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.

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Population:7
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Beshken
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Wall of Ears
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Urban Cone
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Tatran
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The Dead Zones
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The Howlin’ Souls
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7 Stellar Singles: The Neo-Soul Edition

Neo-Soul 00

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Wallace

“Diaspora”

I don’t even know where to begin with New Zealand’s Wallace. I mean, should I start with the jazzy vocals that floats atop “Diaspora” or that funky soup of sound that simmers underneath? It’s all so good. Wallace describes her sound as “future soul” and I certainly hope there’s a predictive element in that tag. Wallace teamed up with Sydney-based producer and vocalist Crooked Letter to create “Diaspora” using samples from Nigerian funk music. Check out the new single from Wallace below and keep watch for her debut EP later this year!

Frank Affer

“The Times”

Frank Affer teamed up with his brother to give shape to his forthcoming debut EP, L U V S O U N Z. “The Times” is just a little sampling from that album. Blurring the line between melodic rap and pop, Frank Affer drops his breezy lyrics over a subtle but sprightly beat.  The track definitely goes in for some of that radio-ready production, but it doesn’t feel heavy-handed. Not at all. “The Times” keeps things easygoing, but that doesn’t stop it from getting stuck in your brain space. This is a promising start for Frank Affer. Give “The Times” a spin below…

OsagieTheGreat

“The Water Song”

Richmond’s OsagieTheGreat takes a simple, kickback beat and shapes out a smooth summer single with “The Water Song”. Just like its straightforward moniker, “The Water Song” doesn’t go for an overly-embellished sound. No need to church things up when you’ve got a good thing going. The single was produced by Daghe and was released earlier this month so it still has that new car smell. Make sure you check out “The Water Song” from OsagieTheGreat below…

Afrikan Boy

“LITW”

Afrikan Boy (AB) gets personal on his new single, “LITW”. Recounting the story of his parents, from their initial meeting to their relocation to the United Kingdom. The single starts with a bit of whimsical guitar work, but the story carries a serious tone that matters the implications of its message. Don’t go into “LITW” expecting an easy hook and endlessly repeated lyrics. AB turns the focus inward with his lyrical prowess on “LITW”. Give the single a spin here…

Sam Nicolosi

“Our Blood” 

Sam Nicolosi takes an R&B path to Neo-Soul. His new single, “Our Blood”, infuses soul, blues, hiphop, and commercial pop into one chill sound. The saying goes that blood is thicker than water, but what does that really mean when there’s no shared love? According to “Our Blood”, not much. This track comes from Nicolosi’s debut EP, Origins, which dropped in April. If you dig “Our Blood”, make sure you delve into the full five-track release.

Jonny Lemons

“Stay Alive”

Phoenix R&B artist Jonny Lemons infuses an assortment of other styles, from hiphop to indie, for a modern twist on Soul. His new single, “Stay Alive”, addresses the anguish of loss not only in the lyrics, but also with the poignant texturing on the production end thanks to Jonny Lemons and Ryan Daminson. The vocals move from ambient to a sharp and expressive rhyme style that reminds me of Sage Francis in the way it is real and raw. Give “Stay Alive” from Jonny Lemons a spin below…

MF Robots

“Come On with the Good Thing”

The London duo known as MF Robots revives the vivacity of disco with their neo-soul sound.  “Come On with the Good Thing” has it all: the percussion, the horns, the harmonies, even the cowbell. MF Robots demonstrates some sharp musicianship in this funky nod to the Age of Glitter. And, just in case you’re wondering, the name stands for “Music For Robots,” not that other MF. Get down to “Come on with the Good Thing” from MF Robots below…

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indie electro 00

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

The Fontaines

“Vacancy”

The Fontaines might describe their sound as “New-Wop from L.A.” but I would definitely cite more New Wave influence than Do-Wop on their latest single, “Vacancy”. Ethereal vocals and a chill pop vibe make for a seriously catchy number. “Vacancy” comes to us from The Fontaines’ forthcoming LP which is currently in the works and the Los Angeles act just made their SXSW debut this year so this is one of those band’s you’re going to want to pay attention to. Big things in the works for The Fontaines.

Black Fly

“I Don’t Know”

So, when I first heard this track, I saw that it was demarcated as bedroom recordings of “goth synth music”. Perhaps, it goes without saying that I was wary going in, but thank goodness we have that strident “listen to all things” policy here or I might have passed right over the jewel that is Black Fly. The somber, but also uplifting, single from the Vermont artist known as Black Fly combines an elaborate synth soundscape with brooding vocals as the songwriter ruminates on toxic persona. “I Don’t Know” carries a sense of ponderous isolation and the emotional highs and lows that can be found in that secluded space. I’d tell you to follow Black Fly to keep watch for new singles along with me, but he’s not playing that social media game. Maybe the isolation fuels the music-making.

VVAVES

“Fall Apart”

VVAves, not to be confused with WAVVES, is 21-year-old Canadian musician Emma Sophia Rosen. The self-taught songwriter and producer shows some tremendous potential on “Fall Apart”, her first original single. The mellow beat and nimble vocals will entrance the listener so they might glaze right over the production’s crisp, radio-ready sound – an accomplishment in and of itself. During those first fifteen seconds of “Fall Apart” you might think you’re in for a grrl’n’guitar, but this song offers much, much more. I expect this is just the first I’m hearing of VVaves’ Rosen.

I M U R 

“Swirl”

The Canadian trio known as I M U R creates hallucinatory electropop perfect for drifting out of mind and body on those sweltering summer afternoons drawing ever near. On their new single, “Swirl”, it’s the dreamy vocals of Jenny Lea that drives the song and its musings on love. The underlying music is minimal but smartly layered to give shape and structure to “Swirl”. Chillax with “Swirl” from I M U R on those hot and hazy days of summer. If you dig this single, I suggest checking out the band’s LP, Little Death, which came out in March and features “Swirl”.

PARC

“4U”

French artist PARC now calls Los Angeles home. For his latest single, “4U”, PARC explores the terrain of his locale and the population that peoples its streets. The music on “4U” comes across as bright and buoyant with an easygoing energy. Basically, it’s everything SoCal. I can already tell that PARC is going to fit right in. Float in the relaxing atmosphere of PARC’s “4U”.

Foxgluvv

“crush”

The London songbird known as Foxgluvv dropped her sultry single, “crush”, earlier this month. Fusing sedate and smokey vocals with a hypnotic sound will put you into mellow mode after just one listen. The lyrics are more cool than confessional; giving on space to appear both interested and aloof at the same time. “crush” marks the first single from Foxgluvv but I’m hoping there are other tracks in the works. Until then, kickback with “crush”…

Bea Box

“I am quiet”

Bea Box is the stage name of Montréal artist Joannie Labelle. There is a lot of tension in the sound at the start her new single, “I am quiet”, that will wax and wane as the track progresses. This tension works well with the sense of calm that pervades the whole song. Bea Box seems to lean more toward avant-garde end of electropop rather than seeking to scratch out radio hits and I like that about her. You’ll find more than a calm and dreamy number on “I am quiet” (even though it’s that too). There are some interesting aural elements Bea Box cultivates within the sound of “I am quiet”. Experience it for yourself below…

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