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THE SILENT COMEDY

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For a few years, Joshua Zimmerman couldn’t bring himself to listen to his band’s most recent album. Enemies Multiply – the Silent Comedy LP he and Jeremiah, his brother and longtime bandmate, had written and recorded several years ago – felt too personal, too raw to engage with. Born of a rough patch in the Zimmerman brothers’ personal and professional lives, listening to it felt like rubbing salt in healed wounds. Despite the brothers collectively viewing the album as some of their best work in the decade-plus they’d been a band, the project was shelved.

Then the 2016 election happened.

 “And suddenly, at that moment,” while living in New York City and feeling bewildered and frustrated at the country’s new reality, “I realized the feeling of this moment was what we wrote this music for,” Joshua recalls. A certain pall and desperation had settled over the country in the days and week after the election and, in Joshua’s estimation, the album now had widespread cultural resonance. “At this particular moment in U.S. history I felt like a lot more people could take comfort in the songs than ever before,” Joshua notes of the 11-track LP that at long last is set for release on October 19th. Jeremiah concurred: “For the first time ever I just want people to hear it and have it.”

Recorded in Austin, Texas, Enemies Multiply is sonically a big-boned, bruising affair. The brothers channeled an admittedly confusing time of conflict in their lives — as well as the previous perilous years leading up to it, characterized by what Josh describes as “being jerked around by the music industry” — into their most impassioned, hard-hitting, and thoroughly engaging album of their career. Standing at the center is “Sharks Smell Blood,” all bluesy strut, spooky choirboy harmonies and sing-along hook. Likewise, “Avalanche” is framed around a searing guitar line and squelching church organ. Like the album itself, and the band’s own views on it, “that song evolved over time. I’ve loved it in every incarnation it went through, but when I listen to how it ended up I really feel that’s the pinnacle of all of that work,” Joshua explains. Even “No Saints Forgiven,” which begins as a back porch delta-blues confessional, quickly explodes into a Van Halen-esque sing-along at the chorus.

But it’s the messages in the songs  – namely combating malevolence by banding together with likeminded people – that compelled the Silent Comedy to finally release the album. As children, after traveling the globe with their missionary parents only to return to the United States, meander some more, then settle down in San Diego in a house with literally nothing but an upright piano, the two brothers looked to musical collaboration in their mid-teens as a cathartic outlet. “Jeremiah started writing songs, “Josh recalls. “That was kind of his way of processing everything that we’d been through. That’s really when we started writing together.” It was their traveling that also colored their worldview which, when compared to some of their peers, was decidedly darker. “It skewed our perception to see how much suffering there is in the world and how fortunate we are in the United States by comparison,” Joshua explains. “We have always had a little bit more somber view of things.” Enemies Multiply, he then adds, “is a distillation of that worldview.” Jeremiah admits the album “has a lot of stuff in there about people backstabbing each other” which caused some record labels to initially balk at releasing it. And even now, as he wishes that subject matter weren’t so applicable, “I think people are more sympathetic to that idea,” Jeremiah offers. The album, he adds, “is a journey in context.”

Though, as Joshua explains, it’s the album’s most hopeful track, the closing “Peace of Mind,” that he says now connects with him on an intensely personal level. One of the most collaborative songs he and Jeremiah ever wrote, the harmonica-drenched folk lament, on one hand, “is really about being in a desperate place and a hopeless place, but also about taking comfort in banding together.” It especially spoke to him in the past two years, particularly as the world seemed to slip further into chaos. “It still is a really emotional song to listen to and to sing,” he adds.

“All of what we have been through as a band is wrapped up in this new project,” Joshua notes of the Silent Comedy’s realization that conflicts and challenges often reveal themselves as the best source material for artistic expression. The years spent writing the material that became Enemies Multiply, according to Jeremiah, “were exhausting and it was really taking a toll on us. We were in a legitimate struggle. But all the songs started to take on a new meaning. This entire process was saturated with so much frustration and conflict. So to see something like Enemies Multiply rise out of that is awesome.”

 While not always visible in plain sight, rock music has always formed the foundation of the Silent Comedy. The brothers, who were fanboys for bands like Rage Against The Machine and At The Drive-In during their teenage years, first delved into band life via joint membership in a punk and post-hardcore act. But after forming the Silent Comedy in the mid-2000’s, their early albums, including 2010’s Common Faults,, began to incorporate the folk, Americana and the blues they picked up from listening to a healthy dose of Cat Stevens and Simon and Garfunkel. Still, all throughout, their live show was centered on its rollicking, over-the-top, energy. To that end, the Zimmerman brothers felt their studio efforts needed to better match up with their live persona.

“In a way it was only a matter of time before we fully embraced our rock n’ roll roots,” Josh says.  Adds Jeremiah: “The farther we kept going, we realized the stuff that was more interesting to us was the more energetic and rock-focused material. Our energy has been our biggest asset. We wanted to put that on the record.”

If the journey has felt long and at times painful, the Zimmerman brothers feel that with Enemies Multiply now set for release the ends truly do justify the means. “There’s a certain freedom to whatever happens now,” Jeremiah says. “After a while in life you start to look at the bigger picture.”

 

 

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WILL DAILEY

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"Then what of the national throat?  Will it not weaken?"

These emphatic words of protest appeared in a 1906 essay written by John Philip Sousa. The patriotic American composer found himself standing before a dramatic threshold in music. Faced with the advent of the recording of music and an onslaught of innovation, all of which he deemed, “the menace of mechanical music,” the composer feared the sacred creative entity he had dedicated his entire life to serve would be forever ruined. Sousa passionately lamented that singing would be replaced by a "mathematical system of megaphones, wheels, cogs, disks … all matter of revolving things."  More than anything, he feared that the introduction of new contraptions of innovation would serve to water down his cherished artform, all in the name of commercialism. More than a century later, treading upon a similarly fragile fault-line in music, singer-songwriter Will Dailey asks these very questions in his upcoming release. His record is aptly entitled:  National Throat. 

Will Dailey has chosen to deviate from that predestined path of cogs and commercialism.  He willfully parted ways from one of the world’s largest record labels to produce his latest full-length album.

Now independent, Dailey feels liberated. National Throat tells the story of that journey. 

People have been complaining about change in the music industry for centuries but artists make art because they have to,” Dailey says. “I write songs because they happen to me; it fuels my life and I see it fuel other people’s lives… Nothing can disrupt that. This album of songs is about doing this because you have to.

Featuring 11 new tracks, National Throat is a thriving embodiment of an authentic American Dream. It is a registry of a national reverie, one brought to fruition through a musician’s pursuit of art in its rawest form. It is music felt, not contrived. It is fresh soul untarnished by the grease of cogs or disks, left pure in the midst of a virulent commercial world.

Though fortune and fame have never been of main concern, Dailey’s music has been amplified by acclaim: He is a three-time winner of the Boston Music Award for Best Singer/Songwriter and his songs have been featured on more than 50 shows and films. Critics agree that he holds his ground performing next to artists like Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, and John Mellencamp. He was unfazed by the call from Oscar and Grammy-winning producer T Bone Burnetts to join Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crowe, and Rosanne Cash in the studio. All this from a man who has never, ever been anything but a musician.

But with National Throat, Dailey risked the potential to obtain an even broader reach by parting with a major label after realizing his goals and theirs were out of whack. This time he counted on a solid fan base to save him from a failing partnership, the inspiration for one of the album’s most talked-about songs. “I’m jumping overboard /And I’m swimming back to shore,” Dailey sings over a Burnett-inspired tune in “Sunken Ship.”  Somewhat stranded but never alone, he took charge and involved his fans in a communal creative process through Pledge Music. “It will be a unique experience,” he wrote to his fans, “a one of a kind process. When the day is done, you will have elevated my music to a whole new level. A true artistic community will be built here.”

And build it they did. Dailey’s fans’ admiration feeds National Throat from the inside out – like gas to an engine. The album’s closing song, “We Will Always Be A Band,” reflects the timelessness of the special kind of relationships sewn together with sonic filaments. Its lyrics draw Dailey’s audience in close, wrapping us in a warm familiarity that lingers beyond silence:

Am I in your headphones
Am I on your mind
Is there a tune that’s stuck in your head
That comes from a song of mine?


Indeed, listeners will hear his dynamic voice echo around the naturally catchy melodies that replay themselves effortlessly in our minds.

Though unified by Dailey’s characteristic plaid, rootsy charm, each song on National Throat vibrates with unique personality and showcases his dramatic vocal range. Each is a knockout delivered through a triple threat talent for singing, writing, and playing guitar. Listeners are already addicted to “Why Do I,” a rollicking shout-out to a promise-filled night of debauchery in his hometown, Boston. The epic, beautifully melancholic “Castle of Pretending” contrasts sharply with the sexy and demanding “Don’t Take Your Eyes Off Of Me.” Dailey is not afraid to spike his songs with attitude, nor to expose a naked softness, typified by the folksy “Higher Education” and the romantic spoken French quote (“Nous devrions tous avoir la chance de connaître l’amour…”) that closes the McCartney-esque “Once In A Century Storm.”

John Philip Sousa was wrong to preemptively mourn the loss of “songs that stir the blood and fire the zeal,” of “songs of home, of mother, and of love, that touch the heart and brighten the eye.” These songs flourish and surge with vigor in National Throat. The 2014 album makes clear that Will Dailey’s zeal for art, for music—for life and love—is unhampered by time and liberated from the contemporary materialism Sousa so wisely presaged. When Dailey sings, “My last dollar will be spent keeping these lights on/Doing the only thing that I can” we better believe him. He’s unstoppable.

Today, despite the persistence and further development of all matter of revolving things, the National Throat is alive and well in Will Dailey. 

ELEVATION GROUP

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Formerly part of San Francisco’s Bill Graham Management, Elevation Group formed their independent operation in 2002. Since then Elevation Group continues to provide dedicated full service artist direction and management to artists including The Neville Brothers, the Funky Meters and The New Mastersounds.

LIP SYNC MUSIC

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Lip Sync Music Inc. is a prominent music licensing agency started by founder and current owner Lauren Harman. Since the inception of the company in 2009 Lip Sync has worked with an impressive array of artists both established up-and-coming, including Au Revoir Simone, Cults, Hanni El Khatib, Rhye, Local Natives, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Mayer Hawthorne, Snoop Dogg, Bloc Party, Digitalism, The Naked and Famous and more. The labels they have represented have included some of the most prestigious tastemakers in the world including Delicious Vinyl, Daptone, Innovative Leisure, DimMak and more.

At the core of the company is Harman’s philosophy of having a small focused roster of diverse and talented artists. This philosophy has propelled Lip Sync into into being one of the top film & tv/music representation firms in the US, generating millions in sync revenue every year for their artists through an impressive flow of placements in  films, television, commercials, trailers, video games and online & industrial videos.

The company has worked with marquee brands such as Target, Nike, Windows, Amazon, PlayStaion, The Gap, Miller Lite, Honda, Audi, Lexus and more. Their clients music has been heard in major motion pictures and television shows such as Magic Mike, the Scream franchise, What to Expect When Your Expecting, Showtime’s Shameless, The Newsroom and Californication, HBO’s Girls and Entourage, Netflix’s hit show Orange is the New Black, ABC’s Nashville and Grey’s Anatomy, Fox’s Glee, AMC’s Breaking Bad , CBS’s NCIS and CSI and many, more.

ALO

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“We’ve never fit into any quickly digestible category,” says ALO’s keyboardist/singer Zach Gill.  “It’s just a different kind of experience.”

With its delightfully vibrant blend of inventive musicality and genre-blurring reach, Sounds Like This sees ALO operating with fresh verve and vitality, their always-kaleidoscopic funk pop ‘n roll aglow with exceptionally ebullient songcraft and deliriously danceable grooves.  The California-based band’s fourth Brushfire Records release showcases their unfettered passion, wit, and imagination while simultaneously exploring hitherto uncharted musical terrain.  Invigorated by an unstructured approach to the studio process, ALO have accessed new avenues of resourcefulness, resulting in a truly distinctive collection of songs that adroitly captures all the glorious ingenuity and adventure of the band’s legendary live sets.

“There has always been a division between the fans that get to know us through our live shows vs. the fans that get to know us through our albums,” guitarist Lebo says.  “This album is going to bridge that gap.”

Long acclaimed for their deft musicianship, potent songwriting, and astonishing on-stage interaction, the members of ALO have played together for more than two decades, with the current permutation now in its 10th year and counting.  The band followed the release of 2010’s Jack Johnson-produced Man Of The World by doing what they do best:  playing live, with highlights including the Halloween-themed “Haunted Carnival of Traveling Freaks & Frights” tour and their annual Tour d’Amour benefitting public music school programs.

In April 2011, ALO convened at San Francisco’s Mission Bells studio with no plans other than to make some music together.  With studio owner/longtime collaborator David Simon-Baker assisting behind the board, the band opted to take the same improvisational tack towards recording as they do on stage.  Any distinctions between pre-production and real recording would be shed, allowing for ALO’s instinctive spontaneity to make it to track.

“We thought, what if we started recording from the get-go,” Gill says, “instead of rehearsing, making songs, and then going into the studio.  We decided to start the whole process all at once, with the intention of wanting things to feel really live.”

“Without a clear roadmap, we hit a lot of dead ends,” says drummer Dave Brogan says, “which forced us to create our way out of the morass.  I think that helped us look to within ourselves – rather than outside influences – to bring the music to life.”

The band – all based in the Bay Area, bar Gill, who resides in sunny Santa Barbara – were also able to utilize a lifetime’s bag of tricks in a way the previous album’s sonic scope only suggested.

“The previous record was done in Hawaii, so we simply couldn’t fly with much,” bassist Steve Adams says.  “Doing this one in San Francisco definitely made it easier to bring anything we wanted from home – Dave set up a more elaborate drum zone, Lebo had more guitars and amps, Zach brought up more keyboards.  I had all my basses and a keyboard rig as well.  Having a broader palette of sounds definitely had an influence on how the record turned out.”

In the past, ALO felt compelled to adjust their expansive songs to better suit the recorded format, trimming tracks to a more easily consumed length.  While this certainly honed the band’s songwriting skills, ALO were now eager to let it all hang out, marking tracks like the bombastic “Dead Still Dance” with collage-like structures, deep dance grooves, and inventive, intricate solos.  The inclusion of longer songs on Sounds Like This epitomizes “ALO being more comfortable with who ALO is,” according to Lebo.

“The truth is, longer songs come more naturally to us,” he continues.  “In the past we've spent more time whittling the songs down because we felt that we needed to do so in order to ‘fit in.’  This time around, we let the songs be what they wanted to be, and sometimes that meant a long song.”

“There was a part of us that went, ‘Are we being a tad too indulgent?,’” says Gill, “but in the end we decided that we wouldn’t say we were being indulgent – we were being generous.”

ALO let their imagination run free, both musically and lyrically, resulting in such larger-than-life highlights as the Old West flight of fancy, “Cowboys and Chorus Girls” or the self-explanatory glitterball workout, “Room For Bloomin.”  Where prior albums featured songs penned individually and then arranged by the band, this time out, ALO were determined that their collective spirit inform every groove.

“With collaborative writing, everyone’s personal stamp is in the DNA of the song,” Lebo says. “That makes these songs definitively ALO.”

At the heart of the album is ALO’s raucous reverie for days past, “Blew Out The Walls,“ as well as its more subdued sibling, “Sounds Like That” (included exclusively as an iTunes bonus track).  The track reverberates with the excitement and passion of a rock ‘n’ roll band in its nascent stage, that magical moment where four friends first get together in someone’s basement for the sheer joy of making music together.

“I think we all were feeling the dream again,” Adams says, “remembering back to where it all started.”

All four members of ALO agree that a similar sense of excitement is currently spurring the band forward.  Sounds Like This has imbued ALO with an audacious energy that is certain to infiltrate the band’s already spirited live shows, not to mention their next studio outing.

“Like all ALO albums, the next one will be a culmination of all the past albums and everything that happens in between,” Brogan says, “I don't know if we'll be so bold in our lack of planning next time, but I'm sure we'll find some other way to challenge ourselves.”

“I love making records,” Gill says.  “With this one done, now there’s the excitement of, what about the next one?  Those juices are already brewing.  I feel like we just cracked the ice so it’ll be exciting to see what happens next.”

JACK MOSBACHER

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“There’s something really brave…about being unabashedly happy.”  

Hearing Jack Mosbacher’s voice for the first time is like stumbling on a sunflower in the middle of a city sidewalk. At first, you’ll wonder if it’s real (it is). Then you’ll want to take it home (you can). His thoughtfully crafted traditional hooks and cheerful Motown vibes have drawn comparisons to The Temptations, Hall and Oates, and Otis Redding, exuding the old school power of Alabama Shakes with the pop sensibility of Andy Grammer and Ed Sheeran . Mosbacher revives the best of past eras with timeless warmth and modern charisma. In a world of confusion, chaos, and division, he is determined to make you smile. 

Jack’s music is his means of “accessing a higher joy” passed down from traditional greats of bygone eras. And at first listen, one can see why. His old-school style and joyful lyricism bear a uniquely innocent power. Invoking the past with an eye on the present and future, Jack Mosbacher’s original music is an uplifting delight for old souls of all ages.  

“I had a teacher once tell me: ‘You’re either in the lighting business, or the heating business. You’re either doing something new, or you’re bringing forgotten warmth to people who need it. I’ve always wanted to be a combination of both.”  

His journey into the ‘heating business’ began in early childhood, upon finding The Temptations in an old cassette drawer. It was an “unbelievable, mind-exploding moment” that ignited his spirit with fervor. But Jack hadn’t yet been exposed to the painful adversity his idols faced, or the turbulent era that he would himself enter as an adult. Today, Mosbacher harbors no illusions about what it means to honor their work.  

“So much of American music and popular culture…was driven by heroes and geniuses of color, or from some kind of background that is not like mine,” he says. “The things I’ve seen, and my faith, have taught me that you really run into trouble when you’re not acknowledging who your influences are, and all the systemic injustices and hardships that inspired artists before me to write a lot of this music in the first place.”  

Jack underwent a rigorous period of education – in school and in the real world - that would inform and empower his perspective. He eventually graduated from Stanford University (while playing on the baseball team and writing for the school paper) with Honors in Political Science. He credits this education for laying the bricks of his platform and social awareness. “The vast majority of people whose art has significantly shaped my life have looked different from me, and have gone through things I’ve never had to deal with,” he says. “There’s a huge sensitivity there. Everything white artists have done has been influenced by artists of some kind of ‘other.’ And the main thing that really strikes me about all of it is that I fell in love with this music before I knew what any of that was. There was an innocence there that I’m trying to retain while also being mindful of my own place in all of this. And a sense of purpose in being an ally, in respecting and advancing the message.” 

Mosbacher is vividly aware of the dichotomy between innocence and struggle in music, particularly in regard to race and identity. “There is such a cultural importance, and a continued relevance, to acknowledge and respect. But music is also the one place where we can all come together, where we’re able to shed these differences and presuppositions in a way we can’t in any other part of our lives and our world.” 

For Jack, authenticity is key. Audiences are more educated, connected, and responsive than ever. He trusts that they know when it’s real. “Regardless of how I look or the differences I have from artists who wrote this in the past, this music is my heartbeat. It raised me.”  

His radiant sound has evolved to exude the old school power of Alabama Shakes and Leon Bridges, with the pop sensibility of Andy Grammer and Ed Sheeran. Today, Mosbacher aims to add happy elements to the next generation of soul. “There’s a lot of darkness out there,” he says. “Joy isn’t what you regularly see on the front page of the paper, or on your Facebook feed. I’ve been so incredibly fortunate, and it seems like the least I can do is to try to spread some light.”  

Prior to pursuing music, Jack was an accomplished athlete and student. International affairs and human rights were (and are) deeply important to him. At Stanford, Jack played on the nationally ranked baseball team and was awarded a special grant to write a thesis on income inequality and oil politics in East Africa as part of an international development program. He has since traveled to 13 African countries and published pieces in Foreign Affairs and The Washington Quarterly; with that, a career in journalism and policy seemed like a foregone conclusion. But Jack’s family, friends, and mentors pushed him to follow his heart, and it called him to music and entertainment. Once he listened, he never looked back.  

He dove headfirst into musicals on the east and west coasts, dazzling audiences in cabaret shows and Off-Broadway hits such as Sondheim’s ‘Merrily We Roll Along’ and ‘Napoleon.’ But as Jack prepared for his first headline cabaret show in San Francisco, one of his oldest friends was killed in an accident.  

In the wake of unthinkable loss, mourning friends and loved ones still came to the show, looking for an evening of relief. Being able to raise the audience’s spirits redefined the concept of entertainment for him. “The purpose of my music became solely to lift everyone in the room out of whatever darkness they are fighting and join them in the light, even for a fleeting moment.”  

Since recognizing his true purpose, Jack’s songwriting has been unstoppable. The San Francisco Chronicle heralded the young talent as “a star on the rise.” But Mosbacher stays rooted in his craft and the responsibility he feels to his listeners. His only goal is for people to leave his shows happier than when they came.  

“Music has never been my means of justifying myself, to myself or to anybody else,” he says. “It’s simply my way of giving something back.” 

Mosbacher’s recent collaboration with Nerf Herder’s Linus of Hollywood and Letters to Cleo’s Michael Eisenstein resulted in over a dozen new songs, set for release in 2018. His inaugural single, “The Second Time Around,” debuted on December 1. “These songs are full of energy and an almost naïve innocence,” he says. “They’re the best representation of what I’ve wanted my music to be to this point, and I hope that the trajectory is only upward as we continue to write, record, and perform.”  

Mosbacher fell in love with music by hearing The Temptations, but he never could have guessed that his future would bring them front and center. David Ruffin, the band’s original lead singer, was forced to abandon a solo record following struggles with addiction and a tussle with Motown Records. 30 years later, an independent label acquired the album and quietly released it. Mosbacher jumped at the chance to honor his late hero’s forgotten work. In collaboration with Michael Eisenstein and an eclectic array of musicians, Mosbacher covered four of Ruffin’s previously unreleased songs in a classic Motown session: all of the instruments in one room, making music until they got it right. 

“I’ll never be David Ruffin,” he says. “That was never the point. It was just incredibly exciting and fulfilling to pay my respects to the guy I grew up trying to be.” 

In early December, Mosbacher closed out a home-run year by performing new songs at the Peppermint Club in LA. He’s scheduled to kick off 2018 with a springtime tour of the West Coast, appearing with Train, Michael Franti, Robert Randolph, and more on the fifth annual Sail Across The Sun cruise.  

But even as big breaks roll in, Jack stays humbly nonchalant. “Exuding unapologetic joy and happiness has never really been ‘the cool thing,’” he says. “Fortunately, I don’t really care about being that cool.”  

Given his unique talent and authentic drive, Mosbacher’s rise to musical prominence seems almost inevitable. But whether good fortune comes knocking or not, Jack is too happy to care.  

“…I know what I love, and I know why. And I want to bring just as much of it into the world as I can before I’m through.”  

We’re listening.