San Francisco Bay Area group The Seshen are releasing their third full-length LP, entitled CYAN on February 28th. Inspired by the group’s experience while touring the United States in support of their 2016 release, Flames and Figures, CYAN is fueled in part by the heaviness that the band inevitably felt as they witnessed political and social issues firsthand during the 2016 presidential election, which happened to be occurring while they were on the road. The group’s vocalist, Lalin St. Juste, also looks inward for the work, drawing on her personal battle fighting depression. Inspired by a color that the group considers to be “both soft and strong,” the band unravels their progressions both as individuals and as a band for the LP.
The album exists somewhere in the realm between the real world and a dream world, presenting itself as a drifting cloud of electronic sound with St. Juste’s grounding vocals being the exact right flavor of complimentary juxtaposition. The sound itself feels three-dimensional, slyly tricking listeners into believing that they could reach out and touch it if they only tried.
Standout track “Don’t Answer” showcases the soft side of the album. It rises and falls like a gentle slumber, somehow still feeling angelic as it brushes heavy subject matter. St. Juste is an ethereal force to be reckoned with, supported by heavenly strings and floating background vocals alongside her breathy vocals that make for an all-around dream of a track. Despite its soft nature, the track was inspired by St. Juste’s own struggles to get out of bed every day as she fought depression. “Depression can grab a hold of you and it tries to stop you from breathing… but each day comes and each day I choose this life, I choose my truth, I choose to push through” the vocalist says. The positive light that she chooses to view her battle with is in turn cast over the beautiful song, making us all feel like we can breathe again.
“Can’t Pretend” has a completely different feel, but the trend of ethereal vocals continues. St. Juste’s voice carries her listeners into the high heavens where this album seems to reside comfortably as she navigates her falsetto with grace and ease. The instrumentation feels cool and modern, with a mesh of sounds coming together to form the echoey space that the track manages to exist in.
“Dive” continues to delve deeper into electronics, with the trippy electro-feel of this track making you feel like you’re orbiting around the moon in a cyan-colored spaceship. The intergalactic-fueled synth beats and bright and shiny vocals will surely make you want to make a quick pit stop a few light years away on a distant planet for an alien disco party. Space suit up.
“Stones” is effortlessly cool. “Take It All Away” floats by on a static cloud of silky smooth vocalization and instrumentation. “Still Dreaming” wades into an ocean of sound, with bright and shiny digital sounds painting the rolling waves with vivid auditory colors.
St. Juste serves as a guide to her listeners through a vast sonic soundscape, the only force keeping them down to earth as the rest of her group attempts to defy gravity and carry them off into a different dimension. The Seshen is fresh, but in that cool, we-aren’t-really-trying-to-be way that makes them seem even cooler.
Keep up with The Seshen here.
The Holdup is the solo project of San Jose-based artist Mike Garmany, and his new single “Cool Spot” drops this Friday. The Holdup fuses modern pop and R&B while spicing things up with a dash of reggae. Garmany approaches his music with honesty, which has proven to be an outlet in his day to day life as well as a universal consistency that draws in fans from all over the world. With streams totaling a cool 60 million and a sold-out show at iconic Los Angeles venue The Roxy in 2019, Garmany is yet another example for independent artists to look up to, with his approach allowing him to write and produce music from his bedroom while also consistently touring the U.S.
“Cool Spot” falls right into his sweet spot, with bright island sounds accenting his catchy hooks, which feel like they could be ripped straight off of the radio. Reggae instrumentation and a hip-hop beat neatly compliment each other, proving that Garmany is just as skilled at production as he is at songwriting and performing.
Germany’s personal brand of groovy, melody driven pop gives him a unique flavor that has resulted in his cult-like following. While many of those fans might mistake The Holdup for a group, Garmany carries the project all on his own, writing, producing, performing and engineering all of the material on his albums.
Keep up with The Holdup here.
San Diego blues belter Whitney Shay will soon be releasing her new album, Stand Up!. An album for “dancing, drinking, and dreaming”, the flaming haired songstress brings old soul to the modern age with her high energy rhythm n’ blues, which is sure to have you crying over lost loves that never even happened. Yeah, she’s that good.
More and more artists are getting their start online these days, but Shay came up the old fashioned way, with word of mouth spreading her impressive reputation far and wide. While many modern artists have nothing to show for their work other than their streaming stats, Shay is a four-time winner at the San Diego Music awards, recipient of a nomination at 2019’s prestigious Blues Music Awards, and has been called a “future blues icon” by Blues Matters magazine.
The songs range from personal to socio-political in theme. “Being a strong, independent woman, raised by a single mother and grandmother, many of the songs on the album deal with themes of equality and female empowerment,” Shay says. Shay and her band are taking the album on the road for Ruf Records’ 2020 Blues Caravan showcase, and, not shockingly for someone that puts so much feeling into her work, a lot of the music is about the live performance experience. “When I perform I want people to dance and be engaged. To me, music has always been about catharsis, the purging of sad experiences. If I can make the audience leave smiling and feeling like they’ve forgotten about the trouble of their day, I’ve done my job.” Shay says.
And her opening track certainly does its job, setting both tone and theme for the album quickly and cooly. “Change With the Times” immediately lets listeners know not only that Whitney Shay is here and in charge, but also that she’s going to talk about some real shit. Shay’s studio band quickly proves that they’re just as top-notch as their vocalist, with the wailing organ on the track rivaled only by the saxophone solo. This super upbeat opener must be one of those drinking and dancing songs Shay told us all about.
“I Thought We Were Through” is a special moment on the album, with Shay’s level of control and expertise quickly becoming crystal clear here. She carries herself vocally with class as she attacks the number with impressive restraint and control, managing to paint the track with just the right amount of strength without overdoing it. This one is elegance in blues.
“Boy Sit Down” shows off a more playful side, although Shay loses none of her commanding power or grit. Her band really shows up on this one, utilizing horns, a particularly sick blues guitar solo, call and response vocal, and piano that sounds straight out of an old-time saloon to get her point across, which is all about equal rights for women.
Horn-heavy “Tell the Truth” is gritty and commanding while tracks like “Getting In My Way” showcase Shay’s more bluesy, sulty side. “P.S. It’s Not About You” somehow manages to skillfully combine a funk track with elements of rock n’ roll, intriguingly making me want to both head-bang and dance, while “Equal Ground” is tinged with country instrumentation. Shay and her band are not shy of dipping their toes in more than one musical pond, and they do it with skill and ease.
“I Never Meant to Love Him” is the real standout on the album. Shay’s rich voice navigates the deep waters of the Sam Cooke-esque tune, swimming in the depths of her range one second and soaring into the sky with angelic falsetto the next. But don’t let words like angel fool you; this woman is a powerhouse, a freight-train, a force of nature, and just about any other metaphor for strength that you could dream up. Shay’s soul doesn’t just shine through; it sparkles.
Stand Up! is out today via Ruf Records and will be played via Shay and her band in Ruf Records 2020 Blues Caravan showcase.
Land ho, Pizzagirl!
Amid plans for Liverpool based artist Pizzagirl to make his first visit to the states, he has broken his (incredibly brief) 3 month silence to grace our ears with new music straight outta the oven. While this may seem like no time at all for your everyday artists, in Pizzagirl years (which are clearly relative) it’s long enough to require a statement being issued about it. On his silence, he says:
“sorry for not replying to ur last message just been having my beauty sleep for a coupla months 🙂 I know it’s been a while but there’s a lil party in cape canaveral I heard about! I’d love to see you there if you’re still interested? speak soon xx”. While we can’t speak for everyone, we forgive you for your abandonment and we’re DEFINITELY interested, Pizzagirl.
Pizzagirl is bringing us his first release since his debut album, first timer, which drew influence from various musical and pop-culture references that he spent his formative artistic years absorbing. His debut successfully melded his nostalgia-inducing 80s-synth vibes with those of your modern indie artists. While it’s still early in his hopeful career, things are looking good for Pizzagirl, who is back to focusing on writing songs with his trusty guitar, Denise, and will now be joined onstage by a live band.
This newest track is a taught art-rock jam that builds into the soundtrack for an offbeat party scene. No doubt cooked up in his bedroom-pop lair, which he’s oh-so-cleverly dubbed the Beatzzeria, the new track channels David Byrne in its depiction of the subject matter, an underground fugitive character just trying to go to a party on The Space Coast (all the other indie-pop kids are going Mom!). Pizzagirl brings a variety of instrumentation to his elusive party (never before have I been so satisfied by the musical pairing of synth and cowbell) that, combined with the thickly textured chorus of shouting voices featured on the last chorus, will undoubtedly make you too want to jump around at an indie-disco.
“cape canaveral ” premieres February 19th ahead of Pizzagirl’s first stateside performance at Austin’s SXSW festival. Keep up with Pizzagirl here.
Off in the ever-so-mystical land of California, somewhere in a psychedelic desert dreamland, music legends write songs, record music, and do a shit ton of drugs.
After a 16 year hiatus, collaborative supergroup Desert Sessions returned with their sense of humor clearly still very much intact in October of last year with the release of Desert Sessions Vols. 11 and 12, a.k.a. Arrivederci Despair and Tightwads & Nitwits & Critics & Heels (Please refer to aforementioned sense of humor). If you aren’t familiar with The Desert Sessions, (although you probably should be) It’s described as a “collaborative musical effort” by founder Josh Hommes (Queens of the Stone Age) and features a variety of different musical players writing and recording on the spot at the famed Rancho De La Luna studio.
In The Desert Sessions’ newest release, a music video for “If You Run”, (directed by Rio Hackford) Hommes picks up a mysterious hitchhiking woman (Libby Grace) on a winding road in Joshua Tree. The two ride through the desert against hazy yellow scenery before arriving at Rancho De La Luna where Hommes introduces Grace to the rest of the musicians, which includes ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Stella Mozgawa of Warpaint, and Les Claypool of Primus, among others. Saturated desert skies and moody artificial colors make for dreamy aesthetics throughout the video. At nightfall, Grace doses everyone and they all trip out together in the middle of the desert (Please refer to aforementioned music legends doing a shit ton of drugs in the desert) which we get to experience through some highly psychedelic visuals.
In a statement, Hackford said “The video was inspired by Josh bringing an unknown Libby Grace into the Desert Sessions arena to show her haunting magic to the world. Homme, Sweeney, and I are some of the only people who have heard Libby’s music, so the idea of them introducing her to the players and recording process lit the fuse. The song lent itself perfectly to the lonesome desert landscape and the spell that the Rancho can cast on anyone that passes through its doors.” And Libby certainly holds her own with the titans, contributing spellbinding vocals over lonesome guitars for her first major music video appearance.
Remember that sense of humor I’ve now mentioned three times? Well, in other The Desert Session news, inspired by the, in their own words, “disappointingly” frequent misspelling of the Desert Sessions, the group have launched *drumroll please* The Dessert Sessions: Feral Recipes for the Joyful Destruction of Taste Buds, a “unique collection of otherworldly recipes created and inspired by the music of the Desert Sessions!” Yes this is real, yes there’s a website, and yes the website does challenge you to post pictorial evidence that you actually attempted to make one of the recipes, (with the challenge “Prove it, punk” included as a motivator) The recipes include cheese stuffed meat rings, sardine topped doughnut cakes, avocado and sour cream gelatin plates. Now THIS is some creative marketing I can get on board with.