Patrick Firth (Featured Artist)
You may have seen him playing piano behind some of the best rising musicians in New York, but Patrick Firth is not an artist who flies under the radar. Not only do his skills on the black and white keys make him a stand out in any band, but his singer/songwriter abilities also make it possible for him to gain momentum as a solo act. Stepping into the spotlight with soft ballads backed by guitar, Patrick’s acoustic and organic sound feels almost reminiscent of a Bon Iver or Iron & Wine album that you just can’t help but get lost in. Voices like Patrick’s always seem to blow me away, with a falsetto that is so pure and seemingly effortless, but also completely intentional and on pitch. His new album, Your Fairlight, is set to release later this year and we’re excited to hear what musical narratives lie behind Patrick’s passionate voice.
- Erica Soto
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You might think that there’s a limit to the number of songs you can hear about Ohio before it stops being enjoyable, but you’d be wrong — at least when it comes to Nate Campany. Born in Cleveland and transplanted to Brooklyn, Nate splits his time between writing songs for other artists (which tend to be catchy pop tunes that stick in your head sans annoyance) and performing low-key sets of his own music, which start off delightfully unassuming, but usher in an unexpected vulnerability and raw honesty that causes them to stick with you long after the show ends, and possibly forever. It took about ten seconds for his most recent album, The Only Bridge I Need, to secure a place in our regular music rotation.
- Lindy Parker (LP)
The mystique of the open mic night is dubious at best, but every once in a while, an artist takes the mic and almost from the very first note, you find yourself sitting up a little straighter, listening more closely, taking notice. When Matthew Foster Moore found his way to such a stage, the response was immediate and started him on a journey that included tour dates in Brazil, an invite to the Toronto Film Festival in 2010, and ultimately, the release of his debut album, Headlines earlier this year. On the surface, Matthew’s tracks are just good, solid, accessible tunes, but listen a bit longer and you’ll start to hear the details: a lone hand snapping out a beat, a bluesy guitar riff mixed with the occasional beat-boxed rhythm. Like any master chef worth his salt, Matthew seems to treat his songs like culinary creations that don’t require a recipe — layering influences like flavors, mixing in a little of this, a smattering of that, and just a touch of funk to keep it surprising.
-Lindy Parker (LP)
From as early as Party of Five to Gossip Girl today, Wes Hutchinson has been featured on some of the most popular TV soundtracks. When you hear him play it’s hard to believe he’s not signed. Wes has the “it” factor that so many artists strive for: solid songwriting skills, confident performer and a sound that is screaming for some radio play. He’s got just enough angst that allows listeners to relate to being in, or losing love and an upbeat, progressive pop sound that’s easy on the ears. If Zach Braff can discover guys like Joshua Radin, it’s time he, and the rest of the world pay attention to what Wes Hutchinson is bringing to the table.
Raul Vasquez (Featured Artist)
Born and bred a mariachi, inspired by Elton John and The Beatles, Raul Vasquez encompasses a blend of bi-cultural musicianship that proves this young artist has an old soul. Already a fan of his family band, one that is an alternative take on traditional Mexican music, Raul won me over as a solo artist when he left behind the sounds he was so familiar with in order to pursue a more vulnerable and playful side on his debut release. When we heard him slip from instrument to instrument in songs reminiscent of classic rock and modern pop we knew he was on his path to finding a sound that was uniquely his own – blending the old with the new. This Colorado native has been voted a top indie artist on Mile High Underground radio, and there’s good reason, as Raul is a rising talent you need to keep an eye on.
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Greg Holden’s story goes like this: Working-class kid growing up in Aberdeen, Lancashire, and Brighton gets bullied and ostracized at school, falls in love with Bob Dylan and picks up a guitar at eighteen, sells everything he owns to move to New York City to make a go of life as a musician and finds himself on a National U.S. tour opening for Ingrid Michaelson. Truthfully, we never really get tired of the simple combination of a vulnerable, clear-toned voice, honest lyrics, and hands that are most comfortable holding a guitar. His music has an uncanny ability to both put you at ease and leave you feeling strangely exposed. Perhaps it’s this unassuming accessibility that makes him quite literally the people’s man — his newest album “I Don’t Believe You” was funded by $30,000 in fan donations.
- Lindy Parker (LP)
Sometimes the best live shows are the ones you least expect anything from. This was the case with Shawn Forno (aka My Friend Shawn). I heard Shawn by accident when a friend invited me to bar where the drinks were cheap and the walk was promised to be brief. I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Shawn playing songs like Transformer Love out of the corner of the dark room. Not only did he have a great stage presence, but his solid guitar playing made for a great solo act. After covering Death Cab for Cutie’s Follow You Into the Dark I was sold. I wouldn’t be surprised if Shawn has been compared to Jason Mraz because of his quirky nature and laid back vibe, but he’s an artist who stands out on his own. If you’re ever in the mood for fun or need a good pick me up album, you need to check out Space Whale.
There’s something about a guy with a beard singing about epic romance in a soaring, gravelly, devil-may-care vocal that really does it for us. Listening to Robbie Gil, your mind conjures images of Marc Cohn, Elton John, and — dare we say it — Meatloaf. And yet, somehow, one by one those comparisons fall away and the thing that remains is a raw, unique, emotional quality that is uniquely his own. Winner of the Best Emerging Artists Award from Songwriter Hall of Fame, Robbie Gil consistently delivers the kind of penetrating, visceral performances that manage to be both shattering and strangely intimate. His record “Save Yourself” is one of our latest musical obsessions.
-Lindy Parker (LP)
Kim Clements (Featured Artist)
If you google Kim Clements, the first website you hit is for a traveling evangelist prophet with a fondness for linen neckerchiefs… yeah, that was our reaction too. However, keep scrolling. South African singer/songwriter/guitarist with a crazy soulful vocals? That’s your girl. Born in London and raised in South Africa, Kim Clements’ sound is smooth and sultry, but with enough raw edge to help her strike that elusive sexy/badass balance to which we constantly aspire. She took the stage with Divas Rock Durban in 2010 and counts Jared Leto and Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump among her collaborators. Also, to our knowledge, she remains politely neutral on neckerchiefs.
-Lindy Parker (LP)
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Let’s just get the obvious out of the way first: No relation to Lisa Loeb that we know of. That said, there is something about Lizzy Loeb’s pure, fluid vocals and simple, quirky lyrics that put us vaguely in mind of the bespectacled nineties songstress. A New York City native and the daughter of a jazz guitarist and Spanish singer, Lizzy’s music incorporates a wide variety of influence from Ella Fitzgerald to John Mayer. Growing up, she split her time between the US and Spain, and even at the tender age of twenty-three, Lizzy has played shows almost everywhere in between. Lizzy’s sound marries the traditional with the modern and adds a few surprises — like a touch of a horn section behind a classic singer/songwriter melody. We feel like this keep-it-interesting approach bodes well for her upcoming debut album.
-Lindy Parker (LP)
When we think of Canadian musicians the first that usually come to mind are the country’s chart-toppers like Alanis Morissette or Avril Lavigne, who’ve been somewhat pegged as the musical mascots of “The True North.” Changing the way you might think of acts coming out of Canada is the band Imaginary Cities. The Winnipeg duo was born out of a chance encounter at a local club called The Cavern. Initially you might hear a cross between Adele and Duffy in lead singer Marti Sarbit’s voice, but blended with producer and multi-instrumentalist Rusty Matyas, the group takes on a classic rock & roll meets Motown sound. Already becoming one of the most talked about new groups in Canada, Imaginary Cities is gaining more fans across the U.S., having toured with the Pixies this year. Beats the days when Sarbit thought she’d be a waitress for the rest of her life. With a debut album like Temporary Resident we’re sure these guys have nothing to worry about when it comes to making music a permanent career.
Amy Kuney has been catching the attention of artists and drawing fans alike due to her voice, variety and yes, those parody videos you’ve seen on YouTube. Whether she’s poked fun of your favorite artist or done an incredible cover of one of their songs Amy’s ability to transcend genres and go from funny to phenomenal has earned her plenty of attention. With artists like Damien Rice inviting her to perform after seeing her viral videos, winning the YouTube’s cover contest, writing and singing her songs on television and opening for several acts Amy is certainly on the right track. Some might call her a rebel, but the reality is when it comes to the talent Amy’s got it. With singles like Gasoline Rainbows, the one time cover artist is proving she’s got the chops to hold a strong career writing and making music of her own.
Hailing from islands of New Zealand, Fredericks Brown is a band that will quite literally make you feel their music in your soul. Lead singer Deva Mahal is no stranger to the stage as the daughter of Grammy award-winning blues and soul singer Taj Mahal. Currently based out of Brooklyn Deva, along with keyboardist Steph Brown and guitarist Michael Taylor, are known for their energetic live shows packed with excitement, emotion and overall musicianship as they speak through the narrative of their songs. In the band’s debut album Out of the Rain you’ll find a blend of r&b, soul, jazz, world and island roots music, but look out for their follow-up album Land of Plenty where the group elevates its appeal with remixes of their newest single “Betrayal.”
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We can’t start a musical journey in New Zealand and not mention the indie artist who’s been dubbed the country’s leading hip-hop soul sensation. Ladi6 has been recognized as an international, underground star with a voice equally as powerful as her socially conscious lyrics. Hailed for her concert performances she’s opened for the likes of hip-hop pioneers De La Soul and Grammy award-winning musician Alicia Keys. Having been compared to legends like Lauryn Hill, Ladi6 is actually considered a diva in her own right. This female performer helped pioneer New Zealand’s soul genre. Her sound, which we find more synonymous with the golden era of hip hop, shows how she’s able to have one ear to the street while earning enough street cred to keep her in the game. Overall, if you like hip-hop, soul or r&b music it’s time to take a listen to Ladi6’s debut album Time is Not Much.
Listen: Quadron – Slippin – Quadron
In their self-titled debut, Quadron may be dubbed electronic soul, but the Danish duo doesn’t limit itself to just one sound when it comes in the soul genre. Their self-titled debut album reflects a creative blend of songs ranging from sounds reminiscent of the Motown era to electro pop vibes and powerful ballads that could stand against British soul sensations like Adele, Joss Stone and Amy Winehouse. The sweet and steady vocals of lead singer Coco Maja Hastrup Karshøj backed by the impressive dance and groove melodies of musician/producer Robin Hannibal will have you spinning this record non-stop while their cover of Michael Jackson’s “Baby Be Mine” will stop you in dead in your tracks.
Listen: Orly – Sit Back – EP
When it comes to baby making music Australian bred artist Orly needs to be added to the list. With soft, sultry grooves like Sit Back on her EP album, Orly will have you lost in her lyrics, swaying to her smooth jazz stylings and captivated by her overall neo soul sound. With few artists from Australia making their way into American music these days (and even fewer soul artists) Orly has a musical sense sure to help this Aussie win over more loyal listeners this side of the Pacific. Plus, we have to admit the accent adds a nice touch that contributes to her already solid stage presence. Currently based in New York City, Orly frequents some of the most respected venues in Manhattan and we look forward to seeing her make her way across America.
Gaby Moreno (Featured Artist)
Confession: we spend a little more time than is really appropriate fantasizing about what we would do if we had a voice like Gaby Moreno’s. Truthfully, we’d probably spend all our time running up and singing to people randomly on the street or in the grocery store or whatever just so that we could watch their minds being blown before our very eyes. In 2006, Gaby won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, which ultimately led her to record an album. Gaby’s debut, Still the Unknown, feels a bit like a mosaic — taking influences from her childhood in Guatemala, the eclectic, chaotic streets of Los Angeles, and the music legends she grew up loving. Her newest release, Illustrated Songs, is somehow richer and more visceral. Listening to it, you can hear a bit of the otherworldly emotion of Nina Simone married to Latin rhythms and a raw, modern sound that feels impossibly effortless. We’ve already given it a prime spot on our life soundtrack for 2011. Gaby also co-wrote the theme song for NBC’s Parks and Rec — a fact which leaves us both in awe of her versatility and strangely more endeared to Amy Poehler.
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If Ani DiFranco and Corinne Baily Rae had a love child the result would be Gina Chavez. Having performed at the SXSW music festival this year the Austin local has also hit the road with acts like Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. Similar to our featured artist Gaby Moreno, Gina includes Latin inspired folk songs alongside indie rock ballads in her debut album Hanging Spoons as well as her follow up Spooning. As the titles might suggest her smooth voice and poetic lyrics backed by acoustic guitar make for the perfect combo if you want to stay home and cuddle up next to your loved one. But her songs aren’t meant for just a party of two, they’ll likely to be the topic of conversation at your next party night when friends start to inquire about the outstanding songstress you’ve added to the playlist.
Listen: Sasha Dobson – Let Me Go – Burn
The first thing we noticed about Sasha Dobson was her microphone. It was one of those big silver monstrosities — fun, bold, larger than life on the stage and a little bit retro, not unlike Sasha herself. Her sound mixes smokey jazz vocals with a little bit of country soul laced in, and a touch of something else — edgier and more rock ‘n roll — that’s uniquely her own. More recently, she’s spent her time opening for and then backing up Norah Jones (with whom she also formed a side project — an all-girl folk-country-blues trio playfully dubbed “Fangbanger”). Her most recent solo album, Burn, is self-penned and produced, and as one would expect from such a multi-layered songstress, somewhat difficult to categorize. To be honest, her whole vibe is a little bit hard to pin down, but if anything that just makes her more intriguing to us. Also, we’ve heard her threaten a couple of people’s lives from the stage so we’d also like to add “ass-kicker” to the list of words we use to describe her.
Listen: Sisters Lucas – Rollercoaster
Identical twins Loretta and Julie Lucas aren’t only eye-catching, the Detroit based duo’s self-described “progressive pop” will easily catch your ear. Songs like “Rollercoaster” take you on a musical journey weaving between indie and folk rock sounds before peaking with garage rock infusions. Ultimately, it makes for the kind of a ride you don’t want to get off. Their playful and catchy lyrics coupled with their use of instruments like the autoharp, sitar and bass clarinet keep the band from immediately drawing comparisons to groups like She & Him or Rilo Kiley. The ladies openly admit to being a bit “strange,” but that just keeps us on our toes as we anxiously await what more they come up with on their first full length album.