West Coast Beats: New Music From Rockabillys Kim Lenz

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Rockabilly goddess Kim Lenz is gearing up for the release of her fifth album Slowly Speeding, out February 22, 2019.

Lenz is a songwriter, performer, bandleader, engineer and producer who pores over every nuance of her music to ensure maximum potency. The ten songs on Slowly Speeding brim with growling vocals, clever turns of phrase and heightened musicianship that services both the songs and the emotional intent behind them. As the first song written for the project, “Slowly Speeding” sets the pace for what follows — a gauzy, Western Gothic gaze into the heart of a woman who has abandoned her walls and inhibitions, falling so deeply in love that the universe itself seems unreal. 

Lenz released her debut album in 1998 as Kim Lenz & the Jaguars, via Hightone Records. Heralded as the “Flame-haired keeper of the rockabilly flame” by Allmusic, Lenz reached the highest heights of the 90’s rockabilly revival. At the same time, she established her own distinctive voice as an artist who inhabited the musical and aesthetic traditions of a classic era, even as she subverted them. 

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For Slowly Speeding, Lenz pulled the most essential elements of the past forward into the present and gave her own voice to it. Lenz’s sonic vision for the project was to combine her favorite tones from her most-treasured records, regardless of genre or era, and co-producer DH Phillips was the perfect partner in crime. They looked to early blues, classic country, and old-time gospel harmonies. ”The idea was to try to use all the ingredients that made up rock & roll, but shift around the time frames,” she offers. “I started out in the ’90s making traditional rockabilly music,” she continues. “But in my journey to understand how rockabilly and rock & roll came into being, I found blues, rhythm & blues, gospel, Western swing, and country music.”

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PHILLY BEATS: New Music From Rockers Mo Lowda & The Humble

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Philadelphia rockers, Mo Lowda & the Humble have released their new video for their new song “Card Shark

Card Shark” comes off of Mo Lowda’s sophomore album, Creatures , released earlier this year. The track is a slow, booming, yet bouncy song – drop C tuned guitar drenched in reverb, bellows over an assertive, forward moving bassline and stomping drums as shouty vocals tell the tale of a man who loses everything he loves due to a gambling addiction. Gang vocals sing an ironically joyful melody in the sub-bass driven choruses. The third person account was written by Jordan Caiola (lead vocalist, guitarist) on his flight home from a post-college graduation trip to Las Vegas with some friends. Caiola shares, “We were only playing $5 tables out there for fun but, even so…I saw how easy it could be to get caught up in that, especially if the stakes were higher and desperation played a role.

“We really wanted to dig into the psychology of our hero, and the struggle he faces between his home life, with his wife and child, and his gambling addiction,” says director, Kirby Sybert. “There’s a frightening power involved with addiction that can really tear lives apart. Whether it’s gambling, drinking, drugs, money, power, whatever the vice there are real world consequences attached. Most times core relationships are disrupted. Jordan had come to me with the idea earlier this year and so the band and I really paid attention to the moments that felt real and visceral. We wanted that internal struggle of our hero and his detachment from his surroundings due to this addiction. When it came to shooting we went in with cinematographer, Skyler Jenkins, and shot everything in that one day. It was one of those shoots where everything falls into place and it just feels right. It’s that feeling where we knew we had captured some magic.”

The trio, known for their progressive songwriting and energetic live performances, will be kicking off a fall North American tour this Friday in Columbus, and have announced their first-ever European tour for early 2019.

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A Sound Recommendation: The Marcus King Band

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A Songwriter. Guitarist. Singer. Bandleader. 

Raised in Greenville, South Carolina, King was brought up on the blues, playing shows as a pre-teen sideman with his father—bluesman Marvin King, who himself was the son of a regionally-known guitarist—before striking out on his own.

Going beyond the sonic textures of his acclaimed 2015 debut album, Soul Insight; The Marcus King Band broadens his sound, touching upon everything from funky R&B to Southern soul and Americana in the process. His band gets in on the action too, stacking the songs with blasts of swampy brass, a lock-step rhythm section and swirling organ. Ever the multi-tasker, King bounces between several instruments, handling electric and acoustic guitar — as well as pedal and lap steel — while driving each track home with his soulful, incendiary voice.

A childhood introvert who leaned heavily on music as a way of expressing himself, King fills The Marcus King Band with a mix of biographical tunes and fictional story songs.

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His latest release, Carolina Confessions features 10 brand-new songs, all written by Marcus except for ‘How Long,’ which was co-written with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and veteran songwriter Pat McLaughlin.

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Whether it’s the searing rock exorcism of ‘Confessions’ or the propulsive road-bound soul of ‘Where I’m Headed,’ Marcus exhibits an almost Southern gothic sensibility in his songs, owning up to failed relationships, portraying his complex connection with his hometown, arraying a sprawling musical firmament in the process.

Marcus and his five bandmates – drummer Jack Ryan, bass player Stephen Campbell, trumpeter/trombonist Justin Johnson, sax player Dean Mitchell and keyboard player DeShawn ‘D’Vibes’ Alexander – are in top form on Carolina Confessions, exhibiting an intuitive sense of control and expression as they tackle their most sonically layered and emotionally complex compositions to date.

Marcus is the first player I’ve heard since Derek Trucks to play with the maturity of a musician well beyond his age,” Haynes says. “He’s very much influenced by the blues, but also by jazz, rock, soul music, and any timeless genres of music. You can hear the influences, but it all comes through him in his own unique way. He has one of those voices that instantly draws you in, and his guitar playing is an extension of his voice and vice versa.”   Warren Haynes

 

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West Coast Beats: Meet MAWD

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MAWD is the moniker of Madeleine Mathews, a California singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist ( piano, guitar, ukulele, bass, accordion & banjo) , whose influences include, The Head and the Heart, The Staves, First Aid Kit, Nancy Sinatra, Lord Huron, and the Alabama Shakes. MAWD’s sound gravitates towards an eclectic mix of genres including indie rock, folk, folk rock, retro rock, and blues rock. The soulful, textured timbre of Madeleine’s vocals is diverse and ranges anywhere from a breathy sultry folk/blues vibe to a powerful Janis Joplin-esque/Karen-O belt.

Born and bread in Northern California, Madeleine made her mark in her hometown of Placerville playing original songs at a weekly local open mic. She found an even larger audience in Chico, CA, where she attended CSU, Chico’s music program. She quickly became a part of the blossoming local Nor Cal scene fronting and writing for various bands and winning local singer/songwriter competitions, resulting in TV and radio appearances and press. Madeleine’s stunning live performances and the unique vulnerability, power and shear beauty of her voice caught the attention of Roger Gisborne of Los Angeles based indie label Sound x 3 Records, who immediately signed her and sent her to Scandinavia to tour. As a result, she was invited to perform for several international festivals, including the Irish, YouBloom Festival.

Gisborne produced and released MAWD’s first EP during Madeleine’s last semester of school and brought in Brian Lucey (Arctic Monkeys, Black Keys, Beck, Cage The Elephant, etc.) to master the record, which received critical acclaim from noteworthy tastemakers leading MAWD to SXSW and a southwest tour with a new line-up of top British, Irish and American musicians, known as the “MAWD Squad”.

Known for her impressive and highly energetic performances in top notch venues, festivals and artist discovery programs such as Sofar Sounds, MAWD has made huge strides developing a dedicated fan base .

Madeleine is presently working with Gisborne and Cave producer/songwriter Josiah Mezzaschi (Deap Vally, Kate Bush, Jesus & the Mary Chain) on MAWD’s second EP set for release in 2019.

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