Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tumbleweed Wanderers

Release: Americana/rock group Tumbleweed Wanderers release “Bad Blood,” the first single from their forthcoming sophomore album, Realize, due out June 9, 2015. After recording Realize at Panoramic Studios in Stinson Beach (My Morning Jacket, Band of Horses), the band spent months meticulously overdubbing at a mansion in San Francisco that was turned into a home studio. They then drove to Chicago to mix the record with Brian Deck (Iron & Wine, Modest Mouse). No strangers to legendary producers, the group have previously collaborated with John Vanderslice at Tiny Telephone Studio on their debut album So Long.

Oakland, CA-based Tumbleweed Wanderers have escalated from busking to headlining Bay Area venues and attracting fans with a sound reminiscent of  Wilco, Jack White, Delta Spirit and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Based on a shared desire to be in a touring band and use music as a vehicle to meet people and travel the country, Patrick Glynn (piano, organ, synthesizers), Rob Fidel (vocals, guitar, banjo), Jeremy Lyon (vocals, guitar) and  Greg Fleischut (vocals, bass, guitar) spent the first year as a band building a local following in the Bay Area, busking outside of shows and playing cafes, bars and clubs. Together they released their debut album, So Long (2012) and three self-produced EPs, Tumbleweed Wanderers, Library Sessions and Worn Down Welcome. Over the past two years, Tumbleweed Wanderers have toured the country extensively, made appearances at a multitude of festivals and completed their sophomore full-length, Realize.



Tumbleweed Wanderers have come a long way in four years, from sharing the stage with Angus Stone on a North American tour, supporting Greensky Bluegrass, Moon Taxi and The Revivalists, among others, on national tours to opening for Jackie Greene & the Mother Hips at The Fox in Oakland. Additionally, the group have left impressions at several notable festivals including Outsidelands, Hangout, Shaky Knees and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass and have sold-out San Francisco’s legendary venues like The Independent and Great American Music Hall.

Bad Blood is out now available HERE


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Toby Lightman

Quintessential New Yorker Toby Lightman wows LA at the Hote Café
Review: Quintessential New York singer-songwriter Toby Lightman held a packed and adoring LA audience in the palm of her hand last  night at  Hollywood’s venerable Hotel Café with the ivory-sheened sophistication of her voice blended mystically with the anger and grit of the street.  Lighthouse’s 11-song set clearly demonstrated why she is loved by both fans and critics across the country. She thrilled a standing-room-only crowd with songs ranging from her earliest releases to the title song from her new album, Every Kind of People. The audience knew the words to many of them and were ecstatic at the opportunity to sing along as they watched a supernova move toward critical mass.
Toby Lightman first entered my musical attention last summer  when I heard  her singing at the end of a television show, adding an aching depth to the final scene.  I was blown away by her powerful, smooth voice that elongated with emotional pain and anger.  She had recently left Atlantic records and was stretching out as an independent. Her recently released  album, Every Kind of People, and her live performances are compelling evidence that the move was best for her and for music lovers across the country.  Of the 100 or so artists I interview or review every year, she is one of the three or four who have the elements of stardom – talent, presence, discipline and an uncanny ability to connect with an audience from the stage or through a CD or download.  Lightman’s songs are musical sorcery that put a spell on you – which is why the audience at the Hotel Café gave her a standing ovation and begged for more as she left the stage.
Opening up with “All this Silence” from the Holding a Heart album, Toby grabbed the crowd instantly with her ivory smooth voice and subtle, angry lyrics.  People were following her, mouthing the words: “I’m here Underwater holding a gun/Knowing it won’t go off”.  As she shifted mood to “My Sweet Song”, a perennial favorite that showcases her voice, she spun her spell into an ethereal atmosphere that shut out everything but her song and her radiant face, eyes squeezed shut.
The anger returned in spades with “Your Welcome”, a hard-hitting  pop blues tune she delivered with force and a bit of the southern voice that she can bring to bear when she wants to – her “alter ego”, she told me last year.  Backed up by her mates on keys/piano and electric guitar, she moved with power and grace on the stage, driving the music with her rhythm guitar and sheer vocal power – the ivory became a dangerous task.  It makes you understand as she reels out her story in verses and hooks her short move to Thailand early in her career to finding herself. As she told me in the interview last year, “ I am 5’1” so I am living out a lot of dreams in these songs.”
But the dreams have shifted. Her dreams have matured and widened in their scope, which was apparent  as she moved through the set, even laughing at herself when a guitar string broke – “I guess I was really angry with that one!”  We saw that the dreams have grown beyond personal tragedy and interior wrath as she lit up the stage with her smile and sang “Every kind of People”, the title song from her new album. The crowd knew every word and sang sotto voce with her, swaying as she took us through her life and reflected ours, shimmering in the spotlight in soft black jeans, a rust tank top and golden necklace that set off her brilliant blond hair, partially corralled under a battered fedora. The street grit is still there, but softened and nuanced in a stage presence that is glowing and beautiful but unpretentious…and very much ready for the big stage.

That glow became more intense as she stood thoughtful, holding but not playing her guitar, eyes closed as if she was far away and long ago singing the achingly beautiful “Bumps in the Road.” Other sounds ceased as she caressed the crowd with notes, welcoming them to travel  life’s road with her, with their special person.  “Bumps in the Road”, along with “Holding a Heart”  and the emotionally powerhouse “Slowly”, which followed,  illuminate the mature, confident rising star, the woman who knows who she is and understands her hold over audiences.  Part of that confidence comes from her skill in placing songs in television and film and commercials, so vital in today’s music world. She has been licensing her music to entertainment  since 2005 including television shows like Brothers and Sisters, Dirty Sexy Money, Bones, One Tree Hill and films including PS,  Love You, Revenge of the Bridesmaids and Uptown Girls.
For me, the highlight of the evening was “Holding a Heart”, my favorite Toby Lightman song, next to the hard rock blues “Long, Hard Day”, which she did on commission for a television program.  But as luminous as “Heart” was, she shined even brighter in “Everyday“ from 2004,  leading the entire room in the chorus, “But I‘ll see better when the smoke clears/When the smoke clears inside my head/And I can listen when the screaming doesn’t repeat every word I said.”  Lightman wrapped the show with the uptempo “Let’s Go” from 2008 and finished with “Devils and Angels” from her 2004 Little Things debut album, which made the Billboard Top 100 in its first week.
Toby Lightman is a star who has been burning brightly for a decade.  With the release of Every Kind of People, she is ready to go supernova.  Her current tour is pulling fans from coast to coast into her orbit.  With her move to independence, she is now free, as she sings in “Everyday”, Of this desire to be what others want me to be/Which is nothing like me. What is like her is headlining a tour, bringing ivory and anger to audiences that are hungry for her kind of magical connection.
Every Kind of People is out now and available HERE


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LA. Correspondent
Patrick O'Heffernan

@Music FridayLive! 

Monday, March 30, 2015

Meghann Wright


Release: Brooklyn-based blues-rocker, Meghann Wright, releases the first single “Diamonds Blaze” from her first full-length album, slated for a July release on BlackTop Records (Wheatus, Jonah Matranga). The drop of this brand new song comes on the heels of a powerful 2015 SXSW performance where Wright shared the stage with Ryan Cabrera and Secondhand Serenade. In addition, Wright is gearing up for a Spring support tour with rising rockers LIONIZE and The Delta Saints kicking off April 8th, and will be playing Warped Tour from June 19th through August 8th.

Hailing from Makaha, Hawaii, Wright’s blues rock-style draws influence from multiple genres. Wright is also the founder of The City & The Heart, one of New York’s top advocacy organizations supporting independent female artists. Her activism has been a major focus since 2012. Wright has hosted showcases that raised money for women’s shelters and she’s also produced a compilation album of Brooklyn-based female singer-songwriters, which was engineered by Will Hensley (Regina Spektor, Coldplay). Bitch Magazine declares, “She's a snarky, smart, catchy songwriter, and she's got a point to make.”


Throughout the tour, Wright will pay homage to select cities where she is performing by releasing cover songs from local artists. Be sure to keep an eye out for Wright who has Flavorpill raving, “Her voice is versatile and so intriguing…Meghann really has a way of weaving it all together and making it her own.” Check out Meghann Wright’s website for tour dates, and connect on social media to stay updated on what’s next!

Diamonds Blaze is out now and available HERE


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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ryan Hobler


Release: New York Americana Noir singer-songwriter Ryan Hobler releases new album, The Elusive Yes, which came out January 20th. Produced by Andy Baldwin (Bjork, Saint Lucia, Wakey! Wakey!), the album has been released one single at a time over the course of 2014, resulting in features on taste-maker sites including American Songwriter, Acoustic Guitar Magazine, and Daytrotter.

Having played in and around his native New York for nearly two decades, Hobler combines influences from such folk-rock heroes as Paul Simon, Elliot Smith, and Nick Drake into a refined sound set apart by its surprising arrangements, “warm and rich” (Songwriting Magazine) vocal harmonies, and transporting lyrics. With themes ranging from intimate personal stories to surreal allegorical explorations, Hobler’s music reaches a level of “maturity rarely seen these days” (Elmore) that is balanced by the layered soundscapes he creates in his time off from his job as a recording engineer.


Stay tuned as Hobler continues to build support for The Elusive Yes with further releases and live performances this spring and summer.

The Elusive Yes is out now and available HERE


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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Austin Kolbe


Release: Austin Kolbe is a 20-year-old self-taught singer/songwriter and musician. He knew from a very young age that writing and performing music was what he wanted to do. Although trumpet and trombone were the first instruments he learned, he has since taught himself to play and chart guitar, bass, drums and piano, as well. His musical influences are wide-ranging, but when asked to name the musician most influential, he immediately singles out Prince. “I not only admire him musically, but it’s also the fact that he’s a well-respected musician. Listening to his music and interviews really made me want to become the best I can possibly be as a TRUE musician.”

Austin’s music always comes from a place of truth. A rocky upbringing, which at one point caused him to run away from home, play music on the street for money and live in hostels while figuring out how to survive, formed his viewpoint on the world. These experiences made him very independent, ultimately, rising above the chaos and graduating from music school. He writes about his truth in a captivating and emotional way and his growing fan base loves the honesty. “No matter what, everything I write comes from my experiences. There isn't one song I've written that isn’t true,” he states emphatically. Austin loved working with producer/engineer, Eric Lilavois, calling it “indescribable, ”adding, “he really understands me and made the experience so easy and so much fun.”

With the release of his single, Lips and a full album project in the works, he plans to tour everywhere with his band of close friends, build his fan base globally and continue to touch people with his music. It’s kind of what all new artists want to do, but Austin Kolbe has the vision and drives to make it happen.

Lips is currently out now and available HERE


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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Jessi Mechanic


Release: NYC-based indie pop artist Jessi Mechanic releases her EP Wandering in Roam alongside her third single “No Life At All.” Jessi held an EP release show was held New York City’s Bowery Electric on November 15th. Formed two years ago in 2012, Jessi Mechanic has been filling the New York City indie music scene with her powerful songwriting and emotive vocals ever since.

Audio Fuzz has raved about Jessi’s sound saying “this is the type of pop music the scene has been looking for; without the posturing, the embellishing, the ‘American Idol’ ideal of impress the audience with pyrotechnics. No, here is a very talented band writing beautiful melodies and top-notch, deep lyrics with a lead singer with a pure, beautiful voice.” Jessi also received glowing reviews about her recent EP release party at the Bowery Electric. Used York Citydescribed Jessi’s performance as “beautiful vocals singing beautiful lyrics, in a style that reminded me of a nice mix between Fiona Apple and Lana Del Rey.”

Having been compared to musical powerhouses like The Black Keys and Florence + The Machine, you won’t want to miss the latest single “No Life At All” from this NYC indie singer Jessi Mechanic!

Wandering In Roam is out now and available HERE


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Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Wrecking Crew

The Wrecking Crew:  without a doubt the best music documentary made to date.

Review: In the late forties and early 50’s, thousands of men who had returned home from World War II found that the Midwest farms and Southern towns and even the Texas oil patch could not support their families. So they headed to Southern California to work in the burgeoning aircraft industry, often with guitars and drum kits strapped on top of their cars. When they got there they found year-round sunshine, surfing, bikinis, an auto-obsessed culture and an attitude of openness and risk-taking. So when songs like Shake Rattle and Roll, Rocket 88 and Rock Around the Clock began breaking down the barriers against  the new rock music form, they embraced it, popularizing what was first called the “California Sound” and then simply, “rock and roll”. Unknowingly, they kicked off a musical revolution that spread around the world.  

At the center of that revolution was a group of twenty to thirty men - and one woman - who were the unknown and uncredited session musicians on thousands of the recordings from the 50’s to the 70’s – the birth years of rock and roll. In addition to playing the music on the 45’s and albums that bore the names of famous bands like the Monkees and the Beach Boys and Sonny and Cher, they sometimes taught those people how to play, even though they were teaching themselves because no one really knew how to play rock and roll.  The titular leader of this shifting group of musical geniuses was the brilliant and funny guitarist Tommy Tedesco who died in 1997.  


Eighteen years in the making, The Wrecking Crew features interviews with the band members, stars like Cher and Nancy Sinatra (whose hit “These Boots Were Made for Walking” was given its punchy baseline by Wrecking Crew bass player Carole Kaye) and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, plus music, music, music.  Watching  The Wrecking Crew is like listening to the soundtrack of America.



Few music fans realized that the people playing on the 45’s they bought (or their parents bought)  were often not the bands shown on the cover.  The Wrecking Crew were known to LA and New York and Nashville producers as being able to play anything – just show them the music – and make it sound like a hit.  Six years in a row in the 1960s and early 1970s, the Grammy for “Record of the Year” went to Wrecking Crew recordings.  More often than not during those years, as many as half of the top ten records of the year were recorded by the Wrecking Crew – and no one knew their names. And the film shows how they did it - often cutting three or four or five songs  - and sometimes an entire album – in a day, running from studio to studio laying down tracks live on tape from early morning to after midnight.


This remarkable film brings together archival footage, personal interviews with bands and producers done over several years, a round table discussion with the four key band members and many, many loving scenes with the legendary and irascible Tommy Tedesco to tell the story of the music form that came to dominate the world. The favorite songs of a generation are all here, presented by the people who made them, with the back stories like the admission by the Beatles producer that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was an attempt to better the music produced by the Wrecking Crew session musicians. 

Whether it was the backbeat, the baseline, the melody or the entire musical recording save for the vocals, the Wrecking Crew players created many of the #1 hits of the 1960s.  It didn’t matter if it was Nat “King” Cole, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, The Monkees, The Byrds or The Beach Boys, they brought the flair and musicianship that made the American “west coast sound”  and later just “rock”, a dominant cultural force around the world.  And the film captures that magic perfectly, giving us an intimate insight into the session musicians themselves, producers like Phil Spector, bands like the T-bones (created by the Wrecking Crew), and stars like Cher.  

                                                  

Denny Tedesco has not only given us what may become the most important musical history of our time, but a love letter to his dad, without whom we would not be dancing. The Wrecking Crew will make you laugh, cry and tap your feet; it is without a doubt, the best music documentary I have seen.


The film The Wrecking Crew, directed by his son Denny Tedesco,  is the story of his father and the musicians who brought the nation rock and roll. It opens in Los Angeles, Orange County, New York and other cities on March 13th.


THE WRECKING CREW Directed by Denny Tedesco, produced by Denny Tedesco, Suzie Greene Tedesco Running Time: 102 minutes. Rating: PG For language thematic elements and smoking images. Distributed by Magnolia Pictures
LA. Correspondent
Patrick O'Heffernan
@Music FridayLive!