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PLAYLIST: January 2016

words  and playlist by Shabnam Ferdowsi

January was a whirlwind. On the first of the month, I landed back in Los Angeles after spending 3 months abroad, immediately released the new website, and started promoting the relaunch party. So I dived head first, sprinting and cartwheeling back into the grind of real life, going to shows multiple times a week,  working my day job at a daycare, booking photoshoots and remembering how to have a social life again. 

I've been listening to a lot of new music.  My taste has been evolving really hard and really fast in the past 6 months, and it started fueling whole new feelings while I was away. The fidelity is lower, it's noisier, fuzzier, less polished,  and runs on the same rhythm as my adrenaline is these days. 

Take a listen and feel what I was feeling last month:

NEW MUSIC: Kori- Melancholic Debauchery

Who: Kori

Currently: Paris, France

What: dark, indie rock

Kori is a dark indie rock band formed by Ori Di Vincenzo, a guy who writes songs about loneliness, fantasies and bizarre stories. Having released a new album "Melancholic Debauchery" the band is now touring Paris and is planning a move to a dirty basement in the UK.

I was instantly attracted to the fluttery feels of Kori's low bass and deep vocals. With hints of lo-fi guitar riffs, I was transported underground into a disco-ball lit cave filled with sensitive creatives writing feelings and painting abstract expressionism. Think Darks Waves meets The National in an underwater bar. It pulls at your heart in a way that'll have you swaying yet stomping, feeling subtle emotions yet wanting to scream.

Now all I have to do is find a way to get these guys to come play in LA! Or maybe I'll just go meet them Europe. 

Listen to their latest album and swoon below:

CONNECT WITH KORI

Facebook // Twitter 

NEW MUSIC: Two Cheers- Brinka

words by Shabnam Ferdowsi

What is it about Two Cheers' new track that reminds me of the 90's? Something about the warm guitar riffs wants me to sing along like I used to to Blink-182, but with more nostalgia and less resentment, more swaying and less stomping. 

It's been on repeat and I can't get enough.

CONNECT WITH TWO CHEERS

Facebook // Twitter

ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Caitlyn Cope

As we approach our next event this Saturday, we're going to be spotlighting our featured artists throughout the week! 

First up, pop singer-songwriter Caitlyn Cope!

How do you hope your listeners feel with your music ? 

 

I hope that it can be something they can connect with and relate to. I want to say the words that they might not be able to find themselves. 

What's been your favorite live show you've ever seen and why?

John Mayer. He is a musical genius in my opinion. He was so passionate & absolutely mesmerizing live. I don't think I spoke to a single one of my friends during the concert because I was so captured by it all.

 If you could collaborate with any current artist, who would it be?

Ed Sheeran. He's an insanely talented songwriter & has a killer voice. 

Why do you think local music matters?

I think it's important to support local talent because you never know what you're going to find. It's a great feeling to stumble upon a fellow artist & just be blown away by the rawness & realness of what they bring to the stage. 


#NowPlaying in FEiN's ears

Introducing a new playlist series, coming to you every Sunday. Each playlist will be curated by an artist, band, or some other entity /group/ person who's opinions we value, and will consist of 10 songs they've been listening to the past week.

First up: FEiN , aka Luke Walton and Brandon Woodward, an LA-based electro-pop-rock duo.

Here are 10 songs  they've been listening to this past week:

1. Distant Past - Everything Everything

2. The Love You're Given - Jack Garratt

3. Get Out The Way - Mother Mother

4. Ghosting - Mother Mother

5. Christmas In L.A. - Vulfpeck

6. Slum Love - Kimbra

7. The Antidote - St. Vincent

8. Disposable Parts - Enon

9. No Control - One Direction

10. My Type - Saint Motel

SESSION- Kingston- Eating Flowers

Kingston is an indie/brass band based in Kilkenny, Ireland and was lucky enough to meet up with two of their 6 members, Steve and Shane, for this session! Shot in Andrew Ryan's bar. 

With some members off in university, and others still in high school, these guys are so young yet so talented. They've played Electric Picnic, one of Ireland's biggest music festivals, they've played all of Kilkenny, and they're currently working on their next EP.

I'm so excited to see where these guys go.

CONNECT WITH KINGSTON

Facebook  // Twitter //  Bandcamp

Music-Induced Tears (Brought To You by Scotland)

words and feelings by Shabnam Ferdowsi

Music doesn't make me cry. Sure, the right song with the right minor chords can make me feel sad for no particular reason, but there has never been a song that has moved me whether lyrically or melodically to the point of tears. 

Until 3 weeks ago. 

Hamish James Hawk is an Edinburgh-based artist I met first while I was in St Andrews. He's released some music under Common Records and happened to be there during my little chat with Andrew Pearson (for the Heartbeats feature I wanted to write up). He gave me a copy of his latest album before we went our separate ways and that could have been that. But I decided to give the album a listen that night, and to say I was blown away is an understatement.  I was heading to Edinburgh the day after, so naturally I sent him a Facebook message and we set up a shoot for that Friday. But I digress.

This specific song,"Th Right Amount of Blue", immediately struck some chord in me, and such a strong chord that my heart would start hurting and tears would start welling up five seconds into the song. And this kept happening for days, every single time I listened to it.

Which begged the question: WHY?  I can in no way whatsoever relate to the lyrics. Not in the slightest bit. And he's not even using any minor chords!

So then, is it simply Hawk's  deep and melancholic vocals? The rich guitar sounds? The lyrical storytelling that, even though I can't relate, makes me feel like I can?

Or the combination of the three that, in my mind, sounds like Scotland? And therefore brings the tears because I was so affected by the country and my time there? Yeah, I think I'll go with that. 

Then today, it happened again ("it" being music-induced tears)

I was browsing through older Common Records music when I stumbled onto  a release by Tommy Telescope and the Notorious B.A.M., which I found out was Andrew Pearson's project a couple years ago (2012). Its lo-fi, electronic, wordy, fluttering instrumental goodness had me instantly. 

This one particular song, "Albert The Kid", is a spoken word electronica piece about a phrase spray painted under a bridge that the narrator passes by on the train. 

This is how the song ends, and this is where something happened in my heart/mind:

"And here's the thing that's brilliant / Here's the thing that makes me breathless with excitement / This gender indiscriminate street artist and poet has decided that this phrase, these 5 words that they have found hiding in the corners of their imagination / Are worth something / Worth the paint/ Worth the time / Worth crossing railway lines in the middle of the night just to [crudely dob and write] a written rescue from the oppression of anonymity not with a name but with an idea a feeling as not just another assertion of property but rather a reclamation from property, for poetry. / So whether you can dance or draw or walk the dog with a yo-yo make Albert The Kid a hero for our times and reclaim the streets tonight. "

I'm still figuring out what happened in my mind that brought the tears. I think in the end it's the combination of the beautiful guitar riffs, the fluttering electronic notes, and the words about hope, passion and creativity that made me feel. The street artist felt those words worthy enough to spray them onto a wall, and Andrew Pearson felt impassioned enough, "breathless with excitement" as he says, that he wrote a whole song about it. Thus, leaving me breathless with excitement (to the point of tears), because there's nothing more magical than passion, in my humble opinion. 

SESSION: Andrew Pearson- I've Been Unkind To You

Andrew Pearson is an artist currently based in Fife, Scotland.

Bandcamp // Facebook // Twitter

HEARTBEATS #1: PROM Night

words and photos by Shabnam Ferdowsi

Introducing a new series... Heartbeats: Portraits of the Passionate Heart.  

There are a lot of cool things going on around us, and this series will shine a [beating] light (see what I did there?!) on the faces behind the various passion projects we'll be featuring. 

We're so excited to get the show started!

Who: AJ Frydman and Harris Mayersohn

What: Prom Night,  a bi-weekly stand up show featuring some of the best comics around held at Nature's Brew in Downtown Los Angeles.

If you've ever been to a stand-up comedy show before, you know it takes a lot of resilience to get on that stage. Crowds can range from super energetic and responsive to just downright apathetic, and it takes a certain amount of dedication, and rather, passion, to keep getting back up there. 

AJ Frydman and Harris Mayersohn, respectively current student and alumni of USC's School of Cinematic Arts, have been hosting a  bi-weekly stand-up show at a local coffee shop since this past February. Every show, they curate a line-up of talented, local comedians, while bringing their own bits to the table every now and then. It's not easy with a crowd of students whose opinions and tolerance levels you can't predict, whose sense of humor you can't quite gauge, and night classes that prevent some friends from making it out.

I met up with them before their last show on October 23rd to chat for a bit. As I got there about an hour before showtime, they were only just talking about what their intro would look like. Procrastination seems to be a part of their process, and personally I think it's working! Improvisation is what makes stand-up performers stand out (not to be redundant), and as the two put it, there's no way to practice than by throwing yourself into it. 

It's a no-pressure space, and the hosts often try  new bits between acts, or occasionally taking their own set-times. Depending on the crowd, any bit is a hit or miss...And if it's a miss, AJ loves the failure, Harris hates it. But like I said, no pressure! They just hand it back over to the next comedian if everything really hits the ground. 

Every show is different than the last because every crowd is different, and every line-up is different. I've been a few times at this point and I've only ever had a good time. Who doesn't like to laugh, right?! The comedians are hilarious, and it's always fun seeing what AJ and Harris come up with something new.  Sure, sometimes I don't get the jokes, sometimes I can feel the crowd cringing at the raunchier bits, but that should be expected: we don't all have the same sense of humor.

As Harris put it perfectly, "you just gotta suck" sometimes to see what does and doesn't work. And the way I see it, not getting a laugh or two is part of the whole process. Like writing a blog post and getting no reads, or releasing a video and getting a measly 15 views... 

Not trying at all would be true failure.

PROM Nights happen every other Thursday night in Downtown LA,  so make sure you like their Facebook page to stay updated!

INTERVIEW: Cameron Fife

If someone’s never heard your music before, how would you describe it to them in one sentence? 

I've always been terrible with this question, but maybe this is a time for me to lock down an answer. I've been tossing around "aggressive indie folk" a little recently but honestly I'm not sure what that even means. Maybe "indie folk punk"? I like to think I have a little of every genre in some songs somewhere but maybe thats a little too pretentious of an answer for me to commit to. Sorry this wasn't one sentence, and sorry I didn't actually lock down an answer. I failed. 

 

If you could collaborate with any musician, dead or alive, who it be and why? 

This is a toughie. I think I would have to pick Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! That band taught me a lot about being a human when I was 14 and discovered "Reinventing Axl Rose" at Ear-X-Tacy (a local record store in Louisville KY. Fun fact: It's now a Panera Bread). The Do It Yourself attitude is something that that particular album really instilled in me and my friends at a young age and to this day is still an important part of my life. That album inspired me to tour at an early age with my best friend in a band called Eat This McKinley, which was heavily influenced by Against Me. Against Me has always felt like a constant in my life and "Reinventing" is a grounding force for me and reminds me of my roots. You can also just feel the passion bleed through on that record. It's pretty incredible. I saw them recently and they played a lot of songs from that record and it was a big push for me to start playing music again.

 

As an artist, what’s on your long-term bucket list?

I think I would completely lose it if one of my songs was used in a Scorsese film. I could probably die a happy man if that ever happens. To me, he is the master of using music to create an interesting atmosphere. I'm not saying he is the only director to do so, but he just seems to really care about music and it shows. Watch any of his movies, it's such a huge part of it. He also is my favorite director. If any big time directors want to use any of my songs, I would be beyond stoked. 

 

I would also be completely happy just packing a bar/house full of friends and strangers who sang along to every word and then I'd buy everyone a round of shots after. That seems fun. 

 

I also need to find a different shirt to play shows in because I've been playing in the same one.

What do you want listeners to take away from your music?

A really great friend of mine once wrote this in an insert for our band's (Eat This McKinley) first album and it always stuck with me: "Forgive us for any wrong notes or off tuning, but I guess that's what music is all about: purpose, meaning, and emotion comes first. Hopefully skill will come later. Go out and start a band. Play the music you wanna play and don't worry if you think you're horrible. Don't let skill get in your way, write with everything you got and go play your fuckin' heart out" 

 

I'm paraphrasing a bit but that's the gist of it. It's not to say that you can just throw up a disclaimer before any show or album and be bad on purpose. You should respect stage time and studio time and give yourself a chance to grow and develop the skills you find important, or what you like to hear in songs you like. At the end of the day I just want to inspire people to make music that means more to them than to anyone else and that it's okay for any art you make to have scars because that's whats going to stand out the most. I hope people take that away from my music. Most people probably just think I'm a sad bastard though, which I'm also fine with. 

What’s your favorite concert you’ve been to?

I just recently went to my favorite concert I've ever been to! It was Mimicking Birds and Modest Mouse at Pappy and Harriets in Pioneertown, CA. Modest Mouse played a 105 minute set including the song "Broke" which I didn't think they'd play. It's probably one of my favorite songs ever written and I think it's almost 20 years old now which is crazy. If you ever get a chance to see a show at Pappy and Harriets, do it. It's a "wild west watering hole" under the stars in the mountains. It's gorgeous. 

Who are you listening to right now? 

Young Jesus is a Chicago based band I've been listening to a lot recently. Their album "Home" is probably in my top 5 favorite albums of all time. I really love it and can't seem to tire myself out from it. Everyone should check it out. It's on Spotify. They also just released a single called "G" after a two year hiatus, which is great. I heard they just moved to LA so hopefully they play a show soon. Everyone like them on facebook and tell them to play a show so I can see them!

CONNECT WITH CAMERON FIFE on Facebook

 

LIVE REVIEW: Soft Swells at The Echo 9/22/14

words and photos by : Shabnam Ferdowsi
IMG_2834 copy.jpg

LA-based Soft Swells played their last residency show at The Echo on Monday night 9/22. I'd personally never been to the venue for their renown free monday nights so I had no idea what to expect. 

I got there at 10pm sharp, and already the place was packed: friends hanging in the bar area, couples lounging near the dance floor and solo music-lovers who you could tell where frequent concert-goers. It was that Echo Park vibe that I love and we all know well. 

Soft Swells played what I decided was a dreamy, grooving rock show. I think the sound guys could have checked it better, because the drum levels were a little too overpowering for my taste, but for the live show it only added to the swaying, foot-tapping atmosphere. 

My favorites were obviously "Lifeboats" off their last EP and "Floodlights" off their new album out September 30th (and I say obviously because those are probably their most publicized tracks).

Their month-long tour starts today, so make sure to check them out if you can!

CONNECT WITH SOFT SWELLS

Facebook / Webstie

NEW MUSIC: A.F. Paxton- Our Way

A.F. Paxton just released "Our Way" last week with NY-based Go Rogue Records. The track is part of the label's Young Blood album out today, which is a compilation of edgy electronic pop tracks. 

"Our Way"'s blend of acoustic instruments and digital production creates an extremely cool, dreamy feel.  It's the perfect track to end summer with. My favorite verse has to  be "Nothing can get in our way", the epitome of endless possibilities and a the feels of an unpredictable future. 

Take a listen here!

Local Spotlight: Soft Swells

"Sun drenched indie rock in the vein of classic songwriters with modern sounds."
- Soft Swells

What has been the best part about your residency at The Echo?

Besides getting to hang with our new friends Fenech-Soler every week I really have loved playing all these new songs. It's been great fun discovering what will work live and what won't. Christopher Pappas, Kyle Fredrickson, Jack Lawless and I have really tried to keep our set uptempo and high energy. It's also been rad to see what people who liked the debut record think of the new record - as it's so different.

What’s one thing you want your fans to take away from your music, specially the new album?

I want both new fans and old fans to take away a sense of hope from Floodlights. A lot of the record is about the journey we all go through in life and the perspective we choose to give it.

As a band, what’s on your bucket list?

As a newish band we would really love to play venues we grew up loving like 9:30 club in DC, Newport Music Hall in Columbus (where I went to HS) and The Wiltern here in LA. We would also love to tour Japan and the UK next year - fingers crossed on those two!!!

What are you looking for in your upcoming tour?

We are really looking forward to exposing a lot of new people to our band, our new record Floodlights, and winning new fans over one by one every night. We have all toured and played in other bands before and know that as people consume and dispose of new music quickly it's important to make a one on one genuine connection with everyone we meet. (and we will do just that!)


Soft Swells is playing their last LA residency show at the Echo on Monday 9/22, you won't want to miss them before they head out on tour!

 

CONNECT WITH SOFT SWELLS

Facebook / Webstie

NEW FIND FRIDAY: Dust & Chrome- Money in the Bank

Dust & Chrome is an LA-based project of Brooklyn native Willie Nedrow. Their track "Money in the Bank", mastered  by Brian Lucey (the Black Keys/Chet Faker/Hanni El Khatib), is a tight blend of traditional songwriting and electronic and analog production styles. There's the folk we all love and the beats we can all groove to. He's got a super fun thing going on here, and I'll be looking forward to more!

Listen here and let us know what you think!

CONNECT WITH DUST AND CHROME

Facebook / Twitter

CONCERT: Young Creatures @ The Satellite 9/3

by Shabnam Ferdowsi

Last night Young Creatures had a last minute show at the Satellite, and because I'd missed them at the Viper Room last week (and because I'd been wanting to hit up the Satellite forever) I made sure to come out and support!

Brave Native and Fire in the Hamptons opened, both delivering a cool, synth-rock energy that had the crowd pumped and dancing. It was a decent, chill crowd for a Wednesday, I'd say. It wasn't packed, but the bands were local and brought out a good, friendly vibe with their crowd. 

Young Creature's live performance was a perfect way to end the night. I decided I'm calling their music groovy, funk-rock with a good dose of dreamy sway-ability. Their was energy and although the crowd had mellowed down, the band got a sweet response after every song.

Take a listen to their newest track, "Lionheart", released on Tuesday!

CONNECT WITH YOUNG CREATURES

Facebook // Twitter

Artist Spotlight: Bats in The Belfree

"Our music is a mix of chill surf vibe and driving complex progressive rock, often distorted, with some pop influenced melodic sequences and an easy to listen and dance to rhythm."

Who: Christian Von Hamm, Riley Sieverts, Kimo Carpenter

Current Location: Los Angeles, CA

How did you come up with the band name?

We we're going through a period of time where we were a gigging band with a set list of originals and a name that would change every other gig. We figured this probably wasn't a good idea if we're trying to establish ourselves and gain a consistent following. One of us just learned about the phrase "bats in the belfry" which means crazy. We all figured that was the perfect description of what we are, so it stuck as a band name.Then for some reason we decided to change the spelling to "Belfree".

Who and what has influenced your music the most?

We gain influence from many different things in everyday life. The constant struggle of surviving in a dog eat dog, money driven society, fuels us to create music for ourselves and others to comfort and inspire. We take bits and pieces of the beauty of Mother Nature, surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, love, relationships, and more. Musically we're inspired by all types of music and heavily influenced by artists such as Bob Marley, Nirvana, Rush, Black Sabbath, Blink 182, Coheed And Cambria, The Police, Groundation, and many more. 

If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?

If we could collaborate with any musician dead or alive it would probably be Bob Marley. He was just a brilliant songwriter with such a strong impact in all of our lives. It would be really cool to see what kind of music we could create with the reggae and rock collaboration. 

As a band, what's on your bucket list?

We want to be playing on the biggest stages and festivals in the world, touring and spreading our music and message to as many people as possible.

CONNECT WITH BATS IN THE BELFREE

Website // Facebook // iTunes

Artist Spotlight: The Moderates

Who: Josh Taylor (guitar, lead vocals), Wes Mathison (bass) and Garret Huff (drums)

Where: Long Beach, CA

In One Sentence: "We're an alternative, indie-rock band who is seeking to be the best that we can be; push ourselves, captivate people and make a difference."

How they met

Wes: " I knew Josh in 3rd grade, when we first met. And we just hung out by default because our parents were friends and we were both homeschooled. We just grew up playing music together. And once we got into high school, I met Garrett on the wrestling team and just hit it off right off the bat. [...] I went to his house one day; he had a drum set and I was like, "I have a guitar we should jam!" So we started jamming together, and then we brought Josh into the mix. Then we got that great idea and went, "Let's start a band."

Musical Influences

Garrett: "We listen to all kinds of different things, and when we come together  [...] we put all of our musical influences together into one moderate sound."

Dream Collaborations

Josh: Jon Foreman of Switchfoot. 

Wes: Victor Wooten.

Garrett:  Taylor Hawking of the Foo Fighters.

Dream Venue

Red Rocks in Colorado. "Outdoor, completely natural, [...] carved out of the rock."

Bucket List

Josh: "I say Solar System Tour. Let's play on Mars" 

But in all seriousness, the guys would love to go on a  World Tour. 

CONNECT WITH THE MODERATES

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Soundcloud