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.

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”.

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.

mudd 02
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…