Broken Stars is the latest EP from Jake Benjamin. With Broken Stars, he has created a set of five songs that move effortlessly from one to the next. Benjamin very intentionally has taken us on a journey through not only his mind, but the mind of Vincent Van Gogh. The project “…was inspired by reading the Letters of Vincent van Gogh, a collection of correspondences from Van Gogh to his brother, Theo.”
The first single off the EP is “Hemingway” and it sets the table for all that follows. Benjamin has utilized jazz influences in each song, some more heavily than others – “Hemingway” is one of those. It also has some lyrics that really spoke to me: “You should enjoy, what you don’t understand/I have lost all sense of control/I am on the surface of a life I’ve never known.”
My personal favorite of the five songs is “Heartfelt”. Musically, there are nods to Steely Dan in the arrangements – lush and full of horns. Jake Benjamin’s voice is a perfect accompaniment to his music.
Broken Stars is part of a larger project that is in the pipeline – an LP of the same name. After the release of this EP, we are very excited to see what will be on the LP of Broken Stars. Expands Benjamin:
This EP is a small serving of what the LP version of Broken Stars will be in March 2022. These songs were definitely the earlier writings on the record, they were the gateway into me finding the overall theme of mentality and space. They venture through different atmospheres of mind, artists, and cities. I really consider this collection to be a step further out of my comfort zone lyrically and harmonically.
The recording process of creating these tracks was probably the most ambiguous one I could ever have imagined. I recruited many musicians of many different instruments to play; I got to work with a string quartet, a horn trio, and include artists who brought beauty to these songs. Some of the arranging developed at the studio before Pascal would hit record while other arrangements I had fleshed weeks before the sessions took place. The pandemic really made this into a collecting pieces of the tracks over the course of a year.
Lowertown, the duo comprised of Olivia Osby and Avsha Weinberg, are excited to release their new single “Seaface”. This is the first song from their upcoming EP The Gaping Mouth. Osby and Weinberg spent time in London recording the EP “that they call their most honest, interesting, and mature work to date”. “Seaface” is a tune that combines dreamy lyrics with music that builds from a single guitar to a full mix.
Pick what you want to be, It can be anything. If you close your eyes, It’s fun to imagine Another body, another life.
Despite the constraints of the pandemic, 2020 proved to be a productive time for the pair of 19-year-olds – they graduated high school (where they met in math class), signed to label Dirty Hit and released their EP Honeycomb, Bedbug. 2021 looks like it could be as big a year for Lowertown.
Pip Millett, the Manchester-born singer-songwriter, is ready to release her EP Motion Sick to an eager R&B audience.
Speaking on the EP, Pip states: “I have often felt lost when things around me have started to change. In recent times I’ve realized I’m simply ‘Motion Sick’. My core self is still there but without change there cannot be any growth. ‘Motion Sick’ is about the various changes in my life. With this change I have tried to find comfort in the simple things.”
Each of the songs on Motion Sick has a sound that harken back to an earlier time in music, but the song lyrics are very much topical. Pip Millett may have been creating songs that reflected changes in her life, but she is certainly in touch with what is important to others in her generation as well. Additionally, she has a voice quality that invites you to really feel what she is singing. The best examples of this are on “Best Things” and “Sad Girls” ft. Gaidaa.
“Running” ft. Ghetts is the first track on the EP and addresses the racist current that runs through our world. Intertwining Pip’s haunting lyrics with Ghetts’ raps, “Running” is an R&B anthem for our time:
[Ghetts] Another black man lost, worried about what a handbag cost, Whilst it costs to be black, I got a price on my head that’s not any cap. Fed’s are behind, I feel like I’m wanted dead or alive, Even after what I’ve accomplished nobody said they’d be kind.
“Hard Life” and “Braid it Back” round out the five-song playlist that makes up Motion Sick.
Like many sidelined performers during the lockdown, Irish artist Luz flexed her creative muscles, releasing three singles in 2020 (‘we’ll be fine’; ‘I’m lonely’; and ‘the author’) and one in April of 2021 (‘counting houses’). Her most recent single ‘permanent +1’ drops on August 5 via Platoon. Luz has this to say about the new single:
’permanent +1’ is about the person in your life who is always there. Yes, they are the person you take with you to your cousin’s wedding, to a birthday party and to your family’s Sunday dinner. But they are also the person you take grocery shopping, who comes with you to a doctor’s visit and who helps you do your laundry.
Luz has employed spare instrumentals on ‘permanent +1’, relying primarily on her voice which was the perfect choice. Luz also has a skill for storytelling that belies her age of 20 years. Her lyrics in ‘permanent +1’ put you in the middle of conversations that you know you have had with that person in your life:
When you’re trying to sleep and I’ve lots on my mind, …My over explanation is irritating and you say it’s fine, it’s always fine,
…And you want my advice on something that we’ve been through about a hundred times, You’re overanalyzing it, it’s always fine, it’s always fine with me.
Luz is celebrating the relationships in our lives that sustain us. I love this song and the message Luz has communicated. It will definitely find a spot on my newest playlist.
2021 has proved to be a productive year so far for Flight Club. Following the March release of their single “Come Back”,they are ready to launch their debut album Until the Sun Drowns on July 30th, from Open Your Ears Records. The perfect introduction to this album is the single “I’ve Been Kicked Out of Better Homes Than This”.
The quartet from Richmond, VA has created a song that is tailor-made for summer – pure rock and roll energy from beginning to end. “I’ve Been Kicked Out of Better Homes Than This” gives a slight nod to the spirit of bands from 1999, like Lit and Blink-182. Intensely played instruments and forceful vocals combine to make a tune that will definitely find a place on your summer playlist. The accompanying video for “I’ve Been Kicked Out of Better Home Than This” has the same sense of humor. It happens to be built around ice cream as well, so anything that stars ice cream is practically perfect.
If you would like to catch Flight Club live, they are scheduled to play the Blue Ridge Rockfest, September 9th – 12th in Danville, VA.
“The Crazing of Polymers” is the newest single from twin sisters Claire and Sarah Bowman. The two recently reunited after quarantining in two different countries for the past year. The Bowmans continued to write and record from their respective homes, building an album that is due to come out this fall. In the meantime, we are fortunate to get “The Crazing of Polymers”.
The lyrics in “The Crazing of Polymers” seem to suggest the existence of an ordinary life in which we can all relate, a life that ebbs and flows through the good and bad. The two choruses, while sounding alike, follow a timeline of a life spent together:
Chorus 1: I don’t know if it matters, how we got here anyway, I don’t think it makes a difference, if the kids played well today.
Chorus 2: I don’t know if it matters, how we fought again today I don’t think it makes a difference, how many cracks are patched up through our little earthquakes.
Claire Bowman opened up about the song title:
Crazing is a process where you take something porous and delicate and make it strong and solid (and attractive), like the way we harden from the layers of pain life dishes out daily. One of my favorite lyrics is, “there’s only so many little breaks a heart can take.” This would seem to imply that these fissures would lead to heartbreak, but instead, her response to them is to accept these as part of life, staying rooted in the good that comes along with the difficult.
The Bowman’s vocals, however, are what really tell the story. Their voices harmonize, seemingly effortlessly, and run the gamut from simple to soaring in phrasing. “The Crazing of Polymers” defies genre – The Bowman’s have created a song that is both lively in its’ tempo and aching in some of the vocals.
The sisters had toured extensively throughout the United States and internationally from 2005 – 2011. By 2013, they had released four full-length albums.
June 24th brings us the latest release from Head Bitch Music artist LACES, “Almost Happy” featuring storied musician Butch Walker. The song is both thoughtful in its lyrics and dreamy feeling in its melody.
LACES’ voice quality at the beginning of “Almost Happy” is reminiscent of Belinda Carlisle singing “I Get Weak.” As appealing as her voice is, the lyrics are what drew me in, beginning with the very first line – “I’m just young enough to be a little numb and dumb.” The song tells a story of learning, with the ultimate lesson being “almost happy.” Throughout, you can feel the lessons: “I get more jaded every day”; “Roll with the punches, isn’t that what they say”; and “I’ll make more headway in this game.” Each one delivered with LACES’ strength and range, punctuated with guitars by Butch Walker.
Says LACES of the track:
‘Almost Happy’ feels like my honest truth. To me happiness has never been a destination, I only ever wanted to be content and okay. It’s a conversation that discusses where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going. It’s laced with sarcasm and self-deprecating humor, while also standing firm in belief and self-love.
LACES has been a chameleon thus far in her career – previous releases include the haunting “Moved” and “Someday Is Not Tonight.” She has also made a name for herself in commercial circles writing and producing music for cartoons and other artists, under her legal name of Jessica Vaughn. Her goal for mastering several creative avenues was strategic:
I wanted to make sure I had enough eggs in different baskets to change this industry from within––and to be respected as a businesswoman. I realized that my experience as a woman had been shaped by a lot of people making decisions for me. While I think it’s important to be collaborative and to ask for help, you never want to be in a position where you don’t have power or agency over your career or yourself.
You will want to add “Almost Happy” to your playlist – and really, anything else by LACES.
Canadian duo Mayfly, comprised of Emma Cochrane and Charlie Kunce, have released their first EP ESSENCE. Both women are singer-songwriters, as well as producers, on this gem. The highlight of each song is their extraordinary harmonies.
“The goal of the EP is to bring people in to our musical universe…The essence of Mayfly is simply our voices and how they blend together, how they create this sense of unification and harmony.” Mayfly has accomplished exactly what they set out to do and then some. They have created five songs that move effortlessly from one to another, with no weak songs in the playlist.
Kicking off with ‘to jules’, Mayfly sets the mood with a song that is almost delicate sounding. It is my favorite song on the EP and a great introduction to Mayfly’s sound. ‘When all we knew was us’ starts with an acoustic guitar and one voice, building to both Emma and Charlie harmonizing lyrics with an aching quality that permeates the rest of the song.
The third track, ‘tes larmes’ features Tendresse and Joudi and is sung entirely in French. It has a different vibe from the other four songs on the EP, like you might hear on the soundtrack of a movie, but with the same ethereal harmonies that permeate the other tunes.
‘Sad song’ and ‘show me the way out’ acted as companion pieces in my mind – the breakup song, then the resignation about the breakup song. ‘show me the way out’ has lyrics that we can all relate to on some level, even with a more sanguine melody – “I’m never getting out of here, even if I try.”
Mayfly has produced a very thoughtful and beautiful EP with ESSENCE. I look forward to hearing more from them!
After 15 months of online shows and showcases, I am getting excited to see live music again. The best lead-up to seeing new artists in person is the new music that is being released. The first captivating song of the summer arrived on June 10, “Losers”. BXB LOVE, the musical alter-ego of Natasha Pheko, has brought us a tune that is buoyant and thoughtful at the same time.
Written and performed by LOVE, “Losers” employs the use of an upbeat melody and spot-on lyrics to convey the message that we can all relate to:
Too cool for falling love Taking yourself way too serious It’s time to rip off the bandaid babe And smile through the pain (ya)
BXB LOVE “encourages people to take a good look at all of the parts of themselves – the good, the bad, and the ugly – with acceptance, love and compassion”. “Losers” speaks to the part of us that wants to fit in with what is ‘normal’, in a world where ‘normal’ is not a reality. You will find yourself humming – or singing – this song long after it has ended.