paper jackets, “what they call a life”

paper jackets, “what they call a life”

by: meredith schneider

On July 10th, the world was graced with an invigorating and indulgent album Souvenirs, Vol. 1 from alt-pop geniuses Paper Jackets. High energy, songs that take you away to that vacation you didn’t get in the middle of the pandemic, that sort of incredibly magic work that makes us all smile just thinking about it. But the music is introspective, vulnerable, and intrinsically relatable. We are smitten. Thinking about it, we are all the more pleased to premiere the virtual performance video of the band singing “What They Call a Life” from their respective homes. Says the band of the song:

A virtual version of us for this unforeseen age!  We are telling a story about the human condition, how no one is ever really OK and how we’re all learning to cope in life. It’s about hope, clarity, the need to have a voice and, I think most of all, the promise of having a legacy. I think the biggest fear in our hearts is being forgotten, and even though nothing truly lasts forever, it is impossible sometimes to comprehend. “What They Call A Life” is about having strength while you’re here in this life, keeping friends and family close and being present. The song is a reflection of the darkest fears and brightest hopes.

With that in mind, the video couldn’t have been done any differently. So turn it on, turn it up, and have a moment of community with everyone, because this song and its message apply to everyone.

Keep up with the band at paperjackets.com.

nikki o’neill, “you’re the only one who gets me”

nikki o’neill, “you’re the only one who gets me”

by katy mombourquette

As young Nikki O’Neill grew up in a trilingual household in Sweden, she didn’t fully realize that she was absorbing all of the diverse cultures around her until it popped up into her music. In her upcoming album World is Waiting, O’Neill and her five-piece band explore R&B, gospel, Americana, and blues in tracks led by O’Neill’s natural vocals, inviting guitar playing, and catchy, intentional songwriting. A taste of what’s to come, O’Neill’s music video for the single “You’re the Only One Who Gets Me” is a witty and untroubled depiction of an oft-misinterpreted introvert who has finally found a kindred spirit. She characterizes it by saying “This song is meant to have some sense of humor… it’s about this introspective person who’s constantly been miscast and misunderstood by others. It’s pretty exhausting to never feel comfortable around people, so when you finally meet someone who gets you and who you can be yourself with, it’s like you hit the jackpot.”

In the video, O’Neill is bathed in the white light of the beach, standing with and without her guitar on the sand, in front of walls, and on wooden steps, singing sincerely to the camera. A hint of jazz in the guitar and bass brings the blues, and O’Neill’s voice brings some country flair to the SoCal americana groove. Overall, though, the track is quite calm. The vocals and harmonies aren’t particularly loud or in-your-face, rather they are soft sounds that just diffuse delectably with each other and the other instruments. At the same time, O’Neill’s eyes, as they stare into the camera, reveal her conviction. They are so expressive and honest, you find yourself watching them more than anything else. Every aspect of the music video works well together, from the slow-motion shots and the easy rock sound to O’Neill’s passionate eyes and how they augment the meaningful lyrics. Reveals O’Neill of the track:

This song is meant to have some sense of humor… it’s about this introspective person who’s constantly been miscast and misunderstood by others. It’s pretty exhausting to never feel comfortable around people, so when you finally meet someone who gets you and who you can be yourself with, it’s like you hit the jackpot.

Whether you’re an introvert yourself or not, hearing a song about finding someone who truly gets you is always refreshing, and O’Neill captures this feeling in a peaceful yet groovy 4-minute package with visuals that calm your nerves and make you feel known. 

Pre-oder World is Waiting here.

stephen clair, “fixing to fly”

stephen clair, “fixing to fly”

by: katy mombourquette

If this were a Friends episode, it would be called “The One With A Chicken.” Stephen Clair’s upcoming single “Fixing to Fly” features strangely cute chicken-related metaphors to describe the complications of romance, supplemented by rustic visuals of a chicken coop in the accompanying video.

Clair is known for his intent singing and literary songwriting, something he channels in the lyrics to “Fixing to Fly” which have a certain poetry to them. But his songs aren’t wispy folk tunes that one often associates with lyrical storytelling, rather they are garage Americana tunes with classic, bluesy sounding guitar, crashing cymbals, and driven walking bass lines. The first few moments of “Fixing to Fly” reveal the song’s whole nature immediately, with the swinging guitar that meanders about on its own for a while before the bass comes in to ground it in the twangy Americana sound. Clair’s voice rings out clear and genuine, like a humble offering to his listeners, subtly asking them to follow along as he sings: “Cooped up in this roost with all these chicks / And the henhouse ain’t a funhouse / When you’re fixing to fly but your wings don’t get you high.” 

If you’re feeling down and just can’t find the right way to express how you feel, give “Fixing to Fly” a shot. The odd metaphors that lie within a chicken’s wings may speak to your soul in ways you have never known before. 

THE SMALL HOURS is out via Rock City Records Sept 18th

photo by: tony cenicola

zanya, “wake up”

zanya, “wake up”

by leigha stuiso

Zanya is releasing a new track called, “Wake Up”, that calls people to action and to take a look into current and past problems. There is no better time than now to release a song that deals with equality and speaking up for what needs to be done. Zanya and her bandmates created another pop-rock track with a unique twist, with serious lyrics that will inspire listeners to think about the subject matter. The lyrics, “it’s not been equal / since day one / we have to speak up, to get it done,” are a reminder of the inequality people face daily and encourage you to take action.

Zanya began collaborating with bassist Patrick Reaves and guitarist Drew Carsillo shortly after moving to Los Angeles. Since then, they have continued to push each other to create music that draws on their fascinations and passions in life. Listen to “Wake Up” now and get inspired to make some changes for the better. Keep up with Zanya here.

rakes, “dig deep”

rakes, “dig deep”

by: katy mombourquette

The dual-vocal quartet Rakes are busting out traditional rock and infusing it with soul and danceability with the bold single “Dig Deep” off their upcoming self-titled debut album. The album explores the big, punchy sounds of rock in ways that are sometimes harsh and other times tender. “Dig Deep” features the use of horns, giving it a soulful, grand sound, but also has a very classic guitar riff with just the right amount of distortion to keep the track tethered to its rocking roots. The vocalists Andrew Foster and Chelsea Walker show off the dynamic interplay between their voices; his hearty and hers full with a bit of twang to it, together a duet that’s equal parts tough and vivacious. Their words have a bite to them, but bounce on top of the vibrant melody lines that from all sonic appearances are upbeat and happy. Foster and Walker each play a character, at times playing call-and-response to the storyline that their lyrics tell. 

Rakes are an absolute treat for fans of classic rock, providing you with familiar and fresh sounds all at once. Buffs of the genre can easily fall in love with the soaring vocals and manic drumming, but at the same time they are exposed to the big band sound that the horns provide. “Dig Deep” is only a hint of the avenues that the full album will explore when it drops on September 18th. 

cigarettes and milk, “july”

cigarettes and milk, “july”

by: katy mombourquette

When Waldo Przekop first picked up a guitar, he really only intended to write comedic music. After discovering several famous folk artists, however, he realized that he actually liked music, and quickly began to write serious songs under the name Cigarettes and Milk. His single “July” (to be released on Friday) is an ode to Przekop’s foregone days of travelling. He used to traverse all over the United States, but eventually settled so he would have enough money to focus on writing and playing music.

“July” depicts a time when Przekop was on the road with a friend, aimless and content to be so. It was the first rainy day in months in Santa Barbara on the Fourth of July, a scene which paved the way for a song to emerge with vivid imagery. Przekop makes good use of this imagery in the single, singing about the “stench of wet leaves” and the fireworks of the holiday. But like a true wordsmith, he also weaves in emotive and abstract details, hinting at poignant themes that go deeper than the landscape he’s driving through. The guitar picking at the beginning of the song is intriguing, the deliberately clumsy strings that he plucks are unusual, quirky even. But as you listen to the song, the context transforms the sound. Przekop’s voice is well suited to folk music. He sings with an urgency, his voice is lovely and piercingly emotional; the almost bleating vibrato going directly for your heart. On the lines “no one will miss me” and “no one will notice”, the way he sings is so compelling, and by the time the words drop out at the end and you’re left alone with the guitar, it sounds darker, even ominous. 

“July” is a well-executed piece of art that paints not with words or sounds but with the emotions and complexity that they exhibit. Przekop shows just how much meaning can be achieved with a simple pairing of guitar and voice.