West Coast Beats: Pearl Charles

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Pearl Charles lives in the moment, seeking excitement whether it leads her down a dark, dusty road or into the arms of a trouble-making lover. Her full-length debut album, Sleepless Dreamer, describes late night revelry, love affairs, running away and running towards, serenading the sunrise through whirlwind stories of her native Los Angeles, the city, the canyon, the desert, and the road. On a quest to discover the truest version of herself, Charles embraces the feeling of not being settled, a person who always restlessly wants more from life and is willing chase it, wherever it may lead her.

Sleepless Dreamer finds her soulful, often sultry voice gliding through songs tinged with cosmic Americana, a little disco, some classic rock & roll, and a whole lot of that smooth AM gold. Passion, psychedelics and heartbreak inform the highs and lows she rides through the album. Finally able to see clearly through the smoke and mirrors of her surroundings, Charles departs on a consequent journey of questioning and soul-searching, eventually hitting the road in the inevitable search for answers.

 

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A Sound Recommendation: Brooklyn Folkies Nassau

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photo: Daniel Dorsa

Nassau is the collaborative recording project from Brooklyn-based songwriters Justin Wilcox and Jeffrey Silverstein. Both seeking new creative outlets following respective projects in Baltimore and Chattanooga, the duo formed in late 2015 out of a mutual respect for raw, honest music. Sitting on a handful of riffs and half-songs, material would soon actualize for Hoss (2016), their debut EP of tranquil ambient/folk for Fire Talk Records.

Heron, the group’s first proper LP, sees the duo hitting their stride. Recorded, mixed, and produced by Wilcox at his home studio in South Williamsburg, the album explores new territory both sonically and thematically.

Taking a far more deliberate and careful approach to writing, the album centers on the concept of change and balance.  Heron often representing an ability to progress and evolve in folklore.

A warm, full-bodied sound envelopes each track giving breathing room for interweaving guitar lines, meditative rhythms and Wilcox’s gentle vocal delivery. Relying only on guitars, drum machines, and synth, the duo capitalize on using ambient textures as a base layer for each of these 8 beautiful tracks.

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A Sound Recommendation: Marlon Williams

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New Zealand’s Marlon Williams has quite simply got one of the most extraordinary, effortlessly distinctive voices of his generation—a fact well known to fans of his first, self-titled solo album, and his captivating live shows. An otherworldly instrument with an affecting vibrato, it’s a voice that’s earned repeated comparisons to the great Roy Orbison, and even briefly had Williams, in his youth, consider a career in classical singing, before realizing his temperament was more Stratocaster than Stradivarius.

But it’s the art of songwriting that has bedeviled the artist, and into which he has grown exponentially on his second album, Make Way For Love, out in February of 2018. It’s Marlon Williams like you’ve never heard him before—exploring new musical terrain and revealing himself in an unprecedented way, in the wake of a fractured relationship.

If “breakup record” is a trope—and certainly it is—then Marlon Williams has done it proud. Like the best of the lot—Beck’s Sea Change, Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, Phosphorescent’s harrowing “Song For Zula” and Joni Mitchell’s masterpiece Blue, Make Way For Love doesn’t shy away from heartbreak, but rather stares it in the face.

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WHISKEY WOLVES OF THE WEST RELEASE DEBUT

 

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Nashville-based country/Americana outfit Whiskey Wolves of the West released its debut album, Country Roots, today via Rock Ridge Music. With a sound that is something that can only be earned by a thousand nights in smoky bars and a million miles on bald bus tires, the Whiskey Wolves are disciples at what could be the last supper of country music. A concisely focused, seven-track melting pot of an album—with tunes that are high and lonesome, yearning and dark, twangy and gritty and oh-so-satisfying— Country Roots features the dynamic songwriting and performing tandem of Tim Jones (vocals, guitar) and Leroy Powell (vocals, guitar, bass, pedal steel, clavinet, keys, harmonica), two prime progenitors of the new Nashville sound.

I feel like the music Tim and I do could easily be put side by side with any of it—we’re not shooting to sound like anybody other than ourselves,” theorizes Powell, a first-call guitarist/multi-instrumentalist for noted Music City producer Dave Cobb who’s backed heavy-hitters Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton in the studio, as well as both Shooter and Waylon Jennings. Concurs Jones, a top-cat Nashville singer/player in his own right who’s worked side by side in a band with Carl Broemel (My Morning Jacket) and had Chris Robinson (The Black Crowes) as a producer and tourmate, “I’m proud to say we’re both making the same kind of music now that we did back when we were starting out. It’s the love of a genre that a certain zeitgeist movement may have briefly captured, but we never left it.”

Country Roots fully lives up to the deep-seated expectations associated with its very name, from the genre-busting universality of its lead track “Sound of the South,” to the intuitive harmonic blend that sets forth the analog-huggin’ and vinyl-lovin’ tone of “Lay That Needle Down,” to the modernized down-home duende of the title track, to the brighter vibe of the album’s closer, “#1 (The Ballad of Dallas Davidson).” As Jones clarifies with a laugh, “We wrote that one because Leroy wanted us to be able to say the very first song we wrote together was a number one.”

Making sure every song on Country Roots has a lasting impact on its listeners was critical to the duo, who had prepared more than 20 tracks before whittling down the final running order to the lucky seven we have here. “It’s a nice, short record, like those great old country records that had only ten songs on them that would last maybe 20-30 minutes,” recounts Powell. “That was something Waylon [Jennings] was notorious for doing. Every song counted, and I loved that. It’s not too overwhelming either. You don’t need to hear every song we’ve ever written—just the best ones.”

PURCHASE COUNTRY ROOTS

Their very first show together was at Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, CA in 2016, and their set caught the ears and the attention of Randy Lewis, who wrote of the performance in LA Times: “Whiskey Wolves of the West… turned in a set blending rock’s bristle with country’s storytelling, [full of] songs that course across a broad span of classic country, classic rock, blues and Americana music. …the Whiskey Wolves forge a compelling gumbo…”

Here’s a taste of The Whiskey Wolves:

The Whiskey Wolves plan to tour in support of the new album.

Tour Dates:

3/21 – Nashville, TN / The Basement East (opening for Gangstagrass)
3/23 – Tupelo, MS / Blue Canoe
3/25 – Paducah, KY / Dry Ground Brewing Co.

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Women Rock: Alt Country Siren Whitney Rose

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Whitney Rose may specialize in retro-country but there’s a lightness in her step. She doesn’t sweat the idea of authenticity but her affection for the deep wells of Americana tradition are evident throughout.

Rose touches upon so many different sounds and styles her music can almost play like an aural travelog, touching upon different sounds and styles from state to state. Whether it’s a straightforward slice of barroom country, hopping Tex-Mex, vintage Nashville Twang, gently rolling progressive country-folk, or classic girl group pop, the nice thing about this variety of sounds — all expertly executed — is that it never seems flashy. From Rose to her crack band, all the performances are delivered with a casual assurance that gives her music a warm feel that, when combined with sturdy songs from a variety of styles, gives the music the feeling of an old favorite; it feels like music that you’ve lived with for years, in the best possible sense.

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A Sound Recommendation: R&B Singer Jack Freeman

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Houston native Jack Freeman is an American singer with a voice and a message of love.

His sultry yet smooth style has been honed by artists such as Donny Hathaway, OutKast, John Legend, D’Angelo, Bilal, Chaka Khan and Scarface just to name a few. While looking up some of the industry’s greats, Jack has also had the opportunity to open for the likes of Bilal and John Legend as well as Anthony Hamilton, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Brian McKnight, PJ Morton, Phife Dawg and Tito Jackson.

In 2016 Jack Freeman was interviewed for the Radio One Black Music Month Feature with Joe where he shared his views for the future of Black music. That same year he was selected by John Legend as a member of The AXE Collective which encourages emerging artists to find their magic. And in 2014 he was voted by fans in Houston as 97.9 The Box’s Artist to Watch. Further contributing to his hometown notoriety, Jack was enlisted to collaborate on projects with rappers Scarface, Killa Kyleon and Le$.

When asked how he would like to influence others with his music, Jack had this to say:

“I want my music to influence people to love through all of the things going on around them; to find something, or someone, and love it with everything you’ve got. I’d also like to provide the soundtrack to what people feel. Lots of people feel things but can’t find the words. I want my music to be those words.”

 

 

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Anglo Files: Manchester’s Sam Fender

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2018 will be the year everyone claims to have seen Sam Fender before he was famous.

Hailing from the North East of England, his songs tout bitter social commentary with a vocal as unique as Springsteen, the indie spirit of The Maccabees and the live energy of Foals.

Sam Fender is one of the unsigned stars of the British music scene having hit number 1 in the iTunes singer songwriter chart with debut single Play God and no.2 in the Spotify viral chart.

The 21 year old has high profile support slots with the likes of Catfish and The Bottleman, Hozier and Daughter under his belt.

His self-released singles have been well flaunted by radio across the UK including BBC Introducing Record of The Week on Radio 1, MistaJam’s New Name and every track has been made Record of The Week on Virgin Radio.

European tours with Declan McKenna and Bear’s Den have helped spread the word alongside critical acclaim in the press.

ARTIST LINKS

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