Tag Archives: Folk music

Burnout Exemplifies Winn’s Feeling of Searching & Exploration

14 Jul

With the newest release from Adam Winn, entitled Burnout, the feeling of searching for something and being a wanderer of life are themes throughout the song. Setting the tone with a folky and sultry sound, Winn’s sound is distinct and signature to his unique vocals. “I could scream, I could shout, I won’t make a sound”, only scratches the surface of emotion within his lyrics in Burnout. In addition to creating musical projects, Winn has worked as a firefighter in Ft John, Canada as well. Further adding to the humility of Winn, the Adam Winn EP was completely crowd funded and recorded in a couple of months. Winn redefines the definition of hometown hero and does not fall short of having heroic qualities, both lyrically and personally.

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The Furious Seasons Take Listeners Home In Newest Album Look West

23 Nov

The Furious Seasons released their newest album, and the track Look West does not hold back on the level of emotional feeling felt throughout the song. With lyrics reflecting on life and long shots in life, the listener can emphasize that the thought of life as a winding road is set in motion. With the merging of mentions of nature and sunshine, one can tell that The Furious Seasons is influenced by the outdoors as well. David Steinhart’s vocals touch listeners with every characteristic of folk pop as well. Similar to how the band forming out of 3 piece shows, it’s no surprise as well that the feeling of unity is heard through the music. With all of that aside, the stories interwoven on this album with an authentic and real vibe, take listeners home.

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The Folk Monsters of Yellow Red Sparks

21 Jul

Yellow Red Sparks

Speaking about the self-titled debut album of his folk band Yellow Red Sparks, Joshua Hanson said, “I don’t believe that it’s possible to share everything a writer is feeling or trying to convey within 3 ½ minutes of a track.” Wise words from a singer/songwriter who comes close to doing the impossible with each of the emotion-packed pieces on the album. Hanson, and fellow band-mates Sara Lynn Nishikawa (upright bass/vocals) and Goldy (drums/vocals), pack in so much Indie/Folk goodness in each song that hitting play is much like popping the cork of an expensive bottle of champagne.

Yellow Red Sparks originally started as the moniker of Hanson, a solo musician from California. After adding two members – which accentuated the Indie sound – the band released its debut album in January of this year. In the Spring, Hanson was notified that his song “Monsters with Misdemeanors” won the Grand Prize in the International Songwriting Competition (ISC). The song was selected from more than 20,000 entries. High praise for a rising folk songwriter – and a totally deserved reward for a folk song saturated with raw emotion.

A soft acoustic riff sits over light percussion and Hanson’s mature vocal. Hanson’s style hits with a similar force as singer/songwriters like Greg Laswell, Ben Gibbard, and Joshua James. The strings help add to the song’s powerful melancholy. The song’s melody, which has a DeVotchKa feel, climaxes during the bridge in a similar manner – with rising strings and crying vocals. It would be a crime to not discuss the award-winning lyrics of the piece. The lyrics tell a story of relationship turbulence, but do so in an original manner – almost minimalistic in the short verses that feature such gems as “there’s a parked car that won’t let me over
And there’s one thing I’ll regret, but you’d be the last.” The song is true tour-de-force.

Make sure to check out the rest of Yellow Red Sparks’ excellent debut release here. You can track the band on its Facebook, Twitter, and Website.

Strumming Something New – Zan Strumfeld

17 Jun

Zan Strumfeld

 

While Zan Strumfeld carries her brand of stripped-down folk with her soft, Spektor-like voice, there is an endearing and subtle vexation on the horizon of her vocal that creeps through the sweetness of the piece and pulls the listener into her world of raw emotion. This quality is unique to Strumfeld, an Albany-based folky singer/songwriter.

Strumfeld – who has an excellent name for a person who plays the guitar – released her third EP, Someone New, back in April of this year. The album is a testament to simplicity. Strumfeld does not bedizen songs with electronics, pounding percussion, or superfluous instrumentals. Instead, she garners acoustic power with her multifaceted voice and some well-placed harmonies. The result is self-described “lullabies for the lonely lovers” and this one-sentence synopsis is quite apt.

 

Please excuse the contradictory nature of this description, but there is certainly a warm loneliness that penetrates the plucked strings of “Carry On,” a song that urges listeners to “learn to carry on.” Strumfeld’s piece is so intimate that it’s as if she is with you performing it live, and this local element adds to the songs potency.

“Someone New” puts Strumfeld’s voice on full display – abundant and delicate. The song may be a lullaby, but it carries a soothing ardor that keeps the listener hanging on each intonation.

Check out more about Strumfeld on her Bandcamp and Facebook.

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

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