Pop, jazz and blues entwine in the debut album from LA singer-songwriter and multi-instrumental artist Cooper Walker. His intoxicating mash of vintage guitars, crooned vocals and uplifting piano chords will send you right back to the 60s while providing the ultimate proof that music contemporary music *can* hold a candle to music from iconic eras.
His modernist spin on sounds of the 60s is best enjoyed in the standout single, Fix, which is just as instantly cathartic as The Zombies, as sultry as John Mayall, and carries the sonic power of the Rolling Stones.
Walker’s infallible talent is one thing, the soul that is spilt in his debut album is quite another. You couldn’t ask for a better playlist staple in these dystopic times.
Fix, along with his debut 15-track album, is now available to stream on Spotify.
Layla Frankel’s recent releases may evade genre, but they revolve around style and soul. Her standout single, Dear Jennie, is a stunning testament to her effortlessly uplifting sound. With her influences ranging from Bonnie Raitt to Sheryl Crow to Joni Mitchell to Bob Dylan, she found her own voice in between, and what a voice it is.
With the same ABBA-Esque piano chords that allowed the Manic Street Preachers to get to the top of the album charts when they used them in their latest album, The Ultra Vid Lament, Dear Jennie brings just as much euphoria with her complexly layered sound that indoctrinates unpredictable progressions, cathartic crescendos and sheer vocal dynamism.
If reality doesn’t quite hold up to the metaphysical bliss that greets you when your head hits the pillow, sink into Nancy Dawn Olsen’s latest single, I Don’t Want to Wake Up which captures the dreamlike state our minds enter when they entertain our ardent desires that fall out of focus come the morning light.
The ballad kicks off to an ethereal and vulnerable start with minor-key minimalist piano chords; as the orchestral swells raise the energy, Olsen matches it with her resoundingly pitch-perfect vocal timbre. I Don’t Want to Wake Up becomes a firestorm of a single that reminds you that love unparalleled, but there are few things as visceral as the absence of it. Lyrically, it may be the opposite of Aerosmith’s Don’t Want to Miss a Thing, but it carries exactly the same fire.
I Don’t Want to Wake Up is now available to stream and download via Bandcamp.
With the style and soul of a 1950s chanteuse, Lucy Burke looks through the eyes of iconic female singers in her arcanely arranged jazzy blues pop single, Deaf Ears, which reveals the inner bliss available if you succeed in transcending societal expectation.
Britney Spears’ mental breakdown and subsequent censorship battle inspired Burke to explore the melancholy behind Marilyn Monroe’s glamour and find parallels with the harrowing journey of Amy Winehouse. Deaf Ears also offers an alchemic gaze into the pitfalls that dichotomies present to artists as they choose between modesty and sexuality and conformity and revolution.
With the Sydney-based singer-songwriter’s influences ranging from Eva Cassidy to Portishead to The Beatles to Norah Jones, her dynamic sound never allows you to anticipate what is coming next. But something tells us, we haven’t heard the best of Burke yet, she’s firmly affixed to our radar, we suggest that you follow suit.
Deaf Ears is due for release on September 15th, 2021; you can check out the official music video on YouTube.
‘Could Have been an Email’ is the latest upbeat folk-pop single from NYC and songwriter Kalteaux which spills the lockdown blues while enamouring you through the unifying sentiment. If Karl Marx existed in this era and released folk-pop tracks, we’re fairly certain that they’d sound a little like Could Have Been an Email.
Kalteaux may have pushed himself into a niche market branding himself as a musical comedian but his talent as a songwriter and as a radio-ready artist easily parrels his all too relatable wit that brings his psych pop-tinged colourful melodies to life.
Check out the quarantine music video that premiered on June 3rd via YouTube.
‘Altitude’is just one of the quiescently powerful folk-pop singles to come from the collaboration between Scottish guitarist and songwriter Mark O’Donnell and singer-songwriter Chris Armstrong.
The minimalist bluesy popping guitar notes create the perfect platform for Armstrong’s vocals which carry the same soul-steeped air as the likes of Tracy Chapman. That is until the single amps up the energy and makes a sonic shift in tone for the outro crescendo that is arresting enough to make an everlasting impression.
With no hint of hyperbole, the powerhouse duo has what it takes to become the Simon and Garfunkel of our generation. If Altitude doesn’t leave you mesmerised, you’re not paying attention.
Armstrong & O’Donnell’s single is now available to stream via Spotify.
If singles charted on the strength of their titles alone, the Michigan-duo, MYB’s single, ‘Pessimistic Panorama’ would be a chart-topper, but that’s not to say the seductively upbeat soundscape itself isn’t aural gold.
The experimental artist who take influence from The Beatles, Prince and Journey deviated from archetypes when orchestrating this uniquely enamouring hit which is a minefield of aural curveballs. While we could never have anticipated being thrown into a jazz-blues style instrumental breakdown, we more than appreciated the jazz piano progressions jaunting next to the soaring guitar riffs; they seemed to parallel the enigmatic soul which MYB effortlessly exuded in their latest single.
With vocals as evocative as Tom Odell’s and a charisma which captivates you just as much as his artfully powerful sound, it’s impossible to imagine a dull future for US singer-songwriter and performer, Mo Safren.
The perfect introduction to their constraint-less sound is ‘Bagels and Coffee’; the soulfully slick piano pop ballad carries all of the accessibility of a mainstream pop track and all of the improvised unpredictability of jazz. Attempting to affix genres to this powerfully progressive single would be an act of futility, but you will be able to note Safren’s dynamic array of influences which includes everyone from Chopin to Sinatra.
Bagels and Coffee is one of those phenomenally rare singles which you feel like you could listen to a thousand times and still not have picked out the beauty in every subversive curveball.
The official music video to Bagels and Coffee is available to stream via YouTube.
We can’t fast-forward 2021, but we can escape it by delving into the past, Georgia and the Vintage Youth’s latest single ‘Colour Blind’ is the perfect aural TARDIS to jump into. While you’re consoled about the state of present-day, the comfort from the anachronistically styled soul will abstract you from it.
Anyone lucky enough to hear it will be able to better understand their own lockdown-inspired feelings after hearing Colour Blind. With lyrics as strong, meta and almost serendipitously astute as ‘I don’t wanna die, I’m just tired of feeling colour-blind’, Colour Blind isn’t a track which you can listen to half-heartedly.
Unlike many retro-inspired singles, Colour Blind isn’t a tea-stained faded photograph of the past. Georgia’s vocals carry the same grace as a 50s chanteuse. Sure, there’s a nod to Winehouse in her sound, but her sound stretches right back to the roots of dreamy blues pop. It’s the kind of track I could imagine Dolly Parton having on her playlists.
Smoky, sultry, husky, and bluesy, with a wicked swagger and singer/rhythm guitarist Paige Lee’s amazing vocals ‘Vintage Slide’ is the third single from Boston, MA., retro-rockers Ten Gram Tang, and it’s simply stunning. Dragging in 60’s and 70’s rock and blues references left, right, and centre – Hendrix, Joplin, Grace Slick – mixed with some more modern touchstones in the form of the Tedeschi Trucks band, the White Stripes, The Dead Weather, Beth Hart, a dash of Melissa Etheridge, a huge dose of Elle King, with some of Lorde’s ‘Perfect Places’ melancholic breathiness, a bit of Lana Del Rey, and perhaps some Linda Perry in the background.
That by itself is a pretty heady mix, and Lee’s vocals really are that good, but once you throw in guitarist Connor Powell’s killer lead work throughout the track, and the stop-start groove driven by Kevin Reilly’s bass and guest/co-writer Michael Samse’s staccato drum patterns, you’ve got a stunning 4’20” of bluesy 70’s-inspired retro rock’n’roll with a large helping of soul thrown in for good measure.
Ten Gram Tang release their debut album in February 2021, but in the meantime, ‘Vintage Slide’ is an absolute must-have.