TOTD: Van El – “Japanese Garden”

I immediately got early Fleet Foxes vibe from this song. It has this excellent space to it that mixes folk musings and reverberating vocals that sound like they are being belted from one mountain top to another. The whole song, instrumentally and lyrically, feels so relaxing and peaceful. I imagine I’ll go back to this song a lot in the fall, just like I do with Fleet Foxes, because it’s so fitting to listen to this style of music when I’m driving through the mountains for a big hike, or a camping trip.

“Waterfall, koi fish pond,

I’m singing in the garden.”

Like I said, the lyrics really add to the peaceful vibe that’s created here. I can’t wait to get a full copy of the lyrics before we feature this on the podcast eventually, but the bits I gathered just from listening seem to find a speaker that is at peace, both externally and internally. Externally his surroundings are peaceful, hence the name, Japanese Garden. And internally, they seem self assured, with the repetition of the line: “I think I know, where to go.” I don’t know about you guys, but there have been very few times in my life that I have felt that, but the few that I have, the clarity is unreal. I imagine this speaker is having one of those moments, where everything just seems like it’s inevitably headed in a certain direction, and you just have to execute.

This song is the first song off of a four song EP that Van El plans to release in about a month, so if you liked this song (I know you did) then keep your eyes peeled for that. And like I mentioned before, we are hoping to eventually feature the song on an upcoming podcast episode.

-Caleb

Want to hear more? This song and many others have been added to our July TOTD Playlist on Spotify.  

 

 

The Flock: Folk – My Terrible Friend, James Rivers, Tapes, Reina del Cid, David Francey, History of Time

*This first paragraph is a copy of a previously written synopsis of the point behind the new section, The Flock.*

We have two goals here with our blog and our podcast; we want to help you find a bunch of new artists that you love, and we also want to support those artists. We came up with a new idea for a post where we take a genre, and give you a few artists within that genre. That way, it helps everyone. If you come here because you love one artist, you’ve got five more that you’re probably going to love now. That helps you load up your playlist with tracks that will impress your friends, and it also helps the artists hit untapped markets and possibly network with likeminded artists they didn’t know existed. Without further ado, I present “The Flock.”

 

My Terrible Friend – Proving You Right

Nataly Dawn and Lauren O’Connell make up the San Francisco based folk duo, My Terrible Friend. Both are multi-instrumentalists with silky smooth voices made for folk music, and provide an unparalleled sense of whimsy for a music video that is one medium shot angle for the duration of the video. My Terrible Friend has provided the perfect song for your summer soirees or mimosa laden brunches, and if you’re anything like me, you will definitely be mimicking Nataly and Lauren’s dance moves by the end of either of those events. This is the song that’ll help you get your summer started right. They actually remind me a lot of a friend’s old band, Feather and BelleAlso, if Nataly looks familiar, she has another project called Pomplamoose, which means grapefruit. It’s interesting the random things that La Croix teaches you. I’d be interested to know how they decided on the name, My Terrible Friend, so if anyone knows, shoot us a message.

 

James Rivers – All the Same

James Rivers has one of those deep voices that needs to be more popular in today’s music. He has an amazing timbre that is reminiscent of a more emotive Colter Wall. In the song and video, All the Same, James tells a story of lost love, but the video isn’t your typical delve into songs with similar lyrics. Watch the video to find out what I mean.

James is a relatively new guy on the scene, with his debut album releasing in just a couple of weeks, but if it’s anything like this, we are definitely huge fans of what he’s doing. The vignette throughout the video may be a bit overdone for our taste, but the song itself and the idea behind the video is made to perfection.

 

Tapes – Time is Noise

This song is so interesting to me. The voices of FARE and Milo Gore blend so well, but their harmonies are so bizarrely perfect with FARE commonly taking the low harmony while Milo belts out the melody. Time is Noise takes a really hard look at the aftermath of a cancerous relationship, and how eventually, time does allow you to move on. This Falmouth based duo is making some waves with their new EP, “dead dogs and sad songs,” so grab a pint of ice cream, your favorite sweat pants, and this EP and get ready to feel a lot of emotions.

 

Reina del Cid – Ferdinand 

We usually don’t post these live YouTube ready style recordings, but we had to make an exception for this one. Reina del Cid has written a really fun song here, and every now and then you have to break your own rules. Reina gets into the idea behind the song, so there isn’t too much for us to discuss there. I will say this though, this relationship isn’t exclusive to Ferdinand and Isabella. This is a fun telling of an all too common relationship pitfall (maybe not a pitfall depending on how you look at it) of not being able to help who you fall for, even though you really don’t want to be into them. Once again, this is a really nice summer tune.

 

David Francey – Lonely Road

I had not heard of David Francey until recently, but I am absolutely enamored. There’s a gruffness to his voice and an honesty to the composition that makes it seem like his songs could’ve been written and performed anytime in the last 200 years. He has a timelessness to what he does. His songs feel like they could build a home with their bare hands, and catch dinner in the river after it’s done. That’s how tangible and how real his songs are, and Lonely Road is no different. Listening to older albums and then coming to The Broken Heart of Everything, you can notice a change in his voice. Unfortunately, David has had to take a break from music to rehabilitate a hoarseness and strain that his taken over his voice, but hopes 2019 will be the year he gets back on the road. Heal up, David, and when you’re better, run a tour through the southeast United States.

 

History of Time – Mona Lisa

Let’s wrap up this edition of The Flock with one of the most unique voices I’ve heard in a while. Roy Varley is the man behind the voice, and he has a real gift. Here’s the thing; I’m not a huge fan of the echo that he has after the words “Mona Lisa,” but that really doesn’t matter when you’re dealing with something this unique. Roy is a phenomenal lyricist who tells you a story, but leaves his songs open to interpretation. My favorite songs are the ones where the lyrics are obviously about a very specific circumstance, but are so abstracted that they can mean a plethora of different things. Miss Mona Lisa is one of the songs on History of Time’s album, The Comfort. The whole album is a wild ride, bouncing from folk to smooth hip-hop.

 

That’s it for this edition of The Flock. Stay tuned for more songs that you didn’t know you needed in your life. If you want to catch all of the songs we have featured on the blog in the month of June, head on over to our Spotify playlist. 

Also, check out our podcast for all new music, crazy ramblings from Caleb and myself, and discussions about topics like bad luck, mortality, and technology.

 

-Seth

Mid Day Music Blast: Brett J.B. “Garden Grey”

Have you ever wondered what Death Cab would sound like if they did a cover album of Decemberists songs? Wonder no more, you beautiful people. Meet Brett J.B., a Wisconsinite who has a Ben Gibbard-esque voice with the the variance of a Decemberists track.

brett

In his new single, Garden Grey, Brett recaptures his childhood by going into what it was like growing up in Garden Grey. I tried figuring out where Garden Grey was, but to no avail. Neighborhood? City? A name you gave your house? I wanted there to be more, but with only the name and the fact that he currently lives in Milwaukee to go off of, I didn’t have much of a shot. Whatever it is, I’m glad it’s where Brett grew up. His fond memories of that place led to this track, and for that, I am thankful.

Morning Commute: Emilie Mover “Fallin’ In”

When I came across this new single from Emilie Mover, I knew the name was familiar. I couldn’t place where I knew it from, but there was something very familiar about the timbre of this Canadian turned New Yorker folk artist. I started looking through her discography, and immediately knew where I had heard the pure and articulate, while having just enough rasp, vocals before; she has an incredible album where she covers some of my favorite Peggy Lee songs that you can find here.

Okay, now let’s focus on Fallin’ In, the second single off of her new album, Night Owl. Mover says of the song,

“Fallin’ In is actually the last song I wrote for Night Owl. I wrote it in a park near my apartment the morning we left for Bathouse.  I was kind of just going through the tunes, finalizing idea and starting to think about the order for the album.  I was watching some kids play together in the park and it was a beautiful late summer day and it was one of those things that just came together within minutes.  It kind of wrote itself.”

She goes on to say that the idea behind the song is to get into what really happens when we grow up. How do we go from being carefree kids playing together in the park to overworked and overstressed adults?

emilie

Okay, that last part may be me projecting, but the true idea behind the song is trying to maintain that childlike whimsy and excitement for life throughout adulthood. She lets us in on the fact that her dad has always upheld that view on life, and has been a sterling example of how to maintain a fervor for all things fun. The children in the park made Mover think of all of her childhood friends, and only thought it appropriate to have them play on the track. Those same friends that she played with in the parks as a kid are now playing on a track about them playing in those parks. If that’s not absolutely beautiful and very meta, I don’t know what is. Her dad, Mover’s “favorite kid at heart,” is also featured on the track, absolutely crushing the horn solo at the 2:30 mark.

I haven’t gotten around to listening to the whole album yet, but if Night Owl is anything like Fallin’ In, it is going to make plenty of our personal playlists. Reeking of jazz chords and off-beat rhythms, this song has a lot heavier package than most folk songs.

Want to listen to Emilie and all of our other featured artists for the month of June in one neat and tidy playlist? Click here.

Want to listen to me and Caleb talk about Bad Luck and feature new artists you haven’t heard of yet? Click here.

-Seth

TOTD: Gareth Inkster “Misfire”

Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. Gareth Inkster sounds like Ben Folds. I know it, you know it, Gareth knows it, hell, even Ben Folds knows it. The comparison isn’t lost on anyone. Gareth even uses Ben Folds as a hashtag on Soundcloud to catch fans of the singer songwriter. Gareth also has the fact that he’s a multi-instrumentalist in common with Ben, using ten different instruments on his new track, leaving only the drums and bass guitar to others. While Gareth has a lot in common with Ben, that’s not to say he can’t stand on his own, and Misfire proves just that.

Misfire is a deep, introspective look at depression. I usually take this time to go into the lyrics of the song and what it means, but Inkster provided information about his song that needed to be shared. This is an absolutely beautiful work of art.

“It was written during some difficult times, as the lyrics will certainly suggest. The introspection leads to a troubled confession, and eventually the desperate bridge, “is there something wrong with me? I don’t think so, but I don’t know.” after which there is an audible *crack* sound – the breaking point, if you will. After this, words are no longer sufficient, and the brass section does its thing, but before long even that doesn’t cut it, and there is an abrupt key-change, as the strings take over. The strings hit a diminished chord shortly before they end which I feel is the most painful part of the song. After the music has exhausted itself, there is a brief pause, and the lyrics return for one final, beaten verse. The verse lyric ends on an unresolved question, and likewise, on an unresolved chord.”

Seeing behind the veil of how a song was made usually leads to something along the lines of, “I wrote this line about a time in my life where x happened.” It rarely leads to, “I arranged the instrumentation to tell a story that can stand alone.”

gareth

Depression is a difficult subject to tackle, and Gareth does it from a place of deep understanding. So many songs try to engage the subject like it’s a cloudy day and frowny faces. While nothing is wrong with that, this is something that is moving on a different level for me. It gets into all of the feelings of inadequacy and the questions that come along with it.

Misfire is one of seven songs on Gareth’s upcoming EP, Last Year, and you can check out the same titled first single here.

Check out Gareth and all of our other tracks from June on our Spotify playlist

Mid Day Music Blast: Welshly Arms “Down to the River”

Are you a big fans of bands like The Black Keys, Rival Sons, or Kaleo? Who isn’t right? Well I found another band to add to your collection: Welshly Arms. The song uses gospel a gospel choir song with some great blues riffs and grungy lead vocals to create a sound that mixes nostalgic rock and roll and blues with modern synth and bass backgrounds. It seems that a lot of this album was written in the past couple of years with all the turmoil that we’ve seen in this country, and I’ve often said that if nothing else, Trump’s America will have great protest art. I think the past year or so we’ve seen that come to fruition, and Welshly Arms is fitting quite nicely into that niche.

Image result for welshly arms

 

Having been ensconced in the studio working on their debut album ‘No Place Is Home’ due this June, Cleveland based six-piece blues and gospel influenced alternative band Welshly Arms preempt the release with a brand new track ‘Sanctaury’ that follows on from the much lauded ‘Legendary’ released last year. The band are also due to perform at this year’s Reading and Leeds Festival.

Of ‘Sanctuary’, frontman Sam Getz says, “We wrote ‘Sanctuary’ in a time where everything on the news and in politics seemed so dark and out of control. Nothing felt safe, nowhere felt like home and there wasn’t a lot of positive news to find hope in. ‘Sanctuary’ is a reminder that hope is always there in the people you keep close. Even as the world seems to be breaking down around us, my family, friends and the people I love are where I always find my security and my home.”

This summer, Welshly Arms will support Thirty Seconds To Mars on the last leg of their upcoming US tour, before crossing the Atlantic for an exclusive performance at 2018’s Reading and Leeds Festival.

 

Catch Welshly Arms alongside every other song we’ve featured in June on this Spotify playlist. 

 

Don’t forget to check out our podcast, I’d say it’s the best thing we do. 

 

-Caleb

 

Morning Commute: Kate Vargas “Roll Around”

Feeling pretty rough on your Monday morning because of a weekend of fun and debauchery? Well get ready, because this song is going to see you at your lowest point, and kick you around a little bit. The song starts with the lyrics that ring out throughout the song,

“You can’t get lower than the ground, but you can roll around for a long time.

Is it possible for the sound of smoke to be provocative? With a rasp that tastes of coal mines and three packs a day, Kate has a timbre to her voice that is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. Now, just to clear the air here, I don’t know anything about Kate’s personal life, and she may have worked in a coal mine and smokes a carton a day. If this is true, I’m deeply apologetic. What is much more likely is that she had a cool rasp already, but honed her obvious gift and turned it into something spectacular.

kate

With lyrics that seem to deal with everything from seasonal depression to addiction, Kate really takes some major swings here, and nails on all counts for me. When people talk about how they’ve “hit rock bottom,” there is usually a counterpoint saying, “Well, there’s nowhere to go but up,” when in reality, you can just get dragged across the bottom forever unless you make proactive choices. Make whatever choices are needed to improve your life.