Sunday, September 14, 2014

WE ARE THE WEST

We Are the West: EP series. Wondrous when recorded. Unforgettable when live. 
Review: Many people don't know what to make of the band We Are the West. WATW is three people: John Kibler on vocals and bass, Brett Hool vocals and guitar, and Elizabeth Goodfellow on drums and backup harmonies. They add other people for their  shows and recordings and somehow manage to sound like an entire orchestra. the music they play is unclassifiable, although for lack of a better term, I call it gentle rock. It is laden with harmonies, intricate solos - including drum solos - bell-like guitar riffs, and swirling sounds from a bass, flute, keyboard and out of this world voices.

Not only is their music delightfully unclassifiable, but so is their selection of venues. In addition to clubs and festivals, they play it in storm drains, shipping containers, sheep farms, abandoned convents, and a underground parking garage in Southern California in secret concerts tied to the full moon. Regardless of where they play, parking garage or recording studio, everything they play is superb. And We Are the West is unorthodox about their recordings. Instead of a titled EP or album they can promote in the usual ways, they have produced a series of EPs - 4 when the series is complete - entitled We Are the West, I (White), II (Red), III (Brown). And when it is ready, We Are the West, IV. will emerge from the studio, presumably with its own color.


Each EP is a work of art and the series shows the growth ad evolution of the band over time. The first and second Ep's each hold three songs ranging in length from 3 minutes to 7 minutes long, each with Brett's near operatic voice (which sounds eerily like Neil Young at times) gliding long through soft bass lines, gentle guitar riffs and building drums. if you close your eyes while you listen to the three songs on We Are the West I (White) , "A New Haven", or "Good Luck (and all that stuff)', or "Groen Hart", in your mind's eye you can see yourself as a child on summer day gliding down a country stream in a canoe with sunlight filtering through the tree branches and dragon flies darting just out of reach. it is like cotton candy for the ears, but in a very, very good way.


We Are the West II (Red) gets a bit more mysterious, a bit more of a swim into your dreams. With more intricate drumming and bass lines twining with the Brett's flowing guitar notes and female-voice harmonies sliding into echo, you begin to leave the summer day for the full moon "The Hammer" starts this voyage into an intriguing and unthreatening musical mystery tour, then reaches altitude and glides in "Cauliflower Ears" as Brett's guitar carries the song and his ethereal vocals. The final song, "JV tryouts" fills out with a muted brush snare drum and gently picked guitar interlocking with John's bowed bass fiddle - gentle, dreamy, unforgettable.

We Are the West III (Brown) moves into new territory. It consists of one very long song. "The Trilogy" which moves adroitly from smooth harmonies in a high key to deep bas rhythms accented with brush snare drums stokes and a dark story told almost rap style by Breet. The eleven minute aural triptych features arrangements by the extended family of musicians that has grown up around the duo's monthly underground parking garage concert series. The effect is a combination of Bob Dylan, talking blues, and a smoky jazz club. Such Fun!


The EP series is a necessity for anyone who loves rock and wants to enjoy it outer corners. We Are the West's recordings are rock's wondrous outer corners, but their live music is dead center in the heart of rock and pop and what is happening today. Part of that comes from addition of Elizabeth Goodfellow, an extraordinary drummer with talent approaching that of drummer Diva Sherrie Maricle, Chicago's Danny Seraphine, Wild Flag's Janet Weiss or Miles Davis's snares, toms and high-hats is brilliant, plus she sings back up vocal harmonies and does it all barefoot in clothes from her own line. beth had added an energy and a buildup to the band's already diverse and lyrical tunes, that transforms them to what I think should be big stages as well as parking garages.

Collect the EP's:  Go to their live shows because there is simply nothing like We Are the West.
We Are the West EP series is available on iTunes and Bandcamp.


To hear and learn more about We Are the West go to:
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We Are the West
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LA. Correspondent
Patrick O' Heffernan

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Rachel Potter & The VoicePlay

Country - pop beltress Rachel Potter joins forces with internationally acclaimed  a capella group VoicePlay for a fresh cover of Sia's smash hit, "Chandelier." Both Potter and VoicePlay became a household names on the television shows The X Factor and The Sing Off , respectively. Potter has also appeared on  Broadway, starring in Evita and The Adams Family, as well as the national tour of Wicked.


Potter's musical style is colored by an electric mix of influences including her Southern upbringing, her rock - and roller parents, her Baptist church, classical training and singing as princesses at Walt Disney World. Her debut EP, Live the Dream, was released in 2012, boasting flavors of country, pop and rock. Fellow Evita cast members, including Michael Cerveris and Ricky Martin made cameos in her music video for the title track, and Potter went on to become a finalist on season three of The X Factor, earning praise for her rendition of Queen's Somebody to Love." which has now reached over 16 million views on YouTube.

Potter is currently putting the finishing touches on her full length album, Not So Black And White, due out this winter.

Pre-oder her new album "Not So Black and White" HERE


To hear and learn more abut Rachel Potter & The Voiceplay go to:
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Myke Terry

After gaining international attention as the lead singer of successful, Boston based metal outfit Bury Your Head, Myke Terry is ready to unveil his new revolutionized aesthetic. On his debut solo LP, Red Handed, Terry mines the classic soul sounds of his youth while bringing an updated, contemporary artistic mindset.

The singer's sleek transformation strikes from the outset of his recent covers of Nirvana's "Come As You Are" which he manages to make entirely his own outside of the lyrics. Terry's re- working of the grunge rock staple is an appropriate introduction of what to expect when Red Handed drops later in November.

Myke Terry was raised in Richmond, VA and grew up listening to the pop icons of the 80's and 90's.  Billy Idol, ZZTop, Prince and Michael Jackson bumped in his teenage ears.  His mother sang in the church choir while his father played drums in his spare time, filling Terry's childhood with music from all eras. Influences from artists such as James Brown are reflected in Terry's current music. Terry picked up his first guitar at age 13 when his parents grounded him for the summer, leaving him with nothing but a guitar and toy radio. By the fall, Terry was a musician. In high school, Terry played guitar for hardcore bands touring the east coast - doing weekend gigs and getting back just in time for class on Mondays.  


In 2013 Terry moved to LA, motivated by the need to live a healthier and more focused life.  He teamed up with producer/manager Jay Levine (Break) who has been working with Terry to re-brand and re-focus his talents on music that truly express his voice as a solo artist.  

The new release serves a s a bold new step for Terry with a re-focus mindset leading  to a collection of tracks that blends classic 70's funk alongside subtle sleek electronic beats. His new, mature approach comes coupled with singer's unique life experience leading to the EP's natural emotional depth. 

Comes As You Are is out now and available HERE 


To Hear and learn more about about Myke Terry go to:
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Myke Terry
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Keeton Coffman

Keeton Coffman is at his core, a songwriter. Evoking the melodic styles and passionate lyricism of Amos Lee, David Gray, and Bruce Springsteen, Coffman's songs capture your imagination while weaving a melody into your very soul. "The Ghost"." released this month, marks Keeton Coffman's first contribution as a solo artist. "The Letter" and "The Hunted & The Hunter", to the beautiful "The Ghost" and "The Magician", this 6 song collection overflows with stories of beauty and deception, faithfulness and loss, trepidation and fearlessness. Crafted within the walls of Tight Sound Studios in Huston TX, Keeton and long time friend and producer, Jay Snider shaped "The Ghost" on the heels of Coffman's former band (The 71's) dissolving abruptly, and with great devastation to Keeton.

"The Ghost" is not only the soundtrack to Keeton rebuilding as a musician, but as a human. Keeton Coffman truly shines during his performance with his lighthearted, personable approach and a gift for intimately connecting with his audience to make them fell at home. We caught up with Keeton this week from his hometown of Houston, TX to chat about the making of his new EP.

R. Nice catching up with you Keeton. I wanted to ask you straight of the bat with the track "The Hunted & The Hunter"what is the message behind the title and lyrics? Does this have anything to do with the break up? Who is the Hunted? and who is the Hunter?
KC.This song is a bit interesting to explain, and there are times when i tell the story behind it and I feel like it takes away from the beauty of the tune....but here goes. I kind of see God like storm on a mountain. And I'm the guy at the bottom of the cliff. For very obvious reasons the storm seems terrifying, and unapproachable. But, whether it's curiosity or hope or whatever, the character in this song decides to scale the mountain to get a better look at the storm. When he gets closer, it rains on him. The storm, both powerful and terrifying was also good - this kind of describes the relationship i have with God

R. Since the release of your last EP "Stumple on Love" back in 2013, what's different about this new one? walks us through the music arrangement, production and over-all feelings you had in making "The Ghost".
KC. Haha... well Stumble On Love was me making music in a 10x10 studio room I have.  I played all the instruments with the exception of some drum tracks, spent very little time or money on it... I just liked the songs and wanted my friends to hear it.  It's pretty rough around the edges, but I am proud of the tunes.

The Ghost was a the product of working with my friend/producer/drummer Jay Snider. He really polished the thing up and pushed me to have some pretty special performances on that EP. We had fun making it and I can't wait to do another set of tunes with him again.

R. How did you become involved in the type of music you play/sing now?
KC. don't really see my music as a "type"... at least I'm not aiming it any one direction. As I try to be the best songwriter I can be, that's just what the music sounds like.

R. If you had to describe your music in three or four words. What would you call it?
KC. Oh I don't think I can do that :)  



R. Do you have your own favorite type of music and is it any different from what you play now?
KC. Oh I like so much different music, but I wouldn't say I have a sophisticated taste. If it's a good song, I can really dig it. Lately I've also been listening to Miles Davis a lot, which is kind of new for me. Still, Springsteen is my favorite.

R. The latest track "The Ghost" is hauntingly quiet and beautiful. Are you the Ghost?
KC. No the ghost represents people who leave us through death, or a broken relationship, and the way that they, for good or bad, live in the things around us.

Last but not least...

R. If you had only five minutes on earth to perform one song that could leave a great impact on the world today, what song would you perform and why did you choose this particular piece?
KC. Stand By Me by Sam Cooke, because I love it so much. 

The Ghost is available HERE


Upcoming Shows
09/13 YES, INDEED! Music Festival - Houston, TX
09/18 House of Blues - Houston, TX
09/29 Northgate Country Club - Houston, TX
10/17 Dan Electro's Guitar Bar - Houston, TX
10/25 Envy White Room - Spring, TX 

To hear and learn more about Keeton Coffman go to:
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Keeton Coffman
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facebook.com/keetoncoffmanmusic

Hard Soul

Ever since their formation in 2011, Hard Soul has been relentlessly gigging and recording new music, including 2012′s ‘Love Eats the Young’ and 2013′s ‘Seize the Year’. So it was almost appropriate that Hard Soul frontman Johnny Salka began to write the songs that would eventually appear on the first full-length album ‘Heart of Plaster’, out April 8th, 2014, while the band was on their last touring cycle of 2013. The 10 track-effort, produced by Salka and Steven Goldman at Four Legs Records, paints a picture of life out on the road, the heartbreak & sacrifice of leaving everything behind, and the search for a place to call home, all set to a mighty back-beat with heartfelt lyrics soaring over a classic-rock inspired soundscape. The songs on ‘Heart of Plaster’, including the first single “Just Be Love”, bring to mind a combination of The Beatles, Thin Lizzy and Oasis, infused with a modern flare for a new generation of rock n roll.

Hard Soul has released their brand new music for "Never Be", the second dingle from their debut EP "Heart of Plaster", which dropped earlier this year. The words "Never Be" came to Hard Soul frontman and songwriter Johnny Salka outside of the Stony Brook Train station on Long Island during a pit stop on the band's 2013 summer tour. After the tour concluded, Salka began the demo process for the songs that would appear on their 'Heart of Plaster' album, where the song went through a series of variations before the band finally entered the studio in the winter of 2013. 


"There was a moment of solitude in the van during the normally privacy-free tour environment where I found myself documenting some of the previous days shows" said Salka "and from there the lyrics just fell onto the page".

The video features an -up-close and personal view of the band walking the streets of their hometown of Albany, N.Y., set to the infectious beast that drives the track from start to finish. Stumbling across an unexpected surprise, the boys find that chasing the one thing they want proves to be more difficult than anticipated. The video was co-directed by Marcy Dwyer and produced by Salka, both who were behind Hard Soul's previous video and single "Just be Love." R360 caught up with frontman Johnny Salka from Albany to chat about all things "Hard Soul".

R. What type of band are you?

HS. I shy away from categorizing us because we hate getting pigeon-holed, but if I had to describe us I guess we're somewhere between vintage rock n' roll and hard rock. We merge fat riffs infused with pop sensibilities to craft some infectious tunes. It's all about the lyrics and the music, and the emotion behind them. Plus some pretty tasty guitar and vocal harmonies.

R. Tell us the brief history of your band?
HS. Back in 2011 I was playing in a metal band that had been slogging it out in the club scene for about 6 years or so. We had run our natural course; I was feeling really stiffled / bored with playing 100mph all the time. So we eventually called it a day and I took some time off to explore some other songs I had been messing around with on acoustic guitar. After a few months or so I finally felt the itch to start performing live again, so I booked a couple coffee house shows to test out the material. It reinvigorated me to start something new, so I went and tracked our first EP 'Love Eats the Young' on my own with the intent of putting together a band after it was complete. Bit by bit we added members, started playing bigger clubs, tracked another EP 'Seize the Year', embarking on larger and more ambitious tours which snowballed into some really big shows, all within less than three years. We're currently gigging in support of our new album 'Heart of Plaster' which we're all immensely proud of.

R. Who writes the songs, what are they about?
HS. I write the songs off on my own, tracking demos in my home studio, after which I bring them into the rest of the guys to check out. Each of them puts their unique stamp on their parts when we rehearse them and eventually go into the studio to record. My goal was always to write good, catchy tunes that had something to say. Most of the tracks come from personal experiences and have some sort of story-telling element to them. It all really depends on what's inspiring me at that particular moment, though. The last record's lyrics were written almost entirely on tour last year; we had a lot of free time on the road between cities and much of those lonely hours' thoughts ended up in the pages of my lyric notebook. Each track was inspired by a bit of heartache, life on the road, and my search for something I couldn't ever catch hold of. Lyrics are incredibly important to me, and I spend a lot of time on them to make sure they aren't cliché or filler.

R. Describe your show, visually and musically.
HS. Dynamic. Each record has songs that really criss-cross the musical spectrum, so we try and hit all the different sides of our sound, from the cranked up rockers to the quieter acoustic tunes. Lots of guitars, basically. I've got a personal motto for when we hit the road, though: KISS – No, not the band. “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. We're a rock n' roll band, so what more do we need than a bunch of amplifiers, a couple microphones and a big drum-set? However, I will admit my addiction to guitar pedals. You can never have enough of those.



R. New video and new track. "What's new or different in this recording"?
HS. The new video is “Never Be” which is the second single off 'Heart of Plaster'. In some ways it's a departure from our usual sound because it's the first track to feature a drum machine and is a little more traditional pop-oriented than some of the other songs on the album. It almost has a dance beat to it, but it still maintains that rock groove that's really prevalent in the heavier tracks.



R. Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
HS. When I was a kid my mom always had music playing, a lot of it classic rock. It exposed me to a lot of different bands, but I think you can pinpoint the day I discovered The Beatles as the genesis of my musical awakening. I'd lay awake in bed at night with a big pair of headphones over my ears with their songs on repeat. I became completely obsessed with their songs; the way the vocal harmonies & words mixed together was just mind-blowing to me. They were my first “band” I got into and what made me so aware of the beauty of music and how it can so strongly affect the way we feel. All these years later I still find myself inspired by the Paul McCartney and John Lennon work ethic when it comes to writing songs.

Phil Lynott & Thin Lizzy were, and still are, massive influences on me, too. As a young kid I absolutely loathed poetry. But the first time I really began to understand the beauty of words set to music in such a poetic way was when I heard the 'Jailbreak' album. That working-class Irish swagger coupled with truly poignant words that paint beautiful tales. Add in the harmony guitar lines and I was pretty much hooked. If I become half the lyricist and songwriter that Lynott was one day I could die happy.

Lastly, I'm a massive Oasis fan. Say what you will about Noel Gallagher, but the guy is a songwriting genius. Huge influence on my guitar playing and songwriting. Oasis were a band that never gave a shit about what anyone else was doing, and they ruled the world by doing exactly what they wanted and playing the music they wanted to play. I'm still holding out for that reunion tour, too...

Last but not least...

R, Tell us about your next shows ad why we should be there...
HS. I've just returned from an acoustic tour last month that ran through the end of August. Our next batch of shows kicks off Friday in Lake George, NY where we'll be opening Fastball at King Neptune's before heading back out on the road around the northeastern US again. 

Both the single Never Be and the LP Heart of Plaster is out now and available HERE

Upcoming shows
09/19 Desmond Tavern - New York, NY
09/20 Connie's Ric Rac - Philadelphia, PA
10/04 The News Cafe - Pawtucket, RI

To hear and learn more about Hard Soul go to:
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Hard Soul
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facebook.com/TheHardSoul

Monday, September 1, 2014

Juliette Ashby

Juliette Ashby at the Hotel Cafè. The beginning of a love affair with America.
Review: Juliette Ashby was in constant motion. Her hands, her arms, her body all swayed and circled and pointed and touched as she sang, hypnotizing us, drawing us in, capturing us in the heart inside her bare chest. Tall, beautiful and confident, yet down-to-earth, Ashby took the stage Friday night at the Hotel Café in Hollywood and looked over the packed room with a smile of satisfaction and greeting.  Statuesque in skin tight black toreador pants and a lime green silk sleeveless blouse open down to her silver belt buckle, seemingly without make up, she radiated not so much sensuality as openness and honesty. The songs she gave us were exactly that - open and honest, and they proved beyond a doubt that she is one of the most talented entertainers on either side of the Atlantic.

Ashby is known as a neo-soul, R&B singer-songwriter, but she is so much more. With a high-pitched, almost Jamaican voice  that ranges from reggae to soul and R&B, she is simply in a universe by herself. There is no one like her. When she left the stage Friday night, it was an end of a nine-song set, but the beginning of a transatlantic love affair with her 
new California fans.

She and her guitarist opened with a stripped down rendition of  “Grow Like a Seed”, weaving its complex lines and rhythms together like a trance dance, without benefit of the strong calypso band and effects of the recorded version.  Just her, and we loved it. She shifted gears to “Make it or Not”, a free download on her website, leaning forward and touching her heart as if she were singing to you, personally, even though the words say “I do this for me."



She followed with the gentle “Home” and then the  heart wrenching “Hoping”, about her friend Amy Winehouse, pulling the tears out of us with the lines I'm trying to look back to where it went wrong years ago/When I look back it's plain to see that/There were other people pushing you down this road. She introduced “Home” with a short story of Winehouse, deepening her relationship with the audience as if, for tonight, we were family.


She moved on and joked with the audience about the relationships that inhabit some of her songs, like “Waiting”, which many in the audience seemed to know, mouthing the refrain with her. She picked up the pace with “Not Trying to Get Over You” with its telling verse, is that I missed you madly/I miss you badly/That's why I'm not trying to get over you. 

As the set neared the end of the set, she gave the audience what they had been waiting for, her hit song “Over & Over”. As she sang Falling in love with you, yes I be falling love with you/And it be like over and over again, the audience did just that…fell in love with her all over again.The standing crowd was swaying as they watched her body weave and her hands trace invisible pattens in the air.

She wrapped the set with her trademark earworm “Take It Over”. But her take on that song Friday night was slowed down, more personal as she pointed to people in the audience,, emphasizing the “bang, bang, bang”, enunciating each syllable as if she was in a musical conversation – a change from the reggae beat of the recording.The effect was deep and personal.

Juliette Ashby’s recordings are on the top of my playlist (as well as on Billboard charts and radio stations in the UK), but seeing her live was a new experience.  Her videos and photographs project her beauty, but they don’t reveal the beautiful person who stood in the hard light of the Hotel Café stage and handed us her heart. Juliette Ashby started a mutual love affair with America Friday night and I can only hope it grows with many more visits.

Her new EP "Take it Over" is out now available HERE


To hear and learn more about Juliette Ashby go to:
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LA. Correspondent
Patrick O'Heffernan


Sunday, August 31, 2014

NANA

Born in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, Nana moved to New York City at the age of six with her family. Her mother was a classical pianist. Nana began training as a classical pianist herself at age four, going on to perform recitals, attended the Lucy Moses School, and won full scholarships to both Mannes School of Music and Manhattan School of Music.

As a teenager, Nana moved away from the recital scene, becoming more enticed with DJ culture and the costumes and choreography of the 90's and early 2000's. She attended Burning Man several times, through which she developed an appreciation to connect with people on an intimate level in mass medium. She cites New York;s LGBT community and club scene as a significant artistic influence: "it was really the gay community that made me who I am - without them, I wouldn't have the courage and creativity that I have today. "Influenced by iconic singers like Janis Joplin and Billy Holiday, as well as by DJs such as Junior Vasquez, Jonathan Peters and Danny Tengilia, Nana began composing her own music, combining soul and modern dance beats.

Today, Nan is a well-rounded musician who aims to spread her vision of empowerment and the importance of creative self-expression through song. She recently collaborated with Grammy nominated producer Kyle Kelso on "Blessed Life", which she plans to release as part of her debut EP later this year.

Blessed Life is out now and available HERE


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