Posts Tagged ‘Folk’


By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Michael Leonard Witham has a voice like an angel on whiskey.

Associations: Connor Oberst, Bob Dylan, the Violent Femmes guy… anyone with a bloody punch in their throat.

I was tired when I turned it on, and I wanted the night over, but as soon as he started singing, I had to stop. It`s all rusty, strung-out, sick-sweet, raw-rubble folk and it only makes me wonder, What the hell does he feel, that he can make those sorts of sounds?

Michael Leonard Witham: John’s Old Lady from Actual Cats on Vimeo.


By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

This is too cool for metaphors.

The New Mongrels are an Americana folk band with an acoustic, indie lull. Sounds pretty standard, right? Wrong. These guys date back to 1861! (No, they’re not time travellers.)

Haynes Brookes has set it upon himself to carry the musical tradition first tailored by his great-grandfather Henry. This Civil War veteran founded the “Smythe County Mongrels Society”, a band unified by a love of music, Psalms, and hard cider. When Haynes discovered his rockin’ roots, he fostered his own reincarnation of the group. So the New Mongrels were born.

Raised Incorruptible, released in the earliest days of 2014, is the band’s first album since 1998. With such a gap between installments, one is never sure what may be gained or lost. As far as I can see, The New Mongrels have retained their charms. They’re relaxed, salty-sweet, a glass of lemonade (or cider?) left on a porch.

A project like this proves creation can inspire, no matter the time of its conception. Music is burned into our genetics, our instincts, our evolution. Even if the archives burn and the tracks are deleted, the spirit perseveres.

Creativity is far from a modern concoction. It’s part of the human condition.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

If you’re looking for a jubilant jolt of girl power spirit, a double dosage of Yuna will do the trick. The Malaysian singer/songwriter recently premiered the music video for Rescue, and it’s nothing short of enchanting. The empowering track is taken from Nocturnal, her newly released Verve Records debut.

The Elliott Sellers-directed video was shot primarily at Big Sur, with select shots in downtown Los Angeles.

Official video + live performance of the track (via Conan) below.

Loving her authenticness!


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Major props to The Walking Dead for playing this killer track (#YayPuns) from Ben Howard — a UK-based artist that we promoted earlier this year. (See related link below.)

This song is flawless + Ben’s melancholy delivery certainly brings the post-apocalyptic chills.

Listen to the haunting Oats In The Water below.


[Related Post: Ben Howard]


By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Ever wonder how the Beatles would have sounded if they were a sister duo? No? You’re about to find out regardless.

The MonaLisa Twins hail from Austria, where they started out singing covers and releasing the results on Youtube. Creativity is a forceful drug (as many of us know), and it wasn’t long until Mona and Lisa (yes, those are their actual names) were stitching quilts of original music. When We’re Together is their debut album, and while I’m one year late in my discovery, their poppy 60’s throwback is still fresh.

I find their act endearing, if not a wee bit twee. Though really, what sort of indie folk is without a spoonful of the saccharine? And the cute doesn’t stop with their recordings. The music video for the album’s title track is swamped with sweetness.

The girls explain the premise best themselves: “We installed a canvas on the walls of Stables market in Camden, London’s world-famous art district. We… started with a big red heart in the centre. Pedestrians joined in and added their ideas… to the painting. …Everyone walked away with a smile on their face.”

The way I see it, that’s what these girls want to do: make people smile. Thus far, they’re getting it right.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Introducing Los Angeles-based 78Violet!

You may recognize these striking faces as the sisters (Aly and AJ Michalka) formerly behind the pop duo AJ & Aly. Shedding the skin of their past to create a sound that’s lush with a smooth edge, the girls are back and better than ever. Six years after releasing their last LP, Insomniac, Aly and AJ are in the process of finishing a brand new album and have just released the stunning video for lead single Hothouse.

With visuals that would make any earthy-chic fashion label swoon, the video comes back with a beautiful landscape: meadows, stallions and wild flowers. (Eat your heart out, Free People!)

Note: Lana Del Rey-esque intro = actual music starts at the 3:30 mark.

Welcome back, ladies!


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Rising star Mikky Ekko, the American singer-songwriter who exploded onto the scene with his beautiful duet with Rihanna, is currently preparing the release of his first major-label studio album. With the prepping comes the just-released Kids, the official lead single. Produced by Benny Blanco + John Hill, Kids is a lovable pop song that fuses strings with bittersweet synths, mixing contemporary electronic elements with Mikky‘s folk edge.

I love this guy!

[Related Post: Adam Lambert Takes On Rihanna]


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

MARIA CIEZAK: Anna, I must admit that I am new to your music, but you are clearly a force to be reckoned with. You aren’t the “usual female artist”. You’re rock. You’re blues. How would you describe your sound?

ANNA ROSE: Thank you so much! I guess I would say my music is rock, blues, folk, with a little pop in there… But I do always reserve the right to grow and change as an artist. That’s what makes it exciting!

MC: I see you reside in New York, which has such a strong music and artistic scene. Do you find yourself embracing the environment as influence for your material?

AR: Yes, always. To be honest, the song Beautiful World is entirely influenced by the city of New York.

MC: Speaking of New York, you must be looking forward to May 21st at Rockwood. This is part of a two-week residency I understand?

AR: Yes! I’m always excited to perform & there’s nothing better than playing your hometown! I’ve played at Rockwood for many years now and it’s one of my favorite venues to perform at. It always feels like coming home when I play there.

MC: When I close my eyes and just listen, it seems as if you may be influenced from many of the greats of the past. Is this assumption accurate?

AR: You are most definitely correct. There are references to more current artists here and there, but I tend to trace things back to the source. There’s a joke among the “Anna Rose” family that I was born in the wrong era of music. They’re probably right.

MC: You recently premiered a video for your title track Behold a Pale Horse through Nylon Magazine, which I find to be a very interesting choice of outlet. How did that come about?

AR: I like to read Nylon and they do a great job promoting new music, so I was really excited that they wanted to premiere the video! Nylon and I have a lot in common. We’re both unique!

MC: Now that I have indulged myself into your musical diary, I can definitely sense maturity from your first record, Nomad. The new material seems a lot darker. Can you tell us a little bit about the process of writing and recording your sophomore release?

AR: Well, it was a difficult process, as I had a rough time getting through a bit of writer’s block, which I had never experienced, but once I got going again it was like the flood gates had opened. I think it seems like a darker record when you listen to both side-by-side, but for those listeners who have come to my live shows, it was a very natural progression. I always play the songs from Nomad a bit heavier than they were originally recorded, so it was really just a continuation of the direction I was always going. I would bet the third album will be even heavier.

MC: You have such strong pipes. How do you take care of your voice? Is it a process?

AR: Honestly, I never really worked on my voice until about six years ago. I practiced playing guitar all the time, but I never thought to train my voice. I took it for granted, which is insane! Now I have an incredible voice teacher, Wendy Parr, who helps me through the ups and downs. There are a lot of different variables — seasonal allergies, flying, feeling hoarse, etc. — so it’s all about riding that wave and staying emotionally present in the music. So, yes, it is absolutely a process and one that I love very much.

MC: You are extremely beautiful, but the irony is, I consider you a gem for your undeniable talents. Do you sometimes find it a struggle to not be just “another pretty face” (as the media would say)?

AR: This is a surreal question for me. I never really think of myself as a physical beauty and no one’s ever asked me this! I think I present myself as a musician before being a “pretty chick”, so it’s never been an issue. I do think it’s always a struggle for the music industry to see female musicians as equals to male ones though. Particularly in rock music. I could go on about that forever, but that’s another question for another day, my friend.

MC: Was music always the chosen profession?

AR: Absolutely. There was no choice.

MC: If you were granted a wish of your dream collaboration, who would it be with?

AR: I’ll assume you mean someone living today, so – Jack White. That guy is a genius and I think he comes from the same place as I do in terms of influences, recording style and wanting to push the boundaries of the industry like I do, so that would be incredible. On the other side, I think working with someone on the opposite side of the spectrum could produce really amazing music.

MC: You’ve done a lot already in your young career, yet I am sure you still want to achieve so much more. What’s next?

AR: My goal is to just continue moving forward as an artist, write better music, play better shows and record better albums. The physical goals are there, of course, but I like to focus on the artistic ones because it’s more fulfilling and less anxiety-provoking.

MC: For fans who haven’t experienced the phenomenon that you are yet, how would you welcome them aboard?

AR: In true “Anna Rose” style, I’d probably want to buy them a drink and talk about Jimi Hendrix with them all night, but not everyone’s into that… So I’d probably just say: “Thank you from the bottom of my little heart for listening to my music!”


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Throwback Thursday!

This is one of my favorite songs. And here’s why: Jewel wrote this song when she was 18 and homeless. She was in dire need of medical treatment (due to a kidney condition) and was turned down by the hospital because she had no money or health insurance. A doctor overheard her plea at reception and saw her waiting in the parking lot of the hospital crying. He treated her for free. She wrote this song shortly after in part to thank the doctor for his kindness.

I find so much beauty and hope in that story. Especially when I’m going through something dark in my own life.

“We are God’s eyes. God’s hands. God’s heart.”


By: Caitlin Hoffman
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

[Photo Cred: Chunyi McIver]

I’m grateful sites like Kickstarter exist. Were it not for generous backers, these gentle sounds would not be gracing my ears.

The Jinxes are poppy folk with extra fizz. An adorable couple (in both the romantic and creative sense), they are the two sole ingredients to a strangely satisfying recipe. Deanna’s voice reminds me of Kimya Dawson, while Kevin’s is more of a mellow Ed Sheeran. The resulting harmony is simple, stripped down and seemingly effortless.

Send Me A Sign is their first-ever release- a short/sweet EP package wrapped up in a summer breeze. In spite of its modest four-track stack, this compilation resounds with depth and flexibility. One minute you’re licking your lips from the saccharine sweetness, then next you’re teary-eyed.

It’s no wonder they got the support they required. This darling duo has a lot of heart and talent to share. They are without a doubt a wonderful soundtrack for lazing in the sun or falling in love.


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

Haven’t heard of Frank Turner? You need to. The English singer/songwriter has been melting hearts in the industry for a few years now, while making the deep conversion from punk rocker to acoustic solo-throb. His new single, Recovery, can be found on his latest record, and fifth solo release, Tape Deck Heart. He spoke of this release in recent interviews saying that (without going into lengthy details) it instantly became a “breakup” record.

This single is the perfect opener, with a radio-friendly sound and a lustrous production that has certainly evolved from his past releases. It’s backed by a triumphant piano, almost throwing a bright coat of paint on a fresh breakup. Meaning it’s unexpectedly uplifting despite its gut-wrenching topic. If you’re hesitant about indulging head-first into the whole record, this track will guide you on the right path.

Having only listened to a few tracks, I can tell this is an insanely personal record, almost opening the lock to his diary (if diaries still exist nowadays) and giving fans a taste of what really happens in the mind of Frank Turner.

Check out Recovery and then move on to the rest of Tape Deck Heart.

Whether you are going through a time of sorrow or not, this record will move you, in one way or another.


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

iTunes has placed the spotlight this week on an artist by the name of Jake Bugg. I’m thrilled that his work is receiving attention, for he is the definition of a true musician. Single Lightning Bolt puts many artists on the charts to shame, showcasing raw talent.

His music style is very old-fashioned and vintage-sounding, which makes it even more intriguing for genuine music lovers like myself.

Take a listen to Lightning Bolt and judge for yourself.


By: Rob Brayl
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

ROB BRAYL: I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of the new album (‘Wax Wings’, due out May 7th), and it’s an exquisite record! You MUST be getting butterflies leading up to its release?

JOSHUA RADIN: I am but mainly because I’m self-releasing a record for the first time. It’s scary but fun.

RB: I’m literally sitting here with my headphones on, trying to pick a favorite track from the record. I’m having a hard time, but I’m leaning towards ‘Your Rainy Days’ and ‘Like They Used To’. May I ask your personal favorite?

JR: Thank you so much! Well, that’s nice to hear. I guess if I had to pick a favorite it would be ‘Back To Where I’m From’.

RB: Being that this site is known for spotlighting indie artists, I was particularly fixated on the fact that you chose to release your new album independently. What was your frame of mind regarding this move?

JR: I like releasing music more often than most labels will allow. So I’m going at it on my own in order to put more music out into the world.

RB: I understand the title comes from Greek mythology. Can you speak on this a little bit?

JR: In several past songs, I’ve referred to my love as the sun. The album title is a reference to the myth of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun on wings made of wax and feathers. The wings melted and he fell, just as I have, over and over again. Sometimes I think love is something I’ll never get too close to again, and other times I feel the confidence to fly too closely to it.

RB: Obviously rap will never be an influence in your work, but since you’re from Cleveland and all, I have to ask: What do you think of Cleveland rapper Machine Gun Kelly?

JR: To be honest, I don’t know who that is.

RB: Speaking of influences, what is your driving force when creating music?

JR: Love.

RB: I always ask this, because it’s fun… Current guilty pleasure(s)?

JR: Girls. (The TV show)

RB: If I were to steal your iPod, are there any artists I may be surprised to find?

JR: Probably not. But who knows? I like all kinds of music.

RB: I saw you perform last year here in the city and actually met you very briefly after the show. You seemed as genuine and real as your music and I think it shows in your performances. The connection you have with the audience is incredibly honest. Are you planning on touring with the new material?

JR: Thank you! I try really hard to connect with everyone during live performances. I am going to tour this record but in just a few intimate venues in just a few cities. I spent half of last year on the road and I’m a little burnt. I’m needing home right now.

RB: It’s a well-known fact that you performed at Ellen DeGeneres’ wedding. I just wanted to end this interview by saying thank you for supporting gay rights. We love you!

JR: [Laughs] Yes, I did, and I do. She is an amazing woman as is her wife.


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

I would like to take a moment to introduce you to English singer/songwriter Ben Howard. He’s been getting a ton of buzz recently, and rightfully so. His latest video for Keep Your Head Up has over 6 million views, and the song itself works its timeless tunesmith magic best upon repeated listens. I promise, you will be hooked to this track in no time.

However, let us not forget about the rest of his album, Every Kingdom(available now on iTunes). Coming from someone who appreciates well-crafted musicianship from serious singers/songwriters, Ben is at the top of my list, next to artists such as David Gray and Nick Drake.

Come February, he will be hitting the road with Mumford & Sons. I can only imagine how excited he must be, having his music heard by thousands on 15 dates all over the globe. This tour has already sold out venues including Melbourne, Australia’s The Corner Hotel! Mumford & Sons are huge, so this will grant exposure to countless new and current fans.

Well-deserved attention for an artist you simply must know.


By: Maria Ciezak
For BiggerThanBeyonce.Com

There is no denying that American music has recently joined forces with folk, crossing the genre over to mainstream success with bands such as The Swell Season and The Lumineers. Following these acts is The Lone Bellow, a band on the rise with their single Bleeding Out, which is currently sitting for free over at iTunes as the featured single of the week.

I fell in love with this three-piece from Brooklyn after they captured my attention touring with The Civil Wars (before the band’s hiatus). Their sound is timeless, playing an insanely catchy style of country and gospel-inflected folk that is heartfelt, raw, and amazing.

Their self-titled debut record will be released on January 22nd, and I cannot wait to see what else this band has to offer.

In the meantime, bask in the glory of Bleeding Out (live) below.