Freedom Fry "The Wilder"

Freedom Fry is a catchy little band from Los Angeles who remind me of an electronic Edward Sharpe. This French American pair, Marie Seyrat and Bruce Driscoll (Blondfire), met when Seyrat was styling Driscoll for a music video. Marie was working for Gucci at the time and she played him some of the music she'd been working on. The two hit it off and formed Freedom Fry in 2011. Though still small, they have been gaining a lot of momentum in the last year and have played alongside bands such as We Are Scientists and Echosmith.

This song is light, warm and retro-inspired. Marie's Parisian vocals work much like a daydream and take you back to the first few days of Summer when hopes were high and the possibilities were endless.

Christian Letts' new song "Matches" ignites the senses

What do Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes and Mumford & Sons have in common? A beautiful, beautiful thing, my friends. Christian Letts spent years as the lead guitarist for The Magnetic Zeroes and has been foundational in writing many of the band's songs. Recently Letts announced he would be releasing his first solo album Hold Fast in early 2015, produced by Marcus Mumford (who is also heard singing background vocals). 

I didn't know this but Letts is an artist in more ways than one. He is also a talented painter who creates some really beautiful pieces to accompany his music. I think this unique approach brings a greater depth to the actual experience of listening to music because it stimulates multiple senses. For example, if we look at Letts' song "Matches", you can emotionally connect to it by hearing the music and feeling the melody, and then visually by taking in the painting he has chosen to pair with the song. This idea of bringing your senses together livens the music and builds a stronger experience for the listener. It's like stepping from two-dimensional into three for the first time. 

His songs are really beautiful and the sound is different from what he's been a part of before. He's put out that stands as his alone and is true to his own heart and I'm eager to hear more. I've been thinking a lot lately how there is relief in honesty, especially when you are honest to who you are in the present moment. "Matches" brings to light a soft victory that is built on overcoming darkness. 


Hear the distance calling a future man
He will travel back when he can
Looked at death and traded this life for love
Shook his hand and looked to the skies above
Heard the future calling a simple man
He says it's just part of his plan

 

See more of Christian's art on instagram by following @LettsLettsLetts and listen to "Matches" from his unreleased album Hold Fast here:

Mondays Suck But This Doesn't vol. 4

As winter slowly rolls in and we begin to add extra layers to keep ourselves warm (because we live in a place where the air hurts our face) it's important to have a good, warm winter album. Each year I find myself gravitating to certain bands that keep me lucid during this hibernation season. Last year it was almost exclusively The National'Trouble Will Find Me (and uncharacteristically a lot of Drake). So this year when I came across Luluc, The National's virtuous little sister, I got really excited. 

Zoe Randell and Steve Hassett, natives of Melbourne, Australia, form the indie duo Luluc and have attracted notable fans such as Nick Drake and The National's Aaron Dessner with their magical lullabuys and sleepy harmonies. In fact, Dessner co-produced the band's 2014 album Passerby. Each song reminds me of a childlike dream - nostalgic and sweet. I don't want to write too much about Luluc because I think the album does an incredible job of telling its own story already. What I will say is that it's the perfect album to put on during a quiet morning, make yourself a cup of something and take solace in the fact that you are warm inside while the snow is howling outside. Here's Tangled Heart.


Shakey Graves Starts a War

Shakey Graves is one of the best live performances you will ever see - that is if you're able to wrestle someone to the death for tickets to one of his sold-out shows. I saw him perform a couple times at Bluesfest in Ottawa last year and they have since been two of my favourite shows. I had the opportunity to see him again last night at the Phoenix in Toronto and needless to say he has only become more frighteningly good. He attracts huge followings everywhere he goes and the reason is something you wouldn't expect - math.

Photo by Jarred Gastriech

Photo by Jarred Gastriech

Alejandro Rose-Garcia plays under the stage name Shakey Graves and has been travelling North America for the last couple years, playing music, out of his suitcase. Literally. The rugged piece of luggage is actually a makeshift kick drum fashioned with different pedals and a tambourine. Combine this with his guitar picking and gravelly vocals and you have yourself a one-man band that is taking people by storm. What makes his music so unique is that he rarely plays it the same way twice. The general outline and lyrics of his songs are the same, but he is able to command his crowds by changing different "performance variables". Depending on the size of the room, atmosphere and mood, he will often puppeteer his audience by throwing curve ball changes in the tempo and rhythm. His unique style is one thing to read about, but to actually experience a live show is totally different from what you're going to get with a recording. 

My theater experience taught me how to change in real time, and then it became a math thing; how far away I could get away with similar tempos, when I had to change tunings, how frequently people would accept a quiet song. Also, what’s a good song to end on, or what’s the best song to begin on, or what I shouldn’t play based on the size of crowd. I did that for two years.
— Shakey Graves

Since last year, he's added a drummer to his sets. The lovable "Boo" came bouncing out for a couple songs and once they started they couldn't be stopped. Boo eagerly engaged and locked in on every twist and turn Shakey threw at him. That's when the war came. Their chemistry was so on point, easily feeding off each other's energy, that it seemed as if they forgot we were there.

Later in the set he began Proper Fence by playfully keeping everyone on their toes with one of his tempos and sarcastically said, "if you love something and want it, you should build a fence around it. And then just stare at it for the rest of your days." Then he looked up and rolled his eyes before jumping into a faster paced rhythm. You can't put Shakey Graves into a category because he'll tear right through it with his spontaneity and ever changing tempos. There's no use in trying to keep up with him. Instead it's so much better to just submit to the music and let him carry you along. Here's a live performance of Roll The Bones.



Mondays Suck But This Doesn't vol. 3

 

Over the last few months I've been listening to a lot of blues as well as trying to work on my rhythm (basic white girl problems) so when an opportunity came up to travel in October, I went south for a few days to explore New Orleans. It was a cool experience because I got to immerse myself in southern music rather than reading about it online. While I was there, I came across a band called TEAM* from Dallas, Texas who put on an energetic show to open up the night for Colony House. This band is the lovechild of Caleb Turman and Rico Andradi (Forever The Sickest Kids) and has included members along the way such as Jay Vilardi (The Almost), Bryan Donahue (Boys Like Girls) and most recently, Jared from Portland. Go Jared! Though this band is far from the blues, they've curated a cool choral indie sound that I was happy to stumble upon. Check out their single "I Like It" from their album Good Morning Bad Day released October 14, 2014.

They released their first full-length record that night at the show so I picked up a copy for my car. One of my favourite tracks has been I'm Just Like You (When You Turn Off the Lights). It's a song you can easily blast to get out all of your pent up emotions. Not that I have any of that. The lyrics go, "If you turn out, turn out the lights I'm just like you. If you turn out, turn out the lights I'm cool."

Even when this track was in its embryonic stages, I remember feeling that we were working on something that was honest. Everything we experience in life is purely based on our own perception. If we tear down the imaginary walls that were put up we just find that we’re all the same, but yet for whatever reason still alienate ourselves or one another.
— Rico Andradi, TEAM*

I deeply relate to the lyrics and this quote. I think there is often a lot of pressure on people to perform in social settings and you can begin to put up walls or hide parts of yourself that are really great because you feel that you need to be a certain way for someone to like you. I used to think "wouldn't it be nice if whenever I had to meet someone new I could just meet them in the dark, then I could be myself." Knowing that someone else wrote these lyrics and feels the same way reaffirms what Rico says about alienating ourselves in public, but when the lights go out and the imaginary walls come down, we're all the same. Here's I'm Just Like You. http://www.wearecalledteam.com/  

Mondays Suck But This Doesn't vol. 2

Is anyone else experiencing a Monday morning American Music Awards hangover? By that I mean you stayed up way past your bedtime judging every performance except the one where you had your hand stuck in a giant bag of caramel kettle corn all night? I am not ashamed of what I've become. So to cure all Monday morning ailments, I'm giving us a good dose of James Bay who just released his third EP on November 21st, 2014. 

The first time I heard James Bay I was watching this video he did a for a Burberry fashion show. It sounds strange because his EPs don't scream "runway soundtrack" but he sang this cheeky little song called “When We Were on Fire” and it kind of worked! Though if you watch the video, people seem to be more captivated by his voice rather than the clothing.

In October, I got to see James Bay perform live at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto when he opened for Hozier. I find that people will sometimes describe a moment where “time stops” but I've never really experienced that before hearing James Bay. The crowd was a little rowdy when the fresh faced songwriter walked out onto the stage but within the first few notes of “Let it Go” the room was so silent you could hear a pin drop. I don’t think anyone was expecting his voice to sound like that - fervent and unrefined. Compound this with his songwriting and you get heartbreak every time.

I hate using the word "raw" to describe something because I think it's overused and most of the time it just sounds cool to say rather than actually describing something. But in this case, I think it's completely justifiable to describe James Bay in this way. Sometimes I find songs are heavy with too much metaphor and I have a hard time connecting with them. But because his lyrics are direct and true ("why don't you be you, and I'll be me") he tells a story that you can engage in emotionally and relate to in a real way. One of my favourite lyrics from him is, "If you ever want to be in love, I'll come around." It makes you think about a person who is emotionally closed off but there's that one person they'd flip the switch for. He is also very open about the meaning behind his songs and says that everything he writes comes from a personal experience. Sometimes being vulnerable sucks but then I look at the incredible music he's producing from that place and it challenges me to be more open. 

He has released most of his music through SoundCloud so you can check that out HERE. But there's nothing like buying all 3 EPs to show your support instead. Here are a few more of my favourites:



Mondays Suck But This Doesn't vol. 1

Mondays truly are the Voldemorts of the weekdays, but it's nothing a little Expelliarmus can't fix. While trolling SoundCloud last Friday night, I came across a band called Racing Glaciers from Macclesfield, United Kingdom (I had to Google it) and they have a sound I've been craving for a while. You know those songs that give your heart a little lurch? Whether it's something along the lines of painful resonance or finally hearing the truth you've been trying to describe for the last 6 months, this song does that for me. So grab your third coffee of the day and watch First Light from their new EP Don't Wait For Me (2014)


The interesting thing about Racing Glaciers is that they began as group of long-time friends who came together with the intention of producing an EP rather than actually being a band. Once they were in post-production they realized they needed a name, so after throwing around a few options, Racing Glaciers seemed to stick. They began sharing their self-titled EP with friends online and almost overnight were receiving calls from management all over Europe wanting to represent them. During the time they were writing their second EP Ahead of You Forever (February 2014), they were listening to a lot of Bon Iver and The National, which I think you can really hear through their music. But I also think I can hear of bit of Harbour Lights in there somewhere.

When it comes down to it, these are a group of guys who love music and so they began making music they loved, and not for anyone else. I'll be recommending this band to everyone I know for the next year at least! It's the perfect soundtrack to be cooped up with in the office today while a snowstorm rages outside. Here are some of my other favourites. Happy Monday, hopefully by now.

R.A.T.S!

Listening to Ryan Adams’ new album is like reuniting with your childhood best friend after 10 years. I was 13 the first time I found this mix somewhere that was purely cover songs by Ryan Adams. It featured every angst-y pre-teen’s favourite songs like Wonderwall (Oasis) and Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen). Don't roll your eyes. I didn’t realize he wrote his own music until I dabbled in Demolition (2002), Rock N Roll (2003) and then learned that Love is Hell in 2004. Then like most childhood friendships, you lose touch over the years. But it’s ok because you’re both making new friends and you still share mutually fond memories and you know you could always call once every six months to say "hey, what's up." But now it’s been 10 years and Ryan Adams’ new album is full of songs that are deep, edgy and introspective. Also, Johnny Depp makes a cameo on guitar for tracks 2 (Kim) and 8 (Feels Like Fire). Yes, Johnny Depp. So now when I listen to this album, it's as if everything I love about Ryan Adams is still there, but he's someone whose shed a few layers and been through some stuff and is like, "Hey this is who I am and I believe in my music."

I went to see him play in Toronto at Massey Hall this week. Gimme Something Good, the first track on the album and also the first to open the show, is an anthem to reckon with. The chorus has this 80s vibe but in every perfect way. It’s gritty, heavy with electric and leaves with you kind of a longing feeling. He also played a new song called Do You Laugh When You Lie for the first time during the show which is the latest single to be revealed on his next 7-inch coming out in early December. Keep your eye out for this one, it's incredible. He played a full 2 hours through many crowd favourites like Dirty Rain, Stay With Me and Oh My Sweet Carolina to name only a few.

He also played This House Is Not For Sale which he prefaced by saying, "this next song is really just a review of the movie Beetlejuice...I wish I was kidding." He also had everyone in stitches while retelling a story of the time an old ex walked in on him blasting a Puddle of Mudd ballad from a mix tape he'd made himself titled "best worst possible ballads of all time".

Reluctantly he ended the show with Come Pick Me Up. I would say that of all the shows I've been to, Ryan Adams has the best sense of humour. His interaction with the audience is very authentic, spontaneous and he feeds off being in the moment with you. Then as if the night couldn't get better, through a series of random events, divine favour and my friend Emily's sister, we got to hang out with Ryan after the show while they packed up the tour. He loves his pinball, pizza and some others P's and that is all I will disclose. Stay weird.

Drive Me To Autumn's

I've always been vocal about how much I love looking for music or new artists. For those of you who ask me what I'm currently listening to, I put something together on 8tracks for the "Augtober Obsession" season we are now in called Drive Me To Autumn's (poem included). I sometimes joke about how boring I can be on a Friday night because all I want to do is sit at home and creep IndieShuffle or Rdio. So anyway, for the Fall season I made what I thought would be a good mix (some new, some old) to throw on for a long drive home, through plenty of country roads and changing leaves.

To highlight my top 3 favourites:
1. Hozier's "Take Me To Church" (international album release Oct 7th)
2. Lord Huron "She Lit a Fire" (particularly the bridge)
3. Wake Owl "Old Country"

I hope you'll listen with me too!