free” no matter the rigors in place to achieve an unencumbered existence. Check out “California” below or head here for the digital download!

Cardinal Harbor

“Altar Ego”

Chicago’s Cardinal Harbor takes elements of prog-, indie-, and alt-rock for a unique musical merging on their mellow new single, “Altar Ego”. The track kicks off with some atmospheric harmonies before tethering the sound through some salt-of-the-earth guitars .The song remains dynamic from start to finish but it does so with total fluidity. “Altar Ego” is the opening track from Cardinal Harbor’s EP, Euclid, which is available for preview and purchase here. But you can start with “Altar Ego” below…

Niko Rose

“Ms. Lady”

Oh, the Rose brothers of Cave Creek. So musically talented, so difficult to tell apart… That’s okay. We love them all. Niko, who may or may not be the youngest (who can say?), dropped this lovely little ditty last month. Short, sweet, and totally enchanting, “Ms. Lady” is one of those songs I can put on repeat to embarrassing ends which feels a little lecherous. But, hey, it’s music. Listen to “Ms. Lady” from Niko Rose below…

 

New Track Premiere: “West Coast Vibes” by Delafaye

delafaye 01

We’re super excited to host the premiere of Delafaye’s latest single, “West Coast Vibes” from his forthcoming EP, Highlands.

Now, I first heard the music of Andrew Shockley (aka Delafaye) with the artist’s 2016 EP, The Hilltop. His somber style and heart-torn voice immediately caught my attention. Since then, I’ve been trying to keep up with the Lousiville artist’s musical undertakings.

After signing with the London label Street Mission Records, Delafaye was ready to undertake the recording of Highlands which is set for release this coming July.

“West Coast Vibes” comes to us from that release. The single creates a easygoing atmosphere like that chill morning fog that rolls in over coastal California. Peaceful and meditative but not quite as optimistic as a seaside visit in the bright of full daylight. This track is a promising taste of what’s to come from Delafaye.

And, without further ado, here’s the new single from Delafaye… give it a spin while you read the interview below..

YabYum: So, this is the first single from your forthcoming EP, Highlands, which is due out next month and I see you’re teaming up again with Street Mission Records for this release. Just curious how a musician out of Kentucky connected with the London label?

Delafaye: Yeah, always exciting to release new music. It’s funny, I was posting my music on Soundcloud just for something to do. Dani, with Street Mission, somehow came across it and sent me an email asking if I wanted to sign with his new label. I laughed at first because it was hard to believe but it has turned out great and has been really enjoyable.

I also really want to know what led you to choose the moniker “Delafaye” for your music-making?

I chose Delafaye because it was a street that my good friend Kendrik lived off of. We were cruising around one day and I was trying to think of a name that would be original and not terribly corny. I saw the street sign and instantly knew I would use it. We played music over there all of the time so it felt fitting. Since then I’ve tried to incorporate Louisville into all of my music. The Hilltop being where I currently reside and I’m always hanging out in the Highlands.

Where did you record the new EP? And who performs on the recordings (in addition to yourself)? Did other artists kick in their talents?

I recorded the EP in my apartment. I like to do the writing and recordings alone just to push myself as an artist. I see creating music as a getaway from the boring reality of everyday. It’s my favorite hobby and something I will always do. As far as collaborating with other artists, maybe that will happen on the next EP/album.

I was quite taken with The Hilltop which came out in January. January to July is a pretty quick turn around.

Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, I finished up this EP a few weeks ago and I’m working on new material now. I think it’s important, especially as a new artist to get new music out there.

There’s such a calm pensiveness to your songs that immediately captured my interest all those months back when we first heard you. Who are some of the songwriters you draw inspiration from?

I’ve always enjoyed calm music myself; something to take the edge off after a long day. I think I’m inspired everyday by different songwriters. Growing up, the ones who probably really did it for me would be Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, and John Lennon. There’s so many but I’d say those were the big ones.

What’s next for Delafaye? Tour plans? Music Videos? Maybe a visit to the London label? Writing more music?

All of the above hopefully. I’m playing with a full band now and we have a nice show coming up opening for San Fermin. Hopefully, this kicks off more shows in the future and possibly a tour. Filmed a couple acoustic videos that should be released soon and I’m always writing music in my spare time.

~

For more Delafaye, check out his SoundCloud page or head here to secure your Pre-Order of his forthcoming album!

7 Rad Music Videos: The Folk & Alt-Country Edition

Tall Tall Trees
“SeagullxEagle”

KaiL Baxley
“Killin’ Floor”

Slings & Arrows
“That Was Me Then”

Joe Marson
“Gotta Be Good”

Tally Spear
“Wrong  Side of the Road”

Mason
“Rockstar Paperboy”

Alice Wallace
“I Just Don’t Care Anymore”

7 Stellar Songwriters You Need to Know

songwritersThe SunPunchers

“Screwtop Head”

The SunPunchers released two singles in prelude to their new EP which comes out THIS WEEKEND. These songs have a sticky summer warmth, like laying on a screened-in porch on a day buzzing with mosquitoes. There is an aesthetic here of sun tea and swimming holes brought to life through stunning, and stunningly demure, musicianship. The release show goes down at The Newton on May 20. Once you hear “Screwtop Head” from The SunPunchers, I can’t imagine that there’s anywhere else you’ll want to be this coming Sunday. More info on that event can be found here.

Violetta Zironi

“Half Moon Lane”

Wait until you hear the ethereal voice of 21-year-old Italian singer/songwriter Violetta Zironi. It’s not just her voice that enchants listeners of “Half Moon Lane” but the charming narrative of her songwriting style.  The single has a stripped-down sound reminiscent of those swan-throated folk musicians of the 1970s like Vashti Bunyan. Just part my hair down the middle and wrap me in an afghan and I could listen to “Half Moon Lane” from Violetta Zironi all afternoon. I certainly hope to hear more from this artist soon.

Tuelo

“Saint Margaret”

“Saint Margaret” kicks off with just a minimal guitar line and the soulful voice of Tuelo Minah. That’s actually all you need. But, as the underlying instrumentation picks up, Tuelo continues to drive the single with those powerful pipes of hers. The song pays tribute to Minah’s mother in a way that I find both empowering and tinged with a certain sorrow that I feel many women hold for the experiences of our mothers. “Saint Margaret” by Tuelo is emotionally moving and sonically compelling so I suggest you check the single below…

Luca Chesney

“Maria, Promise Me the Next Life”

There are some really interesting things happening in the subtle sound permutations on “Maria, Promise Me the Next Life”; the new single from NYC-based singer, songwriter, and producer Luca Chesney. This alt-electro track is a disembodied but emotionally textured journey. “Maria, Promise Me the Next Life” is the first single from Chesney’s s/t debut EP. I’m hoping to get my hands on that release sometime soon. In the meantime, enjoy this new single from Luca Chesney.

Madeleine Dopico

“Me to Bleed”

This isn’t the first time we’ve featured the music of Madeleine Dopico in our publication and I’m starting to think that we’re going to build a lasting relationship. The promising young songwriter crafts emotionally powerful soundscapes that she meets head on with her robust voice. On “Me to Bleed”, Dopico creates a haunting atmosphere for her brooding lyrics and manages to throw in just the right amount of dramatic flair to keep things interesting. That’s a combo a mortician’s daughter like myself can get behind in her pop music.

Bradford Loomis

“Drive You Home”

Bradford Loomis (of The Banner Days) dropped his first solo album since 2013 in March. Bravery and the Bell features this gem of a single, “Drive You Home”. Loomis penned the album after learning that his father was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer’s. The soulful sound of Bradford Loomis’ folk style comes through with an earthy Americana that feels like it could easily find a home in Nashville, but the artist calls Washington (state… not that other one) home. Check out “Drive You Home” from Bradford Loomis here…

 Arpeggi

“Songs Don’t Help”

The Los Angeles songwriter who pens somber ditties under the name Arpeggi released her debut album, Senioritis, around this time last year. On that album, you’ll find “Songs Don’t Help” which delves into those Bell Jar moments when nothing seems to push back the skulking clouds of depression – not friends, not love, not even music (gasp). If you like your indie music stripped down and brooding, I suggest checking out “Songs Don’t Help” from Arpeggi. Or head here for the complete album.

Songs from the Reading Room: koleżanka

koleżanka 00koleżanka (Kristina Moore joined by Arky and Winter Calkins) joined us at the Reading Room and shared these lovely songs with all in attendance, which now includes all of you as well. Both tracks will appear on their much anticipated debut album Vessel, which is due out in June. But before that, catch them live on Tuesday May 16 when they open for Silver Ships at the Trunk Space.

In the meantime, allow their experimental/electronic/noise pop to wash over you and succumb to its beauty. Check out both koleżanka videos below.

koleżanka
“Flyfishing/Snow Cone Summer”

koleżanka
“Pageant”

7 Mellow Singles for Your Morning

Joel Porter

“St. Anthony”

Sometimes beautiful things reach us from unexpected locales… like the breathtakingly beautiful “St. Anthony” from Bismark [North Dakota] artist, Joel Porter. This slow-burning indie-folk single just might break your heart so enter aware. Porter is the musician son of musician parents, and a multi-instrumentalist (from violin to french horns and a whole lot in between), so I went into this single expecting quite a bit, but “St. Anthony” still manages to blow me away. Subtle yet orchestral. Restrained yet deeply emotional. Listen to “St. Anthony” below and then I definitely recommend diving into the complete EP that Joel Porter put out last month, Mountain Twin.  

Vansire

“Pale Blue”

The dream pop act known as Vansire released their EP – The Rolling, Driftless North – a few months back and that album included this sweet single. “Pale Blue” almost has a BritPop sound (à la Belle & Sebastian) so the track’s basically been on repeat all day. Maybe its something about that snowy weather up in Minnesota that gives Vansire its Glasgow glow, but the band manages to sound buoyant and sorrowful at the same moment and the effect is lovely. Give “Pale Blue” from Vansire a listen below &/or check out the band’s complete EP: The Rolling, Driftless North

Say Anise

 “One Sound”

London-based singer-songwriter Emily Barnett performs under the moniker Say Anise; a name you’ll probably want to remember after you hear this dreamy number. Barnett has a sweet-tempered voice that floats over the easygoing indie folk instrumentation of “One Sound”. It’s a subtle charmer that pairs well with a relaxing morning at home and maybe some quiet reflection about where you are in the world and where you want to be going. Give “One Sound” from Say Anise a listen below…

Simen Mitlid

“I Don’t Care”

This new track from Simen Mitlid has a lithe indie-folk sound that will invigorate you, mind and body. Mitlid’s effervescent voice meets the symphonious instrumentation and sprightly harmonies of “I Don’t Care” with anything but apathy, no matter what the title suggests. Mitlid comes to us from Os (in Norway), but I’m hoping his music lands him stateside sooner rather than later. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this artist in hopes of new tunes on the approaching horizon. In the meantime, enjoy the blithe sound of Simen Mitlid’s “I Don’t Care” below…

SCHWARZ

“Home”

SCHWARZ is the new musical undertaking of Roland Meyer de Voltaire (formerly of the band Voltaire). “Home” takes us to the somber side of mellow for this introspective exploration of what it means to belong. SCHWARZ takes a stripped down approach on this acoustic single, but he still packs the emotive charge of an ensemble. SCHWARZ’s “Home” just dropped on Spinnin’ Records a couple months back. Give the track a listen below…

Tega

“Love Is”

The Canadian act known as Tega shared “Love Is” and this indie-folk single has a neo-soul slant I really love. The vocal layers that float above the tranquil melody on “Love Is” create a haunting sound that will stay with you long after you listen. If you dig this track, I suggest delving further into Tega’s online offerings [here]. But, first, check out “Love Is” by Tega below…

Jynjo & R E L

“A Little Bit Sometimes”

LA-based singer/songwriter R E L teamed up with the producer known as Jynjo to craft out this chill single. The indie-electro “A Little Bit Sometimes” has some fun bounce to it without ever breaking its relaxed atmosphere. And you gotta love the supple vocals of R E L. Kick it with “A Little Bit Sometimes” from Jynjo & R E L…

Radio Phoenix Podcast: Battered Suitcases

 

Sharon and Frank Labor of Battered Suitcases joined the YabYum crew down at Phoenix Center for the Arts. They brought along some really great tracks, spanning time and space, that really show some shining examples of lyrical prowess, from Jim Carroll to Leonard Cohen. The complete podcast can be found below!

Complete Playlist:

Battered Suitacses “Whore/Drama Queen”

The Jim Carroll Band “Catholic Boy”

The Dead Weather “The Difference Between Us”

Bob Dylan “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”

Leonard Cohen “Chelsea Hotel #2”

Battered Suitcases “Wild Dogs”

Grand Master Flash “The Message”

The Doors “The Wasp”

Battered Suitcases “Can You Help Me”

Leonard Cohen “Leaving the Table”

Recorded Live on April 19, 2017.