Arlo Parks – “Eugene” [single] – bedroom pop
With this mellow new release by British pop artist Arlo Parks marks a new era in the blooming bedroom pop world. Eugene is a style of song that reflects the new change in modern pop, from upbeat and peppy music to the more favorable low-key, mellow arrangements with a far step away from standard and monotonous lyric writing. Parks lyrics are conversational and guide you through the story to leave no ambiguity in what she needs to say. In this track Arlo‘s voice is breathy, intimate and full of yearning which only cements her lyrics about an unrealized love story even further, overall rounding out the entire tune. The arrangement is warm and gentle and simply dances behind the vocal and interlace with one another throughout the song making this an absolutely beautiful piece. This song is a great example of Arlo Parks and her music so if you haven’t heard of her yet, give her a listen below!
Siv Jakobsen – “Fear The Fear” [single] – singer songwriter
“Fear The Fear” is a new take on traditional singer-songwriting by this Norwegian born artist Siv Jakobsen. Siv’s light acoustic arrangement with erie drones and solo acoustic guitar create a haunting picture of self conflict and other cold emotions. The lyrics weave a story of self doubt, feeling lost, and the constant struggle of an artist to perpetually be creating. This predominately comes from the line “But shake it off I can’t, I won’t//Cause what would I write about if I don’t//Fear the fear inside my bones” which make this feel like an internal dialogue that is anxiety evoking and worrisome to any artist who is struggling to create. The light arrangement never gets in the way of the vocals, making what she has to say feel so much more urgent and upfront. This single came off the soon to be released A Temporary Soothing, which Im definitely excited for, and can’t wait to see more of what she can create. Give Siv Jakobsen’s “Fear The Fear” a listen below and see for yourself!
Pinegrove – Marigold – indie rock
Indie rock band Pinegrove has a mesmerizing sound, and their latest album, Marigold, is a prime example of this captivating sound. Featuring various influences across several decades, Marigold has a wonderfully eclectic feel. Each track on the album takes an honest tone, as lead singer Evan Stephens uses everyday language to create lyrics that are unique to Pinegrove. The fifth track on the album, “Moment”, is outstanding. The band does an amazing job of letting the song breathe, all while sharing a story of everyday anxieties. The lyrics match the music perfectly, and they work together to create a true work of art. Another song on the album that stands out is “Dotted Line”. In this song, Pinegrove creates a great introduction to the album. The music starts off simply, but smoothly builds to a sound that features the band’s power. These songs are just two examples of Marigold‘s greatness – each song on the album is incredible. Give Pinegrove‘s Marigold a listen below!
Continue reading “Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (2/24-2/29): Pinegrove, Younger Hunger”
The BIRN would like you to win tickets to see guitarists Raul Midon and Lionel Loueke play live at the Shalin Liu Performance Center in Rockport on Sunday, March 1.
Heralded as a “one-man band who turns a guitar into an orchestra and his voice into a chorus,” (NY Times) Raul Midón has collaborated with such heroes as Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Jason Mraz, Queen Latifah and Snoop Dogg. Blind since birth, Midón produced-engineered his 2017 album, Bad Ass and Blind, using special computer software for the blind. The album, which confronts the challenges of his blindness with verve and grace, received a 2018 Grammy nomination in the category Best Jazz Vocal Album. Midón’s 2018 follow up release, If You Really Want, featuring the Metropole Orkest under the direction of Vince Mendoza, was nominated for a 2019 Grammy award in this same category.
Benin guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke has received critical acclaim from both his idols and contemporaries on his latest release, The Journey. Paul Simon raves that Loueke is “one of a rare handful of guitarists that move effortlessly between his West African roots and modern American Jazz”, and Sting cites Loueke as “one the most original, essential and inspiring musicians on our planet today.” As a Blue Note Recording artist and member of Herbie Hancock’s band for the past 10 years, Loueke has recorded and toured with artists as unique and varied as Terence Blanchard to singers Angelique Kidjo and Luciana Souza. Praised by Herbie Hancock as “a musical painter,” Loueke combines harmonic complexity, soaring melody, a deep knowledge of African folk forms, and conventional and extended guitar techniques to create a warm and evocative sound of his own.
To win a pair of tickets send an email to email@example.com with Raul and Lionel in the subject line. Please include your contact phone information. There will be two winners and each winner will receive two tickets.
For more information about the show, please click here.
Àsgeir – Bury The Moon – folk
Àsgeir is here to give listeners a little taste of Iceland with Bury The Moon. The album is a stunning folk homage from beginning to end, as Àsgeir gracefully unites traditional folk influences with modern, electronic folk influences. His pure voice and poetic lyrics shine in each song, enhancing the album’s beauty. The first track on Bury The Moon, “Pictures”, stands out among the rest (although, they’re all incredible). Beginning with simple piano, brushes, acoustic and electric guitar, Àsgeir establishes a cold musical scene that sets up his incredible lyrics perfectly. Although the track takes a darker tone, it features wise lyrics that assert a positive message of unity. The lyrics of “Until Daybreak” offset “Pictures” in a pleasing way; they work to tell a more concrete image about uncertain love. The track also features eclectic contemporary sounds that give the song a cool, modern edge. In short, Àsgeir is an extremely talented artist with an amazing album. Give Bury The Moon a listen below!
Continue reading “Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (2/17-2/22): Àsgeir, flor”
Hayley Williams may be best known as the frontwoman of highly influential alternative rock band Paramore, but with the long awaited release of her solo album Petals For Armor I, the powerhouse vocalist and songwriter is carving her path to becoming a legendary rock icon herself.
For dedicated Hayley Williams fans that have stuck around for years, Petals For Armor I may have been taken as a bit of a surprise, but nevertheless a thrilling one. It’s no shocker that Hayley Williams has surpassed the alternative rock world’s expectations again. She has a knack for effortlessly reinventing herself musically, as evident with the development of Paramore’s sound from teenage pop punk to acclaimed contemporary rock with funk, soul, and alternative influences. But don’t be fooled–Petals For Armor I doesn’t rely on Paramore nostalgia to shine. It’s a deeply personal work of Williams created in a different universe.
Petals For Armor I introduces unique electronic and experimental elements to Williams’ hard-hitting rock based sound. Produced by fellow band member and longtime collaborator Taylor York, the complex arrangements, production and song content are vastly different from Williams’ former discography, but doesn’t veer so far that it feels forced, or completely foreign. The album begins with its lead single and arguably most accessible tune “Simmer”. The first few seconds include a haunting synth loop and sporadic unsettling breath samples–right before launching into a catchy, fast moving bass and drum groove with subtle additions of synths. And as per usual, Williams’ powerful vocals fail to disappoint, bringing life to truthful lines like “rage is a quiet thing” and “nothing cuts like a mother”. In contrast, The album’s second track “Leave It Alone” is a mellow, slow paced ballad with odd chord changes, echoing similarities with many of Radiohead’s works. “Cinnamon” and “Creepin'” introduce even more offbeat material to the album, featuring layers of Williams’ voice filtered through a megaphone-like effect, often repeating as a hook. The album’s words feature detailed visuals like “we bleed holy water” and “don’t you know that I’m a moon in daylight?”
The title “Petals For Armor” is a lyric pulled from “Simmer”, revealing quite a bit about what inspired Williams’ writing. In her own words, Petals For Armor is essentially “the idea that being vulnerable is a shield”. We get a glimpse into Williams’ ongoing struggle with depression through Paramore’s 2017 album After Laughter, but Petals For Armor I offers an even closer look–as her lyrics explore personal themes like family and relationship issues, and being at war with oneself.
As dark as Petals For Armor I gets, Hayley Williams unapologetically wears her vulnerability like armor. With or without Paramore, her empowering presence in contemporary rock won’t be fading away any time soon.
Check out our brand new BIRN Alive videos up this week from three amazing singer-songwriters performing of various styles including folk, pop and indie rock!
Irish folk pop singer-songwriter Ryan McMullan gave a beautiful performance in the studio for our first BIRN Alive of the semester:
And in December, Boston based indie rock artist Paper Citizen:
Powerhouse vocalist and Berklee alumnus Nathalie Hernandez:
Papooz – Night Sketches – indie rock
This new album by indie rock duo Papooz, is a great mellow new find to add to your music collection. The upbeat arrangement which is reminiscent of Supertramp, and has smooth breathy vocals which add a certain unique quality that only this duo could provide. My personal favorite is “Good for Nothing” which is somewhere in-between soft rock and something coming out of the indie-lofi scene. The clear understanding of production and space by these two is something to be heralded and adds so much to what may fall flat if left in the hands of lesser artists. Papooz is blowing up all over and becoming a fast favorite so give them a listen below and check out their new album Night Sketches!
Mapache – Life On Fire [single] – folk rock
This folk rock duo Mapache just released their newest single “Life On Fire”, and these two take you back to a time where 8 track was king, denim on denim, and long hair was the style. This ambitious duo with a throw back sound bring the best of the 70s folk rock movement into the modern age. Though their sound may be from forty years ago but the lyrics certainly reflect the modern age, and don’t spare any gory details. The warmth of this track is perfect to keep you company all winter long, and is a great song overall! This track is light and fun, with a Allman Brothers-esque vocal style that is sure to have you singing along! Give “Life On Fire”by Mapache a listen below!
Soccer Mommy – “Circle the Drain” [single] – indie
Nashville native Soccer Mommy‘s latest single, “Circle the Drain”, is full of meaningful lyrics and roaming melodies. The song focuses on the challenges Soccer Mommy faces in her life as she struggles with depression. She handles the difficult topic with grace, saying in a verse, “I’m trying to seem strong for my love”. Through such simple language, Soccer Mommy opens up to listeners and creates scenes that several may find relatable. Complete with acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and a steady bass line, “Circle the Drain” offers fans great music and a well-told story. Don’t miss out – check out Soccer Mommy below!
Continue reading “Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (2/10-2/15): Soccer Mommy, Westerman”
Don’t forget to tune in to BIRN 1 tonight at 8:00 p.m. for a special in-studio performance and interview with two amazing songwriters, Brooke Annibale and Hayley Sabella. Click here to listen to the show on Birn1.
Pittsburgh native Brooke Annibale found her passion for songwriting and musicianship at a young age, growing up in a family who owned a music store. Learning guitar from her grandfather, her music has evolved from a folkier sound to a sound that is more unique to her. With her magnetic voice and expressive songwriting capabilities, she offers a fusion of textured electronic and traditional instrumentation while remaining true to her acoustic beginnings. Annibale’s latest full-length album titled Hold to the Light continues to push sonic boundaries with songs that portray memories of pain and joy with a perspective suspended in the past, making her messages even more effective.
As an indie-folk artist, Hayley Sabella combines gripping melodies with intimate lyrics to create a sonic landscape that feel the way her native New England coastline makes you feel described by Rolling Stone Country as, “sometimes cold and deadly, other times refreshing and full of life.” Her distinct style has led her to several opportunities supporting legendary artists such as Emmylou Harris, Ry Cooder and Ryley Walker. In 2018, Hayley released her second full-length album, Forgive the Birds, which received acclaim from Billboard, Rolling Stone Country, and The Bluegrass Situation. Forgive the Birds was inspired by the dramatic landscape of Cape Cod with its vast seasonal changes with songs that touch on themes of death and rebirth, vulnerability, strength, pain, and love. Sabella’s upcoming EP, Flew the Nest, is a continuation of this story serving as an EP of transition sonically and thematically, stirring feelings of nostalgia that generally come in a period of transition.
Marcus King – El Dorado – rock
New comer Marcus King from Greenville, South Carolina brings classic country inspired rock into the modern age with El Dorado. Produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, and is easily the newest jewel to come out of Easy Eye Sound, Marcus King brings a 70s inspired heavy but gentle sound into the 2020. King’s vocal style is raspy and warm, and when paired with a gritty distorted guitar and warm tapey acoustic it completes the entire sonic imagine that is so reminiscent of classic country mixed with modern blues rock. The songwriting of Marcus King is masterful and well restrained proving his mastery of his craft. The entire album is a collection of gems and is a fantastic album to kick off the new year! This album is already #1 on the Top New Artist charts, and multiple others, so if you haven’t checked El Dorado out yet, give it a listen below!
Nathaniel Rateliff – And It’s Still Alright [single] – americana
The newest single by americana artist Nathaniel Rateliff reflects the true nature of modern folk songwriting with his title track off his upcoming album “And It’s Still Alright”. Nathaniel is obviously inspired by the soft acoustic nature of 70s country and brings in the contemporary flare of modern lyric writing and production to his music. This track is reflective and melancholy with a level of songwriting that only comes with the wisdom of age and the lessons learned along the way. Recently performing this tune on Fallon, Its safe to say that Nathaniel Rateliff will be the next big thing in Americana and Folk music and we’re all excited to see how high he can go! His new album “And It’s Still Alright” come out February 14th but you can listen to his single below!