zachary knowles, “cherry wine”

zachary knowles, “cherry wine”

Rising indie singer-songwriter Zachary Knowles (I’m not hip to any knowledge of relations to Beyonce but I encourage you to form your own conspiracies) has recently released his newest offering to the world, a single entitled “Cherry Wine”, which serves as the centerpiece on his forthcoming EP, Magnolia (Out May 2020). The Texas-bred artist has released a hypnotic new music video to accompany the single as well.
“Cherry Wine” sees Knowles gently glide across a brightly picked acoustic guitar track with his angelic and carefully placed falsetto. In similar fashion, the music video shows him floating through landscapes, first pedaling a bike and then sprinting through forests and fields, softened by the sweet and constant presence of slow motion. Knowles only stops when he reaches a tumultuous seascape.

Of the track he explains, “The meaning behind “Cherry Wine” is super personal. I wrote about what life looked like before I was dating the girl I love. Before we started dating I was crazy about her (at the age of 14 haha that’s crazy to say) but didn’t know if she felt the same. I wanted to capture what that time of my life felt like.” Tranquil and sweet like simple syrup, the delicately crafted single showcases Knowles’ ability to build a sonic haven around himself that transcends the harsh borders of the outside world.

“Cherry Wine” is out now and Magnolia will be available for your consumption in May of 2020.
stevie wolf, “paper maché doll”

stevie wolf, “paper maché doll”

Indie-pop singer/songwriter Stevie Wolf has released new single and music video for “Paper Maché Doll”. Wolf has a propensity for crafting intricate and intimate songs that make you feel not so alone, and this brilliant track is no exception.

The Colorado native was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome and major anxiety disorder at a young age and found relief in channeling his impulses and angst into music and songwriting. After attending college, Wolf found his way back to music and is finally ready to share his work with the world. “Paper Maché Doll” is the second release from Wolf’s upcoming EP.

The video features Wolf among a jungle of red strings as he sings the soaring ballad. He becomes entangled in the strings as his passionate vocals soar while he tackles relatable issues such as social anxiety and self-esteem issues. Wolf scrutinizes societal expectations and powerfully and passionately sings that he “want(s) to be so much more than my body, than my acne scars..” Wolf skillfully builds the song and navigates the impressive arrangement and is a relatable and inspirational figure for all to look up to.

“Paper Maché Doll” is out now on all streaming platforms.

handsome ghost, “vampires”

handsome ghost, “vampires”

Massachusetts duo Handsome Ghost have just released “Vampires”, a nostalgic ode to youth and the wild moments found in the infancy of love. The track precedes the release of their forthcoming album, Some Still Morning, due to release this May. The record is centered around the feeling of a new dawn when you’re finally able to look at everything with fresh perspective and fresh eyes, a theme that feels all too appropriate during these crazy times.

The ethereal duo, comprised of Tim Notes and Eddie Byun, tie the aching track together with delicate production and acoustic guitars over whispered lyrics. Airy background vocals exist as distant siren calls while muted piano continues to quietly drive the song forward. Every nuance feels purposeful and perfectly placed, the track sprinkled with numerous moments of magic that manage to exist both subtly and powerfully. The duo reflects on grasping spontaneity and passion for life over the passage of time, with a touch of bitterness over the unreachability of the past and what will never be lending that hard-to-capture feeling of finding beauty through pain.

“Vampires” is out now for your quarantine streaming consumption and Some Still Morning is scheduled for release in May of 2020 on Photo Finish Records, followed by a series of European tour dates. Keep up with Handsome Ghost here.

ester, turn around

ester, turn around

Chicago singer-songwriter Anna Holmquist formed Ester back in 2017 with the help of friends and collaborators, and now they’re about to release their first full-band LP, Turn Around. The record is a meditation both on major life changes and looking back at the past to help you understand your own growth, and Holmquist, possessing a rare vein of talent in both songwriting and singing, expertly guides their band through this task.

Most of the songs were written within the 6 month window around the beginning of Holmquist’s Saturn Return, which is psychologically viewed as the time that one reaches full adulthood and is faced (often for the first time) with adult challenges and responsibilities. The album’s exploration of adulthood is vulnerable and introspective, presenting a lot of moments for personal reflection.

Turn Around pieces together folk and rock elements around the centerpiece of the album: Holmquist’s honest and confessional lyricism and sensitive and emotional vocals. The songs are well-crafted, with the words written just as artful and important as the music.

“Little Shadow” is draped in haunting strings and gently plucked guitar. The ominous track builds to great heights with Holmquist’s quivering voice pulling mysterious melodies across the night sky.

“Holy Daze” feels like a float down a lazy river, with warm, slow bass coating the track in thick golden honey. Holmquist shows off her control and flexibility, easily flipping into her head voice before landing skillfully back with both feet on the ground. She sprinkles herself over the calm and breezy instrumentation like a colorful candy coating before tapping into her stock of emotionally-charged vocals, the intensity of her feeling evident to even the most casual listener.

“John’s Car” starts off sounding like a simple yet ominous indie-pop track, but Holmquist stuns, expertly building the song’s intensity with precise and attentive skill before it naturally peaks in a cathartic explosion of emotion. Holmquist is not only a powerhouse, but one who is smart enough to form important moments by holding back just the right amount before laying all of her cards on the table and damn, it’s a good hand.

“Thirsty” is reminiscent of a modern Fleetwood Mac while tracks like “When You Wake” channel the power and authority of Florence Welch. “Wildflower” is a breath of fresh air, providing even the most stressed out soul with a breath of fresh country air.

Turn Around is available now.

the grahams, kids like us

the grahams, kids like us

Husband and wife duo The Grahams delve into new territory for their third album, Kids Like Us, trading traditional Americana for neon-colored indie-rock experimentation.

“Fuck the genre labels people want to put on us. We never felt they fit us anyway.” These are the bold words of Alyssa Graham, who makes up ½ of the duo, the other half completed by her long-time romantic, life, and musical partner Doug Graham. Every release the two have had began with an adventure that expanded their musical horizons, and their third effort is no exception. “Perhaps we started writing this album with a sense of escapism,” says Alyssa. And that escapism is palpable within the record, with the two managing to actually capture that taste and inject it into their music.

Running the rivers of balmy and graceful dream pop, 50’s mod influenced garage-rock energy, 60’s and 70’s style groovy guitars, and an explosive Morricone-esque cinematic intrigue, the couple bravely explores new sounds, proving their versatility and personal creative freedom runs deep. “We wanted to just let go and explore, and it made all the difference,” says Doug Graham. “For the first time, there was no self-doubt, no self-loathing – just gratitude, bliss, and a complete sense of satisfaction in the process and the results.”

The Grahams took off on a motorcycle journey along Route 66 to garner inspiration, witnessing life frozen in time along the historic highway. The music that resulted contained moments of fantasy, horror, and even the supernatural, beguiling their experience into the album.

Kids Like Us was the final project of Richard Swift, producer and former member of The Shins before his death in 2018 and was then taken over by co-producer Dan Molad. Their influence helped to enable The Grahams to channel all of their chaotic stimulus into something big, lush, ambitious, and profoundly satisfying.

The album’s 11 tracks were born from motel-room whispers and roadside musings as well as studio experimentation. “We started in Chicago with the blues and Motown,” Doug says of their journey, “and we ended in L.A. listening to the Beach Boys. And all of it found its way into the record.”

“Don’t Give Your Heart Away” perfectly captures the feeling of cross-country cruising along a desolate highway. A twangy and peaceful pop number that both soothes and quietly thunders, it fills in a broad soundscape of wide open spaces with its chilling echoes. Alyssa glides over the dreamy notes in a quiet storm of hypnosis while the instrumentation behind her pulls listeners in with a siren call of the desert.

“Kids Like Us” is more concentrated. The number is painted with darker colors, echoing across a nighttime scene with brassy sounds and a heightened intensity brought to the table. There is urgency within the Grahams as they take a modernized Antonioni feel in new directions for this one.

“Searching The Milky Way” draws heavy influence from the 50s, with shiny keys and sickly sweet “shalalas” moon-lighting the way through the track, which drips starlight that tastes of a million years ago. It feels both cool-toned and warm and fuzzy, and is sure to transport listeners to another place in time.

The record was also influenced inevitably by the surreal 2016 election, with Kids Like Us evokes the modern American condition in remarkably empathetic ways. “We’ve definitely written a very political record,” Doug says. “These aren’t protest songs, but some of them are certainly a reaction to the big pile of shit America has stepped in, and our personal fear for the future”.

This melting pot of influences manages to blend together to make a deliciously flexible and versatile album. It never feels stagnant or stuck in one place, and pulls a lot of unexpectedly beautiful feelings from places both light and dark to create a shimmering piece of work. Freedom bleeds onto every track and colors each one in a different light within the same shadows, leaving behind a record that manages to be both eclectic and cohesive.

Kids Like Us is available everywhere on March 27th. Keep up with The Grahams here.