Do you thrive with routine, or with a life that throws new situations at you left and right? How do you think you would fare on the road, having every day be a new adventure? On one hand, it could be an incredible and mind-blowing existence. On the other, having stability can really be a must for mental health.
Musicians don’t often have the luxury of choosing, since touring is such an integral part of the business. While artists cope with the pitfalls of van life, touring can be an eye-opening experience. Madeline Hawthorne’s new track “Strange Familiar” examines the concept in a way that is almost thrilling. Her angelic vocals float across stirring guitar chords, humanizing a life that is strange, yet also familiar.
“Strange Familiar” for me is about struggling to find normalcy in a world where everyday is new and different. It’s about trying to find a place where I can thrive everyday without routine; routine like waking up at the same time, waking up in the same place, going to bed at a normal hour…those aren’t routines afforded to most touring musicians, especially when you’re just getting started. And yet we all have to find a way to be in it and enjoy it; even in the dark crevices of 4ams, 10 hour days on the road, empty shows and long stretches of time away from home.
I remember closing my eyes when I wrote the first line of this song and put myself back in the tour van with the band. The van (affectionately known as Loretta) was my normal life. Getting to Loretta after a show and being with the band felt like being with family. So I just tried to paint a picture of what I’d see everyday, getting into the driver’s seat and taking off for the next town. The rest of the song fell into place pretty easily after the first few lines. I know many of us are struggling to find normalcy everyday, regardless of whether or not we go to bed at the same time or wake up in the same place. This is a song that encompases that feeling for me and I love the groove we came up with in the studio. Hope you enjoy!
The release is technically out tomorrow, but we’ve got your exclusive first listen.
If you’ve been looking for a new track with light as a feather vocals cascading over stunning – yet simplistic – guitar and piano, then Emily Frembgen‘s bittersweet new “He Held Onto Me” will be just up your alley. Truly a blues song at its core, Emily has recognized its topic as something highly relatable.
“He Held Onto Me” is obviously about some kind of relationship ending. I remember writing it really quickly as I was rushing out the door, it was a feeling that I urgently needed to express. I’m real proud of this one & Hugh Pool and Brian Mitchell’s evocative instrumental touches are so perfect here. I’d say it’s a good way to close a breakup album, wouldn’t you?
A song that almost relies on the silence between the notes for impact, “He Held Onto Me” is a sweet whisper of a song that will bring back feelings from loves past, if you choose to let it. Experience it for the first time below!
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.
“Catch Your Eye” – the B-side ballad to hopeful and uplifting single “Appian Way,” – now has an accompanying music video. Singer/songwriter, writer, editor, and filmmaker Tod Lippy has created true art with this track. His boldened vocals lead the way, and you’re completely blindsided when you find out that Lippy is actually newer to the world of recording music.
His background in physical art lends well to the music video’s poignant visuals. Using scans of some pretty unmistakable eyes, he sings – as though directly to these humans – with prestigious-sounding horns to really dig the message in early.
“Catch Your Eye” is less a protest song than a song about protest. About how being the “squeaky wheel” or the “fly in the ointment” is not only important but necessary when men (and yes, it’s usually men) in power have no reason or motivation to understand or acknowledge the myriad challenges facing the underserved, the disadvantaged, and the unfairly treated among us. How else can we change their hearts?
While protest footage is used sparsely, Lippy’s self-awareness remains at the forefront with the visuals. A beautifully compiled video, “Catch Your Eye” has the true potential to touch someone who definitely needs it.
Ambitions was released June 25. Keep up with Tod Lippy here.
Today, San Mateo-based Hunters Chorus – an instrumental music ensemble championed by Ramon Fermin – releases a 7 track collection titled The Boy Ain’t Right. From the first meandering lines of “Snaggletooth” through the mellifluous composition of “Lion Killer,” straight through the end of 8 minute and 29-second seventh track “Sage,” there is a slow, summer evening feel to the release. This release is absolute perfection to enjoy while the sun sets over the skyline, or to have as the background to a beautiful, intimate warm-weather celebration.
Says Fermin of the release: “I wanted this album to have a soft, organic, living room feel with all the funny little imperfections that come about in the process of just throwing it together.”
“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.