Category Archives: Discoveries

Discoveries: Trevor Sensor

While I recognize that my musical tastes are extreme and all over the map, I’m still lucky enough to enjoy many old (and new) classics that pass over to you easily enough. But I would be remiss if I didn’t pass along something that stays in my head some months after release, and to introduce the artist that creates that excitement. This particular song is “Andy Warhol’s Dream”. The artist is Trevor Sensor.

As in days and decades past, once a label produces consistent likable talent, you come to watch out for their releases if only to sample what they’re interested in at the moment. One such label these days is Jagjaguwar. Last year, they released a Trevor Sensor debut album, also called Andy Warhol’s Dream. This album is a dreamy folk-based collection of tunes that has been likened to Woody Guthrie (although more Arlo, to me), early Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Sufjan Stevens, and – I suppose – some Bon Iver, He was born in Sterling, Illinois, which gives a bit of a midwest intrigue with other places like NYC.

The song, “Andy Warhol’s Dream” (heard below) easily reveals a strong Dylanesque voice (No? Then listen to “Nothing Is Fair“), if not a tad more unique and reminiscent of another artist who’s name eludes me (Help?). His lyrics explore like the lyrics of the ’60s, in ways more intense and pleading than anything U2 or Springsteen could conjure up these days.

Needless to say, I can’t escape the “Andy Warhol’s Dream” gem. And it compels me to hear more of his music, of which there are this debut album, and two previously released EPs (Texas Girls and Jesus Christ – 2016, Starved Nights of Saturday Stars – 2016).

I can only introduce you to Trevor Sensor. What you do after this is up to you. But Jagjaguwar got this one completely right!

Debut Album By Lawrence Rothman, The Book Of Law

Music today is a whole different beast. So some say. But not really. In fact, much of the music heard these days are derivative in a good way. We’re truly ensconced in a world that has pretty much seen and done everything, although levels of outrageous art has differed by societal allowance. One of the more interesting artists in today’s indie world is Lawrence Rothman.

Lawrence Rothman sang for The Living Things. The Living Things was a hard rock, glam unit that kept music at a fever pitch (hear “I Owe” here. And since you’re there, check out their other videos.) After a time, Lawrence decided to do his own compositions. Influenced by the unique lens view of his wife, famed photographer, artist, and indie director, Floria Sigismondi (she’s directed videos for David Bowie, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, The Cure, Katy Perry, and Marilyn Manson (the edgy “Beautiful People” video), among others, and has directed the movie, The Runaways, as well as a series of commercials for television ), Lawrence Rothman has adopted an edgy style for his new solo music. She also directed the Leonard Cohen video for “In My Secret Life” (here). Yes, she’s that exciting.

The noticeable artistic departure from his Living Things days is more than evident in his solo string of music videos. All shot by Floria, they are as different as night is to day. And the songs that Lawrence Rothman provides are as extraordinary as the visual art (see “Wolves Still Cry”, and his latest, “Ain’t Afraid Of Dying” below). “Ain’t Afraid of Dying” has a hint of Lou Reed vibe to it. The music is decadent, but edgy!

On October 13, the debut solo issue from Lawrence Rothman called The Book Of Law, will release. The album will feature twelve songs including the previously mentioned “Ain’t Afraid Of Dying”, with Marissa Nadler, “and Wolves Sill Cry”. Both songs are stunning and memorable. But keep your mind open. While there are other available songs, I have a feeling this will be a stunner of an album.

Ain’t Afraid Of Dying

Wolves Still Cry

 

Discovery: Bent Knee (Boston) – Releases New Album, Land Animal, In June

Rock and Roll certainly hasn’t stayed static as a music style during its still rampant run. In fact (Don’t throw things!), it could be said that music these days is far more expansive in a million more ways than they were during Rock’s younger years. Of course, the music of the ’60s and ’70s, the ’80s and ’90s, were vastly different than each other, and definitely different than what the new century has brought us in its 17 years! But these days, there are great bands pushing the envelope as much as the envelope was pushed back in the those previously mentioned decades. I’ll always love the music of those earlier time frames. But I easily fall in love with excellent new bands as well. One of them is a band known as Bent Knees.

I don’t recall how I stumbled across this band. But I know that once I heard their “Leak Water” track (hear below) from their Say So album, issued in 2016, almost a year ago (May 20), I was hooked. Unlike a lot of bands, this one employs the use of several genres of musical styles like Prog Rock, Pop, Avant-Garde, blended with traditionally classical influence with the use of violins, cellos, and others. As a result, they are tough to classify as a specific band producing a specific type of music. You’ll be challenged…but you like challenges, right?!

Bent Knee is a six-member band, They were formed in the famed Berklee College of Music in 2009. They self-released their first two, both of which I am enjoying on Spotify (Bent Knee – 2011, Shiny Eyed Babies – 2014). Their Say So album is hosted on Bandcamp only (here). The songs are excellent. I’m particularly fond of the vocal work of Courtney Swain, who also works the keyboards for the band.

On June 23, the busy Bent Knee band will release their next album, Land Animal. This new album will feature ten new songs with a bonus of two remixed tracks, both included on the standard CD release. The album will also be released on white vinyl LP (with CD), and several formats of Digital (FLAC, MP3, WAV, and other high quality digital issues). If you go to their Bandcamp page (here), you can even find a CD/Tee bundle as well as a limited edition digipak CD.

 

Discoveries: Let’s Eat Grandma (LEG) – UK

LEGHere comes a time where you need to set aside the disruptive imagery that this band’s name might initiate in your mind. So let’s get this one out of the way first: Let’s Eat Grandma. There! Now that that’s out in the open, let’s talk about this band.

Let’s Eat Grandma is comprised of two childhood friends. They are Rosa Walton, and Jenny Hollingworth. Both are from Norwich, England.  Currently, they are 17 years old, an age that has many dreaming of being involved in Rock and Roll, whereby these two already have their first album out. In an age of ‘everyone’s in this’ music, the sounds of Let’s Eat Grandma (LEG) are more expressive, more unique, and more thoughtful than most. When you get an interesting combination like that, you can get my attention easily. And I listen to a LOT of music on a daily basis. More than I should.

The album is called I, Gemini. It was released by Transgressive Records on Jume 17. Since then, there has been a bit of a media blitz due to the band’s unconventional sound. For me, I hear a threaded collection of influences from many of our own heroes. Using many instruments to create their songs, the two friends have collected a batch of interesting songs that incorporate current and past. I’m particularly fond of the opener track on the album, “Deep Six Textbook” (heard and viewed on the embedded video below). It is a blend of experimental music, haunting vocals, and an strong ability to stick around after you’ve heard it. It is a bit of a dark song for two so young. But it also showcases their abilities, which can leave the forward thinkers here to realize their second and third albums have a potential to be awe-inspiring and capable of being influential to newer arrivals on the music horizon.

LEG I Gemini

As with any band (even The Beatles, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, etc), LEG will not please every one. But they interest me. And I’m sure they’ll interest a few of you as well. For that end, I hope that you enjoy what you’re hearing.

For me, I’m fascinated!

 

Discoveries: Daniel Spaleniak (Poland)

If you catch the samples of songs played at beginnings, ends, and middles of any TV show, then you know just how frenetic it gets when you find something so entrancing that you’re frantically surfing around the internet searching for whatever fragments of lyrics that you still remember. Generally, you only need  snippet of a distinctive lyric. Put it in Google, and then, BAM, you have everything you need on which to build a lovely foundation . Well, not this time for me.

I’m a fan of watching HuluPlus, Amazon Video, and Netflix. I’m always going in with series to see just how good they can be. Hulu now streams the series episodes for The Path. (What it’s about is not necessary for this piece…but I like it.) At the end of Episode Eight (The Shore), the main character played by Aaron Paul is in a location where he sees the ghost of his brother. It’s the end of the episode and a sample of a tune is playing that is captivating in its lyrics and simple (but haunting) acoustic guitar work. The song is “Why” by Daniel Spaleniak.

David Spaleniak

Now, before you run off to hunt his history down, I’ll tell you there is little to none. In fact, once he’s found, you’ll see that there’s little in the way of much outside a few videos, and a Facebook account in his native Polish language. But the music is incredible.

I’m enchanted by the songs of Daniel Spaleniak. You can hear his music on Spotify, but Spotify only shares 30-second samples when you’re trying to help a guy out by “word of mouth” or “post of link”.

Here’s what I know: Spaleniak currently has two albums out. The first is Dreamers, which was released in March of 2014. On that album is the mentioned “Why” track, as well as another The Path sample of his song, “Nothing To Do”. His newest album was recently released. That album is called Back Home, and was released on March 11 of 2016. Both albums are extraordinary.

I’m just surprised that there is so little on this guy in a time of so much information. If you’re going to push me into a corner, well…I certainly recognize Leonard Cohen in a lot of his stuff. Don’t think? Check out “Liar’s Blues” below in the embedded video. Like Cohen, there’s more than a fair share of melancholy in his songs. You can access his FB page here. You can access his meager display of video and audio treats at YouTube here. If you have Spotify, then you have full access to ALL of his songs.

The excellent title track from his latest album, Back Home, is the last video on this page.

I highly recommend David Spaleniak.

 

Discoveries: Beau (NYC), Debut Album Due Soon

Beau That Thing RealityI’ve recently started to listen to Beau, a two-member girl duo that sings a pretty great brand of Folk/Rock. I’m a big fan of Folk and so when I stumble across something that sounds as good as Beau, well…I like sharing that news.

Beau are two girls from Manhattan, NYC who have known each other since they were thirteen. In fact, once they were acquainted with each other, they put into motion the reality that they were a band. They learned guitar, and started writing material that eventually lead to this, a release on a label. Their names are Heather Golden (Boo) Schwalb, and Emma Rose Jenney. To simplify, they’re Heather Golden and Emma Rose. Previously, they had named their band The Boos until Beau became a more interesting moniker to be known by. (The actual reason for the change was that – for their french label – The Boos sounded like ‘la bouse’, which, when translated, means “cow shit”.) So, Beau it became.

Heather (the dark-haired singer with the beautiful and haunting voice), and her friend, Emma are signed to Kitsuné Musique. They released a five-track EP last May (2015). And yes, it’s pretty extraordinary and deserves your attention. On March 11, Beau will release their debut title, That Thing Reality. This new album will feature twelve songs, three from the EP (“C’mon Please”, “One Wing”, “Soar Across The Sea”). That Thing Reality will also be available on DD, and vinyl LP (and include a download card for the digital tracks). The latest song from the new album is “Animal Kingdom”, which can be viewed below (second video). However, there are a two others that can be found by going to their YouTube Channel. In addition to the myriad of great Beau videos found on that service, there are also a few excellent non-album tracks on SoundCloud including a cover of “Be My Baby“.
Beau

There is little to glean about their beginnings other than what I have posted. Nevertheless, for those of you that have a fondness and appreciative leaning to Folk, then you’ll be pleased to discover this duo, if you haven’t already.

Listen to “One Wing” from last year’s self-titled EP:

Listen to a new single (“Animal Kingdom”) from their forthcoming new album, That Thing Reality:

 

Listening To Jim James And His Regions Of Light And Sound Of God Debut

Jim James Regions Of Light And The Sound Of GodI caught up with the latest episode of The Leftovers (episode 6). It starts with the silent approach of a scientist as he makes his way to Miracle, TX to talk with Nora concerning the disappearances of her family. As the scenes are played out, a song is overlaid that is captivating. (This series has a nice string of captivating songs that weave their way through the series scenes.) That song is “The State Of The Art (A.E.I.O.U.)”. It’s a song from Jim James.

Immediately, as I will do, I began looking for the song. I immediately found it and have been listening to the debut solo effort of Jim James since. The song is found on his 2013-issued album, Regions Of Light And Sound Of God. The album is populated with nine tracks, all with a bluesy feel to them.

Jim James is first and foremost a primary member of My Morning Jacket. His strength lies in his song-writing, and his thoughtful approach of it. His My Morning Jacket affiliation is compelling and important. But this solo album, which I did NOT know existed until The Leftovers is an extraordinary piece of work.

This post is merely to direct your attention to some new music that you may not have heard as of yet. Enjoy the video for “The State Of The Art (A.E.I.O.U.)” below. You may find is as compelling as you find My Morning Jacket.

Thanks, The Leftovers. Your contribution to my musical awareness is greatly appreciated.

 

Discoveries: Mac DeMarco (NYC)

Mac DeMarco Another OneEvery once in a while, as we’re going about our day to day routines, we sometimes hit on something that cause us to stop and pay closer attention. The other day, while perusing music at a local record shop (just like the old days, only better constrained), I heard a track on an in-store play. The song was soothing, and reminiscent of a style I’ve always been partial to. Even though there are apps that will snatch the song from the air and give you the artist in question, I still like to ask the store clerk for the answer. It’s always nice for them to know that they’ve chosen wisely. (Everywhere else, I use the app!)

In this instant, I was snared by a new song by Mac DeMarco. Apparently, Mac DeMarco has been around for some time. He already has three full-length albums to his credit, as well as a few Live sets, and some odds and ends sets, and a handful of EPs. All this since 2009 with the release of his heavier Heat Wave! EP. His last release is the mini-album set with 23-minutes worth of music with his recently released Another One. (Eight tracks is a Mini album?) Another One is following on the heels of DeMarco’s well-received Salad Days (2014) release.

Mac DeMarco is a Canadian artist who currently lives in NYC. Much of his solo works are recorded in his apartment. Another One was written and recorded within a whirlwind three week period. I’m impressed! All in all, you older fans will definitely find other familiar influences in DeMarco’s music.

Mac DeMarco

Another One was officially released on August 7 via Captured Tracks, an NYC-based independent label. It contains eight new songs including the one that caught my attention. That song is called “The Way You’d Love Her”. It’s, as you would expect, a love song. In fact, all of the songs on Another One are new love songs. You can hear this mesmerizing track below.

If you enjoy the new single from the just released mini-album, let me suggest further exploration. I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed.

Discoveries: Courtney Barnett

Courtney BarnettI’m always listening to music. Most of the time, that’s the great old classics from the past. But I’m also one who will listen to a sea of new music to find one artist or band that will make me stop and listen harder. Today, I have one of those. Her name is Courtney Barnett.

Courtney Barnett is one busy girl. With a wave of classic influence, she has taken a punkish, Patti Smith/Lou Reed-like attitude into her excellent collection of songs. Trust me. You’ll hear Lou Reed influence in a few of her songs (like “Dead Fox” (video below), which reminds of “Sweet Jane”). I really like her overall presentation. At times straight ahead NYC art-rock, and at times, a flavor of Folk with a dash of Country.

Courtney Barnett hails from Australia, but her prowess as a singer-songwriter of note has gained her attention from a lot of the bigger music magazines including Rolling Stone (I know, I know), online music sites like Stereogum, and NYC’s print/web content classic, The Village Voice. Her new album, the heady-titled, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit was released in March of 2015, and has already shot up plenty of charts including Billboard, peaking at number one in several categories (Folk Albums, Independent Albums, Top Alternative Albums, Top Rock Albums), and Number 20 in the Billboard Top 100, where she peaked at 20. That’s just the US. She has shown similar strong numbers around the world.

Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Just Sit And Think

While I understand the style of Courtney Barnett won’t be for everyone, I do suggest that you take a few minutes and listen to the provided YouTube video of one of her songs from the new album.

I hope you enjoy her as much as I have been.

 

The Geoff Smith Band Are Still Here

Twenty years ago, I became fascinated by a new CD that I discovered at Virgin Records at Triangle Square (Costa Mesa, CA), in their HUGE classical room in the back of the store. It was playing in store (in the room), and I was immediately absorbed by the minimalist approach of the pianist, and the operatic vocal prowess of the woman singing. The CD was called 15 Wild Decembers. The musician’s name is Geoff Smith. The operatic voice was that of his wife, Nicola Walker-Smith.

15 Wild Decembers is a collection of eight tracks composed by Geoff Smith, with all of the lyrics culled from literary poets and writers such as Emily Brönte, Elizabeth Siddal, and Percey Shelley. The album consists of five vocal tracks using the literary words, and the remaining three are extraordinary piano pieces. You can read my original review of the album, written in 2007, twelve years after its release. That’s some staying power when an album doesn’t leave your head.

Geoff Smith 15 Wild Decembers

To backtrack, when the album released and I had heard it play in Virgin’s classical department, I bought it. Not long afterward, I designed a website featuring Geoff Smith and whatever information I could glean concerning his history, his music, and his plans for other works. Soon, Geoff Smith caught sight of the webpage, and supplied me with information and music. In essence, a site featuring Geoff Smith’s music was the forerunner of MusicTAP.

Not long afterward, Geoff Smith expanded and formed The Geoff Smith Band. Their next album on Sony Classical, called Black Flowers, was released in 1997. Since that album, we have heard little musically from Geoff Smith as he never released another album. (Geoff Smith has a previous album to 15 Wild Decembers, released back in 1993, called Gas.Food.Lodging. It was released via KitchenWare Records.)

Geoff Smith Band Black Flowers

In 2013, I posted a reprint of the 2007 review. It was that reprint that led to Geoff Smith recontacting me, directing me toward some new music that he and Nicola Walker-Smith had produced in the years after Black Flowers. It is my intention to direct you to those tracks in the hopes that an interest may formulate in Geoff Smith and his brilliant minimalist piano, and his wife’s haunting vocals.

The new release is called Black Is The Colour. it was released digitally on SoundCloud in 2014. Black Is The Colour contains five tracks that include “The Apple”, “Horses”, “Black Is the Colour”, “My Favorite Plum”, and “Song Of The Northern Lights”. All of these songs are much closer in nature to the songs heard on Black Flowers.

Geoff Smith and Nicola Walker Smith

As of this writing, all albums by Geoff Smith, and The Geoff Smith Band, including Black Is The Colour, can be streamed at SoundCloud (see below)! Do yourself a favor, listen to what you will, but do not leave without listening to the whole of 15 Wild Decembers. You should absolutely listen to “Possess Me”.

What I wouldn’t give to have 15 Wild Decembers on vinyl LP!