“The Laws of Nature”
“Won’t Be Back”
“Darkness is a Filler”
Project Tom Buffalo
“Kill it All & Grow Some More”
by Carly Schorman
Singer-songwriter Howe Gelb is practically synonymous with the Tucson sound: something a little dusty and desolate. Back in February, Gelb released the aptly-titled album, The Open Road – Arizona Amp & Alternator, which offers fans a collection of singles and sketches reaching back over the past five years.
The Open Road kicks off with the title track opening the album which will bring a flush of the familiar for fans as that distinctively ambling alt-folk fills your ears. As far as favorites from the release goes, I love the noir vibe of “five star hotel” but I’m also quite taken with the closing track’s yarn about a gal called “jane by any other name”. And, I can’t count out “left of center” which features Lonna Kelley as the guest vocalist.
Even the instrumentals on this album are wonderfully vivid; merging jazz-lounge ambiance with a bit of the beer’n’burlesque feel of the Wild West. This album meanders with surprising grace given that the tracks were pieced together over a such extended period. Then again, it’s in no way surprising if you’re familiar with Gelb’s extended body of work not only as a performer but also as a producer. As the weather moves toward sweltering, this is the perfect album to sink into in its entirety on those listless evenings spent waiting for the sun to set.
Phoenix songwriter and musician Robin Vining of Sweetbleeders fame released a collection of stripped down songs last month. Is There Someone for Everyone? really shows off Vining’s strengths as a songwriter and composer, moving from sprightly sea ballads to melodic musings on the nature of love. Each song stands on its own accord without a single instance of the filler I too often find on other albums.
There’s no picking a favorite song for me here. The piano-driven title track feels like the perfect rainy day song while the intentionally sparse and powerfully desperate “Temptation” begs for repeated listens. And I do love the Western amble of “Watch Where You Step”. The trademark pliancy of Vining’s vocals come through in high shine on tracks throughout the album, particularly on “Wild at Heart” and “Ice Floes”. Bascially, music-lovers, you just need this album in your life.
The Lonesome Wilderness dropped their much-anticipated EP, Lush, at The Rogue in January and we were on hand to help celebrate the occasion. Lush offers up five tracks of desert garage rock that ignores any presumed division between alt and indie.
The EP opens with “Karma” which feels like it holds all the spiritual insight of a really great acid trip. The somber, and slightly sullen, “Alright” delivers just the right amount of angst before the energy gets turned up for illicit tale of “Murder in Chicago”.
The texturing gets downright trippy on “Stay Out of the Sun” but the band doesn’t rely on those extended post-rock tangents to fill out the EP. Although there are those moments too, this band has a Western sensibility that rises to the surface of their sound, even when the rocknroll comes in without all the textural flourishes usually found in over-abundance on “desert garage rock” releases. They keep things crisp, even when it gets fuzzy. “Nico”, the almost 5-minute closing track, is my late-to-the-game favorite from Lush. There’s a very “Chelsea Hotel No. 2”, folk-rock feel that gives way to modern modes of song construction (or Deconstruction).
As much as I love Lush, there’s nothing quite like the way The Lonesome Wilderness turns their tracks into a post-rock soup at their live performances. So, after you spend sometime with Lush, make sure you add The Lonesome Wilderness to your “Acts to See Live” list (we all have those, right?) if you haven’t done so already. Listen to Lush below…
by Carly Schorman
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.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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 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.
The folk songwriter known as Ivory Tusk enchants listeners on his new single, “Ripples”. This single provides an engaging opening for Ivory Tusk’s recent release, Rising Lights, which came out on Jan. 8th. Ivory Tusk originates from Buenos Aires where he also recorded Rising Lights. His forthcoming release, Zephyr, due out later this year, was recorded in Nashville. Ivory Tusk is planning a European Tour this year, but we at YabYum are hoping still for a Phoenix stop to be added. Last time Ivory Tusk passed through he shared the Trunk Space stage with Justin Moody. Now, that I’d like to see. Until we get those tour dates, enjoy “Ripples” below and then head here to listen to the complete EP.**[See Note Below]
The smoky vocals of Lea Thomas drew me into “Want for Nothing” – the title track from her 2017 album. Calm but in no way aloof, “Want for Nothing” manages to attain soothing and emotionally tumultuous in the same stanza. Originally from Maui, Thomas is Brooklyn-based these days. There is definitely a citified air to her sound, one more cloudy than sunny. I can get behind that. Check out “Want for Nothing” below and then head here for the complete LP.
Justin Levinson applies a 60s slant to contemporary indie pop for a refreshing, summertime sound. This East Coaster definitely has some California vibes buried in his heart of hearts. “Homewrecking Machine” carries some Beatles-esque motifs in the soundscape, including rich harmonies and uplifting energy. The single comes to us from Levinson’s 2017 release, Yes Man, so if you dig what you’re hearing, I suggest procuring the complete album for your personal collection (available here).
I’m totally enamored with the musical stylings of George Linton. This songwriter from the U.K. has a stripped down style that hinges on the storytelling of his songwriting. “That’s Okay My Dear” has a sweet-tempered sound to match its doting lyricism. Definitely spend some time with “That’s Okay My Dear” below. This demo track is a tremendously promising start for young Mr. Linton.
L.A.-based songbird Nilu offers up this simple and soulful single, “What I’m Looking For”. Only single guitar provides the stripped bare melody over which Nilu’s voice flies. Lithe and powerful, Nilu’s vocals define this track and make it shine. Check out “What I’m Looking For” by Nilu below and then head here to add the single to your own playlists.
Gah! What’s with this British songwriters totally ripping out my heart this week? “My Bluebird is a Storm Petrel” comes to us from Lewis Dalgliesh’s recent release, From a Journal, which was written over a seven month period while the songwriter was driving with companions from London to Cape Town. Yes, folks, driving. And, for those of you who aren’t sure where those places are, look at a goddamn map, you’re embarrassing the rest of us Americans. This single has a wayfaring air and a calm, pensive attitude. Just the sort of thing you would hope might emerge from traveling across the world. Listen to “My Bluebird is a Storm Petrel” below. From a Journal, in its entirety, can be found here.
Swan Levitt comes to us from Isle of Wight, UK – surprise, surprise. Apparently, it’s Brit Songwriter Day here at YabYum and no one told me. Whatever. This song, like those that came before it, is a new gem in ancient tradition. “You Were Human” has some real emotive energy and a sci-fi slant, how could I not love that? Levitt goes beyond the guitar-and-vocals combo to add some vibrant but subtle textures that really elevate the track. Take the single for spin a below. The track is also available for your private collection here.
**Correction: There was an error in the piece so the original content was changed to reflect the correct information. Our bad.
by Carly Schorman
Australian artist Lucas Laufen pairs a stripped down sound with an emotive lyricism; both of which can be heard on his new single, “Boulders”. Laufen spent much of this past year out on tour, but he returned to his home nation to perform and gather inspiration for his forthcoming release, due out next year, before heading to Berlin where the artist will be living for the foreseeable future while working on his second EP. “Boulders” is peaceful and pensive – my favorite combo. Give the single a listen below and then head here for the complete EP.
Nashville-based artist Nicole Boggs has a smoldering voice and a soulful sound on her new single – the aptly titled, “Something New”. After releasing her debut album three years ago, Boggs decided to take her sound in a new direction. This single is the transitory process between what was and what she will become. And, I must say, I’m intrigued. Fusing blues and soul, “Something New” provides a stellar introduction to the sultry vocal stylings of Nicole Boggs. Give the single a spin below or head here to get your own digi-download of the new EP, also titled Something New.
The mellow folk music of L.A.’s Cody Crump heard on “Seventeen” envelopes the listener in sweet and somber sounds. This single comes to us from Crump’s ambitious 2016 album, Good Luck, which clocks in at 19-tracks. Pairing a straightforward lyricism with an orchestral layering of vocals and guitars, Crump crafts an uplifting musicality on “Seventeen” that carries through to his other songs. You can check out the complete LP right here, but first give “Seventeen” a listen below…
This dreamy number by Amy Gillespie immediately reminded me of Joni Mitchell. Only then did I realize that the “For Blue” part of the title of this track was actually a dedication to Mitchell’s quintessential album, Blue. Gillespie shares many qualities with Mitchell including a penchant for introspective lyrics and gentle shifting soundscapes. Give “Wintertime (For Blue)” a listen below or score your own copy of the single here.
Staten Island’s Justy has a unique, smokey-sweet voice reminiscent of Macy Gray. On her latest single, “Can’t Explain”, Justy meanders through the enchantment of love against a mellow, jazz-tinged musicality. The single incorporates HipHop elements for a completely modern take on the love song. At only 21-years-old, Justy is quickly establishing herself as an artist to watch. Give “Can’t Explain It” a listen below…
The music of Bethany Becker might come along with the tag “country” but you shouldn’t go in expecting Loretta Lynn. Instead, think early Taylor Swift: pop-tinged country. “I Want Love” offers an innocent, earthy, upbeat anthem for those transitioning into adolescence. Hailing from Austin, the 18-year-old Becker proves she’s got promise on “I Want Love” which was written with a little assistance from Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer, Jeff Pardo. This single is the title track from her 2016 debut LP (available here). Check out “I Want Love” by Bethany Becker below…
Madi Earl might not be old enough to vote, but she’s already garnishing attention for her songwriting skills. “Walls” has an electropop vibe and smooth vocal style. Earl’s not just a singer-songwriter, but also a pianist and violinist. Madi Earl plans to release her debut EP next year so this is definitely a young artist to keep an ear turned toward. Give “Walls” a listen below or head here for your very own copy. If you dig “Walls”, I also suggest looking into other her previous singles (also available through iTunes and Soundcloud).
by Carly Schorman
This single from Anna Ash comes to us from the album, Floodlights, which came out in September. A 1970s smooth guitar kicks things off before Ash’s voice slinks in to steal the show. There’s a throwback style here that reminds me of Three Women-era Altman. But it’s the lyrics of Anna Ash really hooked me. They hit so close to home it’s like she’s transforming my thoughts to poetic, melodious meditations. Start with “Player” below, but this is an album you’re going to want to listen to in full (available here).
Alstroemeria, in case you were wondering, is a Peruvian lily, also known as the “lily of the Incas”. And, much like the flower of the same name, “Alstroemeria” is a thing of remarkable beauty. The Boston-based band is the brainchild of Daniel Alvarez de Toledo and also features the talents of Harry Burr, Pedro Calloni, and Jordan Dunn Pilz. Their latest single offers listeners an entrancing tune that will surround you with soothing sounds as the simple melody moves you through the introspective lyrics. Prepare to be swept along to “Alstroemeria” from Tolėdo. You won’t regret the journey.
This San Francisco four-piece crafts dreamy indie rock with brooding undertones on their track “Day Falls”; a single from the band’s s/t debut. At the center of crunchy guitar work and thick basslines, the voice of Tessa emerges to counterbalance the languishing musicality. This is the perfect pairing of earthly and ethereal. Listen to “Day Falls” here and then head here for the complete EP from Kingling.
Tucson-based singer/songwriter/musician/performing artist Katie Haverly posses an agile voice of resounding beauty. “Gold Rush”, the opening track from her LP, The Aviary, demonstrates Haverly’s easy grace as her voice dances over the intricate, but not overdone, instrumentation. This track serves as an excellent introduction to the music of Katie Haverly’s, but I suggest delving further into the complete album if you dig the single. Haverly shows her chops on this release, moving from soulful and bluesy to ethereal. Listen to “Gold Rush” below or head here to procure your very own copy of The Aviary.
The otherworldly voice of Rodes Rollins drifts out at the listener from a soupy indie rock sound on her new single, “Young & Thriving”. Rollins grew up in Colorado but has since called many cities home, including New York, Los Angeles, and Buenos Aires. This single comes to us from the artist’s forthcoming EP, Young Adult. Rollins possess an airy voice, but her tone is somber, heavy with reflection. Give “Young & Thriving” a spin below and join me in the wait for the rest of Young Adult from Rodes Rollins.
The smokey, soulful voice of Keren Botaro pairs nicely with the retro blues-rock musicality on “The Only One” – like brandy and cigars or shelled nuts and sawdust floors. The players keep things stripped down, but lively, and leave the flourishes to Botaro and her powerhouse vocals. This single comes to us from the artist’s forthcoming s/t debut EP. I, for one, am excited to hear what’s in store for us. The absence of Amy Winehouse has left us in need of some powerful pipes with that slinky lounge style. Until the EP drops, enjoy “The Only One” below or purchase the single for your personal collection here.
Wait until you year the lithe and jazzy vocals of Angela Sclafani. You’ll find yourself transported to a plush, 1920s speakeasy. Sclafani is a commanding vocalist. “Blossom” is a sinuous, retro-styled number with modern relevance. Give the single a listen below and make sure to check out Sciafani’s 3-track single which came out on October 7th. You can hear that here.
Perhaps you’ve encountered the music of Kyle Morton before through the work of the Portland post-pop act, Typhoon? If not, don’t worry. This single from Morton’s debut solo album will secure your future fandom as Morton emerges as a singer-songwriter in his own right. A dark and pensive meandering through a post-apocalyptic dream, “Survivalist Fantasy” is a new personal favorite. Morton has locked down at least 5k Spotify plays from me in the coming months. Listen to the single here and then continue on to Kyle Morton’s full-length release, What Will Destroy You. Oh, if the strange outro creeps you out, just start the track over and the beauty will distract you from your fears.
It’s not really appropriate to categorize Alycia Lang as an “emerging” songwriter considering she’s already earned her chops in bands like Waterstrider, Trails and Ways, and BOWS. But this single does mark a departure from her band status as Lang embarks on this solo endeavor so, in that sense, she is emerging as an artist in her own right. And, what a way to come out swinging, metaphorically speaking. “The Windowsill” is a breathtaking number; a moment of reflection encased in glass. This single proves a promising (new) start for Alycia Lang.
Clever and a little doleful, the lyrical content of this new single from Tim de Vil & His Imaginary Friends burrows into the listener, festering long after those final chords. Of course, if you’re wondering who Tim de Vil is, keep wondering. The band consists of Justin Robbins (vocals/guitar), TJ Reed (Bass), and Bradley Stell (Drums) so the songwriting duties do not fall to this mysterious Tim de Vil. From start to finish, a detached voice offers the listeners glimpses of inner turmoil that resides beneath the surface, vacillating between a singsong speech and a quietly mounting desperation. Listen to “Who’s Afraid of Sarah Little?” below…
The L.A.-based act known as Alyeska was formed by nineteen-year-old singer/songwriter/guitarist Alaska Reid. Reid joined forces with Ben Spear (drummer) and Enzo Scardapane (guitar/bass) and began shaping their dynamic sound. Ethereal vocals converge with brooding guitars on “EverGlow” and the effect is bewitching. Minimal texturing swells to an electric fullness and then ebbs again. This track came out earlier this year so let’s hope there’s something new from Alyeska on the horizon. In the meantime, listen to “EverGlow” here and, if you dig it, delve further into the band’s Soundcloud offerings.
Jeannette Lynn has a voice that is both earnest and lithe. That combo serves as a great vehicle for her heartfelt lyrics. The single, “11:11”, comes to us from Lynne’s sophomore effort, Rabbit’s Foot, which was released over the summer. An acoustic guitar is the only accompaniment needed because the rich vocal layers provide all the texturing you need. Jeanette Lynne hails from Philadelphia so we’re hoping she has Westward tour plans brewing. Check out “11:11” below and, if you like what you’re hearing, consider procuring your own copy of Rabbit’s Foot here.
Brooklyn-based singer-songwritere Rue Snider crafts a “love song to women who read books” on his new single, “Stories”. The track comes to us from Snider’s sophomore effort, Broken Window, which was released in October. The stripped down delivery of “Stories” pairs nicely with Rue Snider’s crisp, clear voice and gentle melody. Check out “Stories” below and consider that digital download of Broken Window for your personal collection (available here).
L.A.-based singer-songwriter Katie Ferrara creates a soothing and simple number with “In Your Arms”, the first single from her forthcoming EP. The track takes on a romantic hue that perfectly suits the sweet-tempered vocals of Ferrara. The new EP, Dream Catcher came out on October 22nd so you can score your own copy here. But, first, enjoy the single, “In Your Arms”, by Katie Ferrara below…
by Frank Ippolito
Gork’s new four-track disc, Lonely Crowd, isn’t perfect. What record is? However, it’s surprisingly filled with terrific melodies and thoughtful, stirring lyrics. The music gets downright soulful. A very, very good first effort.
But first, the backstory…
You know, there have been a lot of musicians who have reinvented themselves before becoming the person and recording the music they are known best for.
Alanis Morissette was the Canadian Tiffany before becoming the famous Grrl rocker.
Katy Perry was a Christian singer.
Even Billy Joel was a proto-heavy metal rocker (can’t/don’t want to imagine that…).
And that brings us to Gork, aka, Andrew Gork. In the past few years, Gork had been primarily known for comedic/parody songs. And although he had plenty of originals in his set, the crowd would beckon for songs about ex-wives, sex trafficking, even a song about Big Foot’s dick.
And, while he entertained the crowds, the venues didn’t really appreciate the off-color humor (spoilsports).
So he ditched all of the comedic songs and focused on his originals and found that he couldn’t get as many gigs. But that didn’t deter him.
Reinvention is a tough thing to handle. There will always be the naysayers, the haters, and the people who will be clambering for Big Foot dick songs, but Gork shines on Lonely Crowd.
And after he gets a couple of spins by those reading here today, and after a couple of spins around Valley’s venues, I believe that in the end, Gork will have the last laugh.
Why you should listen: Because you’ll hear someone who has put his heart into the music. And, basically, that’s all anyone can ask for.
What you should listen for: His lyrics. They are wonderful. Gork has a nice touch with a turn of a phrase.
What he sounds like: Like someone who is climbing out of the hole of redemption.
Perfect listening for: That first coffee on a Sunday morning.
My favorite part: Just the mere fact that here’s a guy who has written well over 100 songs and has finally hit the record button and played them. I dig that. A lot.
Listen to Lonely Crowd by Gork below: