Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Raveonettes

(New York) The Raveonettes share a new track this week entitled "Junko Ozawa" via Clash. “…This tune is dedicated to Junko Ozawa the great female game composer of such classics as Rolling Thunder, The Tower Of Druaga, etc…" says Sune Rose Wagner "I wanted to keep all the instrumentation in the 8-12 bit range, only using low bit synths and sounds. Even the guitars have been re-sampled and played on a synth…Cool, uptempo shit!…”

The track is the fourth release from the band's official RAVE-SOUND-OF-THE-MONTH playlist where the duo will continue to upload a freshly recorded track on the last Friday of every month until December. The 'anti-album' will feature a collection of new tracks that aren't bound by the constraints of the format. Join the RAVE-SOUND-OF-THE-MONTH and subscribe to the playlist here.

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Jessica Rotter

(Hollywood) Jessica Rotter launched her first album Friday night with a sky-high party and a “Purple Rain” tribute to the late  artist, formerly known as Prince.  The party, produced by BalconyTV’s Cindi Avnet atop the W Hollywood Hotel, was packed with friends, family and fans, all well warmed up in advance by the lively LA-based countryish-rock band, Bjorn, and the Sun. 

Flanked by her uniquely curated ensemble of musicians -- a mandolinist, a percussionist/rapper, three backup singers, a bass/slide guitarist, drummer, violinist, and cellist --  the TV actress/singer took the stage and without introduction opened with “Flying Off” from the new album Plains.  It took the noisily happy crowd a minute to quiet down, but once they did, Rotter’s magnificent voice and warm stage manner made the connection and they were hooked.  It wasn’t long before they were singing along.

She gave us 11 songs, most from the album but she threw in a couple of surprises and mashups – “because everybody loves mashups” she told us.  Songs ranged from the bass-led pop anthem “Pray for Rain”  to  the swirling sunshine of “Flowers in My Hair” and the incredibly poignant “Winter Sun”.  She also delighted the audience when she announced that one song was written when she discovered she was pregnant.  She wrapped  up with “Porch Song”, a folk ballad that delivered a stunning emotional payload.  But the crowd was not going to let her go and she easily acquiesced to the calls for an encore, bringing Bjorn and the Sun up on stage with her for a group sing of “Purple Rain” with the audience.
Plains will have no trouble standing out in the expanding universe of female-led albums. Rotter has an innovative and deft touch with arrangements – the mandolin and Irish drums mixing perfectly with rapping, cello notes and hot guitar riffs – and a voice that can shift smoothly from inspiring to seductive to melancholy.  Most of all, she has that unique ability to sing to you, whether it is from a stage or a CD or stream, her voice and lyrics get under your skin and talk to your DNA.  That is a gift that that will propel Jessica Rotter’s star high in the music firmament.

Get social with Jessica Rotter 

LA. Correspondent
Patrick O'Heffernan
@Music FridayLive! 

Danielle Prou

(New York) It isn’t often that a groundbreaking artist’s fans get to literally travel through life with her, but that’s the case with Danielle Prou. Fans of her highly personal yet instantly accessible music have watched her mature from an insightful thirteen-year-old prodigy into a young woman with a soul full of songs just waiting to be sung.

Hold a mirror up to the melting pot that is America and you may just Danielle Prou’s reflection in the glass. Her father is a fourth-generation American of Spanish heritage. Her mother is a refugee survivor of Cambodia’s sinister Killing Fields. Born in Australia and now living in Los Angeles, cross-cultural beauty glows bright in her face, much as the hopes and dreams of a young American emanate eloquently from her songs. She’s a one-woman embodiment of the multicultural reach for a shared destiny that is the American experience.

For Danielle, music is at the foundation of everything. As she puts it, “Music is the glue that holds the whole world together. I don’t know what life would be without it.” When she was younger, she pursued acting, and landed several gigs, but it soon became clear that music was her true passion.

When she was twelve, she began working with Shaun Royer, a vocal coach known for helping to launch the careers of young artists. It was at Royer’s urging that she began writing songs on guitar, and the piano (her chief songwriting instrument).

At thirteen, now strumming the ukulele, Prou released “Awkward”—a song that went straight to the heart of those early first-crush memories.

“I was struggling to write some new material,” Danielle remembers, “I told my dad and he gave me the premise of awkward​; ​I went upstairs, grabbed my ukulele and wrote all night. The song is about liking someone, and not being sure if they like you back. It's ​based on a real person, but I managed to keep it straightforward and lighthearted, so people other than just me could relate to it.”

Prou has kept on releasing honest, sincere and insightful songs ever since. Her consistently fresh creative output resulted in her first album, Songs About Stuff—a title that speaks less about simplicity than it does the creative worldview that began with “Awkward.”

“I write about things in my life, but I try to not make them so mundane that they wouldn’t be interesting for other people.”

In addition to releasing a steady stream of songs and videos, she’s developed into a showstopping performer featured on several tours. Fans all over the country, and in the United Kingdom, have gotten to know her and learn just how deeply her songs speak to them. She’s also worked with some big name producers, like Justin Gray (Mariah Carey, Joss Stone) and Brody Brown (Adele, Bruno Mars). But superstardom isn’t the goal for Prou.

The next milestone Prou’s fans will be celebrating is her upcoming EP, featuring her latest single “The Healer,” a haunting exploration of personal sadness, longing, and redemption. Built around a sultry vocal hook and swelling strings, “The Healer” captures the exceptional level of maturity this young songwriter has reached.

Danielle Prou has done a lot of growing since she first came on the scene at thirteen. It’ll be amazing to see just how far she grows.

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Enemy Planes

(Los Angeles) Comprised of former members of Solid Gold, G.A.Y.N.G.S., and Pictures of Then, the music of Minneapolis-based ENEMY PLANES drifts effortlessly between melancholy and menace, hypnotic and hysteric, heartache and euphoria. A stirring blend of haunting vocals, dense instrumentation, and driving beats yield a "tripnotic" sound that is distinctly their own. Conceived in 2012 somewhere between Minneapolis, MN and Lexington, KY, ENEMY PLANES came out hard and hasn’t looked back since, maintaining an ambitious recording and touring schedule.

ENEMY PLANES’ debut album, Beta Lowdown, is no small feat. The songs are deep, rich and intricate, twisting through a vast trove of knowledge and innovation to create a monolith on the contemporary aural landscape. The band’s passion and versatility are obvious as the record melts into existence with the opening track “Automatic Catatonic,” which gives way to the pulse-pounding urgency of “Bare Your Teeth” before passing through the haunting melodies of “We Want Blood” and “Stranger Danger.” Lead singer Casey Call’s evocative and soaring vocals convey subtly dark, yet thought-provoking lyrics that only add to the trip-notic sonic fusion of an almost indiscernible electronic and acoustic arsenal. All adjectives aside, it’s not hard to figure out why their growing base of loyal fans tend to fall into an almost sensual trance-like state when the band takes stage.

Beta Lowdown, co-produced by Duane Lundy (ShangriLa Studios) and Casey Call (Enemy Planes), is an experiment in juxtaposition. Lundy, known largely for his work with artists such as Jim James, Vandaveer, Sturgill Simpson, and Joe Pug, might not seem like the obvious choice for a band that operates pretty far from the folk/americana side of the spectrum. Casey puts it like this: “No matter how finished we think an idea maybe, we’re always looking for a way we can fuck it up and turn it into something else.” There’s no doubt that ENEMY PLANES has found a soulmate in Lundy and that this unlikely melding of musical souls is primed for breathing fresh air into a genre that is desperately searching for something unheard.

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Lauren Carter

(Los Angeles) Beginning her music career in Chicago, Lauren Carter studied music at Northwestern University and is a resonant vocalist, with a three-octave range. Taking inspiration from artists like Kimbra and Tove Lo, Carter creates a focused yet eclectic sound. Her music is a fusion of dreamy pop and rock that evokes a hypnotic feel while establishing a powerful edge.

Lauren Carter just released her debut EP, American Dream. The title track was co-written and produced by Andrew Williams, the multi-platinum producer, and songwriter known for his work with artists ranging from T-Bone Burnett to Jessica Simpson, while lead single, “Rule Breaker”, is a piano-driven pop song co-written and produced by longtime Ludacris collaborator, Josh "IGLOO" Monroy.

Carter is also an actress, model, and philanthropist. Her modeling credits include Sports Illustrated, Maxim, GQ, catalogues, print, and more. She has appeared onstage and onscreen internationally, including working with Oscar-winning director Robert Altman.

Armed with a powerful voice and illuminating collection of songs, Lauren Carter is poised to have a breakout year in 2016, with the release of American Dream.

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Fire Hot Opera

(Chicago) Fire Hot Opera, who draw heavily on doo-wop, Brill Building pop and Broadway soul, have released their debut LP, Test Market Fresh. The album, which is available on limited edition vinyl, is meant to be listened to as a continuous piece of music (no song breaks). although there are two listening options at Bandcamp: no song breaks. Musician and composer Kevan Eftekhari (formerly the band leader and principal songwriter in the new wave trio Robot Lounge) launched Fire Hot Opera in 2014 and, after playing a handful of shows, solidified the current line-up in 2015.

This group of musicians includes Danya Thompson on drums, Richard Knapp on bass and Eric Klotz on guitar, with horn arrangements by Corbin Andrick. Bethany Thomas and Stephanie Fravel join Eftekhari, who also plays piano, on vocals.

The band’s debut LP, Test Market Fresh, was recorded at IV Lab Studios in Chicago in spring/summer of 2015 and was mixed, mastered and co-produced by Chris Harden. Canadian artist Genevieve Farley-Tremblay designed the album’s retro-60’s cover art.

Fire Hot Opera, who are already back in the studio working on new music, celebrated the release of Test Market Fresh with a show at Beat Kitchen in Chicago on Friday, April 1, 2016.

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Saturday, April 9, 2016


Buika at Walt Disney Hall: a fairy-tale night in a magical music palace
(Los Angeles). The Walt Disney Hall can be an intimidating venue for artists. For the artist, standing on a stage crowned by the Manuel Gonzales pipe organ and facing over 2200 fans arrayed in Frank Gehry's shining chrome building requires not only soaring talent, but centered courage combined with humility.  Buika gave the sold-out Hall all that and more on Saturday night in her pairing with LA’s beloved American Latin Music band, La Santa Cecilia – a profound experience but almost too much of a good thing.

But all thoughts of excess disappeared when Buika’s voice rose from the stage into one of the best acoustical environments in the nation, if not the world, Her singing, her lyrics, her laughter and her conversation with the enraptured audience were supernatural, vibrating every square inch of air and every soul in the building.

There is a reason Buika is known as “fearless”; she can weaponize her fiery voice to deliver messages of humanity thwarted and demands for justice.  But she can also stand and deliver  with astonishing vulnerability (she appears naked on the cover of her self-titled Buika album), traversing the shoals of love, heartbreak, passion and self-reflection out in the open for all to see. And she does it in Spanish, English, French and Portuguese. Her unstoppable combination of talent and purpose has brought her awards including a Latin Grammy, multiple Grammy nominations, and recognition by NPR as one of the best 50 voices of all time.

Born María Concepción Balboa to African parents in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Concha Buika realized early on that her creative DNA was not only something special but held the potential to change lives around the world. Today, that is what she does -- circles the globe from her base in Miami as an irresistible, compelling artistic force.  Her concert at Walt Disney Hall was one of many in her world tour supporting the new Vivir Sin Miedo (To Live Without Fear) album, released by Warner Music in the-fall of 2015.

That compelling force was on full display Saturday night when Buika strode on stage, tall and regal in a flaming full-length red gown and a supernova smile. Backed by a nimble four-piece Latin band  that created a shimmering sonic environment with congas, percussion, guitars, cymbals, keyboard, Buika began the evening with the title song, and her mission in life, “Viver sin Miedo”.

The effect was immediate. The guitars and keyboard created a mysterious landscape of shimmering notes and Buika’s voiced wheeled throughout the hall in a plaintive chant:

“They say I’m going to burn like fire/I try to stay out of trouble/Walk away from the madman/ From the madman who gave me candy/"You will never step into Promised Land Cause God's land do not want dirty shits like you girl".

While the final notes hung in the air, she sipped from a wine glass, bantered with the audience, and shifted tempo for “No habrá Nadie en el Mundo” with an African influenced bossa nova beat, her voice dropping an octave as it flowed with the rolling music. The reverie was broken and the party was started.

For the next hour, she sailed us through eight songs, some languid and loving, some filled with Cuban beats, others reminiscent of Jimmy Cliff.  She gave us new songs like, “Siboney”, songs from earlier albums like the gentle “Mi Niña Lola” and “Jodida pero contenta” and the familiar “Amor de Mis Amores”, ending on a crescendo with “Much Dinero” from the new album.

Between songs she joked with the band and the fans, told stories and made political points.  Her connection to over 2000 people was complete, not only through her stunning voice and hypnotic music, but her persona projected to the top rows in the balcony. Switching between Spanish and English she kept everyone included in the banter, so you wouldn’t wonder why your neighbor was laughing or cheering at something she said. At the end as she was given a standing ovation and calls for “otra” (“another”) which were disappointingly not answered as the band had to break down for La Santa Cecilia.

Buika is a supernova star in the American Latin Music firmament, spreading beauty and conscience to millions worldwide with her albums and photographs and book. In person, she is down to earth, as I discovered when I interviewed her for my radio show Friday. Onstage, she is an unforgettable experience, not just for the music but for her larger-than-life presence. Pairing her with LA’s beloved Latin Grammy winner La Santa Cecilia made sense in terms of the same audience – which it largely was – but it was almost too much for one night to support, too much talent, too much joy, too much heart.  I was still vibrating and thinking when La Marisoul danced onstage 20 minutes later as La Santa Cecilia let loose with their unique fusion of Latin and rock that   got me rocking like they do so well. It was a fairy-tale night in a magical music palace.

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LA. Correspondent
Patrick O'Hefferan
@Music FridayLive!