In 2012, Idiot Grins made Quarry. East Bay Express inexplicably referred to the band as, “zydeco-rockish” and said the album was “charming but torpid.”
The Idiot Grins’ newest album is entitled Big Man, and it represents a bit of a departure from their first album. “I’ve always loved R&B and soul, especially the music of the great Stax Records from Memphis – artists like Sam and Dave, Booker T and the MG’s, and of course Otis Redding,” Randy explains (guitarist). Of course, you can’t recreate the Memphis sound of the ’60’s without horns. The band was fortunate to enlist the services of Johnny Bamont, sax player for the 80’s super-group Huey Lewis and the News, and Mic Gillette, trumpet player for the legendary East Bay R&B band Tower of Power. Their horns add just the right touch of authenticity to the band’s original compositions.
Randy and the band have also spent a lifetime admiring the work of the legendary Gram Parsons, considered the father of country rock. Big Man also explores this genre, employing the incomparable pedal steel playing of Bay Area legend Joe Goldmark on several tracks.
In late-2015, Sweden-based indie pop outfit Mos Isley made their American debut on Whatship? who noted their music video’s “emotionally-liberating, intimate road trip visuals are the perfect compliment to the bands jangly brand of indie pop.”
The band’s music has an alternative and profound arena-pop feel with heartfelt lyrics and catchy melodies. They were voted for Sweden’s Best Unsigned Band in 2015 with their debut single “Mirrors.” You may purchase the single via bandcamp.
Eclectic soul-rock artist and singer-songwriter, Evan Taylor Jones (ETJ) hails from Orlando, Florida. At just 13, ETJ began slowly dissecting the classic music he remembered his mother enjoying.
Jenny Kloote, a Lead Entertainment Advisor at Walt Disney World theme park in Orlando may have said it best: “His voice is like bread and butter; so smooth and tasty, I can almost eat it.” ETJ represents the soul of the late-greats and classics from the Motown and Mussel Shoals era, with songs centered around love, peace, happiness and triumphant over-comings.
ETJ’s first studio release was titled Songs From An Old Soul. Currently, he is promoting his new music, The Sunray Sessions Live EP. The six-song compilation (4 originals and 2 covers) was recorded live in a 14 hour session day at Sunray Recording Studios of Orlando, Florida with a total of nine musicians in one room.
You can catch ETJ on his North American tour coming 2016, dates and locations soon to be released.
“Over Your Shoulder” by Evan Taylor Jones
Image and mp3 courtesy of Sera Roadnight of M T Press
Based in the South Wales Valleys, The Minerals are Colenso Jones and Jodie Gibson, a couple who began writing and performing together in the Summer of 2014. Merging elements of Country, Electro and Psychedelia, the duo’s influences range from The Vaselines and Leadbelly to Mogwai and Nick Drake.
The Minerals’ writing process involves the merging of individual ideas which are then worked on throughout the night and recorded by morning, by which point they normally have something in place they are both happy with. ‘Ball of String’ and B-side ‘Lo-Fi’ were among several tracks written in a barn in the South of France last winter, where the band were unexpectedly snowed in for a week. A plentiful supply of wine and cheese kept them going until the thaw. They returned home having written a complete album.
North Carolina indie-roots-rock outfit Jack the Radio meld their native blues and pop influences with electronic flourishes, spaghetti western vibes and hard edged rock n’ roll.
Their newest release, Badlands, was recorded over a three year period starting in 2012 and is now being released in a limited vinyl pressing. The bands work ethic and aesthetic is indicative of the now blossoming Raleigh scene which is exploding with new and colorful culinary and micro-brewery startups. In fact you can grab a pint of Jack the Radio Badland Black Rye IPA at the local Mystery Brewing.
Jack the Radio is A.C. Hill (acoustic guitar, lead vocals), George Hage (lead guitar, lead vocals), Danny Johnson (lap Steel, baritone guitar, keys, vocals), Chris Sayles (bass, vocals), and Brent Francese (drums).
Jack the Radio premiered their video for “Moonlight” on BLURT who tweeted “it might be one of the best NC songs of 2015.”
Colorado-based progressive shoegazers A Shoreline Dream have released the single “Time is a Machine Gun” from their forthcoming album, slated for release later this year. You can stream the track on Bandcamp.
This will follow the band’s fourth full-length The Silent Sunrise, which received critical acclaim. A Shoreline Dream is Ryan Policky (vocals, guitar, keys, samples) and Erik Jeffries (guitar).
The sound from A Shoreline Dream combines lush sampled textures, organic instrumentation, and vocals layered like a synth, similar in vein to bands such as Ride and Sigur Rós, while the production style is closer to early Dead Can Dance.
Over the past 8 years, A Shoreline Dream has churned out numerous releases under their own label (Latenight Weeknight Records), and have a working history with legends Ulrich Schnauss and Mark Kramer. More recently, they landed distribution by one of the top UK indie labels (Rocket Girl Records) for a song written while visiting Ulrich Schnauss in Leytonstone.
Matt Lande grew up in a small Florida town. He found his first ticket out slinging a guitar for the band StorySide: B. Lande co-wrote the title track to the band’s first album, Everything and More, which was a hit on the Christian charts.
Searching for a more expansive direction for his music, Lande followed his dream to Los Angeles where he signed an indie deal and released his Stories From Yesterday LP in 2010, under the band name Heaven Is Where. Quickly realizing this was the wrong name for a non-Christian rock band, Lande began performing his material under his own name; releasing the Welcome Home Child LP in 2012 and the acoustic EP DarkStar, later that year.
At the end of 2014 two of Lande’s close friends passed away from cancer within a couple months of each other. Overwhelmed by the avalanche of emotional trauma, Lande turned to his music as an outlet for his turmoil. The cathartic songs that followed would become his newest album Glow; a collection of emotive alt-pop.
Lande premiered his single “Spin” on PopWrapped who noted the “track is emotive and melodic, perfect for fans of chart-friendly music”. The track can also be shared via Soundcloud.
LA-based dream-pop outfit Alnilam offers a pristine blend of compelling ambience and ethereal songwriting. Putting the themes of love, loss, transformation, mortality and memory to tape comes naturally to Alnilam’s core duo who have traveled the world several times over. Singer-songwriter Elena Pinto is of wild Costa Rican ancestry and multi-instrumentalist Serhat Arslan is from a coastal city in northern Turkey.
Pinto moved to Santa Monica in 2011 and felt powerfully drawn to songwriting. She soon pulled Arslan into her orbit who just arrived in LA himself two weeks earlier.
Pinto’s vocals conjure up emotive female singers such as Marianne Faithfull and Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries while the music veers between the post-rock richness of Explosions in the Sky and the magical ambient sense of Yann Tiersen and Beach House all the while evoking Europa folkloric traditions.
The track “Lilac” is from the band’s forthcoming LP, Indigo Sky, which was released on November 13. The official video can be viewed on YouTube.
Alnilam also premiered the track “When It Comes To You” on PureVolume.
In the mood for some soul-stirring songwriting from West Virginia? Gothic americana songstress Cashavelly Morrison shows raw emotion as she traverses through haunting memories of her childhood in the south in her forthcoming LP, The Kingdom Belongs to a Child.
Morrison grew up in a coal-mining town in West Virginia. She began her life in performance at the age of 3 as a ballet dancer, which continued for the next two decades until she broke her spine. Yet it was not until moving to North Carolina that she was introduced to the rich musical traditions of West Virginia and the surrounding region. Her unguarded approach flows in the same southern vein as the work of Gillian Welch, Lucinda Williams, and Neko Case with significance placed on the lyrics supported by a crafted musical fabric.
Morrison’s relationship with making music is intuitive with no formal training besides what she learned through internalizing the classical music to which she once danced. Her fondness for journal-writing began at age 13 and led to her English and Creative Writing majors. She met her husband while he was earning his bachelor’s degree in classical guitar performance and the two bonded over their love of authentic folk songs.
Despite the fact that celebrated shoegaze pioneers RIDE are in the midst of their world tour, you can now hear the sweet vocals and guitar of frontman Mark Gardener on the latest single from Pure Phase Ensemble 4. “Morning Rise” is the first single from the album Live at SpaceFest, the first long-player featuring Gardener to have been released since the 90s.
Pure Phase Ensemble is an international music collective, created especially for the SpaceFest festival in Gdansk, which takes place annually and is organised by the Nasiono Association. The city of Gdansk plays host to this blossoming music festival each year in the first week of December. During the latest SpaceFest, Mark Gardener, who also recently released an LP with Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins), occupied this seat of honor. Past participants include Laetitia Sadier (Stereolab), Chris Olley (Six By Seven), Steve Hewitt (ex Placebo), and Jaime Harding (Marion).
Live at SpaceFest is currently available on bandcamp, itunes and spotify and the CD is also available on the Nasiono Records website.