Mid-Week Mixdown: Jake Potter, Color Palette, Ori Kawa & The Entals, Sabir, The Franks, Slow Leaves, Elora, Carrabelle, Hugh Klein, Lucas Pasley

Welcome, music aficionados, to another edition of B-Side Guy’s Mid-Week Mixdown! The place where emerging artists, underground hits, and timeless classics converge to create the perfect soundtrack to get you over the hump and propel you towards the weekend. We’re here to offer you a well-crafted, eclectic mix of tunes, cherry-picked by the B-Side Guy himself. From the soul-stirring vocals of indie artists to the electrifying beats of the unseen gems, we’ve got a blend of sounds that will satiate every music palate. So sit back, plug in, and let the Mid-Week Mixdown be your sonic escape. Let’s dive into the rhythm and discover the music that you never knew you needed!

Jake Potter – “Virginia Is For Losers”

Opening with the atmospheric resonance of pedal steel and the rhythmic pulse of George Sluppick’s drumming, Jake Potter’s “Virginia Is For Losers” immediately draws listeners into a poignant narrative of a love that’s fading along a Virginia highway. Potter has a knack for distilling complex emotions into vivid lyrical imagery, crafting a melancholic ode to a love that’s lost but not quite forgotten. The song’s title, a clever play on Virginia’s slogan, frames the narrative, underlining a harsh truth—love sometimes ends in loss, and the places we associate with those losses become charged with pain and regret.

Potter’s vocal delivery is equally as impressive, carrying a timbre that is both raw and tender. His lyrics, steeped in the lore of Americana and country, are heart-wrenching and real. Lines like “When we found the bottom of the valley we made / Did you stop to watch all the colors turn gray?” and “Virginia’s for losers, losers like me,” showcase Potter’s adeptness at exploring the inner turmoil of heartbreak and disillusionment. The song is a testament to the universal human experience of love and loss, of coming to terms with the end of something once beautiful.

In “Virginia Is For Losers,” the North Carolina native, in collaboration with his guitarist Clay Conner and the talents of Charlie Hunter and George Sluppick, constructs a soundscape that is as expansive as it is intimate. The musicianship is outstanding, with the fusion of alternative country and rootsy rock and roll providing a backdrop that perfectly complements the song’s narrative. It’s a testament to Potter’s growth as an artist, his ear for production, and his ability to evoke emotion through his storytelling. The song is a beautiful, melancholic ballad that leaves a lasting impression, a snapshot of a moment suspended in time and the emotions that echo long after love has left.

Color Palette – “Pacing Like A Lion”

“Pacing Like a Lion,” the titular track from Color Palette’s latest EP, is a brooding yet anthemic exploration of the anxieties and rituals that encapsulate the life of a performing artist. As a Washington, DC-based indie dream pop band known for crafting lush sonic landscapes, Color Palette continues their trajectory of creating emotive and immersive music, echoing the likes of Bloc Party, M83, and Explosions in the Sky.

The lyrics, penned by principal songwriter and vocalist Jay Nemeyer, succinctly capture the paradox of performing: the waiting and anticipation, the need for distractions, the repetition of mantras, and the adrenaline rush of the crowd. “I was sitting in the green room, waiting for soundcheck, talking to the sound tech,” Nemeyer sings, setting a scene familiar to any touring musician. The chorus, “Pacing like a lion,” is a vivid metaphor for the restless energy and underlying tension that comes with performance, a feeling akin to a caged animal awaiting release.

“Pacing Like a Lion” is a brilliant encapsulation of the duality of being a performer— the excitement and anxiety, the monotony and spontaneity, the solitude and communion. It’s a testament to Color Palette’s ability to create music that is not only sonically compelling but also deeply reflective of the human experience. With its introspective lyricism and anthemic dreamgaze sound, “Pacing Like a Lion” is a standout track that continues to establish Color Palette as a force in the indie music scene.

Ori Kawa & The Entals – “Third Rock ft. Christina Barrett”

Released for Earth Day, Ori Kawa & The Entals’ “Third Rock ft. Christina Barrett” is a sonic tribute to our shared home planet. A cover of the original by Pure Essence, the song represents an exploration into the sub-genre of liquid rock, offering a sound as transformative and dynamic as the molten core of the Earth itself. The band’s fusion of rock, jazz, and funk-infused pop serves as a fitting soundtrack to the song’s global call to self-awareness and unity, with the warmth and adaptability of their sound mimicking the ebb and flow of molten rock reshaping landscapes.

Ori Kawa’s seasoned vocal performances pair harmoniously with the impressive instrumental talents of The Entals. The lyrics “The only thing, it is threatening you, Cause you, are funkin’ up yourself” and “People of the third rock from the sun, You can’t be you” evoke a sense of introspection and self-realization, a call to authenticity and to respect our shared human experience on this “third rock from the sun.” It’s a potent reminder of the interconnectedness of all life on Earth, made all the more compelling given the song’s release on Earth Day.

“Third Rock ft. Christina Barrett” demonstrates the collective strength of Ori Kawa & The Entals as they continue to carve out a niche in a musical landscape that is constantly changing, just like the Earth itself. This cover not only pays homage to the original performed by Pure Essence but also molds and shapes it into a new form, much like the process of natural geological transformation. Through their unique musicality and insightful lyric interpretation, Ori Kawa & The Entals have created a cover that is both a poignant reminder of our shared responsibility to our planet and a celebration of the diverse and dynamic nature of life on Earth.

Sabir – “sinning in Your name”

“Sinning in Your Name,” a standout track from Sabir’s debut album “in Your name, i sin,” is a poignant introspective journey that skillfully weaves the artist’s personal narrative with a broader commentary on the pressures of living up to familial legacy, first-generation American identity, and the often ruthless demands of the music industry.

The song opens with a recounting of Sabir’s grandfather’s decision to change his name, an act symbolizing his commitment to live a sober life apart from the drug-dealing environment he knew. This act reverberates through Sabir’s own life, as he too grapples with the choice between honoring his family name and the lure of “dirty money” and fame.

Sabir’s candid lyrics capture the internal struggle of living up to the expectations of his family, his culture, and his own ambitions. The recurring theme of being a “first-gen American” and a “white man’s experiment” suggests the feeling of being caught between two worlds – that of his Indian heritage and the pressures of American society. Sabir’s lyrics also indicate his struggle with ego, a necessary defense mechanism to protect against embarrassment but also a potential source of downfall.

In the song, Sabir acknowledges that his actions are not just his own, but also a reflection of his family: “Family gon’ gossip and my momma be watchin.” He understands that his choices could either uphold or undermine the legacy of his family name. Despite the pressures, he remains committed to his path, vowing to “change the rhetoric” and be the evidence of his own success.

The line “Do this for the kid sitting alone who wasn’t brave enough” suggests a desire to inspire others who may feel isolated or afraid to pursue their dreams. It indicates a sense of responsibility that goes beyond just personal ambition, revealing Sabir’s commitment to using his platform to uplift others.

“Sinning in Your Name” is an evocative exploration of the often complex interplay between personal ambition, familial legacy, cultural identity, and societal pressures. With his raw and honest lyricism, Sabir invites listeners to join him on his journey of self-discovery and self-affirmation, offering a powerful and relatable narrative that resonates with anyone grappling with their own identity and place in the world.

The Franks – “Through the Seasons”

The Franks’ recent offering, “Through The Seasons,” delivers an unmistakably evocative vocal performance – broken yet intriguingly melodic. Like a beautifully cracked vase, the vocals bear the scars of life, yet in these very imperfections lies a certain charm, a nod to the likes of Cobain and The Replacements. The authenticity of the singer’s raw and gritty snarl can’t be forged – it’s a potent blend of organic factors and life’s hard knocks. This unadulterated style of vocal delivery has been honed to perfection by the band’s frontman, lending a touch of vintage gravitas to The Franks’ sound.

Musically, “Through the Seasons” bears an indie charm reminiscent of the works of Hamilton Leithauser or Strand of Oaks. The instrumentation is unpretentious yet infectious, built on a straightforward jam that’s undeniably catchy. It serves as a compelling backdrop that doesn’t overshadow but rather complements the emotive power of the vocal, fostering a symbiotic relationship between the two. The track’s real magic, however, lies in its unique ability to draw listeners into its enthralling world and stimulate a deeply felt emotional response.

The repeated refrain, “I’m smiling don’t you know?”, acts as a poignant anchor throughout the track, grounding the listener in the song’s emotional landscape. It’s a curious lyric that carries an undertone of both melancholy and resilience, encapsulating the central theme of the song and serving as a rallying cry for listeners. Overall, “Through the Seasons” is a captivating listen, testament to The Franks’ ability to craft raw, emotionally resonant music that embraces the beauty of imperfection.

Slow Leaves – “American Band”

Slow Leaves’ new single “American Band” is a poignant homage to the world of touring, embodying the spirit of yearning and existential introspection. Rooted in the psych-folk milieu, the track evokes a striking blend of the timeless narratives of Nick Drake and Neil Young with the contemporary stylistic undertones of artists like Bonny “Prince” Billy and Big Thief. Grant Davidson’s – the man behind Slow Leaves – silky voice recalls the resonant tonality of Roy Orbison or Bryan Ferry, further solidifying the track’s nostalgic ambiance.

From the get-go, the song paints an intimate portrait of life on the road, harking back to classic American roots-rock motifs and evoking a Tom Petty-esque imagery. Davidson’s lyrics bring the listener into the heart of the touring experience, depicting the tantalizing allure and the draining reality of life in a band: “I wanna be in an American band / See the bright lights shining from the back of the van / And we’ll keep on rolling just as long as we can.” This duality is underlined by the song’s breezy, indie-rock rhythm and lush, folk-rock chorus – a musical blend that mirrors the lyrics’ contrasting themes.

Yet, it’s the song’s bridge that truly amplifies the existential questions often accompanying the romanticized rock and roll lifestyle: “I wanna see the ocean / Tell my baby I’m coming back home instead / I don’t feel good / I want my own sweet, own sweet, bed / I don’t feel so good no more.” This part reveals the weight of road-weary longing, the desire for something more meaningful, and the yearning for home. The refrain, “Will we ever see the ocean?” reverberates with the longing for release, signifying a sense of unfulfilled desires and dreams not yet realized. These sentiments are underscored in the song’s video, filled with nature-inspired abstract imagery. In essence, “American Band” captures Slow Leaves’ masterful art of transforming everyday experiences into profound, introspective narratives.

Elora – “Embers”

With her latest offering “Embers,” Elora effortlessly crafts a compelling narrative of loss and reconciliation, cloaked in a musically vibrant guise that is as mesmerizing as it is soul-stirring. Straddling the elusive boundary between psychedelic dream pop and classic folk rock, “Embers” emanates an aura of poignant intensity and raw emotional candor. Elora’s tender yet potent vocal performance finds a unique balance between vulnerability and strength, ultimately reflecting her growth as an artist. Her harrowing confessions – “I never thought we were best friends just to get stoned” – are not just a catharsis, but an invitation for listeners to share her emotional journey.

Intricate yet seamless arrangements underscore the emotive lyricism of “Embers.” The robust drums by Charlie Culbert and the synth bass infuse a rhythmic vitality that perfectly complements Elora’s poignant storytelling. Ethereal synthesizers by co-producer Theo Walentiny and gliding slide guitar riffs by Jake Nuffer add layers of dreamy richness, further deepening the sonic universe of “Embers.” The synthesis of these musical elements, expertly mixed by Jake Cheriff and mastered by Calbi/Fallone at Sterling Sounds, reflects Elora’s innovative songwriting approach, deeply rooted in personal experiences and emotions.

“Embers” serves as a testament to Elora’s artistic growth and maturity, her creative sensibilities honed by a background steeped in art and music, and nurtured by influences from The Beatles to indie rock artist Kate Davis. It’s her ability to weave emotional vulnerability with vibrant musical tapestries that sets Elora apart, exemplifying the transformative power of music in navigating personal upheavals. As a glimpse into her upcoming record ‘Pitfall’ with Paper Moon Records, “Embers” offers a promising indication of Elora’s evolution as an artist, holding the promise of even more emotive storytelling and inventive soundscapes to come.

Carrabelle – “Lay Low”

With the release of “Lay Low,” Carrabelle deftly demonstrates their evolving artistry, pushing boundaries while delivering a striking emotional resonance that leaves a lasting impression. This track, which forms part of their debut record “Static Waves,” serves as a stark reminder of the world’s darker facets, yet it’s imbued with a profound sense of longing that permeates every note. There is a palpable feeling of wanting to hold onto something meaningful despite the inevitability of change, captured poignantly in the lines “I can’t lose you now when it’s all becoming clearer / We fade into bone / Turning back to dust and hoping we’re remembered.”

From a sonic perspective, “Lay Low” bears the hallmark of Carrabelle’s signature throw-back sound that straddles multiple genres. The robust mixing by Justin Michel, the band’s latest member, crafts an atmosphere that echoes with elements of alternative rock, interwoven with the band’s eclectic musical influences. Carrabelle’s commitment to creating a sound that’s distinctly their own is evident in this song. The intimate ambiance of the recording, the intricate layers of sound, and the band’s emotive performances combine to create a truly immersive listening experience.

At its core, “Lay Low” signifies Carrabelle’s musical evolution since their second EP “Frozen Lakes.” The band’s creative growth, their relentless pursuit of a distinctive sound, and their willingness to push boundaries are exemplified in this song. With “Lay Low,” Carrabelle takes their listeners on a deeply personal journey, challenging them to face their fears while offering a glimmer of hope, making it not just a song, but an emotional experience. As they continue to carve out their niche in the alternative rock landscape, Carrabelle shows that they are a force to be reckoned with, their music a testament to their passion, talent, and the power of honest self-expression.

Hugh Klein – “Lead the Way”

With “Lead the Way,” Melbourne-born, Paris-based artist Hugh Klein steps fully into the limelight, offering his audience a first, unabashed introduction to his vocal prowess. It’s a tender neo-soul ballad, evoking the romantic ambience of the City of Light where it was born, laced with gentle melodic lines and softly brushed percussive grooves. It’s a song that aims for the heart and lands unerringly, capturing the listener with its heartfelt plea for intimacy and rebirth. Like the whispered utterance of a secret, Klein’s voice offers vulnerability and strength in equal measure, embodying the journey toward musical self-actualization the artist has undertaken.

Klein’s influences are a melange of Blue Note jazz, neo-soul, and feature film scores, and this eclectic inspiration is discernible in “Lead The Way.” However, the track is far from derivative, serving as a testament to Klein’s unique sonic identity, birthed from a fascinating juxtaposition of his past in film composition and his present in the Parisian music scene. There’s a cinematic quality to the song, its lush string arrangements, rich Rhodes & Wurlitzer elements, and Klein’s floating vocals creating an immersive soundscape that feels almost visual in its evocative power.

“Lead The Way” is a promising preview of Klein’s upcoming record ‘No Plans, No Rules’. If this single is any indication, listeners can expect the record to navigate themes of intimacy, adoration, and romance with deftness and delicacy. Hugh Klein proves himself to be a captivating storyteller, his songs providing not just a listening experience, but a rich narrative to dive into. His talent, honed behind the scenes in studios and as a composer for film and TV, shines through on “Lead The Way”, marking Klein as a rising star in the neo-soul landscape.

Lucas Pasley – “Where’s the You”

Lucas Pasley’s “Where’s the You” serves as a poignant reflection on the inevitable transformation individuals experience within a relationship. In this song, Pasley grapples with the poignant reality of evolving identities, depicting a raw and achingly familiar emotional landscape. The opening lines, “Now when I said that I would always stay with you / I meant the you that I was talking to,” encapsulate the song’s thematic core – the pain and confusion that come with love’s evolution. With his roots in Appalachian and Country music, Pasley’s approach is authentic and deeply personal, his lyrics tinged with a profound sadness that feels both intimate and universal.

A large part of Pasley’s magic lies in his ability to convey complex emotions with impressive clarity. In the song, he addresses both himself and his partner, acknowledging the changes that have driven them apart. This duality is beautifully conveyed in the lyrics, “I have changed, and if that gives me the blame / Then I’ll take the blame, but I couldn’t stay the same.” It’s a sentiment that echoes Albert Einstein’s quote cherished by Pasley’s grandmother, capturing the dual disappointment when neither party in a relationship changes in the ways expected by the other.

In “Where’s the You,” Pasley combines his talent as a traditional fiddler/banjoist with his songwriting skills to create a hauntingly beautiful and poignant ode to lost love and change. His instrumental solos and harmony singing add depth and emotional resonance to his lyrics, creating a rich sonic tapestry that underscores the song’s thematic elements. If this track is any indication, listeners can look forward to more insightful and evocative offerings from Lucas Pasley in his upcoming 2022 album.

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