Though I’m always thankful to live in Los Angeles, there are moments when that gratitude is exponentially multiplied. And those moments usually occur when I have the pleasure of seeing a great local music show at a small venue when the quality is worthy of stadium seating. It’s the kind of thing one can only experience in this city, and I had the fortunate pleasure of seeing it first hand at Zoey’s Cafe where Brother SAL, Joe Purdy, and Brian Wright performed together. Joe Purdy has been on my radar for quite some time, and Brother SAL randomly got my attention at a local Los Angeles venue named Piano Bar, where the guy brought down the house. As for the third performer, Brian Wright, this was the first time I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him play, but his two buddies circumvented his humility and called him “one of the greatest songwriters [they] know.” In short, it was magical.
There’s nothing better than when a popular band generously brings attention to an up-and-comer. And this week’s gold star goes to The Lumineers who killed it last night at The Fonda. During their set they covered a song by a man named Sawmill Joe and encouraged the audience to look him up. So I did. And the guy is just as good as I anticipated. He’s got a country blues grit in his voice that makes him sound as if he’s been doing this for a million years, only he’s shockingly younger than you’d think. He lives in Denver, and he works a day job at a sawmill (get it?), which likely explains the authenticity behind his music. Listen to his music below, and click HERE to find him on Facebook.
I’m constantly getting sent new music from independent artists looking for exposure, but it’s rare to find something that moves me. The video below is an exception. Watch to see Jades Goudreault cover Missy Higgins’ ‘Secret.’
I don’t know much about Michael Kiwanuka, except that he’s brilliant, and that’s really all I need to know for now. I discovered him via the recommendation of another Dishmaster favorite, Monsters Calling Home, and I’ve officially fallen in love. Listen below.
There’s no formula for what makes a performer uniquely great, but I sure do know it when I see it. And I see it in Josh Jove. He fronts a blues band in Los Angeles, and if my prediction is correct, they’re on their way to massive success. He started playing guitar at age 11, and he’s self-taught. If you see him perform live, you’ll understand just how impressive that last detail is. According to Jove, he practices an “embarrassing amount of hours per day,” which isn’t surprising. He’s damn good. Plus, he’s one of the nicest, most humble guys I know. Have I also mentioned he’s easy on the eyes? Listen below to hear a demo of his blues band cover JJ Cale’s “The Woman That Got Away.” The demo was recorded at Brick & Mortar Recording in Los Angeles.
I don’t know much about Sean Hayes, but I know he’s good. I discovered his album, Alabama Chicken, on my Brett Dennen Pandora station, and I am eternally grateful for it. He’s released four albums, and his most recent is called Flowering Spade. I can’t find much information about the guy given that most interviews with him involve excessive questions about his love for the banjo. I’m just gonna have to fix the problem and commission him for an interview. Watch two of his videos below.
Finding a new band to love is akin to discovering a twenty dollar bill in the pocket of my jeans. I didn’t know it was there, but I sure am glad to have it. Today’s discovery is Alabama Shakes. They originated from Athens, Alabama, and their members include: Brittany Howard (lead vocals), Heath Fogg (guitar), Zac Cockrell (bass), and Steve Johnson (drums). Judging from their media attention, I’m late in the game. Their album debuts April 8, 2012, and you can get a sneak peak here. And if that’s not enough, they’re performing on Letterman on April 12. Watch below to see their video for “Hold On.”
When I launched my blog, I had the dream of finding and promoting undiscovered artists. To be fair, a lot of the new artists I hear were actually discovered by KCRW, a popular public radio station in Los Angeles. Today’s artist is ‘Hazel‘, and upon doing further research, I know absolutely nothing about the band except that it is made up of: Angelica Garcia (lead vocals); Ivan Pyzow (vocals, piano); Luka Douridas (guitar); and Lukas Frank (drums). It doesn’t help that when they selected their name they didn’t account for Google, considering that my search for “Hazel ” returns a lot of results about color. Did I mention there is another band with the exact same name? If only these guys would have consulted with The Dishmaster before releasing their album. Enough about my internet expertise — listen to the song below. I love it. And you can download it for free from their site.
Max McElligott, also known as “Wolf Gang,” has yet to release his debut album, entitled Suego Faults, but he’s already receiving a fair share of internet buzz. When my friend pointed me to the song below, I was blown away. The acoustic version of Back to Back is actually better than the studio version, which my musician tells me is an impressive feat. If I could give Mr. McElligot any career advice on his way to the top, I’d tell him to quickly change his band name. He’s impossible to Google, and my attempts were met with a lot of Mozart information. In the age of online media, it’s important to be easily found. If you like the song below, I’d encourage you to buy his EP. You will not be disappointed.
This band blew me away. I was rudely mid-conversation when they took the stage, and their music shut me up immediately. “Who are these guys?” I said to my friend. “Why aren’t they hugely famous? Why aren’t they selling out venues?” The group is called Monsters Calling Home, and it has six members, including Alex Hwang (lead vocals, guitar), Daniel Chae (Guitar, Violin, Bass, Keys), John Chong (Drums), Jennifer Rim (Violin), Sally Kang (Keys, Guitar), and Joe Chun (Bass, Guitar ). After doing some research, I found that they are “inspired by stories of immigrant families and the wildly appropriate 90s children TV show Aahh!!! Real Monsters.” The members met at their church and began playing local venues before performing together at the Kollaboration entertainment competition at the Nokia Theater, a competition that promotes Asian Pacific American talent. Considering their incredible stage presence, I was shocked to discover that they have only been together for six months. I’m told by their frontman Alex Hwang that before they release their first EP, they want to “get comfortable on stage, play the songs that we have to their best potential, create as much content for people to look for online and be good to our fans.” When he said that I scratched my head for a moment and thought, “you’re out of your mind if you think your stage presence needs to be more developed. You guys are ready. Get on it.” But his attitude is likely the reason they will be successful. Self-criticism can be very valuable. Watch their video for “Growing Up” below.
I discovered Beirut on NPR’s ‘Tiny Desk Concert‘ series, and I’ve been listening to their album, ‘The Rip Tide’, ever since. The band is currently comprised of six members, including Zach Condon, Perrin Cloutier, Nick Petree, Paul Collins, Kelly Pratt, and Ben Lanz. When researching the origin of Beirut, I found that my limited musical knowledge made it difficult to explain their musical influences. As a result, I’ve deicded to completely rip off another website’s description. Here goes: “The music combines elements of Eastern European and Balkan folk with Western pop music, fusing the American mainstream and indie-rock culture and the World Music market.” And there you have it. Listen to their performance below.
I’m always searching for new, non-mainstream music — and it’s no easy task. While listening to Florence + The Machine on Pandora, I discovered the very gifted Kate Nash. Nash’s lyrics are so literal, I find myself amazed that she gets away with it in such an effortless way. Alright — I just vomited at my music review. Clearly I wasn’t born to write for Rolling Stone. How about this — she’s fucking brilliant (and yes mother, sometimes I curse). Nash was born in Ireland and grew up in London. Her incredible album, Made of Bricks, was number one in the UK and went platinum. I’ve posted two songs below. Foundations was a huge hit, and if you’ve ever been in a failed relationship, I would encourage you to listen to it. It’s a post-breakup-anthem. The second song I posted, Merry Happy, didn’t chart well, though I think it’s one of the strongest songs on the album. Enjoy!
When you live in Los Angeles, you’re often exposed to a wide array of douchebags that lie about their accomplishments. So when you meet someone genuine and talented, you can’t help but root for their success. One such talented individual is a Mr. Aaron Barnhart, who I had the pleasure of watching perform at a fantastic Los Angeles venue in Koreatown known as ‘R Bar.’ He was joined by his “Revelators,” which included Robert Columbus (drums), Josh Jove (guitar), and Sam Skolfield (bass guitar). In addition to Aaron’s original material, they played some great blues music, and I looked around the room to discover the crowd feeling the groove. Aaron is about to release his sophomore album, and judging from what I’ve heard so far, it’s going to be damn good. Listen to a tune from his debut album below.
I recently discovered Vampire Weekend, but I’m told by musician friends that “they’re huge.” After looking them up, I seem to be the only person that didn’t get the memo. Their debut self-titled album reached #17 on the Billboard 200, and their song, A-Punk, was voted the fourth best song of 2008 by Rolling Stone magazine. Their second album, Contra, reached #1 on the Billboard 200. The indie rock band formed in 2006, and its members include: Ezra Koenig; Rostam Batmanglij; Chris Thomson; and Chris Baio. Perhaps I like them so much because the lead singer, Ezra Koenig sounds strikingly similar to Paul Simon. I told this to my musician friend, insisting that my discovery means I have a “musical ear.” He shook his head in disapproval saying, “it’s pretty obvious they sound alike.” Listen to White Sky and Holiday from their second album, Contra, below.
My musician buddies are constantly introducing me to new, unique artists, and this process usually entails me feigning an understanding of their technical terms. Every so often though, they reject the shop-talk and use the term “stoner music.” That doesn’t help much either, seeing as how I don’t do drugs. I therefore find myself questioning the occasion for such music in my own life, and the other day — it hit me. Stoner music to them is yoga music to me! Having said that, I’d like to introduce you to Jonsi, an Icelandic musician that is most known as the lead singer of Sigur Ros. His second solo album, entitled Go, was voted best rock/pop album of 2010, at the 17th annual Icelandic Music Awards. Listen to one of my favorite tracks, Around Us, below. Feel free to do downward dog while doing so.
My friend invited me to Jenny O.’s performance last night at Diane Von Furstenberg’s store, and I embarrassingly canceled at the last minute to attend the Paley Center’s American Idol panel. I confess that, after watching the video below, it would probably have been a better choice to see Jenny O., given that it’s extremely painful to listen to a group of non-musicians discuss their musical aspirations. I’m told by my drummer friends that Jenny O. was very good, with the exception of her less than stellar guitar playing skills. I usually wouldn’t mention this, considering my lack of musical knowledge, but I unconditionally trust my friends, especially since one such friend played drums at the Oscars. As an aside, he thought Jenny O. was cute, and engaged her in conversation with no mention of his Oscar performance. I yelled at him incessantly for his improper pick-up skills followed by a much-needed purchase of The Game by Neil Strauss. Watch the video below. It’s excellent.
When I first watched the Eat Pray Love trailer, I became so obsessed with the title song, I immediately Shazammed my television screen (yes, I’m that tech-savvy). I discovered the song is Dog Days Are Over, by Florence + The Machine. It never occurred to me that the the entire album would be just as great as the single. I assure you it is. If you don’t believe me, go to Grooveshark, and listen to the all of the Lungs album — I promise you won’t be disappointed. The “group” is actually composed of one member, British indie rock vocalist — Florence Welch — with other artists backing up her voice. Listen to two songs below.
I’ve recently discovered my affinity for Swedish musicians. First, Erik Hassle, and now Lykke Li. Sure, they have much different musical styles, but perhaps Sweden is churning out some really good musicians. As per my usual routine, I discovered Lykke Li on Pandora through my Florence + The Machine station. I then went to Grooveshark and listened to her entire Youth Novels album, which is incredible. She has yet to achieve mainstream success in the United States, with the exception of her appearance on Last Call With Carson Daly in 2009 (yes, Carson Daly is still alive) and a performance at the 2009 Lollapalooza Music Festival. Listen to her music below. I recommend Little Bit.
I’m always looking for new music. I dig through Pandora and Grooveshark looking for an artist that I won’t immediately get tired of. This week, Erik Hassle joins Kate Nash and Florence + The Machine as my new find. He’s from Sweden, and his debut album, Hassle, reached #2 on the Swedish pop charts. He actually sounds a bit like Maroon 5, which I regret to admit, considering I find Adam Levine to be incredibly annoying. In fact — the less I know about Hassle the better — because everyone annoys me eventually. I’ve attached some of his songs below for your enjoyment. I recommend Don’t Bring Flowers.