Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (11/11-11/16): The Deer, Wolf & Moon

The DeerDo No Harm – folk

The Austin-based band The Deer has an eclectic sound that makes the group memorable and lovable. The Deer‘s latest album, Do No Harm, establishes the band’s unique artistry through featuring different sounds and techniques on each song. From pedal steels to strings and group harmonies – Do No Harm is full of lovely surprises that make the album stand out from others. Each track highlights different moods, from the psychedelic ballad, “Dissolve”, to the upbeat and dance-worthy tracks, “Confetti to the Hurricane” and “Swoon”. Overall, Do No Harm showcases The Deer‘s Western influences while also establishing the band’s unique voice and modern take to the folk genre. Each track has its own voice, but they all work together to create one beautiful and fun sound that can only belong to The Deer. Don’t miss out on such an incredible album and band – check out The Deer‘s Do No Harm below!

Continue reading “Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (11/11-11/16): The Deer, Wolf & Moon”

Kate Davis – The BIRN Interview

It’s been a long wait for Kate Davis to finally showcase her debut album to the world. Growing up a jazz musician, Davis’s musical journey took an unexpected turn–she went from a young teen playing bass in the Grammy Jazz Ensemble to becoming an indie rock singer-songwriter as she entered adulthood. After immersing herself in the New York City music scene for years, performing at almost every iconic New York venue you can think of from The Bowery Electric to Carnegie Hall, she is now touring worldwide to promote Trophy— her latest creation.

BIRN: You must’ve written tons of songs leading up to this release, how did you figure out which songs would fit under the theme of “Trophy”? Did you ever feel disappointed about eliminating certain songs?

KD: I definitely eliminated a bunch of songs – my contenders list for Trophy was quite long. I was looking through every song I had ever written just to make sure I had the perfect track listing for my first album. Some of the songs were written very recently and had a different kind of maturity so they were pretty obvious choices. Some of the older songs needed a little reworking, a change of perspective, or a smarter approach to the arrangement. Production helped to bring all of the songs to the same universe. I am really happy with how the songs on Trophy reflect my journey as a songwriter, but also a person.

BIRN: Your song “Open Heart” is such a unique play on the concept of open heart surgery. What’s the story behind it?

KD: I wrote Open Heart a long time ago – I had only been writing for couple of years at that point and was still working on the basics. My dad told me that it wouldn’t be the worst thing if I wrote from my clever side… He was a smart guy and liked smart songs. Around the same time I had a dream about an ex boyfriend involving a game of operation. It was a very surreal and vivid dream. Perfect song fodder. I pieced together a story and tried to be more thoughtful about its construction so that it wasn’t just another song about a relationship.

BIRN: The visuals for Trophy make a pretty bold statement – the album cover is a snapshot of you dressed up in sparkly attire on stage with a frozen facial expression, and your music video for “rbbts” in contrast includes scenes of you drowning in a bathtub and dancing in darkness. Can you talk about what inspired these images?

KD: Life! I think we experience a huge range of emotions as humans and even if our lives aren’t necessarily lived out through emotional bathtub scenes, that doesn’t mean we don’t relate to the experience of feeling the burdens of sadness or grief. The visuals are another way to interpret these pretty basic human experiences that I sing about throughout the record. I hope that the visuals for this album help set the backdrop for the songs and perhaps offer even greater perspective.

BIRN: What do you hope to achieve as an artist between this album release and your next project?

KD: I am of the opinion that good songs are the most important thing an artist can produce and posses. I have been feverishly writing for my next album, but hope that the songs and spirit on Trophy will help take my music and me around the world. I want enough people to care about my work that I just keep getting to make it. Creating a record and refining my aesthetic as an artist has been the most fulfilling part of my life so far.

BIRN: You co-wrote “Seventeen” with Sharon Van Etten on her latest album, which explores the progression of time over generations. What are your personal reflections on witnessing a new generation being born into the same world you live in?

KD: When we were writing the song together, it seemed like I was representing the younger generation that Sharon was sending this empathetic message to. Working with Sharon to relay a message to her younger self was powerful – I took a lot took away from the experience and it encouraged me to be even kinder to my current self. Seeing the younger generation, it’s obvious that they are living in a different world than the one I came up in. In some ways they seem to be more wise and more aware, but still struggle with more modern issues. I feel a deep respect for the younger generation because they have the power and the desire to make change. Not that the older generations don’t – it’s just as much our responsibility – but the younger ppl I know are strong, unique, informed, sensitive (all traits we should all aspire to). Even in the age of living online, they are not afraid to be real.

BIRN: What would you consider to be a “productive” co-writing session?

KD: Anything that yields work that you feel proud of.

BIRN: You’ve performed all over New York City but you’re originally from Portland, Oregon. What would you say are the differences between both cities’ live music scenes?

KD: I love Portland and I am very grateful for the classical and jazz scenes that I got to grow up in. Both deeply affected that musician that I would ultimately become. Since I was much younger, my time in Portland was much more about institutions, education, private lessons, and high school band experiences. It was very specific. I had so many mentors who were so kind and generous and parents who were committed to seeing me through the best possible education in music. Out here in NYC I’ve experienced more of a community of peers. Though I am still a very diligent student of music, I learn and experience things now in a much different way. If anything, the scene out here is more conducive to my current aspirations and learning goals as an artist. It’s amazing to have access to a diverse music community and to a city that is overflowing with artists of all kinds.

BIRN: As a music school alumni, do you have any special words for current Berklee students who are unsure of where their path in music will take them?

KD: Sometimes I wish that I could go back and tell my freshman year self that its ok to take the path less traveled. Music education extends far beyond the classroom walls. Never doubt that you know what you like. Knowing pretty early on that I wanted to break away from what was expected of me, I definitely was working towards becoming a unique artist. It was just hard to go in 100%. I settled into two separate lives where I would “work” for money and write for fun. Life circumstances make everything more complicated, but if you know what you want, be bold. Trust your instincts and work as hard as you can to get to the place that you dream about. Most importantly though, don’t regret anything. Every part of the journey helps guide you to where you gotta go – even if parts are pretty brutal.

Tune into birnCORE to hear indie rock artist Kate’s live performance at Cafe 939 with Jesse Ruben coming up on Saturday, November 16!

The show starts at 8 PM and you can stream it here.

The BIRN has a pair of tickets for you to win to see this show. To win the tickets, send an email and your contact phone number to tickets@thebirn.com by Thursday, November 14 at 11:59 p.m. Make sure to have Kate and Jesse in the subject line. The winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

This week on the BIRN!

Tune in to birnCORE on tonight at 8:00 p.m. for a live broadcast from the Red Room @ Cafe 939 featuring London based artist Puma Blue (also known as Jacob Allen) and New York City’s Gabe Goodman. Both artists bring fresh and exciting sounds to the singer songwriter genre. The show starts at 8:00 p.m. and you can stream it here.

Wellington, New Zealand’s Graeme James is multi-talented folk artist with over 300,000 monthly spotify listeners. He makes a stop in Boston on his way across the US in support of his latest release, The Long Way Home. New England based singer and songwriter Will Orchard gets the show rolling. Listen to the show on Thursday, November 7 at 8:00 p.m. right here.

At a 18 years old, Emily Bear is already a celebrated pianist, composer and vocalist. Check out the exclusive BIRN interview with Emily on Friday, November 8 at 7:00 p.m. before her show at Cafe 939 that night. Tune in here.

Guitarist and vocalist, Aubrey Haddard is our featured artist on BIRN Alive this Saturday, November 9 at 4:00 p.m. EST. Listen to her live set and insightful interview on birn1 here.

The BIRN has a pair of tickets for you to win to see Kate Davis and Jesse Ruben live at Cafe 939 on Saturday, November 16. To win the tickets, send an email and your contact phone number to tickets@thebirn.com by Thursday, November 14 at 11:59 p.m. Make sure to have Kate and Jesse in the subject line. The winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

We are very happy to announce that the fall 2019 birnCORE Live show will take place on Thursday, December 5 and will feature Boston and Portland based indy noise band, Weakened Friends. Tickets are $8 for students. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

BIRN Album Review: Pony by Rex Orange County

After releasing albums Bcos U Will Never B Free (2015) and Apricot Princess (2017), singer-songwriter Alex O’Connor most commonly known as Rex Orange County, has returned with the release of his third full-length album Pony. Writing and recording the entirety of the album with help from producer Ben Baptie, the 21-year-old has outdone himself with an engaging soundscape of bedroom soul that illustrates his feelings from a more juvenile perspective.

Listening to the music of Rex Orange County persuades listeners into believing that they truly know him. As someone who maintains an uncommon sense of creative individuality while also possessing the familiarity to attract listeners, Rex Orange County cannot be held by the confines of genre. His musical personality is precisely described as, “the amalgamation of bedroom pop cosplayers, Odd Future apologists, and old souls.”

From the beginning to the end of Pony, Rex Orange County is transparent with his emotions, utilizing lyrics that make you feel like you’re eavesdropping on his thoughts. In the opening track “10/10,” he candidly admits to having a difficult year and feeling down. Then, with an undertone of hope, he acknowledges how a change of attitude could change his mindset, singing, “I feel like a five, I can’t pretend / but if I get my shit together this year maybe I’ll be a ten.” He continues to acknowledge his journey to a place of stability in the song “Always,” while harnessing a boyish mindset that craves dependency, singing, “But until somebody sits me down / And tells me that I’m different now / I’ll always be the way I always am.” Rex Orange County shamelessly revisits this adolescent outlook throughout the album to communicate the way most 21-year olds feel at this time in their lives.

His focus starts to shift on songs like “Face to Face” and “Stressed Out.” Both songs talk about trust issues but are illustrated in different ways. “Face to Face” uses the theme of a long distance relationship to describe being in a place outside of his comfort zone and not knowing who to trust, longing to be back with her. “Stressed Out” is an extension of this feeling. “They wanna take what’s yours / They wanna go to dinner on your name / I let them take control and take me for a fool / It’s such a shame,” describes the way he lets people use him even though he can’t trust them. Rex Orange County approaches the close of the album with an uplifting tone that exudes positivity. With strong rhythmic drive and layered vocals that soar through orchestral strings, “It Gets Better” is one of the album’s best and most honest love songs about his long-term girlfriend Thea. The final song on the album, “It’s Not The Same Anymore,” revisits the overall theme of Pony but is observed through a different lens. “I’ll keep the pictures saved in a safe place / Wow, I look so weird here / My face has changed now,” acknowledges the reality that he has grown up and his life will never be as simple as it once was. This song is meant to conclude the “boy inside my thoughts” perspective Rex Orange County has maintained throughout the album, closing one chapter and opening a new one.

Featured Show: Kate Davis at Cafe 939

It’s been a long wait for Kate Davis to finally showcase her debut album to the world. Growing up a jazz musician, Davis’s musical journey took an unexpected turn–she went from a young teen playing bass in the Grammy Jazz Ensemble to becoming an indie rock singer-songwriter as she entered adulthood. After immersing herself in the New York City music scene for years, performing at almost every iconic New York venue you can think of from The Bowery Electric to Carnegie Hall, she is now touring worldwide to promote Trophy— her latest creation. 

Tune into birnCORE to hear indie rock artist Kate’s live performance at Cafe 939 with Jesse Ruben coming up on Saturday, November 16! The show starts at 8 PM and you can stream it here.
The BIRN has a pair of tickets for you to win to see Kate Davis and Jesse Ruben live at Cafe 939 on SaturdayNovember 16. To win the tickets, send an email and your contact phone number to tickets@thebirn.com by ThursdayNovember 14 at 11:59 p.m. Make sure to have Kate and Jesse in the subject line. The winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

Jerry Gates Interviews Jorge Perez of Patáx

On Tuesday, November 5, Berklee alumnus Jorge Perez presents the American version of his European sensation Patáx live at the Berklee Performance Center. The concert features faculty artists, as well as students from Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory at Berklee, and is directed by contemporary writing and production professor Jerry Gates.

Listen to Jerry’s pre-show conversation with Jorge about all things Patáx.

Ryan’s Prime Slices of the Week (11/4-11/9): Patrick Watson, Matt Maltese

Patrick Watson – “Dream For Dreaming” – indie pop

Patrick Watson has created another gem with “Dream for Dreaming .” This tune immerses you immediately within the first chord and leaves you asking the question “What’s next?” It doesn’t disappoint either, Patrick Watson paints an ambient, emotional world that encapsulated his smooth, cathartic voice perfectly. This keeps building and building and gives the listener a sense of melancholy and raw emotion. The use of dynamics makes the song have an ebb and flow comparable to waves in the ocean, giving a very powerful performance and making this one of the more remarkable tunes to come out so far in 2019. I highly recommend “Dream For Dreaming” and encourage everyone to give it a listen!

 

 

Matt Maltese – “Jupiter” [single] – indie rock

Kicking off the track with synth and punchy bass, Matt Maltese brings us into a retro vibe comparable to the soft rock bands of the 1970s. Matt’s vocals are smooth and his lyrical content is always exceptional and bordering on the abstract. This tune weaves a tale of yearning for a past love, and tells it in a way only Matt Maltese can. This song has a fantastic vibe and feel, and keeps up with the excellence that is this artist’s standard. All of Matt’s content is fantastic and I recommend you checking him out! Give. “Jupiter” a listen below!

 

Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (11/4-11/9): Geoffroy, Squirrel Flower

Geoffroy1952 – alternative

On his latest album, 1952, Montreal-based artist Geoffroy showcases his creativity and ability to bend genres. Geoffroy combines several styles seamlessly, bringing together folk, electronic, and pop influences to create something entirely new. One of the best examples of his skill is the song “The Fear of Falling Apart”. The track blends electronic vocal effects, beats, and samples with warmer piano tones and Geoffroy‘s natural voice, creating an appealing contrast between old and new sounds. Although Geoffroy uses many unique effects, they never distract from his voice. His voice is strong, timeless, and smooth, and the melodies on 1952 suit it perfectly. Between even the first three tracks “The Fear of Falling Apart”, “21 Days”, and “Woke Up Late”, Geoffroy shows that he is capable of creating several musical feels while still asserting his own sound. So much could be said about 1952 and Geoffroy, but the best way to experience his music is to hear it for yourself! Give 1952 a listen below.

Continue reading “Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (11/4-11/9): Geoffroy, Squirrel Flower”

Tom Speight – The BIRN Interview

Currently in the midst of a world tour, Tom Speight is an upcoming folk pop artist from London, UK. I had the chance to talk with Tom before his Boston show at the Red Room about his long winded career, from the moment he picked up his sister’s classical guitar to the creation and release of his first full length record Collide

Track Listing:

1. Waiting
2. Little Love
3. Strangers Now
4. Collide
5. Heartshaker

5. Lost to Me
5. Want You
6. Willow Tree
7. Closer
8. Alice
9. My name  

10. Into the Night
11. Evermore

BIRN: Welcome, Tom! So you’ve released 4 EPs, played more than 80 shows in the past 12 months and put out your debut album Collide last April. How does it feel to finally be noticed by such a large audience after practicing your craft with many ups and downs for years? 

Tom: It feels great to have the opportunity to put out a record. It’s hard to get to that point where you can release an album, in this kind of climate in 2019. I’ve heard that most artists release about 25 songs before putting out their first record, which is kind of crazy. But I suppose it’s a good thing for developing your songwriting and sound, and gaining a larger fanbase so that when you put a record out, you have someone to listen to it. I’m really proud of the record, it’s nice to be taking it around the world and touring. Even just being here is amazing for me, really. 

BIRN: You’ve mentioned that you and your producer Chris Bond wrote together in his barnyard studio without any phone signal or internet connection. That’s pretty incredible. How did the social isolation play into the emotional aspect of writing Collide? 

Tom: It was more during the recording process where I didn’t have any phone signal. But I think what it gave us was this focus–having everything on your phone is great but it is very distracting. Sometimes you’re not very present with things. And I think with music, you have to be very much focused and in the moment. And it just gave us that kind of opportunity to have no distractions–we couldn’t just pop to the shops to grab a coffee or anything. It was like, everything is here that we need, and the reason we’re here is to make a record, so let’s get on with it. I’m from London, and I’m not used to that countryside kind of life. So in general, it did benefit us in some respects. 

BIRN: That’s a great opportunity not only to create art, but to take a break from that bustle of living in the city. Are you going to continue with the social media breaks while writing music in the future? 

Tom: Yeah, I think so. I’m gonna make another album with him (Chris) and it’ll be exactly the same–I’m kind of looking forward to it, it’s almost like a social media detox. It’s just a distraction. I mean, it’s great for when I’m releasing music and need to spread the word about it. But also the downfall with apps like Instagram, is that you feel like you constantly have to feed that machine of showing people that you’re busy. And I try and leave a bit of mystique of not giving too much away. Like, I don’t think everyone needs to know what I had for breakfast, or what I’m up to in the studio. Ultimately, you don’t really need to know that side of things. Just listen to the songs, embrace it. 

BIRN: I can imagine you and Chris have gotten closer since working on the album, but before that, was there a moment that made you realize he was the right person to produce Collide?

Tom: I think he was definitely the man for the job. He did all the lead tracks of the EPs as well. It was definitely an emotional experience, and you grow closer to someone when you’re working with them. It’s an important thing to me, music is my life and you’re putting that trust into someone so you definitely have to have that respect, and faith in them. He was definitely the right choice, and as I said he will also be doing the second record. I can’t praise him enough, really. He plays about 70 percent of the album as well, he’s a drummer, plays bass, guitar. The thing that drew me to working with him was that I was testing out the songs with a lot of people, and they were focusing on mapping out the song on the computer. I remember getting into the first initial test session with him, and he didn’t even look at the computer or touch it. It was more like, if it works in the room with just us playing together, it’ll work on the record. It was nice, we didn’t even play to a click track. The foundation of the record was live, I was playing the guitar at the same time he was playing the drums, and his brother was playing the hammond organ. It felt very exciting, whereas when you’re stacking (the instruments) up individually, you lose a bit of that magic of little things like eye contact, or dynamics of playing together as a band. 

BIRN: Your album is pretty emotionally intense, and all the songs contain pretty heavy subject matter. Was there a particular song you especially found difficult to finish writing? And why? 

Tom: There’s a track called Alice, which is probably the rawest song on the album. It definitely wasn’t easy to record, I found myself becoming emotional when listening back to it. I was in the hospital for two months during the making of the album, as I was suffering from Crohn’s disease. And I wrote that song the day I left the hospital. The song wouldn’t have happened without that experience, so I suppose that’s the silver lining. When I listen back to it now, it does take me back to that time in my life. There’s definitely a lot of hope in the record though, there’s ups and downs. So it’s not too depressing of a listen, hopefully. 

BIRN: Your story of recuperating from your illness through music is incredibly moving and speaks to a lot of people experiencing similar struggles. What advice would you give to someone who is tackling a frustrating obstacle in their life but wants to pursue their art as a career? 

Tom: I think the first thing is not to be in denial about it. I know I was in denial for probably a couple of years when I initially got diagnosed. But I think if you can learn how to manage it, then it won’t beat you, and you can live your life to the fullest you can. You need to tackle these things head on and not put your head in the sand, really. It’s definitely not an overnight kind of fix. My heart goes out to anyone who is battling anything like that. 

BIRN: You’ve cited Leonard Cohen as an artist that’s influenced you since childhood. If you had to choose one Leonard Cohen song or album that particularly speaks to you, which one would it be?

Tom: My mom used to play a lot of cassettes and CD’s in the car, and I think with Leonard Cohen it was his “Greatest Hits” CD–Mary Ann, Hallelujah, Chelsea Night Hotel, etc. It’s just great songwriting really, and I liked how simple his production was. He wasn’t over-singing as well–he was just telling a story, really. With a lot of today’s singers, it’s like vocal olympics, but they’re not really saying anything. He wasn’t the greatest singer maybe, but his lyrics and songs made up for it, and his honesty. I think that’s inspiring. 

BIRN: You’re occupied by a lot right now, but are there any exciting future plans you can tell us about? Can fans look forward to new music soon or are you taking your time with writing the next release? 

Tom: I suppose this album is kind of wrapping up before the new year. We’ve been touring for nearly two years. It’s been kind of a whirlwind piecing that together, but as soon as I finish this tour, I’m gonna start writing some songs for album 2. I’m definitely gonna put out some music next year, just not a big body of work yet, because I need to make sure it’s right. I think I’ve put out so much music in the last two or three years that there’s still enough for people to discover, you know. I don’t really know what it’s gonna sound like yet, but I don’t think I’m gonna repeat myself–it’s not gonna be like, the outtakes of the last album. I’m quite excited to get started next year with writing new songs. 

BIRN: That’s great the tour is going well, I’m sure a lot of fans including myself are looking forward to what music you’ll be coming out with next. Thanks again for chatting with us!

Tom: Of course. This is like a legendary place isn’t it? I was like–”Berklee, this is kind of crazy.” I was quite nervous about playing near here. 

BIRN: No worries, it’s super relaxed here, you don’t have anything to be nervous about!

Thank you, Tom!

Click here for upcoming tour dates.

Ryan’s Prime Slices of The Week (10/27-11/2): Tino Drima, Craig Finn

Tino Drima – “Lover” – indie rock

Off the newest album Suitin’ Up by Tino Drima,  “Lover” is a classic groove in a modern arrangement. This tune is funky and a throwback with powerful lofi vocals, mellow guitar and a pounding bass. Tino Drima has been bringing some very heavy hitters to the market with their newest album and this is a perfect example what they’re capable of! Give it a listen and see for yourself!

 

 

 

Craig Finn – “Its Never Been A Fair Fight”[single] – retro songwriter

With a style reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen, prolific Songwriter Craig Finn has released yet another amazing single. His poetic and gritty lyrics pull you into a story that only Craig Finn could tell. The arrangement is minimal but fun and keeps you interested play after play. Moving to New York over 10 years ago, Craig Finn is known for his unique lyrics and how he weaves the urban environments of New York into his lyrics. “Its Never Been A Fair Fight” Is available on all major streaming platforms, so give it a listen!