Author Archives: lizwithmwl

Vanish Valley – “Get Good” [NEW MUSIC] [EVENT]

Vanish Valley

Vanish Valley is a country-ish rock band from Los Angeles that recently released its’ sophomore album, Get Good.  Filled with heartfelt lyrics, twangy guitar rifts, harmonicas, and rhythmic percussion the album is definitely worth checking out.

After some soul-searching, career changes, and moving to three different states in the matter of a few years, Vanish Valley’s founder, Andrew McAllister, has finally settled down in the warmth of sunny Los Angeles. The singer/songwriter wrote and recorded Vanish Valley, his first album under the moniker, back in 2008, with the help of some fellow L.A.-based musicians. Upon this release, life took McAllister on a rollercoaster ride that eventually returned him to the City of Angels, where he recruited a drummer, bassist and keyboardist, and assembled a proper band for his country-folk outfit.

Vanish Valley

“A lot of this album was written while surviving the first couple years in Los Angeles.”, says McAllister. “The town can take on so many shapes that it really forces you to carve out your existence.  It was a wake-up to keep solid people close and value the relationships I have – near or far.  I guess the album is about the struggle and celebration in trying to do that.”

Blending elements of folk, country and psychedelic rock, the songs on Vanish Valley ramble their way through hushed landscapes and into roll-your-window-down backcountry cruises.  Listen to Vanish Valley and you’ll feel it too.  If you’re in L.A. they’ll be playing at Pehrspace in Echo Park this Saturday.

<iframe width=”300″ height=”410″ style=”position: relative; display: block; width: 300px; height: 410px;” src=”http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/album=3887488050/size=grande3/bgcol=FFFFFF/linkcol=4285BB/&#8221; allowtransparency=”true” frameborder=”0″><a href=”http://vanishvalley.bandcamp.com/album/get-good”>Get Good by Vanish Valley</a></iframe>

By: Elizabeth Stene | Beat-Play Ambassador South Africa | @LizMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Strange Talk – “Climbing Walls” [FREE DOWNLOAD]

Strange Talk

Australia keeps exporting great new music, evidenced yet again by what I’m hearing from the band Strange Talk.  The group combines musical talents from different backgrounds; the ‘vocalist/producer Stephen Docker immersed in the classical world, playing violin for the Australian Youth Orchestra and bassist/producer Gerard Sidhu, crafting house and electro as a regular fixture on the Melbourne DJ circuit’. After months of songwriting together the result is a self-titled EP through Neon Gold Records and Fine Time Records, which features singles Climbing Walls and Eskimo Boy.

Their most famous track is arguably ‘Climbing Walls’, which has been picked up everywhere from surf clips to Aussie TV dramas, and even by boutique French label Kitsune for their popular ‘Maison Kitsune’ compilation series. “It was definitely good for us, the whole Kitsune thing. I guess it’s sort of a stepping-stone for an up-and-coming band, a tick in the box, so to speak. It let us know that we must be doing the right thing, and it’s a plus that their clothes are so cool.” The indie synth-pop band draws inspiration from, “our record collections, and all of the incredible local and international music getting created and toured around Australia.”

Strange Talk

“I guess it’s a good mould, as a lot of our stuff has a heavier band influence,” tells Strange Talk’s frontman Stephen Docker. “A lot of our music is structured not so much in the loop based clubby fashion but more in a basic song structure, with more of a classical element shining through. It means we have strong ideas about vocals and melody lines, which is a bit different to some other electronic bands.”

 

By: Elizabeth Stene | Beat-Play Ambassador South Africa | @LizMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

 

The New Division – “Shadows” [NEW MUSIC]

The New Division

The New Division began as a college dorm room project for songwriter John Kunkel back in 2005. After moving from Uruguay (where he resided for 18 years) to Southern California. Kunkel began experimenting with synthesizers after being heavily influenced by the sounds of Joy Division, New Order, and Depeche Mode. Originally, the name “New Division” was meant as an artist working title for songs that would never be released. Within a few months Kunkel developed a series of songs that attracted other fellow college students at California Baptist University. By the end of 2007, the one man New Division project had transformed into a four piece.

**My favorite track, Starfield, off their previous E.P**

 

Currently, The New Division is John Kunkel (vocals), Brock Woolsey (guitars), Janzie (synths), and Mark Michaslki (synths). With over 300 songs in their “demo roster,” the band is continually writing new material on a regular basis. “We believe the best way to make good music is to write a lot,” says frontman John Kunkel. “I wake up every day with fresh ideas, and I seek out sources of inspiration. Sometimes, I’ll write three songs in a day if I have the time. It’s what I love doing. It’s therapeutic.”

The New Division - Shadows

While Kunkel focuses on the production and songwriting aspect of the band, the other members play a vital role in developing their live performance and sound. “We used to be crappy live, I won’t lie,” says Janzie. “But we’ve come such a long way from what we used to be. Whereas before we just plugged in an ipod and pressed play for certain tracks, we’re now doing basically what Deadmau5 does with Ableton. The only difference is that we’re a four piece, we’re new wavish, and we sometimes use a live drummer [Kenny Wells].” This may be the brightest year for the band to date. Already receiving critical acclaim for “The Rookie” EP, the band has big plans and just released their first full length album – Shadows.  The retro 80’s-esque vibe floats in an ambient haze with no ending in sight.  I highly recommend checking out this Riverside, California band’s new-wave  album – you won’t regret it!

 

 

By: Elizabeth Stene | Beat-Play Ambassador South Africa | @LizMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Warren Hood & The Hoodlums – “Low Down ft. Mike Keller” [VIDEO]

warren hood

Warren Hood is an accomplished musician who plays violin, fiddle, mandolin, and composes and sings as well. He lives in Austin, Texas and performs with his local band, Warren Hood and the Hoodlums, in a blend of jazz/blues/newgrass acoustic fusion of music.  In the 2005 Austin Chronicle Best Musician Awards, Warren was voted #1 Best String Player and his band was voted 2nd in the bluegrass category.

Warren began playing fiddle at age 11 and studied classical violin for a number of years.  At age 17 he won the Austin Youth Award and performed as soloist with the Austin Symphony.  Later he honed his playing and singer/composition abilities with his former bands such as: Warren Hood & his Allstar Band, Blue Light Special and the South Austin Jug Band.

warren hood

 

Warren’s musical influence range from Ray Charles, Stephane Grapelli, Walter Hyatt and Uncle Walt’s Band.  If you listen to Warren’s compositions its’ easy to hear the eclectic influences.

 

 

By: Elizabeth Stene | Beat-Play Ambassador South Africa | @LizMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

 

The Republic Tigers – “No Man’s Land” [NEW MUSIC]

the republic tigers

The Kansas City-based quintet’s Chop Shop Records debut featured an array of styles – spanning future folk, high-spirited rock, and candy-colored pop – melded into a truly original and ingenious sound. “It’s a sound that’s half organic and half synthetic, kind of like how all our lives are now,” says singer/multi-instrumentalist Kenn Jankowski. “It’s the common theme throughout all of the songs and we tried to approach it audibly as well.”  The band started to come together in 2006 after Jankowski’s former band, the Golden Republic, split and he exchanged demos with fellow musician friend Adam McGill. “‘The Republic Tiger’ was my high-school mascot,” Jankowski says of the moniker, “and the name always rang to me in a nice way. I don’t like band names very much and I don’t like thinking about them either, so I just took something that I knew was timeless to me, and big enough that we could color it with our music and create its meaning with our songs.”  The line-up quickly expanded over the following months, with guitarist/pianist Ryan Pinkston, bassist Marc Pepperman, and drummer Justin Tricomi each bringing a new color to the paintbox. “It was what we’d all always dreamed of,” Jankowski says, “which was to work with other people kind of like us.”

The Republic Tigers SXSW

Over the next year, The Republic Tigers recorded a series of demos, with each member working individually on home-recordings which were then enmeshed into a single unified whole. The goal from the start was to incorporate elements of indie, electronica, pop, and even classical music into something distinctive and idiosyncratically their own. Jankowski was determined to bring “a different approach to each song. I wanted each song to be a story in its own world, like a little book.”  The band self-released an EP in 2007, but it wasn’t until 2008 when The Republic Tigers released the Keep Color album that they finally started to emerge on the music scene.

While Keep Color was born of The Republic Tigers’ passion for inventive recording, the band followed it by making their bones as an inventive and resourceful live band. They spent much of 2008 and 2009 on the road, both headlining and sharing stages with Travis, Weezer, and Nada Surf. What’s more, the band performed on such high-profile programs as CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman and The WB.com’s Rockville CA, with their songs featured on an array of shows including Gossip Girl, Chuck, Grey’s Anatomy, and Supernatural.  No Land’s Man heralds the upcoming release of The Republic Tigers’ much-anticipated, as-yet-untitled second album. While reluctant to give away too many of its secrets, Jankowski confirms that he and his fellow musical explorers remain on their own idiosyncratic path, fervently committed to the creation of The Republic Tigers’ singular sonic magic.

 

 

By: Elizabeth Stene | Beat-Play Ambassador South Africa | @LizMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

 

 

Boy & Bear – “Mexican Mavis” [VIDEO]

Boy & Bear

 

Boy & Bear are an amazing indie folk rock band from Sydney Australia. The members were originally from four separate bands until they decided to leave their respective collectives and represent one ‘a-little-bit-better’ band. After performing as Dave Hosking during 2008 the band decided to re-name the project and embrace a new direction and sound of 70’s folk rock. The combination of three songwriters has resulted in songs that refuse to stay within the boundaries of one genre.

 

Boy and Bear Moonfire Tour

 

Their first EP With Emperor Antartica was very successful in Australia and features one of my favorite tracks Mexican Mavis.  Boy & Bear completed their first full length album last month and recently announced a US tour for the album – starting in Los Angeles on October 10th and ending in Boston on October 22nd.   MOONFIRE is available on iTunes and other digital outlets. The album is ethereal and an entrancing enigma of hypnotic indie that’s been transfixing listeners left and right. Everyone from tastemakers to fans has been singing their praises.

 

 

By: Elizabeth Stene | Beat-Play Ambassador South Africa | @LizMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Nigel & The Dropout “Mister Grief” [MUSIC]

Nigel & the Dropout

Nigel & The Dropout’s humble introduction as, “We’re two guys from Detroit, we’re 19, we have no idea what we’re doing, but we love music and we hope you enjoy!” is misleading based on their obvious talent and potential.  The duo creates indie-electro pop with a particularly urban feel. They have a knack for balancing melodic guitar chords with electo synths, without either one overpowering the other — and with vocals that are a bit reminiscent of brit pop, the end result is a very real sound that feels different from other artists that might try to utilize these elements.

 

Nigel & the Cropout

 

The album, &, begins with ominous electronics and percussion, slowly growing and building into a steady beat, and eventually a full song, and one of the best on the album. “Mister Grief” is a perfectly executed opener to the album’s most solid run, as the tracks that follow only get better. The band’s musicianship is excellent, and Ficker utilizes his vocal talents perfectly in combination with the music. The album concludes with endless possibilities for a band that has the potential to create something truly astounding.

 

 

By: Elizabeth Stene | Beat-Play Ambassador South Africa | @LizMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Paulie Pesh – “Making of a Song: Shining Stars” [VIDEO]

Paulie Pesh

Paulie Pesh is complex LA folk band whose albums Shining Stars and Post Mortem enchant you with their comfortable yet creative harmonies, and delight you with their array of instruments (including the violin, viola, trumpet and clarinet). In addition to Paulie Pesh and his wife (Cristal Peshkepia – backup vocals), band members include Philip Roosevelt (electric guitar), Philip Glenn (violin), Jazmin Rampas (violin), Yena Lee (viola), Marissa Peshkepia (clarinet), Adam Portocarreo (trumpet), and Jason Chavez (bass), among others.

According to Pesh, after returning from a two-month tour with his wife in the summer of 2010 he became excited by incorporating brass, woodwinds, and strings into his music.  In order to create such complex pop songs he had to recruit family and friends.  Explaining the logistics of the band Paulie says, “We actually have anywhere from 8-14 players to be accurate. I rely on friends, family and new talent and just whoever I can get. I usually just send out a mass text or e-mail and just sort of wait for a response. It’s worked out great that way. There are so many committed people to this project. That is another reason why it works.”

Paulie Pesh Post Mortem

Chris Schlarb produced their newest EP Post Mortem. The new tracks orbit in the galaxy of stars such as Paul Simon and Randy Newman, and the title song sways amid horns, keys and plucked strings.  Check out the video by Paulie, Making of a Song: Shining Stars to get a feel for the look and sound of this talented new band.

 

 

By: Elizabeth Stene | Beat-Play Ambassador South Africa | @LizMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Crooks – “Downtown” [FREE DOWNLOAD] & “The Rain Will Come [NEW MUSIC] [ VIDEO]

Crooks Country

 

Crooks are like a throwback to traditional country music (Hank Williams Sr.) while also maintaining a modern, rockabilly sound.  The members of Crooks are Josh Mazour, Sam Alberts, Rob Bacak, and Andrew Vanvoorhees.  This four piece Austin based band played at SXSW this past spring and is currently playing in the Austin area – they have a show tomorrow night at the Continental Club.   Downtown’s outlaw country drawl is representative of what good indie country should be.

 

 

The band has been busy this summer working in the studio with Austin Chronicle Music Awards winner of Producer of the Year, Danny Reisch.  However, they recently set time aside to show off some of the new material they’ve been creating.  Filmed at an Austin Music Weekly session here is the video for their newest song The Rain Will Come.

 

 

By: Elizabeth Stene | Beat-Play Ambassador South Africa | @LizMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC

Chappo – “Come Home” [MUSIC] [FREE DOWNLOAD] [EVENT]

Chappo

 

Chappo consists of Baton Rouge, La.-born Alex Chappo and Seattle, Washington-born Chris Olson, who share vocals while playing rustic guitar and space-sounding synth beats. Chappo released their debut album ‘Media Machine’ in 2008, sans Chris Olson. They describes their music as a “cross pollination of indie pop and space rock. It’s The Rolling Stones in space and like The Flaming Lips without gravity. They’ve got space shoes, phantasmagorical adventures, confetti six-shooters and diamond powder-filled hourglasses.

 

Chappo

 

The bands most recent EP, ‘Plastique Universe,” was released in April 2010.  Other accolades to the band include playing at South by SouthWest, having their music featured in a new Ipod touch commercial, and designer Rawan Rihani using their song ‘Come Home’ for her ‘Nightswimming’ collection show at Glasslands Gallery for the Williamsburg Fashion Weekend.  This band has played across the United States, and will be playing at the Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn tonight!

 

By: Elizabeth Stene | Beat-Play Ambassador South Africa | @LizMWL | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC