gavin haley, “long game”

gavin haley, “long game”

The newest single from one of the freshest names rising in pop is titled “Long Game” – an apt expression of 22-year-old singer/songwriter Gavin Haley’s dedication to making it work. “Long Game” simmers and twinkles, finger snaps and pop-anthem beats clicking along reliably. Haley’s smooth, breathy vocals sweep through his profession to a significant other that despite difficulties, they can count on his loyalty.

That loyalty is reflected in the mono-tempo, mono-mood of this track, which feels chill and reassuring, yet perhaps overly cautious. Parsing through Haley’s other reveals that he has the vocal prowess to produce interesting melodies in both pop songs and acoustic ballads alike, so while “Long Game” definitely fits on a late-night drive playlist, we’re looking forward to seeing both his influences and willingness to push boundaries expand going forward.

Keep up with Gavin Haley here.

dori freeman, every single star

dori freeman, every single star

Dori Freeman’s new album titled Every Single Star is a perfect follow up to her 2016 break out year. Produced by Teddy Thompson this album features a sparkling voice over simplistic instrumentals allowing her Appalachian style to fully shine through. The powerful way she talks about heartbreak in so many of the tracks allows you to feel a connection to the pain she has been able to withstand, leaving hope for women who are in similar situations. Though Freeman’s personal life has changed between the release of her first album to this one, her message remains clear as she is loyal to the roots that have gotten her this far in music. 

Choosing to sing about motherhood and the music industry itself Freeman is able to bring to light a little-discussed topic in the business. Taking on the role of the contended mother instead of a rejected lover Freeman speaks to her experience making this album by saying, “Musicians that are also moms and have to juggle touring and being at home and spending enough time with your child; that’s something that’ really hard for me to find balance in.” In the track “Like I Do” she expresses her love for her child singing, “nobodies gonna love you like I do” a lyric I’m sure almost every parent can relate to. The song plays an important role in her need to include her daughter into the album without making it all about her; a charming tribute this song is definitely one to take note of. 

Providing a classic feel Freeman does an exceptional job making her songs sound like they’ve been around for ages in a comfortable and quintessential way. As a listener, you will often experience hints of Reba McIntire, Loretta Lynn, or Dolly Parton through the old twang and lofty notes of the tracks. This is most noticeable in songs “How I Feel” and “Darlin’ Boy” with the way she utilizes the instrumentals to accentuate her lyricism. 

The most unique track on the album is definitely “2 Step”, where produce Thompson joins in for a duet with Freeman, creating a mystical blend of dazzling harmony. As a song about dancing, it’s no wonder the track sets forth a desire to stand up and let yourself loose as the music flows through you with a strong mountain soul. 

Creating an album with songs of all emotions, Freeman has done what so many artists strive to do in crafting a complete story of songs to settle into. Her sophomore album Every Single Star should definitely not be overlooked and will provide endless hours of joy and powerful feministic inspiration. Be sure to catch the release of Every Single Star and to follow Dori Freeman on Instagram.

miss june, bad luck party

miss june, bad luck party

Incendiary, vengeful, and all-around kickass: The first full-length album from New Zealand powerhouse Miss June slams from start to finish. Brimming with fiercely punk riot grrrl anthems and self-deprecating moodiness, Bad Luck Party spans captivating rock methods across eras; from the stadiums of the early 80s to 90s alt-rock radio hits alike.

What do you get when you cross the youthful rebellion of 00’s pop-rock with contemporary punk? The answer is opening track “Twitch”; a smoldering, mile-a-minute plunge into the inferno that is Bad Luck Party. The first single of Bad Luck Party dropped in May of 2018, it acts an effective launch into the zeitgeist of the album, with dripping, electric fuzz stacked behind racing drum fills. “Twitch” especially stands out on BadLuck Party because it could fall first, central, or middle on the album’s track listing, and its catharsis would be perfectly timed regardless.

With track two – titled “Best Girl” – Miss June welcomes us into the first of many sarcastic rejections of the drags of femininity. A tongue-in-cheek nod to the album’s title, the chorus chants again and again: “It’s a bad luck party and nobody wins but me”, as voiceovers from vocalist Annabel Liddell whisper gossipy taunts over the anxiety of a tight snare.

Bad Luck Party never takes a breather, yet it does breathe a satisfying range of moods and dynamic differentiation. Tracks “Anomaly”, “Orchid”, and “Double Negative” are moody, narrative-focused, and feature toned-down vocals relative to their accompaniments on the album. Heart-swelling anthem “Anomaly” takes you right to a high school football stadium, where a protagonist fawns over a crush, with just a tinge of jealousy. Following suit in the spirit of reflective indie influences is “Orchid”; a pensive look into a dirty mirror that shatters if you stay too long. The lyrics of “Orchid” offer some of the clearest feminist commentary on Bad Luck Party, deftly melded with wracking heartache, as Liddell croons: “Ma says it’s easier for men to move on / There’s plenty of fish in the sea for a shark”.

The middle track on the album, “Double Negative”, is a simmering, melancholy beacon that carries with it an emotion not found many other places on Bad Luck Party; the urge to mourn. A cavernous cello carves out the space around Liddell’s vocals, creating a landing space for her regrets as she tosses them over the edge: “There was no time to talk”. An eruption follows, with any remaining boundaries combusting into unresolved questions.

There are more songs on Bad Luck Party album guaranteed to triple your heart rate than not. An anthem of repudiation, “Please Waste My Time” is arguably the wildest and most fun on Miss June’s spectrum of alt-punk. Just before her breakneck squeals send the chorus into chaos, Liddell’s contrasting shouts of “You make me feel old” break the tension, expertly shifting from frenzy back into musicality. On “Two Hits” and “Aquarium”, Liddell lobs rapid, ear-splitting screeches in rapid pace, demanding the forefront of attention, even over the thundering, metal-style guitars. Second-to-last song “Scorpio” is no less thrashing, but is marked by the softer, melodic singing of a ballad as opposed to the ravenous contempt wreaked on earlier tracks.

 “Enemies”, a single released earlier in 2019, opens gradually and dramatically, drudging through a nightmarish yet fascinating landscape of stinging feedback and reverbing leads, before trenching into Liddell’s warning lyricism. This track is an ode to massive stadium rock acts of the past like Metallica, as well as extant subgenres like metalcore– all with Miss June’s defining riot grrrl explosivity. Matching the doom of “Enemies” is final track “Polio”, a finisher welded together with every trick in Liddell’s arsenal: Cautioning whispers give way to spoken directness, gradually ascending into screeching ferocity; nearly eclipsing the deafening crash of the surrounding scape.

Miss June is comprised of vocalist and guitarist Annabel Liddell, guitarist Jun Cheul Park, bassist Chris Marshall, and Tom Leggett. Next month, the group will begin their world-wide tour in celebration of the album’s release. The Bad Luck Party Tour will kick off in Wellington, New Zealand and October 14 sees the band play Brooklyn’s Rough Trade which marks the start of the North American run that includes shows in TorontoChicago and Los Angeles. All dates are listed below. Tickets and more tour info can be found here.

Keep up with Miss June here: Website ** Instagram ** Facebook

jeremy ferrara, “this trouble”

jeremy ferrara, “this trouble”

With this freshest release, songwriter Jeremy Ferrara sounds as if he’s lived through his own life a few times before, only to come out wiser. Melancholy, observational, yet still bright; “This Trouble” weaves influences both sedentary and explorative, sketching a freewheeling character borne from folk-rock classics such as Bob Dylan, The Allman Brothers, and Wilco. Twangy electric guitar leads stir Ferrara’s migration on to the next place he’ll call home, while sporadic trickles of piano fall like midmorning rain. “This Trouble” breathes of Ferrara’s desire to roam. He sings, “Like the weather in south California, some things they never change.” Though nature cycles without end, this letter to venturing peaks with a compelling guitar solo that is an essential, fulfilling catharsis.

Ferrara has a growing accruement of EPs and singles released, with 16 total tracks released over a two-year span.

Tour Dates
9/5 – The Liquor Store
9/26 – Kreuzberg California
9/29 – MadeWest Brewing Company
10/4 – Neck Of the Woods
10/5 – Shanty Shack Brewing
10/10 – Bunk Bar

Follow Jeremy Ferrara here.

naah, “electric life”

naah, “electric life”

The newest single from Swedish singer/songwriter Naah and producer C. Gold, titled “Electric Life”, features sparkling melodies that are mellow, bubbly, and counter-intuitive. But, while the track’s sonic mood is neutral or even optimistic, the lyrics give way to the contemporary lament of many across generations: “Electric Life” mourns a decline in meaningful social interactions caused by constant distractions from ever-present smartphones. This theme of sounding happy despite experiencing discontent, paired with bouncy synth-pop, draws musical reference to Paramore’s After Laughter, perhaps crossed with the vocal stylings of HAIM.

The track opens to the sound of a record needle being set into place, in longing for the days preceding digital streaming. A distorted electric guitar twangs sparingly, a kick drum thumps reassuringly, and floaty synth glides behind Naah’s smooth alto, building calculated suspense before breaking into the glittery, full-bodied chorus: “You can try not to care / But I’m missing human eye contact / Can you Google that? / I’m tired of electric life”. On the word “life”, Naah’s glossy vocals send the song soaring into an open sky of glitchy playfulness, each syllable mimicking the familiar sounds of electro-pop production.

In the second half of the song, Naah makes a point that feels familiar to Millenials and Gen Zs alike. Since the conception of the smartphone and social media, people from these age demographics have heard the tireless criticism of communication technology from their elders. In “Electric Life”, Naah defends the stance of younger people while still acknowledging the burden of facing the world as it exists in the modern 21st century. She sings, “Hold on, let’s get back to where they come from / They say we’re sad because of the digital / But the world wasn’t this messed up when they grew up / It’s not the same for us.”

“Electric Life” is the kind of thought-provoking bop the world could use a few more of. Here’s to Naah and C. Gold for calling it like it is.

Follow Naah here and keep up with C. Gold here.