Ben Auld, Catcher, Seth Swirsky, DOPAPOD, Regina Spektor, Uma Bloo, Sam Kogon are the artists among these press releases for March.
Ben Auld – “D4A”: A bouncy, foot-tapping folk song with a strong vintage quality and bright acoustic instrumentation blending with vocal harmonies. The song comes from Auld’s new LP, “Lemongrass” out via Earth Libraries. Speaking on the inspiration behind the new album, Ben said: “I didn’t set out with a specific concept or a theme, other than trying to make something that felt classic and didn’t try to sound popular or current for the sake of it. A lot of the writing is about figuring things out, with friendships, relationships, myself. The stories are composites of real experiences and fictional ones, but the sentiment is always true. It’s partly this want I’ve always had to create something, be it a book, film, or music. I think music was the one aspect I felt most confident in tackling first and once I started it sort of became an obsession. The other side of it is all the music I’ve experienced in the last few years. Music that calmed my anxiety, or reminded me of people I cared about or made me envious that I couldn’t make music like that.[The takeaway will] be a bit different for everyone I suppose. It could just be something pleasant to put on in the background while they’re ironing or it could be this life-affirming experience and both are great. It’s cool when people appreciate little details or subtleties in the songs but it’s just as good when someone appreciates solely for it being catchy or memorable, there’s something quite pure about that.” Recalling the process behind the scenes, Ben said: “I did everything alone – I wrote, recorded, and mixed it myself. I started out doing it this way because I had no other options and once I’d made a couple of songs it was like ‘I guess I can do this by myself and in my own time’ so I just carried on that way. The exception is my friend Nick’s sax solo at the very end of the album. I think it makes for a good transition into whatever I create next which will likely be a bit more collaborative.”
Catcher – “Comparing Saviors and Friends“: A fuzzy bloody wail delivered with hardcore authority and slaughtering anger. Catcher is a Brooklyn-based post-punk band with a reputation for visceral and powerful live performances. Drawing comparisons to Iceage and Protomartyr, Catcher delivers music with driving and inundating low-end, provided by childhood friends Cameron McRae and Wilson Chestney, on bass and drums respectively, in addition to Zach Mezzo on sax. Guitarists Jack Young and Christian Reech — each having been recruited earlier this year via a Craigslist ad and connection via the band’s shared Tinder — interweave melodies and noise to create an environment that manages to be at once both bleak and moving, desolate but hopeful, violent but tender. Vocalist Austin Eichler commands listeners with a domineering and chaotic presence. From drawling croons to powerful screams, Austin’s narrative lyrics invoke a wide spectrum of emotion while creating a world of their own. Through endless hours of practice and work, the band has crafted a gripping and tight live performance and a growing international fanbase. This is a song from their debut LP, “The Fat Of A Broken Heart” that was released last month.
Seth Swirsky – “Sunny Day”: A power pop song with a strong ‘60s vibe reminiscent of the British invasion, and should I say with a very Beatles-que chorus? Of the track, Seth wrote: “All of these offbeat, chaotic images of ballerina’s posing on cherry trees and wheels spinning backward and broken clocks came to me when I first got the melody for the song. Then I thought, none of that matters—just as long as the ‘sun’s shining.’ That’s kind of my philosophy of life— that even in the midst of every day, omnipresent chaos of our lives, the sun still shines —and if you can stop and feel it on your face, it’s a reminder that life is so good. ” Speaking on the album, Seth wrote the following: “We all have a ‘safe space’ — a place where we can go and escape from the world. The green couch in my art room in my house is such a space. It was there where most of the songs on this album were written, either on guitar or with lyrics—thus, the title, Songs From The Green Couch. Rob Campanella, of Brian Jonestown Massacre — who engineered the album— introduced me to two guys in The Triptides: bassist Glenn Brigman and drummer Brendan Peleo-Lazar. The three of us (me on most guitars, pianos, and mellotrons) became the core of the entire record. I sang all vocals and arranged the live strings. L.A. musicians, Kirk Hellie and Fernando Perdomo contributed their talents to some songs as well. But, as I said, the core was myself and the Triptides, which added a certain ‘toughness’ to my natural pop sensibilities. The record was a two-year process: I started writing and recording the record at the beginning of a serious new relationship I was having — it continued during a very painful breakup. Thus, the album oscillates between many hi’s and lo’s for me personally, which are reflected in the lyrics.” The song comes from “The Green Couch” LP due on April 8 via Lolipop Records.
DOPAPOD – “Grow”: A very eclectic track going through different phases from fuzzy psychedelia to jazz escapes to intergalactic groovy accelerations, head-nodding bassline, slick guitar, shimmering cymbals, and smooth vocals. “The song could be about a character time traveling back to the Big Bang,” explains keyboardist and vocalist Eli Winderman. The lyric “big things have small beginnings” is a fitting homage to a line from Ridley Scott’s movie Prometheus. “Microscopic particles are the start of life. This is how we evolve,” and evolve they have. The quartet—Eli Winderman [keys, vocals], Rob Compa [guitar, vocals], Chuck Jones [bass], and Neal “Fro” Evans [drums]—present albums as experiences meant to be shared out of your speakers and on stage. Their hypnotic hybrid of funk, rock, jazz, bluegrass, and electronica, with musical influences that range from metal to jazz and Americana, from Medeski Martin & Wood to Pink Floyd, access a heightened level of cosmic harmony in their music. “Grow” follows the single “Think,” which was released late last year as the first entry in the evolution of the group’s audio and visual offerings. The impetus of the song came to the band while the country was knee-deep in polarization, and the group felt a need to convey their feelings while witnessing others fall into a rabbit hole of dangerous binaries. “You can do no wrong, as long as you do everything right all of the time,” is a line the band imagined could come from a talking head, and as always Dopapod crafts nuance in their work through form and function.
Regina Spektor – “Becoming All Alone”: A glorious and emotional track blending keys and a symphony of strings with Regina’s bright vocals. This is a song from “Home, before and after,” Regina Spektor’s eighth studio album and her most quintessentially “New York” in years. Recorded in upstate New York, produced by John Congleton and coproduced by Spektor, the album is Spektor at her most inspired, heralded by “Becoming All Alone,” a surrealist ballad that swells with arrangements and comes alive in your head. Regina Spektor is synonymous with New York City. The Russian-Jewish-American singer, songwriter, and pianist got her own Sign on the Bronx Walk of Fame, as well as “Regina Spektor Day,” (June 11, 2019) proclaimed by Mayor Bill DeBlasio. The Grammy Award nominee first saw commercial success with the RIAA Gold-certified LP Begin to Hope which includes singles “On the Radio,” “Better,” “Samson,” as well as “Fidelity” which climbed the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Spektor’s fifth album, Far (2009), and sixth album, What We Saw From the Cheap Seats (2012), both debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Spektor has performed at The White House as well as on Broadway, Saturday Night Live and contributed to many projects spanning film, television, and music including The Hamilton Mixtape. The critically acclaimed artist will release her eighth studio album “Home, before and after” on June 24 via Warner Records and is set to play a special homecoming show at New York’s Carnegie Hall on April 11.
Uma Bloo – “Strange Actress”: The track opens with a melancholic lo-fi ballad before exploding with grand allure and a fierce passion channeling triumph and other powerful emotions. Speaking on the track, bassist Luke Blanco wrote: “A piece containing the quietest of moments; a piece containing the loudest: ‘Strange Actress’ is exemplary of the band’s wide dynamic range. The drums and bass maintain the beat in lockstep during the second verse without sacrificing the subdued mood. Guitars blare in increasing intensity as the song progresses, overdriven guitars blanketing the listener in a warm, yet heightened emotional state. Uma projects her voice with strength – you can hear her diaphragm hard at work through the speakers – yet it falls into the most beautiful of falsettos as the song concludes.” This is a song from the upcoming album “Don’t Drive Into the Smoke” due March 23rd via Earth Libraries. The album encapsulates a core of intense grief within layers of more familiar love and heartbreak. By opening her explorations in the form of an immaculately layered indie rock epic, the Chicago-based artist and the listener can face the depths of pain together. “It’s about needing love so bad, getting shards of it here and there, and then watching yourself from above as you spill all over the place,” she says. “Love and lust are great deceivers, fantastic distractions from getting to the heart of the pain.”
Sam Kogon: A light-hearted song with a fun tempo, jangling guitars, a happy Beatles-que vibe, and left-over power-pop whereas Sam Kogon describes his new approach as that of an “Upstate country rockabilly crooner.” This is the first single off his forthcoming self-titled 4-track EP due April 1. Speaking on the video for the song, Sam wrote: “It was always a dream of mine to shoot a music video in my family’s pawn shop ‘Sam’s Swap Shop’ in uptown Kingston, NY the place I was named after. My grandpa Lonnie gave me my first guitar from the store so naturally, I wanted the story to focus around a guitar, in this case, it’s a 1963 Danelectro Convertible that came from Sam’s (a dream guitar of mine). The guitar represents lost love, regret, but also a fresh start. The store closed soon after filming and I still can’t watch the video without crying, but my grandpa always said ‘Tell it like it is” and I think we did that. Bravo to Jeff Mertz for capturing the legend of Sam’s and to my dad who blew me away with his acting.” Director Jeff Mertz continued: “Sam and I came up with the concept sort of organically. We knew pretty early on we wanted to shoot inside the Kogon family pawnshop, especially as it was slated to close for good within the year. As we were figuring out exactly what the story would be, I was struck by the persistence of Sam’s name through generations of his family – every family member who came to run the shop took on the mantle of ‘Sam’. It felt like there was this sort of mythos to the name, so there are all these easter eggs throughout the video – the portraits on the shop walls, the gravestone, the last shopkeeper (played by Debbie ‘Sam’ Kogon) are all ‘Sams.’ The shop itself was also charged with nostalgia, so the story kind of naturally evolved into being about an older Sam Kogon (played by Lou, Sam’s dad) who’s reflecting on missed opportunities and regret, but is ultimately given a second chance, which he proudly takes. I actually ended up moving to Kingston, NY, where the video was shot, a few years later, and it’s a little surreal to witness the rabid gentrification that ultimately supplanted Sam’s Swap Shop with a bland art gallery, but I’m grateful to have captured a small slice of local history while it was around. The video itself feels like a sort of second chance for the shop and the myth of ‘Sam Kogon,’ wherever in time we may find them.” Kogon wrote and made demo recordings of these 4 news songs at home on his 4-track tape recorder. The songs were then arranged with his band feat. Grennan Milliken on drums, James Preston on Bass, Graeme Gengras on keys, and Kogon on vocals and guitar. The EP was recorded and produced by John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile) at Stewart Lerman’s Hobo Sound Studios in Weehawken, NJ. His partnership with Agnello came about in a somewhat roundabout way. After coming off three self-booked US/Canadian tours, Kogon was cast as a featured extra in Martin Scorsese’s crime epic The Irishman as a backing musician for Jerry Vale, played in the film by Steven van Zandt. He hit it off with music supervisor Stewart Lerman and, after sending some demos along, received a recommendation for working with Agnello. The sessions were assisted by Jeremy Delaney and James Frazee. The songs were mastered by Steve Fallone (Arcade Fire, Angel Olsen, Big Thief).
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