Weekly New Releases: James Hatem, Sea Ray, Shaina Hayes, Slow Coast, Madame Skedja, Smiles from the street, Laundry Boys, Michelle Daly, Rohith Shaker, and Smoke Fairies

Welcome to this week’s edition of Weekly New Releases on B-Side Guys! As the leaves turn and the air gets crisper, our playlist is here to match the mood of the season with a fresh batch of tracks. Each week, we delve into the world of music to bring you an eclectic mix of sounds from artists who are pushing boundaries, tugging at heartstrings, and sparking joy with their latest offerings. Whether you’re a fan of the mellow, soulful tunes or upbeat, energetic beats, we’ve got something to satisfy every musical palate. So, grab your favorite headphones, settle in, and let’s explore the newest gems that are setting the music world abuzz!

James Hatem – “All The Same To You”

In the realm of singer-songwriters where introspection reigns supreme, James Hatem’s “All The Same To You” emerges as a soul-stirring acoustic gem. Hatem, whose touring stamina and Nashville residency have seasoned his artistry, unveils a track that speaks to the melancholy of autumn in both its lyricism and melody. Reminiscent of the emotive storytelling of John Mayer and the poignant simplicity of Amos Lee, this song finds its footing in the familiar yet profound territory of love, loss, and the nuanced indifference of its aftermath.

The stripped-back production of “All The Same To You” underscores Hatem’s earnest vocal delivery, a voice that carries the weight of experience and the softness of reflective wisdom. There’s a Beatles-esque charm to the songwriting, an unassuming complexity that lingers beneath the surface of its accessible melody. It’s a testament to Hatem’s ability to blend the classic with the contemporary, crafting a sound that appeals to a cross-generational audience. His guitar work, honed on stages across North America and showcased in partnership with Gibson, adds a layer of authenticity that’s increasingly rare in today’s folk scene. “All The Same To You” is not just a song; it’s a cozy, introspective journey perfect for introspective evenings and reflective moments.

Sea Ray – “Stripmine Skyline”

Sea Ray’s return to the music scene is marked by the release of “Stripmine Skyline,” a track that effortlessly weaves together the ethereal essence of shoegaze with the more grounded sensibilities of indie rock. The song is a nostalgic journey, echoing the band’s rich history while simultaneously charting new territories. The accompanying video, a collage of archival footage, serves as a visual anthology of the band’s evolution and resurgence. It’s a powerful reminder of Sea Ray’s enduring influence in the alternative rock landscape, akin to the enduring appeal of bands like The Temper Trap and Bombay Bicycle Club.

“Stripmine Skyline” encapsulates the quintessential Sea Ray experience – a blend of moody ambiance and introspective lyricism, underscored by a chill yet compelling melody. The band’s skillful layering of instruments creates a soundscape that is both expansive and intimate, evoking a sense of introspection and wonder. This track is more than a mere addition to their discography; it’s a reaffirmation of Sea Ray’s mastery in creating music that resonates on a deep, emotional level. With this release, Sea Ray not only reclaims their place in the genre but also invites both old and new fans to join them in celebrating the ‘new days’ of their musical journey.

Shaina Hayes – “New Favorite”

Shaina Hayes’ “New Favorite” from her forthcoming album “Kindergarten Heart” is a tender reflection on the sweetness and nostalgia of early love. Set against a simple yet captivating guitar melody that blossoms into a rich, waltzy chorus, Hayes’ songwriting shines, crafting a narrative that’s both personal and universally relatable. Her voice, delicate and evocative, invites listeners into a world of romantic reminiscence, echoing the emotional depth and lyrical prowess of artists like Joni Mitchell and Regina Spektor. “New Favorite” is not just a song; it’s a journey back to the moments of burgeoning love, replete with the excitement and apprehension that such emotions entail.

Raised in the bucolic surroundings of Quebec’s Gaspé region, Hayes’ background is as unique as her music. Her transition from an agricultural science major to a folk-pop artist is a testament to her versatile artistry and commitment to authentic expression. The influence of traditional country and modern country stars is evident in her sound, yet she carves out a distinct niche for herself within the genre. “New Favorite” is a prime example of this, blending folk sensibilities with an alt-country twist, offering a fresh take on classic themes. With her ability to conjure vivid imagery and tap into deep-seated emotions, Shaina Hayes is poised to be a significant voice in contemporary folk and Americana.

Slow Coast – “Walk with Your Shadow”

Slow Coast’s “Walk with Your Shadow” is a compelling foray into the dynamics of acceptance and unity in relationships, delivered through an infectious indie rock rhythm. Singer-songwriter and producer Matt Lawton, hailing from southern California, has crafted an anthem that resonates with the ethos of working together rather than in opposition. The song’s vibrant energy, underscored by its driving beat and poignant lyrics, echoes the styles of Arctic Monkeys and Cage The Elephant, yet Lawton infuses it with his distinct beachy guitar hooks and sun-drenched indie-pop sensibilities. The track’s message, focused on embracing every part of someone, including their flaws, is thoughtfully interwoven with a melody that’s both upbeat and introspective.

Lawton’s background as a bedroom producer reflects in the intimate yet expansive nature of “Walk with Your Shadow.” The song’s lyrics, “You can’t be hiding from what lies below / I will unlock and walk with your shadow,” speak to the commitment of understanding and supporting a partner through their internal battles, a theme that’s masterfully coupled with the song’s lively indie rock vibe. Following the success of his previous single ‘Hypnotized,’ Lawton continues to establish Slow Coast as a project that combines catchy grooves with meaningful songwriting. The song is more than just a track; it’s an invitation to delve into the complexities of relationships and the beauty of growing stronger together, making it a standout addition to any summer playlist.

Madame Skedja – “Open Skies”

Madame Skedja’s “Open Skies” is a dreamy escapade into the realm of indie pop, flavored with a unique blend of musical influences. This track, coming from a group of seven Geneva-based musicians, showcases their talent for crafting songs that are both emotionally resonant and rhythmically compelling. The song is a perfect example of their skill in merging moody and chill vibes with an undercurrent of joy, creating a soundscape that feels both introspective and uplifting. “Open Skies,” with its pop clouds and ethereal atmosphere, stands as a testament to the group’s ability to navigate through different musical styles, from the melancholic reggae of “Wasting my Time” to the more dynamic and funky tones of “Reality.”

The essence of Madame Skedja’s music lies in its collective creation process, centered around the enigmatic figure of Madame Skedja, who acts as a mystical muse for the band. Their music, born out of spontaneous jamming sessions, evolves into finely crafted pieces, each bearing the mark of their collective creativity. The horn section in “Open Skies” particularly shines, adding layers of depth and brightness to the track. This song is more than just a musical piece; it’s a journey through a mosaic of reggae waves, funky riffs, and Afro/Balkan influences, all converging into a style that is distinctly Madame Skedja’s. The result is an auditory experience that invites listeners to join in the dance, revel in the music, or simply bask in the good vibes that the song so effortlessly exudes.

Smiles from the street – “break shape”

Smiles from the Street’s “break shape” encapsulates the quintessential elements of emo and post-hardcore, blending them with a raw grunge sensibility. The track is an embodiment of the genre’s characteristic emotional depth, marked by an engaging blend of angst and melody. Its classic emo sound is punctuated with a modern twist, capturing the essence of a genre that has continued to evolve while staying true to its roots. The melodic screaming in the track is not just an expression of raw energy; it’s a poignant conveyance of the emotional turbulence that lies at the heart of the song.

The energy of “break shape” is palpable, with a driving rhythm that propels the song forward and keeps the listener engaged from start to finish. This is music that demands to be felt as much as heard, with each chord and scream resonating with the listener’s own experiences and emotions. The band’s skillful blend of heavy and soft elements creates a dynamic soundscape that mirrors the ups and downs of the emotional experiences they’re portraying. The song serves as a powerful reminder of the cathartic power of music, especially within the emo and alternative rock genres, offering a space for both the expression and understanding of complex emotions. “break shape” is more than just a track; it’s an emotional journey, a burst of energy, and a testament to the enduring power of emo music to connect with listeners on a deep, visceral level.

Laundry Boys – “American Confidence”

In their debut EP “Yatzy Music Vol. 1,” (which we wrote more about here) Laundry Boys encapsulate a sound that is both reflective and forward-thinking with their focus track “American Confidence.” This piece uniquely blends the laid-back ambiance of slacker rock with the subtle intricacies of alt-pop, creating an audio tapestry that is as intriguing as it is enjoyable. “American Confidence” stands out for its introspective exploration of cultural contrasts, inspired by the band’s experiences in New York City. The track delves into the theme of self-assuredness, an attribute often associated with American culture, and viewed through the lens of the band’s Swedish background, offering a fresh, cross-cultural perspective on the concept of confidence.

The song itself is a harmonious blend of lo-fi rock elements and chill vibes, perfectly suited for those relaxed moments of introspection or casual gatherings. The band’s journey in crafting this EP – from naming the band to defining their musical philosophy – is reflected in the meticulous yet effortless feel of the track. It’s a musical illustration of the band’s evolution and their journey towards finding a unique sound that resonates with their artistic vision. With “American Confidence,” Laundry Boys have not just created a song; they’ve offered a sonic manifestation of their creative process and cultural observations, setting a high bar for the second installment of their EP series.

Michelle Daly – “My Mama Told Me”

With “My Mama Told Me,” the latest single from her upcoming album ‘January Skies’, Michelle Daly infuses the essence of classic R&B and soul into a modern context, creating a track that is as timeless as it is contemporary. This Berlin-based, Irish singer-songwriter channels the greats of yesteryears, bringing to mind the likes of Lisa Stansfield and Amy Winehouse, yet her style remains distinctly her own. The song’s narrative, a reflection on the rigors and uncertainties of the music and performing arts industry, is underpinned by an infectious Bill Withers-inspired groove that captures the resilience and optimism often required in the creative fields.

Daly’s rich and versatile vocal style, coupled with her soulful storytelling, turns “My Mama Told Me” into a personal and relatable anthem for anyone pursuing their passion against all odds. The track is not just a homage to the challenges faced in the arts; it’s a celebration of the enduring support and wisdom passed down through generations, as depicted in the reassuring words of Daly’s mother. The production, crisp and retro yet undeniably fresh, perfectly complements Daly’s narrative, making the song an engaging listen from start to finish. As Daly prepares for the digital release of ‘January Skies’ and a subsequent promotional tour, “My Mama Told Me” stands as a promising glimpse of what’s to come, showcasing her ability to blend classic soul sensibilities with contemporary flair.

Rohith Shaker – “These Walls”

Rohith Shaker’s “These Walls” is a testament to his eclectic musical prowess, blending a multitude of genres into a cohesive, energizing, and thought-provoking listening experience. Resonating with the intricate layers and experimental soundscapes of bands like Grizzly Bear and Beirut, Shaker’s song is a dynamic journey. It starts with an engaging, groove-filled intro that smoothly transitions into fuzzy, reverb-soaked pools of sound. Anchored by a blend of keys, guitars, and horns, the track evolves into an ambient outro featuring field recordings and experimental textures, showcasing Shaker’s flair for seamlessly merging diverse sonic elements.

The lyrics of “These Walls” delve into the complexity of human emotions and relationships, exploring themes of nostalgia, loss, and the need for personal growth. Shaker’s poetic verses, “So petty / So small / So painful / These walls / That I build in memory / Of those I loved / Dearly,” evoke a sense of introspection and longing, capturing the essence of his reflective and authentic songwriting style. As a Phoenix-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Shaker’s home recording techniques add an intimate and raw quality to the song, further enhancing its appeal. “These Walls” is more than just a track; it’s a vivid narrative woven through a rich tapestry of indie rock and experimental sounds, marking Rohith Shaker as a unique and compelling voice in the indie music landscape.

Smoke Fairies – “Carried In Sound”

Smoke Fairies, the enchanting alt-folk duo, have triumphantly returned with their sixth album, “Carried In Sound,” an opus that breathes new life into their discography. With this latest release, they’ve carved out an even more confident and immersive niche in their musical journey. The album unfolds over eleven tracks, each one a rich tapestry of bright, tantalizing tones that invite the listener into Smoke Fairies’ ethereal world. The eponymous title track, “Carried In Sound,” stands out with its emotive resonance, exploring themes of introspection, change, and the unavoidable march of time. The duo’s statement on the track, reflecting on self-perception versus external perception and the transformative power of time, lends a profound depth to the already captivating composition.

The UK tour accompanying “Carried In Sound” further enriches the album’s narrative, with performances set in churches and ruins that promise a transcendent experience. Recorded in the quiet of a terrace house, the album possesses a hushed, intimate quality, a testament to Smoke Fairies’ skill in crafting unique soundscapes under self-imposed limitations. Their journey, from exploring the roots of blues in New Orleans to becoming the first UK band signed by Jack White’s Third Man Records, and now to total independence, has culminated in this work of raw beauty and authenticity. “Carried In Sound” is not just an album; it’s a celestial journey through the nuanced realms of friendship, loss, and artistic freedom, marking a new, empowering chapter for Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies.

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