City of Salt certainly has a knack for evocative song titles and poignant lyrics with a very personal overtone.
The project’s recent single, The Rhythm, The Cipher, & The Shield, is a blend of delicate folk vibes, echoing the work of artists such as Damien Rice or Ryan Adams, just to mention but a few.
The song is built on a very seamless and simple arrangement: the rich and warm acoustic guitar serves as a backbone to the song, providing a nice steady rhythm, but also defining a great core melody. On the other hand, the string sections, add depth and a stunning atmospheric tone that really defines the vibe of this track. The vocal are honest, inspired and direct, perfectly matching the natural heartfelt vibes of the lyrics. There is quite nothing as compelling and direct as a songwriter pouring his heart out and sharing a moment with the audience!
If you normally associate JMJ with slick electronica, Pretty Jeans shows another side of the artist. Here the core sound is a rough and tumble, rootsy take on folk-pop but it is one which builds slowly adding sonic layers of beat and electronica, of texture and musical detail until it grows into something bristling with musical dynamics, addictive, lilting musical passages and infectious sing-along choruses. The clever bit about it is that the song is so disarming that you hardly notice that it is happening until you find yourself in a swirl of sound and that little folk-pop tune you thought you were getting into is now just the eye of a majestic musical storm.
The advantage of the modern musical world, the accessibility of studio technology and the other tools available to the modern artist is that instead of being a specialist, artists such as JMJ can instead opt to delve into any genre, any style any sound palette that takes their fancy. Pretty Jeans is the perfect sound sculpture for the post-genre world.
Oftentimes, in today’s fast paced world, we tend to think that the groovier and catchier a song is, the better, but in this case Head Cheerleader’s “Murderers” shows us something which makes that thought process very questionable. This song, which features a very slow tempo, a set of concise yet deep lyrics and a particularly melancholic melody brings out the beauty in both artistic and emotional rawness which only a well thought out song like this could portray. While expressing a certain amount of sensitivity through the music and the words this song is also very thought provoking yet soothing at the same time, with its gentle tempo and instrumental arrangement.
The music backdrop itself is highlighted by a very warm organ tone which brings out further the meaning of the lyrics and allows the narrative to unfold, yet past the midpoint of the song the lyrics are left to sink in through a repeated melody which allows the listener to just feel the sensations created by the music and just reflect on the lyrics. The vocal tone itself is also a strong characteristic, giving the music that authentic country and folk sound which colours the narrative so well. With their song “murderers,” Head Cheerleader have truly created a space where one can just stop, and enjoy the beauty and rawness in their music.
Terry Logan is one of those artists who in just less than four minutes can give you a comprehensive argument, in the form of one graceful song, why music genres are such a waste of time. The song is based around straightforward folk-pop structures but is eminently soulful and wistfully optimistic, it is both chilled and restrained but filled with just enough groove and is infectiously danceable.
And if that wasn’t enough her voice is a fantastic mix of vulnerability and warmth all of which makes to perfect vocal icing for such a luxurious musical cake. It comes as no surprise that after a busy year of gigs, festivals and recordings her current e.p. from which Believe It a Little comes was produced by someone whose roster also name checks the likes of Marina and The Diamonds, Alison Moyet and Scissor Sisters. The future is looking very bright for Terry Logan.
Using a variety of ear pleasing instrumentals, from the saxophone to the trombone all the way through to the string family, it is Paul Moody’s charming vocals that steals the show. A sound originating from a folk and roots style, Paul Moody and the Revelators deliver a classic in their brand-new release “Losing My Mind”, a song that highlights elements of nostalgia, comfort and general music satisfaction.
“Losing My Mind” greets us with a friendly guitar strum, and as the introduction progresses the beating drum follows with an elegant piano, along with Paul Moody’s warm-hearted vocals, completely owning the vibrant atmosphere of the track. The meaning behind the lyrics is actually quite tragic, “And this cheap cocaine doesn’t do shit/It just numbs the depression a bit/And in the morning it’s all gonna hit/Oh oh I’m fine/But I think I’m losing my mind”. What Paul Moody and the Revelators so cleverly portray, is the reality behind everyday life. We may pretend to continue with our day-to-day duties with a content and cheery attitude, but most of the time we are concealing our misery. “Losing My Mind” puts an ambiguous spin on what the song really means, and what is so conspicuous about the track is the confusion it reiterates between the vocals and the melody.
Imagine a place where drinks are free and blood won’t spill, where the music is an imaginative blend between country, rock and blues and the rhythm just keeps flowing as the hours go by – an outlaw heaven. That’s exactly where Doe Grass is taking us! Portrayed through a collection of clever and image evoking lyrics, steady percussive rhythms and a good sense of harmonic contrast at just the right points “Sally’s Place” is guaranteed to have you press repeat after the last few notes. The sound of the steady shaker rhythms in the beginning are enough to pull you in and immerse you in an image evoking song with memorable guitar lines that are groovy and tastefully bluesy all at the same time. The laid back guitar solos also feature an interesting element of harmonic fluctuations which interact perfectly with the underlying progression, creating an experience that is full of colour.
With an edgy, yet clear, vocal tone and just the right attitude the lyrics are expressed with a strong sense of narrative while the rhythm remains pronounced and consistent throughout. The use of effects is also a feature which is integrated very nicely, making this track sound complete, with a freshness of sound that is guaranteed to be enjoyed by anyone. Apart from it’s ability to capture the imagination through an authentic arrangement, “Sally’s Place” also presents a good element of melodic contrast, and a final statement which is exactly what makes it so memorable and catchy for all.
New York City might be quite of a tough place to be a folk singer: skyscrapers, city lights and millions of people clashing every day into the subways, alleys and roads of the Big Apple.
Standing up in the middle of all of that armed with an acoustic guitar and a notebook full of earnest lyrics takes a special blend of courage which is often overlooked. On “Paint Me”, Katie Garringer shares her unique experience of moving to New York City. This stunning folk song highlights Katie’s beautiful voice and it feels like an impressionistic painting. If you close your eyes, you can really let Katie’s genuine words guide you through the many magical corners of this city, from the streets of Brooklyn to the bright lights of Midtown or a quiet residential neighborhood in the Upper West Side.
This song is a romantic ode to New York City and a stunning, honest portrait of an artist reaching out for something greater.
Ethan Cole is quickly building a great reputation for himself within the local music scene and beyond due to his earnest sound and passionate approach. His music blurs the barriers between genres such as country, folk and indie-pop, while his unmistakable vocals reign over the songs arrangements seamlessly.
On his recent release, Supermoon Eclipse, Ethan set out to create a charming sonic tapestry where great melodies blend in with stunning harmonies and upbeat energy in equal doses. This is one of those songs that couple listeners to stick around and pay attention from start to finish, due to the sheer power of the arrangement and the unique strength of the musicianship displayed within the track.
This song echoes the work of artists such as Wilco, Ryan Adams or Fleet Foxes, going for a simple, yet lush and far-reaching sound.
Folk has definitely shown itself to have a strong staying power, weaving in and out of alternative and pop eras alike. These days, it’s been commercialized to a degree many would never have expected. This said, there’s still heart left to follow in so many artists. For Now is a song that comes at a height of many similar contemporaries. Chris Ho doesn’t however walk in line with the rest waiting for his due. He strides confidently with a sense of class attached to his charmingly influenced roots.
With a beat that you can walk to and a melody that knows when to peak in and when to duck out, this song is certain to inspire adventurous days in the outdoors for young people yearning to enjoy any spare moment they can find. But Chris Ho doesn’t stop at a satisfyingly cute song. There’s energy put into the guitar and the intermittent touches of strings that dance on the outskirts of the song in a microcosm of how folk has always walked parallel to so many wonderful artists and songs. This is not a song to blend in with, For Now is a song to stand out with and truly let yourself move in a positive way.
Illustrada is a project with a very understated and intimate way to combine indie-folk with pop. Their recent single, Wide Eyed Tigress, is a track that blends in lush shoegaze textures with earnest folky guitars and beautiful vocals that remind me of the work of artists such as The Tallest Man On Earth, Ben Howard or Fleet Foxes, just to mention but a few. While the acoustics strum gently, electric guitars create beautiful textures that make me think of the work of artists such as Sigur Ros.
The arrangement of this song is simple and not too cluttered, yet the tune has a rich and deep sound, full of beautiful ambiance. The vocals are present, seamlessly cutting through the mix without overpowering. Wide Eyed Tigress certainly stands out for its simplicity: the song is elegant, classy and understated: this simple formula goes a long way, serving the project well. I love the playfulness of this song, as well as it’s sweet and delicate overtones.