Today, London-based singer-songwriter Kate Miller — under the moniker ROCH — releases her debut album Via Media. (ROCH comes from the name of patron saint St. Roch. This saint-like poise is incorporated into her music.) This record is defined by space – in the atmospheric feel of the music and the lyrical content of sense of place. Sonically, listeners feel as if they are floating into open space, but the emotional factor of Miller’s voice keeps them grounded in the space of that song’s context.
Miller’s voice, by the way, at times brings us feels of a 90’s goddess, and then sprawls out into the atmosphere as ethereally as we’ve ever encountered. “I Love To You” is one of our favorite tracks, instilling in us hope for the arts community, as this is some of the best lyricism we’ve experienced in a hot second.
Via Media is a back and forth of sorts that allows listeners to be transfixed and transported to view these topics from an outsider’s perspective. The robust nature of the compositions is compelling, and leaves us wanting more. Don’t believe us? Try the EP on for size now!
by meredith schneider + kendal chandler
English singer-songwriter Anna Calvi has just released Hunted, a re-working of seven of the tracks off of her 2018 critically acclaimed album, Hunter, where she explored sexuality and breaking the laws of gender conformity. The album earned her a third consecutive Mercury Prize nomination and made her the first solo artist to achieve this feat.
In between touring, Calvi revisited her original recordings for Hunter and was drawn by how she found they offered “an intimate and private view of the songs’ initial intentions”. “These recordings capture the very moment I first wrote these songs, and recorded them on my own, in my attic studio,” she said in a statement. Calvi wanted to build on that feeling, and thus, Hunted was born. For the re-working she stripped the songs from the record back to their bones, letting the focus be on vocals, guitar, and contributions from a cast of talented artists that she recruited to help her on the acoustic project.
The companion album brings a new element of rawness and allows the songs to shine in a different patch of light. Bringing focus to the delicately-crafted composition from Hunter, Hunted lets the work of past and present meld together, creating something new and beautiful.
“Swimming Pool” opens the project with ethereal light. A siren song from another world, this version, like most on Hunted, exists in the same vein as the original but relies more heavily on vocals to craft and carry the track, trading polished for raw. Julia Holter joins Calvi on this one and is responsible for the heavenly choral arrangement that lifts it into another dimension.
“Don’t Beat the Girl Out of My Boy” serves as the lead single and features Australian singer Courtney Barnett. Barnett contributes grounding harmonizations with her trademark deadpan vocals and adds a new level of savvy style to the song. This version sees the instrumentation scaled back but loses none of the energy present on the original, letting the masterful guitars battle with the women for the limelight.
Charlotte Gainsburg helps gently breathes new life into “Eden” with her whispery vocalizations and Joe Talbot of IDLES does the opposite on “Wish”, channeling fire and fury to amazingly take a stripped back version of the track to a new level of intensity.
Calvi manages to take an artful record and let her fans consume it in a completely different way. She brings quiet elements from Hunter that could have easily gone unappreciated and overlooked out of shadow and into focus and remains open, honest, and unafraid to let other artists paint her work with their own colors while keeping its essence intact. While the threat of overworking their material could have been an issue for other artists, it’s just not present in this case. Calvi isn’t stuck holding onto the past; she’s just re-writing it.
Hunted is now out everywhere via Domino and will be supported by a new stretch of North American tour dates.
Anna Calvi 2020 Tour Dates:
01/31 – London, UK @ Windmill Brixton (Independent Venue Week)
02/11 – Paris, FR @ Ground Control Gare de Lyon
03/30 – Quebec City, QC @ Palais Montcalm
04/01 – Toronto, ON @ Mod Club
04/02 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
04/05 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
04/06 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade NYC
04/09 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
04/15 – San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
08/06 – Haldern, DE @ Haldern Pop Festival
09/19 – Hamburg, DE @ Reeperbahn Festival
Italian-British singer-songwriter Julia Bardo releases EP Phase, which is a piece of work that is centered by the idea of writing out your emotions. Bardo says she writes because “for me, music is about healing what is hurt inside of me. I heal by writing and talking about what troubles me”.
Phase examines the intricacies of trauma and of triumph, each track is written like a journal entry filled with observation. These observations examine the every day changing world through Bardo’s eyes. She captures her work as snippets of who she is at that moment, where she plans to go next, and where she has been. It is all a direct reflection of her life, and for that we are very grateful to witness songs with the raw sincerity of tracks like “Please Don’t Tell Me” and “Lonely Morning”.
Being influenced by Italian music of the 60’s and modern day musicians, Bardo creates a space that shines a light on her homeland of Italy, and her musical future. This 4 track EP was created to amaze, and we hope you get a moment to enjoy it in its entirety as well. Check out the first two tracks off the release below!
Phase is out March 6th. Keep up with Julia Bardo here.
Written by Kendal Chandler + Meredith Schneider
Jerry Williams Jr. has done it all: soul, R&B, country, disco, and, of course, among a myriad of other things, serving as “one of the great cult figures of 20th century American music.”
But he’s not finished.
Jerry Williams Jr., better known since the ‘70s as ‘Swamp Dogg’ (Before you question it, he beat Snoop Dogg to it) is releasing his highly anticipated, (so long as you consider Rolling Stone’s most anticipated albums of the year to be a reliable source), star-studded new album on March 6th. The record is produced by Ryan Olson (Poliça) and features the likes of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) Channy Leaneagh, Chris Bearden and Jenny Lewis (Poliça), and none other than country-folk legend John Prine gracing it’s grooves.
Sorry You Couldn’t Make It is the follow up to Dogg’s critically acclaimed 2018 release, Love, Loss, And Autotune (also produced by Ryan Olson), which was his first LP to debut on 11 Billboard charts and his first chart ink since his immortal 1970 album Total Destruction to Your Mind, which also served as the debut album for William’s alter-ego Swamp Dogg. The now 77-year old cult icon has been on stage since he was 6 years old and began his professional singing career back in the ‘50s before working in A&R for Atlantic in the ‘60s. While he’s worn a lot of different hats over the years, his most enduring persona is the “psychedelic soul superhero” Swamp Dogg, a “musical vigilante upholding truths both personal and political”. His biggest hit came in the 70s with (ironically) country song “Don’t Take Her (She’s All I Got)”, co-written with his best friend Gary U.S. Bonds, which hit Top 40 when Freddie North covered it and #2 on the country charts with Johny Paycheck in 1971. This album sees Dogg finally go back to his roots after a literal lifetime in the industry to finally make a record that bears homage to the country music that he was raised on.
Lead single “Sleeping Without You Is A Dragg” (extra points for the clever and very on brand stylization) exists in a sweetly soulful vein. The album opener is a heartfelt introduction to the record, letting listeners get an initial taste of what they’re in for, which at first listen seems to be a more reflective and heartfelt version of the cult icon, undoubtedly a result of spending over 60 years fighting to keep up in an ever-changing industry. After a very long journey, Williams is finally getting to make the record that he has longed for, and it just feels right.
In a powerful revisit to his 70s hit, “Don’t Take Her”(She’s All I Got)” Williams brings new life to an old story through a devastating new take which features a backing band of 14 musicians, including Vernon and Lee. The sheer number of players incorporated into the track increases its intense beauty ten-fold, but Williams himself possesses the most heart-wrenching mix of country and soul in his delivery and is a force to be reckoned with on his own. His aching vocals shift focus from the persona that Williams has created over the years and brings the attention back to the raw and powerful talent that he’s always possessed, both in his vocals and his storytelling. It comes early in the album, but it’s hard to not point to the track as a climatic moment.
The legendary John Prine appears on not one but two tracks on the record, which is probably smart since according to Dogg, “It’s the first time I seen John since the sixties!”. Certainly seems that everyone would benefit from getting a couple of legendary collaborations before another 60 years manages to pass us by. Prine features on subtly psychedelic “Memories” and album closer “Please Let Me Go Round Again”. The latter was originally written and demoed by Williams in his 40s but is just now making its way onto a record, which feels just right as a perfect full-circle moment for Williams. The reflective number is a plea for one more chance at life, and knowing Swamp Dogg and his ever-changing identity and roles, it’s a chance he’ll probably get.
While more tame than much of Swamp Dogg’s work, SYCMI is still not your conventional country album. “Family Pain” is a blues number about a family ravaged by a crack addiction. “A Good Song” dives into Williams philosophy on the flexible border between country and R&B. But other songs fall more into the traditional vein of the country genre, calmly delving into lost love, regret, and reflectiveness. “Billy” depicts Williams visiting his late wife’s grave and telling her about their son. The duets with Prine delve into aging and regrets as the two old men look back on their lives. “Memories don’t leave like people do. That’s why in my mind I’m always gonna be with you”, Williams croons on “Please Let Me Go Round Again”. While SYCMI still possesses Swamp Dogg’s trademarks, it’s also a new side of Williams’ always outgoing alter-ego, one that borders on being- Well, Jerry Williams Jr. again. Perhaps the convergence of the two is just what was needed. Here’s to getting that one last chance, Swamp Dogg.
I’m Sorry You Couldn’t Make It is out March 6th via Joyful Noise Recording and Pioneers Works Press. Keep up with Swamp Dogg here.
Erik Harris leads electronic project Memory Cult into a stratosphere of sound like any other we’ve played around with for a while. Known for being wildly experimental, his latest release — a full-length titled In Conflict — is just as entrancing and out of left field as ever, and we’re certain today’s release is going to get your mind reeling.
Lead single “Pityful” is purely and electronic lover’s dream, and the perfect way to introduce the album as a whole. It doesn’t hurt that it was released as a single at the end of February, and has been dancing around in our heads for some time. But even the peculiar sounds of that track can’t adequately prepare you for what’s to come in this 9-track experimental stunner. Second track “The Center (Crawl Home)” reaches 50 seconds before soft, high pitched vocals are even introduced. By third track “Undecide”, the dance vibes are laid on so thick that we’ve already definitely decided we’re hanging on to see where this album takes us.
Whereas its predecessor is a bit muddled, fourth track “Estranged” is very obviously inspired by sounds of the 80s and 90s, a clear and gorgeous entanglement of R&B vocals and dissonance. We continue in the same version of ambience with “RE: Rejection”, and continue to climb into more trance-like, morbid sounds with “Apathy”, which is actually more of a rock ballad than anything else.
Once we reach the title track, there is a feeling of wonder and an almost otherworldly layer to the music that brings us into a different headspace. “Devotion” is haunting in its existence, not quite the reassuring jolt we were considering needing after this Matrix-adjacent masterpiece’s release. In fact, once you reach final track “Anorexia”, there is a mentality that you might be trapped in some pretty magnetic music, which has now captivated your senses. If you don’t think of the brainwashing scene in Zoolander during this song, then I wonder where your head started and how to pull yourself out. This song leaves you in a trance itself, however intensely inspired if you open yourself up to it.
And isn’t that what great music is all about?
Keep up with Memory Cult here.
Alt-rockers Juán Tigre have just released “THE DREAM CATCHER”, the title-track from their debut album. The group is led by guitarist, vocalist, and producer John Maestas and features Max Moran on bass, Alfred Jordan on drums, and Shea Pierre on keys. The group’s debut full-length THE DREAM CATCHER is set to release in April of this year on Maesta’s own label, Bubble Bath Records.
The track is short and sweet, clocking in at just over 2 minutes long, but the number manages to pack a lot into that time. The instrumentation is intense and fast-paced without being overpowering while Moran’s distorted vocals do their part to chill things out a bit. The bass line is particularly cool, and the drums and guitars fire off in quick but powerful hits while alien-like sound-effects and echoey backing vocals pull back the intensity and leave you feeling a little floaty. Think getting punched in the face with sound, but add trippy space vibes.
THE DREAM CATCHER is out via Bubble Bath Records April 17th, 2020.