Tag Archives: Acoustic

Frame of Mind From Sam Levin Spins Forward Ambitious Pop Sound

13 May

Sam Levin just released his newest album called Frame of Mind and it epitomizes a mixture of pop, soul, and indie rock. With lyrics intertwining between the themes of the seen and unseen, and nature undertones, Levin’s smooth vocals keep audiences entertained and wanting more. From a musical auditory observation, the mixing of variety of light synthy sounds and xylophone taps, his music does not fit within one’s typical idea of indie pop. Sounding completely evolved and already carving a specific niche in the musical world, Levin surprises audiences with his mature sound for his age of 15. For 2017, listeners should take note of his over ambitious evolution as an artist and keep track as its just the beginning.

For more listening:

Advertisements

Luca Bash – The Single Drops EP Review

10 Sep

Modern-day music seems to have an obsession with big beats and EDM-style euphoric rises and drops. Now this isn’t another of those typical reviews slamming EDM for its major successes over the past few years, but it is an review aiming to highlight the beauty and stripped back simplicity of a musician and an instrument.

Italian Luca Bash is one of said musicians, with his new EP, “The Single Drops”, summing up what the medium of acoustic music is, thought-provoking, emotive music that can connect people with its raw power. This EP is a compilation of the ‘best bits’ of the 2014 releases, “Cyan”, “Magenta”, “Yellow” and “Key Black”, plus an original new tune. It’s a novel approach, which shows sheer confidence from Bash in his own output

Bash and his long-time collaborator Giova Pes have combined to create a soulful experience that reaches out and connects with the listener, bridging the gap from record to artist. Kicking off with the new track, “Your Tomorrow”, from the moment Bash’s gravelly tones kick in, over the heavenly acoustic melody, you can close your eyes, lie back and relax. Again, the sound is exceptional here, with the production values high and the crisp instrumentation really matches Bash’s raspy vocals perfectly. It could be said it doesn’t really evolve as a song, but then when a song is the equivalent of a river trickling, does it need to go anywhere providing it is intensely relaxing to listen to.

Second song “Forever Like Asleep”, manages to sound like something heard on a mellower moment of “The Walking Dead”, a show famed for its country influences. The guitar melodies here are captivating and demand attention from the word go. The vocals here are more pronounced and noticeable too, with the musical breakdowns both intriguing and musically diverse too, it’s Bash and Pes showing us, the listener, that they have more to their musical repertoire. At times the vocalisations are slightly strained, but I really think it adds to the level of emotion in the music.

Next up is, “Dear John”, and is where things start to get slightly repetitive. I do enjoy the instrumentation here, as we break into more rhythmic melodies that resonated with me, but I feel this is a song that would excel live, while on record it’s kind of left behind a bit, as it sounds eerily similar to opener, “Your Tomorrow”. It does grow on me as we develop, but I feel that there’s not a lot more to be said about this track. It has more of a sleepy quality than a relaxing one.

The beginning of “Little Tale” sound like a mystical fairytale of sorts, with its mysterious acoustic background, while Bash’s vocals tend to differentiate from what has gone before which is a relief after the slightly derivative nature of “Dear John”. No here, we do gradually build to some form of climax, which allows Bash’s vocals to be a lot more interesting and diverse in their range. The breakdown halfway through serves as something of a harvester for the emotion that is to come in the latter half, we slow down before eeking out another powerful vocal and acoustic combination towards the end of the song, as the acoustics really take centre stage.

This sweet, but short, EP comes to a close with “Black Swans Walls”, which has more than a couple of American reference points, Dave Matthews-esque guitars swelling in the background and providing a suitable backdrop to a hurried Bash on vocals. It all sounds a lot more positive and upbeat, so rather than relax, it gets you a bit more pumped and bouncy! A great way to end such a short little collection of songs, and a nice emotion to leave with the audience, for sure.

Connections have also been important to Luca Bash. He often speaks of the moment where the adulation of a female fan sent shivers down his spine: “Before the final part of ‘Dear John,’ I make a pause after a B7, followed by a G.
When I reached that point of the song, the crowd was quiet and the silence was incredible. But a young female voice screamed aloud ‘Bravo!’ and, despite the fact that I was playing, I heard her. I still remember the shivers. I was unknown, playing a song unknown as well, but able to give emotions. This is the reason why I still compose.”

That much is clear within Bash’s work, you can tell he aims to connect and give people pleasure in his musical truths and personality. With “Single Drops”, he’s only going to connect to more and more people around the world.

The Night Folk Owl – Willie Ames

12 Mar

Willie Ames @ Whisky A Go-Go - 20th Annual Los Angeles Music Awards voting party - by JAMES IRWIN PHOTOGRAPHY

Willie Ames has toured all 50 United States, distributed 35,000 CDs to the public, and won several solo artist awards including the Solo Artist of the Year in the 20th Annual Los Angeles Music Awards and National Solo Artist of the Year and performer in the Phoenix Music Awards 2011.

So, yeah, more people should know about this folk guitarist/banjoist/singer/songwriter. Ames has been playing guitar since he was five years old, and, at 18 decided to pursue music professionally. He added a banjo to his repertoire at 23.

Ames plays a distinctive style of classic folk music that focuses on heavier percussion, reverberated noise, and a guitar/banjo style that combines the flavor of early Dylan and Dave Van Ronk with heavier folk artists like Amos Lee. Ames then adds a banjo to the mix, and, instead of falling into the bluegrass banjo trap, the music has an edge that sets him apart from other folk musicians. Listening to Ames’ music is fit with unconscious toe-tapping and head-nodding. The beats are almost funky. The sound is multifaceted like a bean dip (light guacamole on top and heavy beans on the bottom). Gosh, I just compared music to a bean dip. If that’s not a sign to introduce a song, I don’t know what is.

“Night Owl,” the title track on the album, perfectly represents what I mentioned above. The beat is authentic. The echoed sounds are reminiscent of a dark night in a deep forest. Ames’ voice reminds me of the Holy Modal Rounders (only slightly), a folk duo from the Lower East Side in the 60s who released an excellent version of “Hesitation Blues.” I hate to be so simplistic, but the song is just cool. I like listening to it.

“Stumbling Home” is certainly lighter. The banjo rhythm is catchy and constant. It’s a great song to listen to if you want to unwind. It relaxed me.

Check out more of Willie Ames at his website, Facebook, and Twitter

Elijah Behar and Hollow Body

29 May

Elijah Behar

What happens when you combine influences like The Doors and the Velvet Underground with Radiohead, then stir the concoction with soulful singer-songwriter’s Jose Gonzalez and Leonard Cohen, and then top it off with a taste of modern electronica. Well you certainly get an intriguing blend of experimental folk, and Elijah Behar, a 22-year-old Californian musician now living in Los Angeles, has proven that such a blend of influences can not only work but also flourish.

Elijah released a solo EP entitled Hollow Body in April (which can be downloaded for free on his bandcamp page), and I do not hesitate in saying that this five-track release is fresh and exciting. His deep, lush voice invokes the engaging baritone of The National’s lead singer,  folk powerhorse Matt Berninger, and it also features a sensual quality like Jim Morrison himself. The voice suits the music perfectly as expressed in the first track on Hollow Body, “Black Sage.”

I had the opportunity to interview Elijah through e-mail where I asked him about his influences, music, and future. Before I post our conversation, I want to pull out one apt comment he made when asked about the creation of “Black Sage”

My aim for a track like Black Sage and the whole EP in general was to do only as much production as the song needed to deliver its full impact. I have been involved with projects that get produced and “perfected” to the point where the songs turn sterile and lifeless. On this EP I wanted to start with an acoustic guitar and a voice and build elements around those two instruments that simply compliment the original intention of the song.

Here is “Black Sage”

I would stress to Elijah that what he is doing here is what he should continue doing. The haunting piece features this dark acoustic riff that mixes with his slippery voice that is almost surreptitious and devilish. The song shifts at 1:30 into a Radiohead-like keyboard riff that purposefully lags with the percussion. The following echo is just a total mindscrew. The effects are well done. It is a treat to listen to Elijah manipulate the music and I think this has a shot to be the title track on full LP.

Here is the rest of the interview:

1) When did you first start writing and recording tunes?

 I started playing music at 14 and by the end of high school I was writing, recording and playing with a handful of bands in my hometown, Ojai, CA.

 2.) When you were growing up who were some of your biggest influences and how did those musicians shape you?

Growing up my biggest influences were The White Stripes, The Doors, and The Velvet Underground; pretty much the basic rock and roll package. Over the last few years I have become a diehard Radiohead fanatic (post OK computer), and have been loving more direct singer-songwriters like Jose Gonzalez, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, and Elliot Smith. I also love electronic musicians like Modeselektor and Aphex Twin. These musicians continue to shape how I approach songwriting and performance.

3.) Is Hollow Body your first release? What were you trying to accomplish with the songs?

Hollow Body is my first solo release but definitely not my first project. I put out an album with the rock band I fronted, Marquee (www.marquee.bandcamp.com) a year ago, and have released a few other projects before that.

With Hollow Body, my goal was to define myself as a musician who combined the raw intensity of rock with the emotional honesty and directness of a more stripped down form, like folk music. I would define my genre as Experimental Folk.

4.) What is your favorite part about recording music?

My favorite part of recording music is towards the end of mixing where I feel like I can finally let go of the material that has bouncing around my skull for months. It’s a relief to have the music exist outside of me.

5.) I always ask this and it is often the most difficult question. If you had a chance to have record a session with three musicians (alive or dead) who would they be and why?

If I could have a recording session with anyone live or dead it would be with any members of Radiohead and Nigel, their producer. Actually I would be happy just bringing them coffee and cooking for them while they recorded new material.

 6.) What is in the future for Elijah Behar?

 In the immediate future, I will continue playing shows in and around LA, make some music videos, and record some demos of new material I have written since Hollow Body was released. Beyond that, I hope to tour the west coast as soon as possible, and I have been meeting with some heavy hitters in the music industry (can’t mention names) who want to help me expand.

One more song for you and then I urge you to check out his Facebook for more details.

A pretty standard folk tune that accentuates Elijah’s killer voice. Good luck to him!

%d bloggers like this: