The Cutprice Jukebox

We Talk About Music

Category: Uncategorized

Single of the Week: Let Them Eat Cake by Dan Webb

In a post-truth media landscape where alternative facts rule and a reality star resides in the Oval Office the need for questioning from the art community is of the highest importance. One artist who is using his talent as a platform for this questioning is Australian singer-songwriter Dan Webb: his new single, entitled “Let Them Eat Cake” is a vitriolic rant against addressing the hacking of the DNC’s email servers.

Webb’s harsh but important stance questions the media, how they spin news, how they report it, and who benefits from both. He’s not worried about making enemies, knowing that he doesn’t have a chance at radio play with the opium of endless pop clogging up the airwaves say nothing at all, loudly.

“Let Them Eat Cake” is reminiscent of Bowie’s Berlin years: the effected piano groove, the cool delivery of withering words, the sweet repetitive chorus, itself a satire on the pop music he’s lampooning except he’s actually condemning them. It’s an exceptionally confident, daringly concise and timely release, and a great sign of things to come from this exciting new voice.

Advertisements

British Bands to Watch: Those Unfortunates

When I was but a young thing, I was into music very like the kind that Those Unfortunates produce- the kind of light touch, bubbly, guitar-driven pop that’s present on their latest single, Letter Writing Man.

I’m a sucker for self-awareness, and this little tune has it to spare. In a landscape full of groups creating big, bombastic, stern-faced symphonies, there’s nothing wrong with indulging in something that brings me back to a time when I was happy with witty lyrics, a punchy chorus, and a little bit of British eccentricity. Another single is due next month, with the album planned for later this year, so give this a listen and get in early.

Single of the Week: Dark Waters by Dan Lipton

American music has two hearts, urban, and rural. There have been countless songs about New York and other cities, indeed when most think of the American musical landscape, it’s The Velvet Undergrounds New York, Nirvana’s Seattle, and Springsteen’s New Jersey. Artists and places that are so intrinsically tied together. That’s the first heart. The second belongs to the travelling troubadours like Dan Lipton.

Dan Lipton’s elementally moody single “Dark Water” reaffirms his travelling heart. He stays in one place only long enough to get some rest, “Woke up in Brooklyn/Waves crashing at my door/ Rode a ferry just to stay in motion.” Dark Water” is Lipton on the run from his problems, pleading that the water cover up his woes. It’s Americana, and the romanticism of escaping. There’s a sense of finality at play here, Lipton has run out of road and is faced by the sea, it’s not so easy to keep moving so he tries to make a deal. Have the sea swallow his heartache and his journey can be done.

“Dark Water” certainly belongs in America’s second, rambling heart, but it asks the question of what happens when you have no more road left. Let’s hope Dan Lipton can find this answer so he can bring us many more tales of American woe.

Single of the Week: Say Yea by Savoy Ellis

When you hear about music from Los Angeles, it’s usually something…well, something pretty produced: electronica, EDM, glossy indie pop. So when I heard about Savoy Ellis, a singer-songwriter from California creating something in the realm of neo-soul, I was instantly interested. With a degree in English Literature behind him and a few years studying piano and vocals to perfect his craft, Savoy Ellis’ music seemed to promise a certain lyricism beyond the manufactured pop that seems to populate the charts.

And, with the release of his latest single, Say Yea, I can confirm that that is indeed the case. It kicks off with a full, inviting beat, the production just on the right side of boundary-pushing, keeping the old style R&B feel without sacrificing innovation. With warm vocals that challenge Marvin Gaye for his monopoly on “seductive”, it never rests into it’s love-song laurels, always hanging on to an edge of longing that keeps it from sounding too generic. Smart, gorgeously constructed, and endlessly re-listenable, this is the summer jam you never knew you needed in February.

Single Review: Reindeer Romp ‘n’ Roll

Christmas music is an entire genre of its own, yet there are very few Christmas songs that stand the test of time. Sure, there’s Slade and The Pogues, bands that whose names have wreaths around them when they pop into your head. Then there’s bands like the Killers and Coldplay: whose Yuletide songs were quickly, and rightly, forgotten.

Of course there is another way to go: gather an eclectic bunch of singers and musicians who can bring each of their own musical vision to the festive season.

Which brings us merrily on to Reindeer Romp and Roll: the stand-out track on the collaborative album A Colorful Christmas. The song, courtesy of Fetal Records, is a jazz infused spaghetti western track, sung brilliantly by six year old Jet Watling. This is no ordinary Christmas song-this is the kind of song that could eerily soundtrack any alternative Christmas movie. I dare you to not think this song would sound badass sound-tracking John McClaine’s action packed Christmas at Nakatomi Plaza. This is the cool kind of song that Quentin Tarantino would use to soundtrack a gun fight between Santa and all the bad children wanting revenge and it’ll improve your Christmas no end.

Album Review: The Kingdom Belongs to a Child by Cashavelly Morrison

There are certain genres of music that have the air of American history in their bones. Blues, jazz, Americana, and folk. It’s these last two that bring to mind the harsh and beautiful landscape of the American Midwest. This is a place where everyone has a story to tell, and the time has come for Cashavelly Morrison to tell hers.

A native of West Virginia, Morrison has the blood force of Americana flowing through er body, and her body of work. The desolate planes of Appalachia are her musical kingdom, and in this case that Kingdom really does belong to an infant.

Her debut album, The Kingdom Belongs to a Child, is both a compelling elegy to the loss of her father, and the miscarriage she suffered in 2010. Yet at the same time the album is representative of the life she still lives in spite of the loss, and the principals that guide her.

The album opener, Long-Haired Mare, is a bitter-sweet ballad, tinged with heartache and regret, the music transporting you to the old west that none of us will ever see. As an opener, the song is the arresting and engaging work of a very confident artist. This continues on Emory, a masterful banjo lead track that showcases Morrison’s ethereal vocals. Made of Sand is a more traditional country song, a plea for a leaving lover not to go, at first it seems by-the-numbers, until the controlled swoon of the chorus, the sound of exhaustion that hits like a punch to the gut.

There is a melancholic atmosphere to the record, a compelling feast of Southern Gothic that helps Morrison catch the listener of guard. We think The Kingdom Belongs to the Child is just a countrymalbum but on repeated listens Morrison’s themes come to the fore. For example, Pink Dress, which deals with gender inequality in the backdrop of a woman in a man’s world.

And then there’s May 5th, the song inspired by her miscarriage. A brutally personal song, so much so that you get the uneasy feeling of an eavesdropper, hearing something that is not meant for you. But Morrison knows that music can be the platform to communicate a huge loss, and that music is given more power through sincerity.

The Kingdom Belongs to a Child is a stunning, and evocative journey through Cashavelly Morrison’s inner life.

EP Review: The Single Drops by Luca Bash

Luca Bash’s new EP, the Single Drops, proves that all you need to create good music is an idea and an instrument. Much of the Single Drops relies on the simplicity of a man and is guitar, a small platform that can be made vast by the right notes.

Bash and his collaborator Giova Pes have used the supposedly limiting two guitar arrangement to create music that feels deeply intimate, to something that approaches grandeur on repeated listens. Take the records opening track, Your Tomorrow: at first listen it feels almost too melodic, a song that’s so floaty you expect it to float right out of your head. Instead the intricate guitar work and Bash unique vocals tether the son, letting it come in unexpected directions yet always able to pull back when needed.

Forever like Asleep takes a different route, beginning with a more upbeat acoustic riff thats both the melody and somehow the percussion, keeping the son moving. You can almost picture Bash throwing his verses into the mix, using the energy to compel himself to spill is guts: “just leave me, please just leave me my last wish”.

The highlight of the record is Dear John, a haunting ballad and the perfect distillation of Bash and Pes sound. They concern themselves with the big themes, love and death, using their humble sound to call out the highest authority, and tats never more apparent than in Dear Jon.

The deceptively titled Little Tale is anything but, here Bash shares is opinion that it is better, spiritually speaking, to keep trying instead of giving up. The EP ends on a musically upbeat note with Black Swans Walls, in which Bash utilizes a more traditional acoustic rock sound as he takes us on a journey of woe and the rebirth that these songs represent.

The Single Drops marks Luca Bash out as a compelling artist, whose minimalist compositions stay long in the memory. The Single Drops, proves that all you need to create good music is an idea and an instrument. Much of the Single Drops relies on the simplicity of a man and is guitar, a small platform that can be made vast by the right notes.

Album Review: Bitter’s Kiss by bitter’s kiss

Damn, what is it with all these up-and-coming youngsters in the music industry these days, making me and my precious little blog feel old as all hell? Well, at least they’re a talented bunch, as evidenced by the work of Chloe Baker, a young New Jersey-ite (is that the term for it? Sue me, I’m British) who’s currently working under the name bitter’s kiss. With a considerable following behind her already, 2015 will be the year she graces the music world with her first full-length effort in the form of her debut self-titled album, Bitter’s Kiss.

Music, especially indie music like this from relatively new artists, really needs a real hook to pull you in, the kind of thing that has you coming back for more. It can be something specific, like an excellent guitarist, smart lyrics, great vocals, etc, or it can be something less tangible- and that’s definitely the case with bitter’s kiss. I couldn’t for the life of me put my finger on what was so interesting about this album, which is constructed pretty much wholesale from simple, stripped-back piano and guitar melodies strung together with soft, husky vocals and universal lyrics, but I found myself coming back to it again and again.

I think it’s just because there’s something haunting in the way Baker constructs her songs. Take The Rope, for example- a confident track that builds up around crisply-produced atmosphere and smart lyrics, it sounds like the background to a super-moody, painfully cool indie movie. I love the way in builds and recedes, fading out with looped vocals into a few drifting cello notes, the kind of track that forces you to stare off into space as you listen just so you can devote all your brainspace to appreciating it’s construction. And that’s true of every song on bitter’s kiss. These are intricately thought-out numbers, the kind of tracks that invite you to look a little closer, and that surely is Baker’s biggest strength with this assured debut release.

Album Review: A Rainy Week in Paradise by Elessar Thiesen

Look, I like scrappy backstories. In fact, I love ’em- I dig musicians who haven’t come up with the usual backing of studios and labels and omniscient producers behind them (although there is, of course, a place for that kind of stuff). So yeah, when Elessar Thiesen turned up in my inbox this weekend, my interest was firmly piqued. Starting out when he was just eight and had his first fifty-buck guitar, Thiesen has been creating music all the way through his teens and early twenties in various bands and with various collaborators. But now he’s on his own, striking out with the first album of his solo efforts, A Rainy Week in Paradise.

Yeah, slickly harmonised melodies bumping up against acoustic riffs isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste, but there’s more to the album than the big tracks (My Kind of Girl, for example) might suggest. Take the album opener, Another Love Song, which is all about the stripped-back simplicity of his lyrics and his voice and how much emotion he can draw from just those two factors. It’s music created by someone who’s confident that they can convince with their emotional maturity, coming up with something that’s pleasingly original and has an instant re-listenable quality, just so you can dissect the layers a little further.

The pace does pick up, however, on some of the later tracks, with the standout coming in the form of the title number. It’s a bright, energetic, spunky little track that stops just short of sounding too generic thanks to the warmth of the vocals and lyrics. And I think that’s really the takeaway from A Rainy Week in Paradise- it’s rare to come across an album packed full of stacks of lyrics that are memorable in their simplicity, with music that deftly reflects their tone, but this impressive solo debut does just that.

Free Single Download: I’m Ready by Patti Yang

Ten years ago you could throw a rock in any direction and hit an artist who was trying to bring Eighties music back. In 2015 the same can’t be said for the Nineties, which is one of the reasons I’m Ready, the new single from Patti Yang, is so compelling. This song has so many different things going for it: a reminder of how timeless Trip-hop sounds- seriously, with just a few little tweaks Yang has infiltrated the moody dance landscape with beats that sound like they should infiltrate the charts as well.

There is an inherent spirituality in I’m Ready: Patti Yang coolly croons about the almost religious experience of finding love and joining all the others that found it before her: “I’m ready for love/I’m ready for the dream come true/like all of you.” The synths and percussion create, for me at least, a vivid mental picture of a quest across the desert. She’s at the end, discovered her lover, and even though the journey was trying she has enough energy to say how she feels and how the journey has affected her. I’m Ready is an ode to the emotional hardship of accepting that you want love, and Patti Yang sells it with grace. Get your free download of I’m Ready here.