If you know me (I’ll assume you don’t), you’ll know that I’m not much for belt-y, powerhouse vocals; I’m more keen on whisper-sweet serenades that require you to almost lean in (even if you’ve got headphones on).
Priscilla Ahn more than checked off that box for me when I first came across her sparse ‘girl with a guitar and a loop and sometimes a harmonica’ easy listening tunes. I caught her at the Drake back in 2009, and sitting cross-legged on the floor with everyone else in tiny venue, there was a collective hush over the crowd and everyone was actually leaning in.
Now she’s back with Sweet Hearts, a duo project with fellow musician Charlie Wadhams, and they’ve just released their mellow, mushy, and blush-worthy self-titled EP for free download just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Or if you’re a single lady (“all the single ladies, all the single ladies, all the single ladies, now put your hands up!”), why not celebrate Galentine’s Day à la Leslie Knope?
Guys, you can follow suit. And then on the 14th, cozy up with a glass of wine, some cheese, a mirror, and celebrate a little good, healthy narcissism. Celebrate you! (It’ll be like your birthday except better because you’re not a year older!)
Oh sweetheart, when I see you again, you’re never gonna let me go. That’s right, you’ll always be my dearest friend. My, my, I’ll love you till the day I die.
Put on Sweet Hearts’ EP, gaze into your own eyes (that’s what the mirror’s for) and pretend all the lyrics are about you. It’s the new affirmation nation.
[Download]: Sweet Hearts’ EP here by entering your email address!
Robin Pecknold, the primary voice of Fleet Foxes, took to twitter about an hour ago to give away 3 new tracks that he recorded a couple weeks ago in LA: “Where Is My Wild Rose,” “Derwentwater Stones,” and “I’m Losing Myself” (feat. Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear).
He made sure to say that they are not Fleet Fox tracks, so don’t expect glorious layered harmonies. The songs are mellow and simple voice and guitars, but they are just as warm and welcoming, and like @mintonmk tweeted, sound like “classic British folk on vinyl.”
[MP3]: Click to download individual track (or scroll below to download all three)
[DOWNLOAD]: Robin Pecknold – Three Songs
WHO: Sanders Bohlke
WHERE: Oxford, Mississippi
CONNECT THE DOTS: Opened for Badly Drawn Boy
YOU WILL LIKE HIM IF YOU LIKE: Cooing, “ooh”-ing, and the plucking of acoustic guitar strings
Sanders Bohlke describes his sound as “experimental neo-folk,” which makes sense considering his songs are very acoustic-based. The thing is, there’s something more beyond the guy-with-a-guitar picture. His songs seem at times to be infused with a bit of a soul element that calls back to Maxwell, and honestly, that’s never a bad thing. This is best translated in Bohlke’s live rendition of “Search and Destroy,” which can be found on his Facebook page, along with a few other videos. Again, it’s a very subtle tinge of soul, so I might be overemphasizing it. Heck, it might not even be there, but it’s what I hear. (Feel free to comment below and let me know what you hear!)
[LISTEN]: Sanders Bohlke – “Weight of Us”
“I’m not ready, I’m not ready for the weight of us… The time has come, let us be brave. Shake off all of your sins, the time has come, let us be brave, let us be brave.”
“Weight of Us”–arguably Bohlke’s most well-known track–is fit for a momentous Grey’s Anatomy montage. With it’s drumming beat, sweeping build up, and lyrics that call us to bravery, you can just picture Cristina running around the hospital to look for Owen so that she can declare her love for him after deciding to take the plunge (Note: Or insert any other two main characters who are obviously in love but can’t admit it). You get the picture–it’s a hard song to dislike.
[LISTEN]: Sanders Bohlke – “Quiet Ye Voices”
However, I think that there are others that perphaps better showcase his talents. “Quiet Ye Voices” is one of them. With more intricate instrumentation, layered harmonies, and even handclaps (and who doesn’t have handclaps?!), Bohlke has a fuller, more orchestra sound in his recordings that never loses its warm tone.
But to be honest, I find him strongest and most compelling in his life performances. There’s just something about the way his voice extends and reaches and fill the expansive space that grabs me. I’ll leave you with this chilling live rendition of “Fighter Pilot.”
[WATCH]: Sanders Bohlke – “Fighter Pilot” (Live in a loft in Jackson, Mississippi)
[LISTEN]: Sanders Bohlke – “Weight of Us”
If you like it, buy it! Support independent musicians!
Jack White + Laura Marling = true musicianship at its finest.
Okay, well, these songs aren’t technically “new” since they’re covers; they’re new in the sense that they’ve just been released. These 2 covers of Jackson C. Frank’s “Blues Run The Game” and Neil Young’s “The Needle And The Damage Done” are the products of Marling’s 25-minute recording session over at Jack White’s Third Man Records studio.
Produced by White, yet still raw and untouched, Marling’s incredibly mature voice is center-stage with just her and her guitar. I’ve always been a sucker for close-miking, and being able to hear the fingers plucking and dragging on the strings give the recordings a really warm tone. Both tracks clock in at just over 2 minutes–short and sweet (though if it were up to me they would just go on and on). Enjoy! (via NME)
Laura Marling – “The Needle And The Damage Done” (Neil Young Cover)
Laura Marling – “Blues Run The Game” (Jackson C. Frank Cover)
WHO: Joy Williams and John Paul White
WHERE: Nashville, Tennessee / Florence, Alabama
SOUNDS LIKE: Curling up by a warm fire with a glass of red wine
CONNECT THE DOTS: Ten out of Tenn (collective), Madi Diaz, Erin McCarley
CLAIM TO FAME: Free digital album: Live @ Eddie’s Attic (download below!)
FOR FANS OF: The Swell Season, The Honey Trees
You may know Joy Williams as the voice of the new Oscar Meyer theme song, “Doesn’t Get Better Than This” or from her song placements on numerous television shows. You may even remember her as one of the Christian musicians your parents let you listen to as a child. But perhaps you haven’t yet heard of The Civil Wars.
After previously being on a major label and then releasing a couple EPs on her and her husband’s independent label, Sensibility Music, Williams has now joined forces with singer-songwriter John Paul White, the pen behind a couple of country tunes from well-known artists (LeAnn Rimes, Matthew Mayfield, Jason Aldean to name a few). They met by chance at a songwriting session in Los Angeles, hit it off, wrote a couple tracks–and that, dear readers, is the story of how The Civil Wars came to be.
Their sound is warm and inviting, with lyrics offering reflection on life and love. Williams and White’s voices blend together so well it’s as if it was somewhat inevitable that they sing together. The Civil Wars offer up a brand of music that is sincere, honest, raw to the bone, and without gimmicks–giving their stripped back sound the ability to withstand time and the influx of fads that come and go it. And with slow-burning, folk-tinged songs, “melodic melancholy folk” is what I think best describes the music these two make together in this age of blending genres.
Last year, I had the pleasure of speaking to Joy about the struggles and triumphs of being an independent musician, having already experienced the major label world. She had some thought-provoking insights into the industry and was incredibly well-spoken, and I think that really comes across in her co-writing with John Paul White. We discussed how we are living in an unprecedented era of the independent artist in which there are so many avenues and platforms through which musicians can get their music out to the public.
And the technological era has done really incredible things for the pair: their free live album has been downloaded over 80,000 times; their 2009 four-song EP, Poison & Wine, debuted at #4 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Top Albums chart; and the EP’s title track was played in full on “Grey’s Anatomy.” (And wow, when was the last time you’ve heard a song played in full on TV?) See how much the Internet and a little good ‘ol word of mouth can come in handy for independent artists?
The mesmerizing duo will be releasing their debut full-length Barton Hollow on Feb. 1, 2011 via Sensibility Music, and it’s only a matter of time before they make it big. Can’t wait to see what The Civil Wars has in store for all of us in the coming year!
[DOWNLOAD]: The Civil Wars – Live @ Eddie’s Attic **Don’t forget to spread the word!**
I’m not going to lie. I’m a huge sucker for beautiful harmonies and I have a thing for adult contemporary music – it’s weird. Sometimes it’s nice to listen to music that is simply sugary sweet.
So I give you Dala, who is Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther. Their moniker comes from the last syllable of their first names. Smart.
With crystal clear voices that melt together to create the most beautiful harmonies, it seems as though the pair were made to sing together; it’s breathtaking, really.
Plus, they were the only Canadian act to play at this year’s legendary Newport Folk Festival which has played host to some of the great folk musicians like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell.
They met in high school and have been making beautiful music together since 2002. Dala has been around for a while on the Canadian music scene, but I just happened to stumble upon then recently. Enjoy!
For fans of: Chantal Kreviazuk, Indigo Girls
Take a listen!