It’s difficult to define Shaprece’s sound because she defies boundaries. The up-and-coming Seattle artist graced The Hotel Cafe with her smooth vocals and groovy vibe, against the bold backdrop of an electric cello and ambient electronics, courtesy of Phillip Peterson and IG88, respectively. Her style feels both plotted yet experimental, effortlessly moving between each song in such an enchanting fashion, you might feel as if you’re lost in space. In fact, she sings each lyric with such ease, it’s easy to forget the force of its meaning. Catch her on tour, you won’t regret it.
There is something very understated and beautiful about Aaron Embry. It’s difficult to explain why some musicians move me more than others, but Aaron Embry accomplished it last night at The Hotel Cafe. And I’m not the only one. The entire room was silenced by his performance. When I attempted to move closer to the stage, I was quickly stopped by some angry sneers from audience members unhappy with my distraction. They were mesmerized. And rightfully so. Strangely, the only person that didn’t seem to realize Aaron’s talents is Aaron. He seemed shy and intimidated by the crowd. Though that’s part of what made him so great, I always fear it’s the humble guys that get buried alive in this industry. You’ve got to have the fight in you, and I can only hope he has enough fight to claw his way into mainstream media.
Last Sunday my friend invited me to The Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles to see Harper Blynn play. The venue opened in 2000, and it is known for featuring new singer/songwriters. Harper Blynn started their performance with singer/songwriter Schuyler Fisk, who I later found out is Sissy Spacek’s daughter. Despite her often described “folk” music, I actually found her to be a confusing cross between pop and country, with a strange resemblance (physically and musically) to Colbie Caillat. To be fair, I must confess my limited musical knowledge, which explains why my only legitimate criticism of their combined performance is the strange blend of Fisk’s sweet looking, polished demeanor and the unwashed looking Harper Blynn boys. To put it plainly, the chemistry was odd. As soon as Harper Blynn played alone, the energy in the room completely changed. The band is comprised of four band members, including: Pete Harper (keys and rhythm guitar); Jason Blynn (lead guitar); Sarab Singh (drums); and Whynot Jansveld (bass), and to quote Paste Magazine, who voted Harper Blynn the #1 new discovery of the CMJ Festival, “despite their Brooklyn address and hipster credentials, there’s nothing remotely indie rock about the band-the harmonies recall Simon & Garfunkel, and the melodies would make Elvis Costello proud.” They promoted their new self-titled EP during the show, leaving out songs from their debut album, Loneliest Generation. They closed the show with a cover of Beyonce’s Halo, which they’ve become known for after a previous performance of the cover went viral. The biggest applause of the night came from the Halo cover, which I pondered for a bit before stumbling across a very well-written article by Jim Malec. He said, “massively popular mainstream hits can be adapted under an indie aesthetic and made appealing to a young, hip crowd.” And “It’s surprising that more indie artists don’t strive for that same type of catchiness in their own tunes.” While I’m not sure I agree that Harper Blynn’s music lacks catchiness, I will say that their upcoming EP certainly sounds more catchy than their debut album. It will be worth the wait. Watch their video for Loneliest Generation below.