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.
“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.
There’s a sound I always find myself craving when fall comes around. I don’t know if it’s the echo of good times associated with Halloween and birthdays and homecoming or if it’s just the chill that sinks into my bones that reminds me that I need a little vacation from the sweet, jangly sounds of the past few months.
Whatever the case, Pinsky hits the spot. Their bio claims their debut is a summer record, but I would beg to differ. The gruff vocals (split three ways!) and spiky riffs hammer home best over a dull October moon, not sparkling mid-summer sun. It’s a little post – everything: hardcore, punk and pop, mixing genres till they break and form something fresh. Like hooks? Check out the lead single “Losing Touch.” Like dense instrumentation? Borderline jazzy guitar riffs? Closer “States” has you covered.
Their video for lead single “Losing Touch” makes the most of a clever idea on a small budget. I particularly love the detail of the “can-delier” hanging in the center of the performance space. Check it out:
Chris Cullari | Beat-Play Ambassador Los Angeles |@Chris_Cullari | Music Without Labels & Beat-Play, LLC |
Emerging from humble beginnings, Little Comets have come from spontaneous shows on subways and bakeries to a major record label deal. Since breaking from said label in 2010 (the band jokingly adds that their album didn’t sound enough like Ke$ha), Little Comets have gone independent touring through Great Britain appearing at numerous venues and festivals along the way. Hailing from Newcastle, England, the band recently released their first single after being emancipated from their major record label. “Isles,” as well as 11 other tracks juxtapose in the form of their most recent album, In Search of Elusive Little Comets, which was released earlier this year reaching #54 on the UK Billboard charts. Check out the music video below from these Tynesiders. They are Little Comets. This is “Isles:”
You can find more information about Little Comets from their website, fan page, and twitter account. They will be touring England through the end of year, closing the year out with a show in their hometown.
I thought I would throw in a bonus track. It’s called “One Night in October.” It was Little Comet’s first big hit and I’ve been a fan ever since I heard a year or so ago. Cheers.
kyle c. stilley | marketing strategist | music without labels, llc | chicago | @stillz
Where can you find ten of the best singer/songwriters from Tennessee in one place to play a concert together? Nashville’s own free concert series: Live on the Green!
Ten Out of Tenn is more than a band comprised of ten of Nashville’s best singer/songwriters. It represents a community of friends and artists that make up one of the best emerging artist scenes in the country. When most people think of Nashville, they think about pop country and honky tonks, but Music City has much more to offer the current music industry. That is part of the reason why Ten out of Tenn came to exist. The band showcases the raw talent in a group of friends that “create organic pop music in the shadows of today’s slick commercial country music industry.” They travel together as a band supporting each other, and as a sum of creative talent on stage, showcasing some of the best and brightest songs and songwriters that Nashville has to offer. Ten Out of Tenn features Katie Herzig, Andy Davis, Tyler James, Trent Dabbs, K.S. Rhoads, Griffin House, Matthew Perryman Jones, Butterfly Boucher, Jeremy Lister and Erin McCarley. Will Sayles is the group’s talented drummer. Check out these clips from some of my favorite new songs!
The idea to form this singer-songwriter supergroup was born while Kristen and Trent Dabbs were on the road. They recognized that some of their favorite music came from their friends who were also emerging artists. “We were thinking about how much music we like that happens to be our friends,” said Trent. “There’s a community of people here with a lot of talent.” That idea turned into a perfect reality when they were able to get a group of other incredibly talented artists to join them. Since then, “Ten Out of Tenn has produced compilation albums, a Christmas album, four tours, showcases at music festivals like SXSW, and an award winning documentary, Any Day Now, that debuted during the 2009 Nashville Film Festival.” The documentary fully illustrates the concept and the purpose behind Ten Out of Tenn, and gives an excellent view of what it means for the individual artists that are part of this team. Check out the trailer for Any Day Now, filmed by Jeff Wyatt Wilson.
Ever go to a concert and can’t wait until the band plays their best songs? Well imagine hearing 20 excellent songs in a row from some of the best singer/songwriters in Nashville. These talented artists and musicians don’t just stand around while one plays their song. They are also the backing band for each other, and it creates such an amazing vibe. As individual artists, these singer/songwriters have “released over thirty albums, had song placements in countless television programs & films, and shared the stage with musicians such as REM, Sarah McLachlan and John Mayer.” However for Ten Out of Tenn, fame or fortune isn’t a priority. The drive behind their purpose surrounds the age-old concept of creating and sharing their music with other people. The bottom line is that this group is amazing. Unfortunately, Ten Out of Tenn has only two more stops on their tour! Stay up to date with the latest music and tour dates from Ten Out of Tenn and learn more at 10outoftenn.com.
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC
It’s gotta be a good night when your band gets to open up for Robert Randolf and the Family Band. That was the case last Thursday night for Moon Taxi when they played at Live on the Green in Nashville, TN. As a new listener and one of many people there to see the best pedal steel player in the world, I couldn’t help taking an immediate interest to Moon Taxi. This is a phenomenal rock band with an incredible musician on every instrument, and they can’t help it that they play awesome music. If you like Music Without Labels, check out this “music without borders” that is Moon Taxi. Here’s a live video of Moon Taxi opening up for Matisyahu at the Fillmore two years ago.
This video was shot just months after the release of Moon Taxi’s Live album called Live Ride that they recorded in their hometown of Nashville, TN. Dirty bass lines, tight drum grooves, killer guitar riffs, and slick organ sounds seem to provide the perfect foundation for great vocals and memorable lyrics. Moon Taxi’s sound has since developed with a couple years of touring, and they are sounding better than ever. Their feel reminded me of Rush with their synced riffs and occasional odd meter grooves, but they have made those concepts their own. Their music somehow combines qualities of many different bands and artists. However, Moon Taxi is their own element, and have completely developed their own incredible distinct sound. Here’s a video of Moon Taxi playing one of their songs called All the Rage.
Moon Taxi toured last year with Matisyahu, which has opened up bigger opportunities for the band and their music. They have also opened for acts such as Umphrey’s Mcgee, Gov’t Mule, the New Mastersounds, and DJ Logic. Moon Taxi has played at a number of music festivals including the 10,000 Lakes Festival, Moe’s Summer Camp, Birmingham’s City Stages, the Terrapin Hill Harvest Festival, and Huntsville’s Big Spring Jam. Moon Taxi will be playing Southern Ground Music Fest with Zac Brown Band and My Morning Jacket in Charleston, SC next month as part of their nationwide headlining tour!
Their show on Thursday was awesome, and I got way more than what I expected. Moon Taxi is a modern-day version of the classic jam band, which is why they are such a great band to see live. They have combined valuable musical assets of their influences and created something fresh. This is why they have been described as a band interested in “music without borders.” Their music is undoubtedly progressive, but they stay true to their musical niche. But wait! There’s more! Moon Taxi is getting ready to release new music, so check out this video and listen to this sick new track called “Cabaret” from their new album.
To stay up to date on new music and tour dates from Moon Taxi, check out their website ridethemoontaxi.com.
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play, Music Without Labels, LLC
I’m going to start this blog off by saying I love music. I love the sounds I love being a part of thriving music scene here in LA, seeing shows and being a small part of the creativity. Back in the day in college I went the standard college radio station route to put myself right smack frickin dab in the middle of arguably one of the most diverse and ever changing music scenes in the country, Boston Massachusetts. Little WERS 88.9 fm has literally made me the music fan I am today and my dad, can’t forget him either. I have been to hundreds of shows and in those early years where I discovered it’s always better in a small club rather than a giant arena I got a glimpse of amazing real talent. This band I’m about to introduce you to is one of those groups whose members bring music and love of music full circle on a personal level. They are the Barr Brothers and their new record is something that I honestly don’t want to share with anyone and keep all to myself, but we all know I can’t keep a secret to save my life.
Beggar In The Morning – The Barr Brothers
Brad and Andrew Barr are from Boston Massachusetts. They live in Canada now. They have a band which are called The Slip they share with bassist Marc Friedman and now they are The Barr Brother which the share with harpist and neighbor Sarah Page and Andres Vial who fills the void by playing bass, keys and percussion. My first introduction to these gentlemen was when they were part of The Slip when they were touring behind their amazing album Eisenhower. I remember doing two in studio mixes with the guys one was fully plugged in and the other was acoustic. The first mix was all material from Eisenhower, but the second they shared with me a couple new songs and I gave them my mixes to use as demos to make a new record with. This was about 5 years ago.
I have a amazing treat for this blog. One of the demos I recorded back in the day made it on the Barr Brothers newest release. To clarify my version didn’t make it on, but the song did. I’m going to post both of them. The first version of the song was recorded with Brad playing his acoustic guitar and Andrew playing the studios Steinway grand piano. The second is the second track off the Barr Brother’s self titled release. Same song, years apart.
O0h, Belle (Live at WERS) – The Barr Brothers
Ooh, Belle – The Barr Brothers
Pretty cool huh? I don’t know how to play music very well but I’m pretty sure they changed the key. I’d love to know what you guys think in the comments section below. This is one of my favorite songs I was given the opportunity to record during my stay at WERS and as far as the record the music on this release is diverse and something that I could only see coming from the musicians that made it. I think it is truly listeners music. The nuances in it and the light additions of keys and the harp just bring light to the whole thing. Not every song is as light a lullaby as Ooh, Belle after all they were in an experimental rock/ jazz outfit for many years. Try this one on for size.
Give The Devil Back His Heart – The Barr Brothers
They still have the rock in them. I love the guitar and vocal pairing on this song. Brad Barr is an amazing guitar player and with the effects used on his vocals with his style of singing on this song it’s a little bit of a wake up and just shows how diverse these musicians really are.
There is a little blues element a little middle eastern rhythm and of course a jazzy element to this tune that really grabbed me and is definitely the standout on a record of standouts. I think tune will drive all the points I just made home. The next two tracks after Give The Devil Back His Heart are quiet acoustic songs, amazing, but then we get to the 7th track on the record called Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Cryin’. Welcome to the delta…
Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Cryin’ – The Barr Brothers
I can’t boast about these guys enough. They are amazing musicians and from my limited interaction with them over the years, they are amazing people always generous to share new music and try new things. I think this record is a testament to their efforts to try new styles of music and play the music that inspires them. From the quietest notes of Ooh Belle to the loudest grittiest notes of Lord I Just Can’t… the dynamic range on this record is really one to be admired. As a music fan I think I can recommend this band and this music to just about any one.
Deacons Son – The Barr Brothers
The Barr Brothers are currently touring on their new self titled release and will be making stops in Los Angeles on November 2nd at the Hotel Cafe. Do your selves 2 favors. Get your hands on this record. It is available on Amazon and iTunes. It is also available to listen to on Spotify. Here is the last track from The Barr Brother’s self titled release. Next time I’m going to write about the Muppets, yes the Muppets.
I was late to embrace Audio Karate, one of the fieriest bands to come out of the late 90s/early-aughts pop-punk scene. By the time I was getting into their kind of raw, full-throated, vocals and live, loud, imperfect production, the band was almost broken up. I had no idea that was the case when I stumbled across “Nintendo 89” on a Warped Tour compilation, and if I had, I would’ve begged them not to. Listen to this beast:
The first thirty seconds are one of the most epic builds in pop-punk. The guitar tones are perfect, the drums won’t stop, and when it all drops out to introduce those main power chords – ugh. There’s more energy in those thirty three seconds than a six-pack of Red Bull. I can only imagine the reaction it got live.
Anyway, these dudes went their separate ways around ’05 and left the world with two albums, Space Camp, and Lady Melody. Buy ’em, love ’em, play ’em loud, and then check this out:
They came back! They have a piano player, mainlined The Strokes and changed their name, but the songwriting and singer Arturo Barrio’s distinct pipes are as solid as ever. I miss the throat – rupturing rawness of their earlier work, but hey, that’s growth. Space Camp didn’t have a single instance of saloon style piano playing either, but “Elvis” features it heavily and it works. It’s a give and take.
Whip-crack opener “Rob Your House” comes closest to capturing the groups free-wheeling energy of old, with the titular phrase serving as an anarchic refrain that’s gonna feel good to shout out with a group of drunken buddies at a show or before a night of debauchery. At the same time, it also sounds the most “Strokes”y, complete with synths and – unless I’m crazy – a hint of a vocal effect.
The middle pair of tracks, “High Low” and “Wind You Up” form the backbone of the new sound: slower tempos, catchy choruses, and the addition of some acoustic strumming and clean piano sounds. EP closer “Elvis” is the track that sounds the least likely to work on paper, but is executed with aplomb. The aforementioned saloon piano kicks in early in the track and is mixed low, but shines in the chorus.
Over the course of the four tracks, the moment I keep going back to, the one that draws the line in the sand is two and a half minutes into “Wind You Up.” Like the opening of “Nintendo 89” it’s another beat where everything drops away, but instead leaving space for the hell-raising guitar from that track, it’s just Art’s vulnerable croon and a piano. Does it make me want to pogo my way into a pit Not really, but it makes me damn excited for what Indian School does next.
I keep finding myself at punk rock shows in Nashville, but that’s not a bad thing. Nashville’s punk scene has grown tremendously over the last four to five years and is now thriving. This particular show at The End was packed with a younger crowd ready to rock, and I don’t think the bartender sold less than a hundred PBRs… per hour. With a lineup of underground Nashville bands Watusi, Spanish Candles, Evan P. Donohue, and Diarrhea Planet, this show was set up to be a wild night. All the bands that night put on killer shows, but I was particularly interested in hearing music from Evan P. Donohue and his band.
Evan P. Donohue is a local independent Nashville songwriter and artist who has set himself apart from the typical rock bands in Music City. He writes intelligently through stories about semi-fictional characters and experiences from his life. With his drummer Mike Kavouras, Donohue arranges and develops music that that creatively supports and nourishes the lyrics and stories in his songs. There aren’t too many young indie rock bands with this combination of musical excellence and purpose behind clever ideas and words. Evan P. Donohue continues to push his music to new heights, and released a full-length debut album last year called Rhythm & Amplitute to do just that. Check out one of my favorite songs from the album, “O Justice!”
The entire album cannot be confined to just one specific genre because I find a complex combination of feels in the music that associate with past and contemporary rock, pop, surf-rock, and Americana artists. This rings true, since some of Donohue’s influences are T.Rex, Elvis Costello, Of Montreal, Beach Boys, Tom Waits, and David Rawlings. Rhythm & Amplitude plays with a variety of musical styles, and the songs are a collection of reality-turned fiction stories that blend while maintaining truth as their foundation. Evan P. Donohue’s bio states, “Masterfully crafting sardonic portraits of decidedly earnest characters, Evan P. Donohue poetically chooses his words to express the struggles and affections his often tragic characters experience by the choices they’ve faced in life. The surf-rock ballad “California Sunshine” speaks of a middle-aged man who rebels against the monotony of his life, eventually finding peace and happiness “sleeping under Starlight”, a prostitute employed at the Mexican brothel where the track gets its title.” I really couldn’t have said it better myself! Check out some more music from Evan P. Donohue’s Rhythm & Amplitude:
Whether it’s taking old stories and making them new or creating new truths with current realities, Donohue has something undeniably great. His music tells tales, embraces ideas, and develops new songs that go far beyond today’s pop hits. Nashville seems like an excellent fit for this up-and-coming artist who is set to debut more recordings this fall. On November 11, 2011, Evan P. Donohue will be releasing a 7-inch called Jazzputin. The record will contain two new songs that I, and every single one of his fans are very excited about. Listen to more music, stay up to date with Evan P. Donohue, and buy an Rhythm & Amplitude!
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC
It’s another Saturday in Nashville and if you’re the least bit interested in new music from Nashville, you have to be at Centennial Park for another round of bands at Musicians Corner. There were a number of great artists that performed this week including a new electronic indie rock group called SPELLS. Led by Trevor James Tillery, SPELLS made their debut performance at Musicians Corner, and gave themselves a great start to a promising season of promoting their new music. That’s right, they also have a really impressive debut album called Escapist.
SPELLS independently released Escapist on July 15, 2011. The album travels back and forth between serene melodies and big dirty electronic grooves. Songs like “Escapist” and “Where Have You Been” really drive the album with dominating hooks and big Muse-like bass lines, while songs like “City on a Hill” reproduce a somber feel with ambient sweeps that seem to support lyrics about a broken world. Overall, this is a really cool album that contains some very intelligent music. Both the musicianship and songwriting replicate a great sound and fresh feel. For example, “Transient” carries a tight groove in an ambient song about the mystery of life. I feel the need to say, Jake Goss, I love the entrance with the crash on two after the rolls. It puts a perfect touch on top of those phrases. Enough of me talking about the music, take a listen to some killer new tracks from SPELLS:
Throughout Escapist, SPELLS “writes about a yearning for something beyond the modern world. He’s rebelling against the technology-saturated realm that adds layer upon layer of complication to life, causing dreams to become a small glimmer in the back of people’s minds as they chase the material.” (Next Big Nashville). Tillery has something important to say, and he’s saying it through his carefully-crafted melodic electro-pop. “These are the kind of songs I write,” he reveals. “These are the things that I’m constantly thinking about and haunted by. And music is an outlet where I can get that out – an outlet to hopefully get other people thinking and start knocking down walls.”
Escapist was produced by Josh Niles and featured Trevor Tillery (vocals, guitars, keys), Brian McSweeney (vocal percussion, backing vocals), Jake Goss (drums), and Adrian Walther (bass). After working on the record for the last year, it released this summer and has been getting a lot of local attention in Nashville. SPELLS played at 12th & Porter on thursday night as part of Next Big Nashville’s Soundland Festival, which took place this week. This is a band that you need to know about. Keep listening and supporting SPELLS because they’ve really got something here. Check them out online at spellsofficial.com.
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play, Music Without Labels, LLC
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