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PHOTO OPS

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Los Angeles singer/songwriter Terry Price creates achingly beautiful, folk-tinged dream pop under the name PhotoOps. His voice is unmistakable - resonant and clear with an edge of suffering. The songs are compact and upbeat, richly textured, and full of lyrical insights about beauty, pain, and the connections between people.

Photo Ops began as a way for Price to find meaning in an onslaught of traumatic life events. A sudden medical condition, the death of his father, and the breakup of his long-time band, Oblio, inspired Photo Ops’ 2013 debut, How to Say Goodbye.

The follow-up, Vacation (2016, Bad Friend Records), solidified Photo Ops’ reputation for combining ethereal soundscape with raw emotionality. Price paired up with producer Patrick Damphier (Jessica Lea Mayfield, Mynabirds, Fences, Aaron Lee Tasjan, The Arcs) again to record an album that earned critical praise and attracted millions of plays on Spotify. Several songs were licensed for film and TV, including in the trailer of “People, Places, Things” with Jemaine Clement, and episodes of ABC’s Blood & Oil and CW’s Valor. Later that year he signed a publishing deal with Secretly Canadian.

Like many people, Price found himself shaken by the events of November 2016. He ceased touring on Vacation, went dark on social media, and left Nashville, where he’d lived for 15 years, for Los Angeles. “I needed to shed my skin,” he says. The change of scenery answers what became a sudden need for Price: “I needed to look outside myself for inspiration. It’s a matter of survival to know that there is beauty in the world. So that’s my mission now: to show that there is still beauty in the world. I honestly don’t know how else to write right now,” Price says.

In February 2019, new songs began to emerge that are among the best of his career. They do what great Photo Opsmusic does – taking deeply personal experiences and finding their meaning through music.

“July” channels Tom Petty, with a lyric that makes peace with being misunderstood. Price sings with a  mix of detachment and compassion, “I did you right. / You just won’t know it for a while.”

“Palm Trees” follows a wandering train of thought on a beach. As if meditating, Price acknowledges a succession of thoughts and emotions without judgment. “Sailboats on the horizon / they don’t mean a thing.”

One of the biggest changes in these new songs is in Price’s voice. There is a clarity to the upper register, as Price relaxes into high notes in a way that calls to mind the Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson. It’s partly an accident of location, Price says. “In Nashville, I had a garage. I could go out and make as much noise as I wanted. In LA, you have to be thoughtful about your neighbors.” The need to sing quietly has opened up a whole new vocal palette for Price, allowing him to experiment with space and restraint.

There is also a new immediacy to the production, stemming in part from Price’s time spent studying Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour. As he made his way through the southwest during his move, Price listened to Dylan’s Sirius XM show on repeat. “They were mostly old songs. What struck me was the spirit that was behind them. They’re just people in a room with a microphone, so they would have to self-correct and really conjure a spirit in the moment. Something about that felt so vital to me. It sounds like a time and place,” Price says. 

The new Photo Ops material features that same sense of immediacy, using an intentionally limited set of instruments: one acoustic guitar, one electric guitar, a Ludwig drum kit from the 60s, a stand-up piano, a Hofner bass, and a small Casiotone keyboard. Price is working remotely with Damphier, who is in Nashville, as producer. Songs are recorded as soon as they’re written.

A third Photo Ops album, Pure at Heart, is fully recorded and is expected to be released this year.

 

Peter Bradley Adams

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No matter the form, when it comes to art, there are a number of different tacks to take. Some artists continually push their work across new horizons. Neil Young, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Joni Mitchell come to mind, in that regard. Others —Claude Monet, Jason Isbell, and Bonnie Raitt, among them —stand a bit more still in order to continually refine the capturing of their vision. Singer/songwriter Peter Bradley Adams falls into the latter category of perfectionists chasing their own perfection. With A Face Like Mine, he may well have caught it.

There's a confidence, a completeness in the song cycle that listeners have gleaned throughout Adams' illustrious career, but A Face Like Mine, his sixth solo effort, brings it all into sharp focus. As Adams sees it, “On the long plod of finding my voice as a singer and a writer, the singing has slowly developed from the sound of a scared guy to someone who believes what he's saying and the writing, I hope, has become less rigid —both in the lyrics and the phrasing.”

Less rigid, indeed. Adams' brand of Americana nestles his often delicate, always heartfelt voice in the warm embrace of gentle guitar, tasteful dobro, subtle banjo, supportive bass, and unhurried percussion. The result is a sonic scape that, in turn, wraps itself around the listener like a soft blanket on a cold day. With A Face Like Mine, Adams further refines the simple musical sophistication that has become his trademark.

Throughout the self-produced set, Adams tells tales of love and loss, homes and hearts. The territory he mines is a deliberate mix of fact and fantasy. “I feel like I'm, firstly, a storyteller, but it's inevitable that my own stuff gets in there deep. And it's funny how, sometimes, I don't realize it until the song is done,” he offers. “At the same time, there are times where I take very directly from an experience or a relationship, but I try to be very careful when that happens. I don't want to ever sound like a journal entry.”

Regardless of the details, there's always a philosophical bent that is often more under than on the surface, firmly grounding Adams' songs even as they stretch outward. By his own admission, Adams is a seeker who spends considerable time wrestling with matters of faith, though he's the first to admit he doesn't have any real answers. “I honestly don't know what the hell I'm doing... nor do I have the language for any of this stuff,” he says with a laugh. “But there is a constant tug on me in that direction and, the older I get, the more present it becomes. Music can often be the most direct way to step into that river.”

That seeker's heart is the tie that so often binds these songs together. Whether the search for place and purpose is of a spiritual or geographical nature, few writers capture the journey as thoughtfully as Adams. An Alabama native, Adams says he feels most comfortable in motion and doesn't have a strong sense of being Southern, even though his music is rooted in that world in so many ways. The first verse of the album's mesmerizing lead track, “Good Man,” exemplifies his plight: “This old house is falling down. Every step I take makes a hollow sound. Should I walk away? Should I push on through? What in the world can a good man do?”

Even as Adams goes on to sing of “laughing eyes with a touch of grey” and walking “a mile across the kitchen floor” in order to set various scenes, he leaves room for the listener to crawl inside his stories and make them their own. Striking that balance is the songwriter's eternal struggle, but one Adams seems to have mastered after years of toiling on his own and collaborating with co-writers like Kim Richey, Caitlin Canty, and Todd Lombardo.

“I don't think I'm very good at co-writing because my process seems so weird and long and tedious to me,” Adams confides. “It's hard to allow someone into that space, but there a few folks where our sensibilities are aligned and we're not just trying to bang out a song in a day. I want to feel as close to the songs I co-write as the ones I write alone. Writers like Kim Richey have such an economy and depth to the ideas that come out of their mouths and hands —there's wisdom there. I want to be more like that.”

In addition to this release, Adams is currently putting his classical composition studies to work on a piece for violin and piano —an aspect of his craft and education that got set aside somewhere along the way to now. “I've wondered a lot why I spent all that time studying music in school and how my composer that fits in with or hinders my songwriting,” he says. “Some of it was definitely useless to me, then and now. But some of it has left its mark on how I listen, and how I think of arranging songs, and how I communicate with players who are playing on them. Also, writing in such an extremely simple and constrained musical language makes all your choices much more delicate, so I spend a lot of time crafting even the simplest melody.”

A Face Like Mine's songs were composed all over the world, from Alabama to India, and they dig into topics are disparate as the desperation of addiction (“Lorraine”), the grappling of self-image (“Who Else Could I Be”), the vitriol of politics (“We Are”), and the genetics of suffering (“A Face Like Mine”). “We Are” and “Who Else Could I Be” were originally written for a dance piece that Gina Patterson choreographed for the San Angelo Civic Ballet. Even so, Adams made sure the songs could stand alone in their own world no matter what else was swirling around them —confidence and completeness in action.

As a work of musical art, A Face Like Mine fulfills the promise of Peter Bradley Adams. And rarely has an artist's standing still sounded so divine.

Laura Escudé

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From technology, artistry and production to design and wellness, there are few people who understand the complete spectrum of the music industry. Laura Escudé is one of these rare individuals.  

Based in Los Angeles, Escudé is an artist, innovator, entrepreneur and live show designer with a deep understanding of complex technology, a profound passion for music and art and a unique talent for fusing the two. Career highlights include designing shows for Kanye West and Jay Z, opening for Miguel on his 2015 Wildheart tour and building a thriving international business populated by top-tier professionals.  

But while Escudé’s life and work are dynamic, her ultimate goal is simply to inspire.  

As an artist, Escudé executes this mission through music. She’s released myriad albums, singles and EPs under the name Alluxe, synthesizing her skills as a classically trained violinist and her prowess as an avant-garde electronic producer. Now making music under her own name, Escudé’s forthcoming Transmute EP is her most intimate work to date, capturing the sound and feel of a woman who’s examined the darkest parts of herself and come out the other end transformed. Escudé’s live performances are known for their sleekly futuristic style and the raw emotion Escudé elicits from her musical machines. She’s done official remixes for artists including M83 and Polica, with her violin playing featured on albums by Big Grams, Kanye West and Jay Z and many more.  

Technology is a second language for Escudé, who in 2008 became the world’s first Ableton Certified Trainer. In 2012 she founded Electronic Creatives, using her skills to hire and train programmers and playback engineers for artists including Logic, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, Big Sean, Charli XCX and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The company has become a worldwide leader in the field, with Escudé now leading a staff of 15.  

These creative applications of technology have made Escudé one of the world’s most in-demand live show designers. She’s brought massive productions to life for artists including Kanye West, Jay Z, Bon Iver, Missy Elliot, Herbie Hancock and television megabrand American Idol. Escudé toured extensively with these shows, collaborating with artists to create fresh, thrilling experiences for audiences worldwide. 

It was while on tour that Escudé learned the challenges of staying healthy on the road. In 2016, tour burnout landed her in the hospital. She was exhausted, stressed and not sure how to get better. It was a low point that forced Escudé to take a break from work and focus on her health. This physical, mental, emotional and spiritual process involved letting go of unproductive habits and thought patterns, facing her fears and giving up everything – alcohol, touring, toxic people – that didn’t serve her. Escudé was soon not just better, but for the first time in her life truly thriving.  

The experience inspired Escudé to help others, particularly live performers, optimize their own health and well-being. In 2017, she launched the Transmute Retreat, a week-long workshop incorporating yoga, meditation, nature, live performance workshops and community performances. Since its launch, Transmute has hosted dozens of artists such as AlunaGeorge at a tranquil arts center in coastal Florida.  

With all she’s achieved in the realms of music and technology, it’s clear why Escudé has been called “the best in the world at this job.” But despite her many accomplishments, Escudé feels like she’s just getting started and only getting better.  

LIZ VICE

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Liz Vice has always had a love for storytelling. The Portland native who currently resides in Brooklyn, started her  career working behind the scenes in the world of film and video, only to accidentally find herself behind the mic.  Liz Vice’s sound is a fusion of Gospel and R&B,  with dynamic and soulful vocals,  and lyrics, deeply rooted in spirituality, that give her work a   timeless feel.

Vice got a knack for performing early. She was raised by her mother as the middle of five children. Every morning growing up, she was awoken by her mother’s voice singing “rise and shine and give God the glory.” She also found herself frequently stealing away to the basement  to dance and lip sync songs from the radio, and soundtracks from her favorite films.  Liz taught herself how to play piano, marking the notes on the piano using blue painter’s tape on the notes of a keyboard, placed by her friends who were taking piano lessons.  Her aunt bought her headphones, that she would make young Liz sit with on her head in the living room for hours mimicking the notes she would here from an instrumental CD.

At the age of 19, Vice’s health declined, and she found herself on hemodialysis for the next three years. Her illness left many scars on her body including those from surgery on a fistula (abnormal connection between an organs). Vice received a kidney transplant in December 2005, which marked the beginning of a time of great healing and perspective.

A year later, Vice became a member of a local church and felt a nudge, that would not leave her alone each Sunday to sing background vocals on the worship team. Suffering from stage fright, Vice knew that fear could never overpower this unknown “call”. She said yes to the nudge and sang her first solo during a Sunday evening service, “Enfold Me”. The rest is history. 

For the past four years, Vice’s music and live performances have put her on the map as an artist to watch. She has been praised and featured by Oregon Public Broadcasts’ One Song, NPR’s World Cafe, Mountain Stage, eTown, NPR’s Weekend Edition, Relevant Magazine, and more. Vice has also been a featured artist in Portland for such events as Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, Moon River, Forecastle, Portland Soundcheck, Soul’d Out Music Festival, Siren Nation Music Festival, Music on Main Street and more. 

The title track for her first album “There’s a Light” received over one million streams on Spotify. The success of the record led to performing and/or sharing the stage with artists such as Joss Stone, Blind Boys of Alabama, Boz Scaggs, The Temptations, Rodriguez, Lake Street Dive, Lecrae, Cody Chesnutt, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Eric Early of (Blitzen Trapper), John Mark McMillan, Sandra McCracken,  Josh Garrels, Tunde Baiyewu (Lighthouse Family), Luz Mendoza (Y La Bamba), Eshon Burgundy (Humble Beast), and more.  No matter how large the venue, her genuine approach to her work and playful interaction with the audience makes everyone feel like their sitting at home on the couch watching a friend sing their heart out. Vice is very passionate and has overcome many personal obstacles; she credits her adventurous life to not forcing anything and being willing and available to wherever it is that the lord leads. "It's all about risk, and taking a risk is never regretful...well, most of the time.”

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. 

NELS ANDREWS

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Although he was born by the sea, it wasn’t until he moved to the desert that Nels  Andrews began writing songs. He sang them alone in a house constructed of mud and tires on the sage-brushed mesas of Taos, New Mexico where he spent his 20’s, airing them occasionally around campfires. It wasn't until a move 90 miles south to the dusty yet curiously eccentric city of Albuquerque that he began to play them in front of strangers, and from there, to start collaborating. Andrews enlisted the talents of some inventive indie musicians he met at the Red Door, a creaky second-floor respite and practice space (and former railroad brothel) on historic Route 66 in the center of downtown. That initial collaboration began to shape his desert-infused folk/rock sound, pairing literary narratives of curious high desert outsiders with the psych-rock palate and electro-fuzz of his then band, The El Paso Eyepatch, and resulted in his debut album Sunday Shoes.

After his band dissolved, Andrews and his new wife moved back to her native east coast to set up a home in the freshly-blossoming bohemian enclave of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. There he crossed paths with bass virtuoso/composer Todd Sickafoose (Andrew Bird, Ani DiFranco, Anaïs Mitchell) who offered to produce Andrews’ sophomore record, Off Track Betting (Reveal Records UK/Lucky dice NL). Sickafoose brought with him a whole new palette of musicians from NYC’s downtown experimental/new music scene, which lent new textures and shapes to Andrews’ increasingly impressionistic story songs. Third album Scrimshaw was gleaned from his time working as a chauffeur in Manhattan; he followed his literary heroes Melville and Yeats, as the songs drew on an earthy mysticism and a romantic look to the past.

Now, happily stationed near the sea again in Santa Cruz, Andrews has gracefully woven the morning fog, redwoods, and oceanside into his forthcoming record Pigeon and The Crow, produced by traditional Irish flutist Nuala Kennedy (Gerry O’Conner, Will

Oldham). A songwriter’s record in the spirit of Van Morrison’s Veedon Fleece with a breath of the texture, rhythm, and longing of Milton Nascimento’s Club De Esquina 1Pigeon and The Crow brims with literary wordplay, mixed with some sway, some shimmer, and some sand between your toes.

The bones of this soon-to-be-released fourth studio record was tracked live over three days at Whispering Pines Studio in Los Angeles.The studio was originally built for Sam Cooke in the 60s, turned into a funk/soul palace in the 70s, abandoned when the owner found religion in the 80s, and later rehabilitated by Indie rock outfit Lord Huron.

While recording, Andrews slept on the tracking room floor every night and dreamt in technicolor born of the vibes steeped into that well-worn musical space. Andrews, along with Kennedy, Sebastian Steinberg (Iron and Wine, Fiona Apple , Soul Coughing) on bass, and Quinn on drums/percussion (T-Bone Burnett, Eastmountainsouth), breathed life into the songs together in that one room—and then the international collaboration began. Producer Kennedy headed back to Ireland with the tracks in tow, and beamed them across the globe to the rest of the players—from the UK to the Azores. The album boasts a mix of traditional players from Kennedy’s past to some of Andrews’ newest old friends like Stelth Ulvang of The Lumineers, as well as some older old friends and collaborators from New York, including guest appearances by fellow songsmiths Anaïs Mitchell, AJ Roach, and Anthony Da Costa.

The result is 10 ethereal yet substantial tracks that assess life “mid-game,” a time that is less straightforward than youth imagined, where our strategies and gambits are yet unresolved—stories from a place past innocence but perhaps still before wisdom. These are songs written about that place: an actress in her sunset, a husband folding now-soft wedding sheets, a father meditating on love and selfishness, and the ghosts of former relationships. Pigeon and The Crow contains wistful resolve, a steady backbone, and a late afternoon light reflected off the sea.

Pigeon and The Crow is set to be released August 9, 2019.

OGINALII

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Emma Hoeflinger of Oginalii refers to their debut album Cause & Affection as a story of the plight of having empathy, and the endless journey to understanding both one’s darkness and one’s light. Hoeflinger shares ideas of the existential self and how the root of good and evil are one in the same. This theme is recognized through hauntingly beautiful vocals that entangle themselves in dirty guitar riffs and breakdowns, echoing the complexities of the human experience all throughout the band’s first full-length record.

Born into a family of musicians, Emma describes her childhood as one that allowed her to deeply explore and express her emotions from a very young age. She was taught that the best thing a person can be is raw, authentic ... human. This experience and outlook permeate through Cause & Affection, an album that cuts its heart open and bleeds itself dry.

Oginalii is comprised of Emma Hoeflinger on vocals and guitar, Ryan Quarles on guitar, Simon Knudtson on drums, and Emma Lambiase on bass and vocals. Together, they create a sound that can’t be pinned down; sludgy-psyche-rock meets technical talent that surpasses initial expectations.

The ethos of Punk and Desert Rock music has obviously permeated the band’s upcoming album deeply as an influence. Not only the song but more importantly the unexplainable feeling, the intangible energy and gritty passion that reverberates through the air at Oginalii’s live shows. Headbang to your heart’s desire, but the message of the music is something much deeper. Cause & Affection is the beginning of the focused, forward motion of the band: where they’ve been, where they are, and what is yet to come. As Hoeflinger says “I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t say this... There and back again, an Oginalii tale, that is Cause & Affection. The record is about growing up, losing yourself, finding yourself again, and wishing you were elsewhere - all while learning to love who you’re looking at in the mirror and understanding that the greatest gift we have as humans is empathy”.

Emma describes the writing and recording process with her bandmates as one that is not JUST collaborative, butcelestial, a feeling that surrounded them as soon as they joined forces. The most important factor in this is an environment that allows both vulnerability and honesty. When their perspectives and influences collaborate, something new is born.

Cultivated in a bedroom and recorded in the same house, Cause & Affection was created and engineered in the neighborhood of Crieve Hall just south of Nashville, TN, where the band met and currently resides. The serendipitous meeting of Ben McLeod, of All Them Witches, with Oginalii was one that was meant to be, a stepping stone on the way to honing in on what Emma calls “the sound and feeling we’ve been chasing from the start”. The combination of Ben’s direction and the sonic connectivity among the band-shaped a record that gathers all the mountains and valleys the Tennessee landscape has to offer, but the sound created is one much more ethereal and reminiscent of what Emma says “was the beckoning of the mountains of Mordor.”

At its conception, every band is on a journey to discover what their creative mission is. The start is full of mania and the need to scream everything you can into the airwaves. Over time the push, pull, and progressive movement on this mission caused the seed to bloom and realize its potential. For Oginalii, songwriting is at the core, and as Hoeflinger puts it, “you don’t know what you’re looking for until you find it.” A band is about the songs, yes, but what really matters is HOW they are heard. In reference to the sentiment, “It all starts with a song,” Hoeflinger thinks differently: “It may start with a song, but it ends with a sound and feeling you’ve created collectively.” Oginalii has found their voice, one that is uniquely theirs in origin, blossoming into a true picture of their creative mission. 

 

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.

ZAYDE WØLF

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Dark, percussive, and drivingly cinematic, Zayde Wolf is the indie rock solo project of Dustin Burnett, a chart-topping songwriter and Grammy-nominated producer. Written and recorded after a decade-long break from the stage, Golden Age — Zayde Wolf's debut, whose 13 songs were written, produced, mixed, mastered, and largely performed by Burnett himself — is the latest in a string of projects that have included studio collaborations and co-writing sessions with The Girl and the Dreamcatcher, Augustana, Tyrone Wells, Rhett Walker Band, and others.

Burnett was raised in southern Illinois, where he spent most of his 20s as the frontman of The October. Inspired by the Cure and Echo & the Bunnymen, the band logged the better part of a decade on the road, playing Sundance Film Festival and CMJ Music Fest along the way. Burnt out by the end of his 20s, Burnett put his performance career on hold and moved to Nashville, where he focused on production and songwriting. He also launched That Sound, a boutique drum sample company, to share the unique percussion sounds he'd been creating in the studio.

Coincidentally, it was Burnett's work as a producer that eventually brought him back to an artist's career.  At the end of 2015, he began working with the L.A.- based licensing company, Lyric House. The company sent him a custom opportunity to create a song for a movie trailer, and Burnett — unable to find someone else to sing on the track — decided to record his own vocals. The company loved the result. What had begun as a movie trailer project had expanded into something unique: a new musical project called Zayde Wolf, which combined Burnett's history as a producer with his talents as a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. The response was tremendous, with more than 50 movie trailers, video games, TV networks, and other outlets licensing Zayde Wolf's music. Even the Rio Olympics, the NFL, and ABC's hit show Dancing With The Stars — whose one-time contestant, Vanilla Ice, found himself dancing to Wolf's dark cover of "Save Tonight" during the show — got a piece of the action.

Golden Age is the sound of a lifelong artist embracing his role as a frontman once again. Fueled by aggressive guitars, gang vocals, sweeping soundscapes, stomping percussion, and pop hooks, the album is a natural extension of Burnett's career thus far, even finding room for some of the drum samples from his own bank of studio percussion sounds. From the anthemic "Live Life" to the swaggering, hand-clapped "King," the album mixes melody with muscle, groove with guitar, old habits with new beginnings.

ROBIN ALICE

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An Americana duo whose surreal songs make room for pop melodies, rock & roll muscle, out-of-
the-box arrangements, and powerhouse vocal performances, Robin Alice is the unexpected pairing of songwriters Kelley Jakle and Jeff Hortillosa.
Both bandmates had already left unique marks upon the music world by the time they crossed paths on the movie set of Pitch Perfect 3. A Kentucky native, Hortillosa cut his teeth as a member of Whiskey Shivers, an unconventional bluegrass band more grounded in punky, rule-breaking spirit than traditional twang. Meanwhile, Jakle had grown up in California, where she played coffeehouse gigs as a teenager before winning a handful of international titles with her college a cappella group. When she launched a parallel career as a Hollywood actress after graduation, those vocal chops landed her a recurring role in the Pitch Perfect series.It was during the filming of Pitch Perfect's third installment that Hortillosa and Jakle played their first songs together. From the very start, their diverging backgrounds made for compelling art.
"Our voices balanced each other out," remembers Jakle, who'd earned a nickname on the Pitch Perfect set — "the professional" — for her a cappella experience and vocal ability. "My voice lightens his, and his voice gives mine more depth. Our songwriting styles and our backgrounds really complement each other, too. It was an immediate fit." When the cameras stopped rolling, the two continued working together, trading musical ideas via email and reuniting in Austin for a series of studio sessions. Steadily, what began as an informal collaboration upon the Pitch Perfect 3 set turned into a proper duo, with the bandmates looking to a variety of influences — including Fleetwood Mac's harmony heavy rock, St. Vincent's complex pop arrangements, Allison Krauss' swooning folk, and even 1960s psychedelia — as touchstones. It was a collaborative sound that allowed Hortillosa to flex his muscles as a diverse multi-instrumentalist, flanking Jakle's elastic voice with layers of interlocking guitar, bass, synthesizer, and
percussion.
A handful of live shows helped introduce Robin Alice's sound to audiences in Austin, Los Angeles, Nashville, and beyond, while the pair's first co-written song, "Late Bloomer," earned them a wider audience upon its debut in the 2019 film Walk. Ride. Rodeo. "Late Bloomer" also made an appearance on Robin Alice's debut EP, Here and There.
Recorded in Austin-area studios like the Bubble and Waterslide, Here and There finds Robin Alice working alongside Grammy-winning engineer Chris "Frenchie" Smith. The five-song record also shines a light on the diversity and melodic chops at the core of the band's sound, blurring the lines between genres that don't often rub shoulders. There are horn arrangements, dream-pop influences, breakup songs, and plenty of coed harmonies. There's plenty of sharply- written lyric insight, too, with songs like "Greed" attacking America's consumerist obsession. "When we were writing songs," Hortillosa says, "we didn't think of any limitations. We just allowed ourselves to be strange and creative. It was no-holds-barred approach. I'm from a bluegrass/Americana background, and Kelley is from more of a pop/rock background...so we worked together and found our own middle ground."
Robin Alice isn't a person. It's a band. A collaboration. A merging of musical worlds, with both songwriters contributing heavily to all aspects of the writing and recording process. Named after members of Jakle's family, the duo finds its two members nodding to their influences while still forging their own sound.

 

JESSI MCNEAL

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Raised in rural Washington state in the log house built by her parents, Jessi McNeal has been singing and writing songs in some shape or form for most of her life. Simple hymns and old country tunes formed the soundtrack of her childhood, and her ear for melody and love of storytelling developed at an early age.

Americana, bluegrass and folk traditions are present and alive in her lyrics and music, as the imagery and landscapes of country life weave their way into her songs. Her sound is comforting and inviting, though she doesn’t shy away from the difficulties and struggles of life’s journey, instead using songwriting as a soothing balm for many wounds, creating songs rimmed in redemption.

Jessi’s previous album, 2015’s Promised Land, was produced by Ryan McAllister (Brian Doerksen, Tim Neufeld) at Five Acres Studio in B.C., Canada, and served as a reminder that the movement from one season to the next isn't always a clear cut path. In the four years since Promised Land, Jessi’s life has been marked by transition—some joy-filled and some heart-wrenching. Processing it all with guitar in hand, Jessi crafted the songs on her forthcoming album, The Driveway. When it was time to record, Jessi approached McAllister, who helped create a darker tonal palette with simple, un-fussy production. The songs swirl with pedal and lap steel, vibe-y electric guitar, and banjo and mandolin, providing well-placed levity in some of the album’s darker corners.

The Driveway is about the middle ground – the in-between, the waiting, the hope-not-yet seen. "I sometimes hear people refer to it as the ‘messy middle,’” she says. “But lately, I’ve been thinking of it as the ‘sacred middle.’” The album’s title track is her take on the story of the prodigal son; “I’ve come to see myself at times like the father and at times like the son,” she explains. “I want to be the one who comes running, and I also want to be the one who falls into forgiving arms. And here’s the real truth – sometimes those arms of forgiveness and grace need to be my very own.”

“The driveway on our property isn’t long, but it still feels like a sacred space between the world and home,” she continues. “I think we all need a bit of easement in our lives where we give ourselves permission to just be, without all of the pressure and demands that life can place on us – a place where we can have let ourselves have all those gut-level feelings about waiting and loss and transition. If we speed through those emotions, we’re going to miss a lot of things, mostly ourselves,” she adds. “Lately I’m savoring those slow walks to fetch the mail, and I’m feeling a whole lot of grace to just be right where I am in my own unfolding story.”

 

EDAN ARCHER

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Gainesville, Florida-based outlaw Americana artist Edan Archer has announced the upcoming release of her new album Journey Proud, set for release on August 2nd. Archer, who performed at this year’s Stagecoach Music Festival for the first time, has been praised by Rolling Stone Country, American Songwriter, Wide Open Country, and more. Recently, Parade Magazine premiered the video for album track “Six Wing Angel.” Filmed in Florida by director Ed Agudelo using only an iPhone and a drone, the video is a beautiful visualization for the Appalachian murder ballad-style tune. Parade commented that Archer used the iPhone and drone “to amazing effect. With beautifully shot Southern footage and a mournful story, the song and video take Archer’s swampy sensibilities and roll them into a fingerpicked fable.”

“The six-winged angel is, in this song, acting as the angel of death, who comes to visit the main character as his time to die comes upon him,” Archer explains. “It was inspired by a cousin who, after a hard life of drug and alcohol abuse, died alone on my dad’s front lawn one night. In this song, the character is asking for more time, reflecting on his life, and taking comfort in the last friend he has left, his whiskey bottle.” 

Journey Proud was recorded at Atomic Sound in Brooklyn, New York and Magnetic Sound in Nashville, Tennessee and co-produced by Archer and Shayni Rae. The album's ten tracks explore ideas of love, loss, rebellion, and hardship--from substance abuse to refusing to conform to someone's idea of what a woman "should" be--including the retelling of a bank robbery committed by a friend in the tongue-in-cheek "You Shoot I Drive." Archer's music showcases rock and country influences combined with Appalachian folk as she gets gritty with dulcimer magic and casts spells with intimate ballads, skillful fingerpicking, alternate tunings, and rich effects. The songs of Journey Proud showcase Archer's compelling vocals and stringed prowess, touching on something primal, those ancient foundations that lie deep with the soul.