Tuesday, 18 December 2012

2012Candy - December Mega Round Up

Background: With a classic touch like James Morrison, the folky heart of Ray LaMontagne, and a unique melodic adventurousness, George Woods creates his own signature style of Folk-Funk.

George Woods’ effervescent lyrics and lighthearted indie folk sounds shine through on his new full-length studio album, “Heartbeat” which drops Summer 2012 in Boston, MA and online. “Heartbeat” features thirteen interwoven tracks, each blending classic grooves with stellar songwriting to guide the listener through a storybook summer soundtrack. The record aims to be relatable, and keep you moving with lush string arrangements, heart felt lyrics, and solid grooving rhythms. Some highlights are tracks like the laughable danceable "Stock In The Stars," or the gospel inspired powerhouse "Marry Me.”

George’s solo project began after the dissolution of his group Birds In The Woods, a Boston based band that won the 2008 Boston Music Festival, received radio spins at home and abroad, and saw placement in national publications such as Relix Magazine. His first solo EP, “Technicolor Costs Too Much,” released in Summer 2011, was self produced in a makeshift bedroom studio, and put together by hand with a one of a kind packaging. The record was well received by audiences across the northeast and online.

With a tongue in cheek audience rapport, and an energetic stage presence, George's live performances attract wide spread audiences from across Massachusetts. After recording “Heartbeat” at Phase 1 Studios in New York City this past spring, and sharpening his funky sound, George is gearing up for a new fall tour aiming toward introducing his folk-funk sound to all. The tour will help to expand George’s audience throughout the northeast and beyond with the help of some outside the box promotional strategies to leave audiences with great stories to tell and a sing-all-day hook on their lips. With a tight and engaging live show, stellar songwriting, and a personalized but lovable sound, George Woods’ new record “Heartbeat” is sure to capture the hearts and ears of music fans across the country.

2012Candy's Final Words: When genres collide, then Folk-Funk has to be a happy collision. George has class and style, as this fine song demonstrates, more folk funk please!
Listen: Lucky One (MP3). Web: Official HERE.
Background: Big Harp's sophomore album Chain Letters will be released on January 22 via Saddle Creek. Big Harp's Chris Senseney says, "A good portion of our new album deals with the tension between action and inaction, especially as evinced in terms of surrender and escape. This song kind of sums it up; for every ship righted another sinks from neglect, and the impossibility of perfection is a strong deterrent to action."

Chain Letters was recorded at Omaha's ARC studios with engineer Ben Brodin and partly at the band's Los Angeles home. The album was mixed by Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, M Ward, First Aid Kit). On Chain Letters, the duo of Chris Senseney and Stefanie Drootin-Senseney is joined by their friend John Voris on drums. The album moves away from the rustic, pastoral sound of their debut and towards a truer union of their backgrounds (Chris grew up in Valentine, NE, an isolated cow town of 2,800; Stefanie is a native Angeleno). Built on a foundation of crackling fuzz bass and angular electric guitars and keyboards, the songs on Chain Letters play like a series of character sketches centered around escape and surrender, and the blurred borders where the two become indistinguishable.

Chris and Stefanie (The Good Life, Bright Eyes, She & Him) formed Big Harp in December 2010, after a three-year whirlwind that saw the two meet, have a baby, move halfway across the country, get married, move halfway across the country again, and have another baby. As Chris tells it, "I was playing in a band opening for The Good Life. Stef and I started hanging out, binge-smoking and chain-drinking, and we never stopped. Never stopped hanging out I mean. Within a few months Stef had a gut full of baby, and the bender came to a quick and bloody end." When the dust settled, they holed up in Stefanie's parents' spare bedroom, practiced for a week, and recorded their debut album White Hat, a collection of intimate, low-key folk-rock laced with subtle irony and dark humor that earned them comparisons to songwriters like Nick Cave, Tom Waits and Townes Van Zandt.

From the pained apathy of "You Can't Save 'Em All" to the cracked parade march of "Call Out the Cavalry, Strike Up the Band," Chain Letters finds the band enveloping and exploding their literate songs with fuzzed-out, needle-sharp textures. Chris says, "We really built the songs around Stef's fuzz bass. It was kind of funny -- we were sitting around in a bedroom playing really loud with no drums, just kind of trusting that it was going to make sense once we put it all together. Hopefully we landed closer to mid-'70's Iggy Pop than Leonard Cohen this time. Really I'd like it to sound like Leonard Cohen fronting The Pixies. It doesn't though. Maybe a little. You tell us."

2012Candy's Final Words: Stand out vocals over a superb soundtrack and then add in some lovely harmonies, the result is a superb song from Big Harp.
Listen: You Can't Save Em All (MP3). Web: Official HERE.
Background: Sometimes things just happen for a reason even if it takes 30 years. Case in point, The Emperors of Wyoming. The story starts in Madison, Wisconsin in the late 1970s.

The four Emperors – Butch Vig, Phil Davis, Franklin Lee and Peter Anderson – are playing in two different bands. They all know each other, but for one reason or another never join forces as a four-piece. By 1980, as things will have it, they all go their separate ways.

The Andersons move out to California and form San Francisco Bay area must-see, Call Me Bwana. Davis moves to and then back from L.A. and ultimately hooks up with Vig to form Fire Town, a celebrated pop-rock quartet that writes and records two critically-acclaimed records for Atlantic Records and is named Rolling Stone’s ‘Hot Band’ for 1987. But by the early 1990s Davis starts a long hiatus from music to raise a family while Vig starts a long run of making rock history: producing Nirvana’s Nevermind, Smashing Pumpkin’s Siamese Dream, Sonic Youth’s Dirty, and eventually creating Garbage, a multi-platinum international rock act. Meanwhile, Pete Anderson is running a couple businesses, blending wines in Napa, and playing music in northern California while brother Franklin Lee moves back to Wisconsin, directs films like The Life of Reilly, writes a book and plays his custom lap steels.

Fast forward to January 2009 - Davis, a singer and songwriter, is talking to old band mate guitarist Frank Anderson, "Hey, let’s make a country-rock record. A folk-rock record." Frank goes, "Great idea, let’s go!" Brother Pete goes, "I’m in on bass." And Vig, living in L.A., just coming off a two-year stint producing Green Day goes, “Cool. Need some drums and stuff?” So there you have it. Back together again, for the first time. Only problem is, now the band members live in four different cities in two different states. No matter. Times have changed. All four have home studios.

And so in 2011, two years later, through emailing ideas, songs, riffs, demos and mixes the Emperors of Wyoming is born and their masterful, eponymous debut, The Emperors of Wyoming, arrives. Under normal circumstances, that kind of distance and separation would be impossible. But of course, the Emperors all knew each from way back when, were old friends, and had played together in various combinations. So, no problem! In fact, this recording approach felt entirely natural and if anything brought them closer together, making the music even more distinctive and original. The result is an amazingly timeless debut record of American country folk-rock that bridges new and old, cutting edge technology and ancient instruments, spaghetti western, country-and-western, bluegrass, surf-rock, acoustic folk, hard rock, pop-metal, and pop-rock into a brand new American sound. A 10-song record with no filler, no gaps, that satisfies from the first track to the last. Yeah, it did take a long time to get here, but the Emperors of Wyoming wouldn’t have it any other way.

2012Candy's Final Words: It's a bit Alt Rock, pretty much Americana, and most certainly Country or Folk rock. Whats more important is this is one great song from a very fine album, like this, then you will like the lot!
Listen: Avalanche Girl (MP3). Web: Official HERE.
Background: Kevin and Lee Kelly, the husband/wife duo of Summer Aviation, may hail from Seattle, but their music departs to the colorful world of “Sunshine Fuzz Pop,” with notable stylistic nods to the Roger Nichols Trio, The Carpenters, and Stereolab.

Kevin, long active in Seattle’s Indie music scene as the frontman for the shoegaze/dreampop band, The Melody Unit, plays all instruments and is the band’s lyricist and composer.

Along with his wife Lee, who contributes sweet vocals and percussion, Summer Aviation combines the fresh, supercharged sound of 60s pop arrangements with post-punk avant-garde: Think Burt Bacharach meets My Bloody Valentine.

Recording in a home studio in the spring of 2012, this version of the classic 60s song "Love So Fine" is a song that perfectly encapsulates this vision of Summer Aviation. It replicates the 60s arrangements and vibe in a way that still feels fresh and modern.

2012Candy's Final Words: Summer Aviation ooze summer, and whilst it's the middle of winter here in Beehive Candy land, we are already thinking of next July when we play this wonderfully bright song.
Listen: Love So Fine (MP3). Web: Official HERE.
Background: Lauren Harding’s music is a direct result of a youth spent lying awake at night consuming David Bowie, Elton John and a bit of cabaret jazz. This musical symbiosis is the bedrock of her first EP, Heart In A Box, a love torn confessional filled with radio friendly hooks and smoke-filled speak easy vocals.

Harding moved from Massachusetts to LA to attend The American Musical and Dramatic Academy and pursue her passion in the city of dreams. Indeed, she dreamt up her whole EP while enduring her first months of congested LA traffic. A slight reprieve to visit her family in Cape Cod allowed her the time and space to organize and select what tracks she would pursue in the studio.

In 2010 she entered The LA Producers Club to track the six songs at breakneck speed over a long weekend. Delirious late night sessions were aided by strong lattes and Harding’s unyielding focus on capturing her musical vision.

There is a somewhat old fashioned tone to Heart In A Box, eliciting comparisons to Sara Bareilles with an indie edge as well as such greats as Fiona Apple and Ingrid Michaelson.  Lauren's voice shape-shifts from breathy coo to a Stevie Nicks like rock and roll purr, all the while exuding a classic confidence and sexuality.

Lauren has been on the road for her ‘Steal Hearts Tour' since she completed the recordings, where she has been silencing rooms across the country. Her passion and dedication to her music is apparent in her unrelenting tour schedule and her growing number of fans around the world.

With a solid EP in the bag and a full length on the front burner, Ms. Harding has readied herself to shoot for the stars.

2012Candy's Final Words: It was a hard choice to pick one song from this album to feature, this is kind of representative if you appreciate it's only scratching the surface of a great collection of songs.
Listen: Shooting Stars (MP3). Web: Reverb Nation HERE.
Background: Los Angeles band He's My Brother She's My Sister has announced new West Coast tour dates in continued support of its Nobody Dances in this Town LP, set for a January 22 release with Park the Van Records. After touring the country relentlessly this fall, two appearances at Austin City Limits Festival, and a pair of well-received NYC performances, the band is excited to revisit the West Coast in 13 different markets. The tour will start on January 17th in San Diego and end on February 2nd in Santa Ana. Full list of dates below.  

Earlier this fall, He's My Brother She's My Sister premiered a cover of The Mamas And Papas' "Straight Shooter" via Prefix, and this month the band's "Touch the Lightning" single was featured as a Starbucks iTunes 'Pick of the Week' receiving 267,775 downloads. Featuring sibling vocalists and a tap dancing drummer the band exudes the earnestness of folk, the colorfulness of glam rock, the rawness of blues, and the theatrics of cabaret. Brother and sister Robert Kolar and Rachel Kolar split vocal duties, with Robert on guitar and kick drum and Rachel on tambourine. Lauren Brown adds full-body percussion with her simultaneous drumming and tap-dancing. Oliver Newell plucks the stand up bass with joyous flair. Aaron Robinson plays lead guitar on a lap slide. The eclectic troupe has toured the US extensively having shared the stage with Neko Case, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Charles Bradley, The Blow, Local Natives, Dawes, Dr. Dog, My Morning Jacket, and many others.

2012Candy's Final Words: Not only do they keep their teeth and gums healthy, He's My Brother She's My Sister, just happen to make toe tapping music that is just spot on, spot on we say....
Listen: Tales That I Tell (MP3). Web: Official HERE.
Background: Versatile and stunning merely begin to describe rising British folk/pop artist Laura Saggers. The quirky girl next door just released the cheeky sing-along hit, "Summer Fling" for any girl who has ever been caught in a whirlwind summer romance. And for those not so fond of the fall, the super talented songwriter is also releasing the powerful and appropriately named single "Warrior". Both singles are now available on iTunes.

Bringing a slew of specialties to the table, Laura Saggers seems to have it all: talent, beauty, brains and an epic story. Adopted by a loving British couple, Laura realized she was destined to be a star after finding out that her American biological parents were an 80's punk rocker and a model; Laura is also a model and actress. Born in San Francisco, Laura had her first taste of melodic magic at four years old after hearing a jazz pianist play a "Little Mermaid" song. "I realized that songs could be interpreted and played however you want and I was determined to learn that skill," she explains. Before moving to the UK, a bright-eyed Laura begged for and received classical piano lessons to kick-start her future career. Unfortunately, Laura's mother passed away when she was 14, yet she honors her by keeping her as a musical inspiration along with the artists her mother would listen, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Judy Garland.

Success means education for Laura. After completing her studies in piano, Laura became a piano teacher herself. The recipient of a music business degree from the Academy of Contemporary Music (UK), Laura formed and fronted heavy rock band, Sennah for four years. Being in a band allowed her to experiment and develop the pleasing tone we hear in her latest songs.

Crooning over an acoustic guitar and piano, Laura breathes life into "Summer Fling" with colorful melodies and cute choppy verses. Like a romantic daydream, the single, produced by Ryan Richko, who won the 2012 Sundance Award for Best Original Score, speaks on being in denial about falling for an amazing guy and ends on a high note. The dark-haired beauty also shows off the spunky side of her lyrics as she sings, "it didn't mean a thing, just some hot sex summer fling." As a major supporter of local up-and-coming artists, Laura recruited Jim Callans of Old Star Press to design and create the art for the Summer Fling album cover, which were each screen printed by hand. The singer brings a handful amount of her limited edition EPs to her shows and sells them with a heart-felt secret message thanking her fans.

Giving fans a double-whammy, Laura's second single "Warrior," produced by Chris Hayman takes on a more sentimental approach. Flowing at a steady pace, Laura uses a soothing tone to compliment the ethereal ambience of the song. The metaphoric song encompasses the power of the heart to love again after being badly burned by it. Naturally compared to stars Lenka and Regina Spektor, the singer's prolific ability to connect to her audience has been witnessed on stage at venues such as The Viper Room, Hard Rock Café and the GuilFest (UK) among others. Her track record includes opening for bands such as Bowling for Soup, Wheatus and The Blackout, a song publishing deal and a placement in the PlayStation game Juiced.

2012Candy's Final Words: I was trying to work up some clever link around leaving San Francisco for the UK, played this song again and thought why bother, just say it's a wonderful song from an artist that will get noticed more and more, see, that was much simpler!
Listen: Warrior (Player Only). Web: Official HERE.
Background:  Expect to be captivated by a roll of basement jams and garage grooves on the debut album Running Faster from post-punk/indie rock band The Antics, available now on iTunes and Bandcamp. The New Jersey-based band cooks up a cohesive rock genre toss-up featuring fuzzy guitar riffs and raw emotion that is quickly making these guys hometown heroes.

Fun-loving and gifted, the young men of The Antics are Luke Meisenbacher (vocals/guitar), Derek Rosengarth (guitar), Kyle Hammerschmidt (bass) and Josh Reitan (drums). Practicing their instruments from an early age, each member grew up in different parts of NJ but play like they've been together all their lives. Just three years strong, the band has endured a few changes but their brotherly bond enabled them to create a staple sound that defines their vibrant personalities. The Antics' music radiates high energy supported by crunchy guitar licks, bright melodies and toe-tapping drums. Their material often reminds fans of post-punk super groups and major influences Joy Division, The Strokes and The Smiths. The group describes their sound as post-punk influenced accented by 60's pop, surf and garage rock.

Stellar production from RH Management Services LLC and Meisenbacher on Running Faster illuminates the lead singer's bright, clean vocals, while enhancing the texture of each instrument. Penning the album's lyrics, Luke draws inspiration from The Beatles and The Strokes to conjure up sing-along melodies and conversational lyrics. "I think I'm a very honest songwriter," Luke said. "I don't write music that sounds exactly like something else or things that don't matter to me." The Antic's heartbreak single "In The Night" is a prime example of the group's knack for catchy rhythms with an impressive 50-second, raging guitar solo to finish off. With a track listing to cure heartache, much of the subject matter on Running Faster surrounds love, pain and happiness.

Killer hits, relatable lyrics and rock star personas - equipped with the full package, The Antics are delivering a top-notch effort of rock through the ages with a modern twist. Having entertained crowds at Connecticut and New Jersey venues The Space, Crossroads and The Stone Pony, The Antics are eager to take their masterpiece to the masses.

2012Candy's Final Words: The Antics! Reminding people of my age of just how much more energy I had a few years ago (OK a few decades ago). Not to worry it's great, feisty, and they are a stand out band.
Listen: Touch The Sky (Player Only) Web: Official HERE.
Background: David Lee was born on October 12, 1986 in Seoul, South Korea. His family moved to the United States when he was 8 years old, and while growing up in Fairfax, VA, Lee discovered new music through Napster when the music sharing site first appeared. Subsequently, Lee borrowed a friend’s guitar and fell in love with the instrument. Since picking up the guitar at age 17, Lee has lived a life reflective of his passion. Devoting himself to writing and performing, he quickly forged a path that would lead to the recording of his debut album, Without Any Guard. The title track was inspired by his reckless pursuit of music and the obstacles he faced along the way.

After high school, Lee attended Virginia Tech where he spent much of his time in the studio working on the first batch of songs. After several years of recording, Lee still failed to achieve the sound he was looking for. But his shortcomings would only serve to prepare him for what was next.

In 2008, Lee’s exceptional talents gained him recognition by one of the industry’s best, Willie Mitchell, the legendary producer who discovered Al Green himself. Willie took David under his wings and Lee would fly out to Memphis each month for weeklong recording sessions with his mentor and producer. Lee began to blossom as an artist and together Willie and David forged a sound all their own.

Without Any Guard would become Willie’s final project, as he would sadly pass away in 2010 before completion of the record. It would take Lee nearly three years after Willie’s passing to complete the project they started together. Setting the bar even higher, Lee made sure to surpass his late producer’s expectations on an album that would have to speak for both of them.

Willie’s thumbprint is all over the record. Arguably nowhere more so than on the stunning opening track “We’re All Meant for Something Good.” The track has a certain timeless quality to it, at once familiar, yet fresh and new at the same time. It’s a testament to Lee’s songwriting that Willie asked to be involved in the making of this record. The collision of two worlds has left us with an incredible album written by a young Korean man living in DC, produced and interpreted by a legendary man of Memphis.

Without Any Guard by David Lee will be released on February 12, 2013. Listen out now for the first single “We’re All Meant for Something Good” impacting December 2012.

2012Candy's Final Words: You would expect the production and the musicians to be top class with Willie Mitchell's involvement, however listening to David Lee's vocals is a delight in it's own right, this is a super song.
Listen: Were All Mean't For Something Good (MP3). Web: Official HERE.
Background: Alternative/indie rock band Friend Slash Lover delivers compelling themes of love and relationships in their second single and music video "Unaware" from the sophomore album The Grey Area, available now on iTunes. The song takes on the electric vibe that the Los Angeles-based band is known for, with reflective and provoking lyrics and smooth melodies soaked in a warm, spacious sound.

Connecticut native and fine artist Josh Mintz fronts the band and is supported by bassist Frank Day, drummer Jake Hayden, and guitarist Greg Pajer. Original members Josh and Frank have been playing together since 2005 and later added Jake and Greg to create the full-band sound that Josh always desired. Also skilled on the guitar, the singer-songwriter was destined to be a musical force at just eight years old. After he joined a drums corps marching band, he went on to play the fife for seven years winning over 70 awards in state and national competitions. As a teen, Josh fell in love with 80's rock bands like XTC and also dabbed in some electro-pop, which is evident in his current sound. Music icons such as David Bowie, John Lennon and Kurt Cobain also inspire him. In 2010, Friend Slash Lover released their debut EP As American as Ones and Zeroes to raving reviews and a catapulting fan base that is still gaining momentum.

Using personal life experiences and his obsession with art as inspirations, the former Rhode Island School of Design student lends his whispery vocals to inject heart-tugging emotion into his lyrics on "Unaware." Complimenting soft guitar strums and spotty ethereal synths, Josh sings a powerful message about how we forget to stop and appreciate the people that matter most in our lives. The pensive song was produced by Mintz and Thom Flowers and was recorded at Orange Whip Recording with special guest Angus Cooke on cello.

Fans have seen Friend Slash Lover rock out at a slew of popular Los Angeles music venues such as The Roxy Theater, The Viper Room, Bootleg Theater and the NOMAD Los Angeles art show. With the locals and music critics on board, Friend Slash Lover is bound to touch music lovers across the nation and beyond.

2012Candy's Final Words: This is one fine song from half a dozen we received and I can happily report the rest are just as good. The alt/indie rock world is a crowded place, these people stand out.
Listen: Unaware (Player Only). Web: Official HERE.
Background: Driving power pop/rock band Wise Girl will soon release their self-titled three-song EP on iTunes. The New York fivesome is equipped with straight forward talent and no need for gimmicks. The Wise Girl EP showcases the perfect combination of poppy melodies, rockin' guitars and quirky songwriting technique all wrapped together in a no-nonsense attitude.

After two years in the making Wise Girl is the brainchild of songwriter Abby Weitz (vocals, guitar). Wise Girl includes Chris Fasulo (producer, lead guitars), Abby Lee (backup vocals, tambourine), Harry Keithline (drums) and Sean Kane (bass). Growing up, front woman Abby Weitz was such a music fanatic that she had to listen to The Beatles in order to fall asleep at night. At age 11 she started taking drum lessons which then led to her interest in learning to play the guitar at age 13. Born to lead, Weitz started a Strokes cover band in high school followed by an original band under the name of Drella, playing basement/garage shows in her hometown of Long Beach. After dropping out of college six weeks in because "it wasn't her thing", she started a punk band with her best friend Liz called The Lookaways. Determined to take over New York City, The Lookaways played notorious clubs around Manhattan such as Sin-E, Lit Lounge, Don Hill's, including the legendary CBGB's and on a mini East Coast tour, played a few shows on the Van's Warped Tour. After The Lookaways split, Weitz decided to start a music publishing company called Wise Girl, stemmed from her strong belief in "Girl Power" and she ended up using the name for her current project.

Elements of Wise Girl's music can be attributed to their influences drawn from some of Weitz's favorites such as The Ramones, The Beatles, The Muffs, Letters to Cleo, Weezer and 60's girl groups. The band's feisty single, "Set In Stone" is a perfect example of how the band creates a rhythmic blend of catchy melodies, gritty guitars and witty yet matter-of-fact lyrics. Produced by Chris Fasulo, the Wise Girl EP's content centers on love gone wrong and the battles that we face when caught in the middle of it.

The internationally known designer Kate Spade featured Wise Girl on their website and blog as a runner up in a Battle of the Bands contest to open for The Vivian Girls at their SXSW showcase. They were also chosen as one of the 15 bands to represent Manhattan in New York's Annual "Battle of the Boroughs," sponsored by New York Public Radio in June of 2012. Picking up a consistent following along the way, Wise Girl has performed at notable NY music venues such as Mercury Lounge, The Bowery Electric, Piano's and The Knitting Factory. The band has recently opened up for major pop punk band The Dollyrots and Rock 'n' Roll sensations, Prima Donna and performed as a part of the 2010 and 2011 CMJ Music Marathon. To add to the list, Wise Girl did a performance/interview on the national television show Beta TV and earned a mention in an American Songwriter's article ("How Does an Independent Artists Stay Relevant While Creating New Music" - Sept. 2012). In September of 2012 Weitz scored an endorsement deal with guitar company, Daisy Rock Guitars.

2012Candy's Final Words: Why can't there be more bands like this, I just love female vocals over good raw rock, it's more than a personal thing as Wise Girls (yep, I know the band are not all female) are getting rightly noticed.
Listen: Set In Stone (Player Only). Web: Official HERE.
Background: It was 1998 and Mike Cykoski (A Is For Atom) had just started playing bass with the promising Colorado-based jam band Zuba. The group had previously self-released 3 albums and had a robust touring schedule of 175 dates a year. The esteemed slapstick movie screenwriter and director duo the Farrelly Brothers used snippets of Zuba tunes in Kingpin and were planning to use full songs in the upcoming There’s Something About Mary, and major labels were sniffing around the swampy folk quintet. Mike was on the verge of a lucrative career but things didn’t go as planned. “The band ended before a deal happened. It was a bummer, we had a great tour booked and we cancelled it. I remember looking at the itinerary, thinking ‘I’m going to be successful, it’s going to be great,’” he says with a laugh. “And then it was like ‘Oh no, now I’m going back to work at the restaurant.’” After an exploratory journey involving sideman gigs, relocations, and music school, Mike now resurfaces with a two-EP solo bow of literate, conceptual, thoughtful and playfully-orchestrated modern folk-rock. On July 15, Mike released part one of the project, with the other EP released on September 15th.

Ironically Mike’s decision to leave the hired-gun musician hustle came when he netted an audition with pop-rocker Gavin DeGraw. “That was the trigger on the path to becoming a solo artist,” Mike reveals. “I was in his apartment and he played many songs on the piano; they were all so good and he impressed me. It was right before he flew to LA to do the showcase that got him a record deal.” Inspired by songcraft and the art of composing, Mike enrolled in the prestigious NYU music technology master’s degree program, wisely taking a job at the university that paid for his tuition. There he met his producer Julian Cassia in a film scoring class. Julian was a fan of Mike’s compositions and grew up in England, France, and Beirut. His appreciation for Mike’s writing style and his international aesthetic perspective provide the tunes with some tastefully ethnic flourishes and, at times, some sturdy Brit-pop hooks. The project began in earnest nine months ago when Mike finished his master’s thesis and landed a steady job. He was feeling optimistic and introspective. “I wanted to set some goals, and I really wanted to do an album,” he explains. “I got this job, I got the funding, I got this producer; I said it out loud and it happened.”

2012Candy's Final Words: This song fits the category of 'a grower' almost perfectly for me. First time around I was a little dismissive, however I checked out a couple of other tracks and played this again and thought wow! So that's my definition of a grower, how about you?
Listen: Creation (MP3). Web: Facebook HERE.
Background: Brooke Campbell’s music transports. Ready to head down the rabbit hole?

You listen to music to be moved. To escape. To feel good. Sometimes, you hear another’s take on your own story, as if the song were written for you. With music as ethereal as that of Kate Bush, as rhythmic as Regina Spektor’s, and lyrics as arrestingly honest as those by Tori Amos, Brooke’s lived-in voice welcomes you instantly to all of the above. Her latest ep, The Escapist, explores new territory: her first fully orchestrated recording. She enlisted Colin McGrath to create a Sinatra-inspired string dreamscape for “Sparkle.” For the driving atmosphere of “Ice Covers the North,” she worked with Matt Frey to transport the listener through a chilling wilderness with an army of cellos. All four tracks were produced by William Berlind, who produced Brooke’s previous album, Sugar Spoon.

After hearing her perform live as the winner of the International Arts Movement Songwriting Competition, Wall Street Journal critic Terry Teachout blogged that he fell in love with Brooke’s “shivery breathless voice and deep-toned guitar playing.” She went on to be a featured artist in the 2011 Spotlight Series for Denon Audio and is a regular on one of Long Island’s most popular podcasts. “I don’t know why she isn’t better known. I haven’t been more impressed with a singer-songwriter in years.” —Terry Teachout, blogger & Wall Street Journal critic

NYC via North Carolina, Brooke has toured extensively throughout the U.S. to audiences up to 2,000 strong — a dynamic she prefers, because when the lights are low, everyone can get lost in the crowd and get what they want from the songs. “That’s how I like to hear music,” she says.

The year Brooke started writing, 100 songs emerged, a level of output that hasn't slowed. From her first tune, “African Violet,” to The Escapist’s “Ice Covers the North,” images of nature loom large. Wishing to manifest that imagery into the physical world, Brooke collaborates in other art forms. She most recently worked with Leslie Scott, artistic director of the Manhattan-based BODYART Dance, and new-media artist Reid Farrington on a video project with choreography set to Brooke’s song “What Do You Do?” that was featured in the International Dance Festival in NYC.

The Escapist delves into the positive and negative aspects of the -ism — both dreaming and avoidance. Everything the rabbit hole will allow. With remarkable depth, melancholy mingles with hope as the lyrics search out their answers. “Whatever we hear in our hearts, however discordant or beautiful, is worth sharing,” Brooke says. The result is music that surprises your senses.

2012Candy's Final Words: This is another artist where it was difficult to pick one song that was representative of their overall qualities. Having accepted I could not, I opted for Sugar Spoon by shutting my eyes and hitting random. There must be more scientific ways...
Listen: Sugar Spoon (Player Only). Web: Official HERE.
Background: Rock artist Bob Pressner breathes raw emotion and honesty into every line on his new album King of Nothing, available now on iTunes. Drenched in glowing charisma, Bob shows off his versatility throughout the album as he touches on subjects like love, spirituality and retrospection. With his relatable lyrics and velvety tone, it is no surprise that Bob is becoming a magnetic force for music lovers; the official video for the title track "King of Nothing," directed by Max Moraga and produced by Kurt J. Zendzain has already garnered more than 18 million views on YouTube!

Hailing from White Plains, NY, Bob has always been a musician at heart. Intrigued by the styles of Jimi Hendrix, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Paul McCartney, he fell in love with the guitar at 15 years old and now has a vast collection. As he grew older, he continued to practice his art and refine his skills - he even studied with the famed 1950's beat poet Allen Ginsberg. After experiencing a traumatic event and years of being part of the workforce, Bob took a leap of faith to pursue a music career. Later, Bob moved his family to Florida where he began writing and recording heavily. The singer-songwriter soon had his first album Hard Driving Rain, followed by Riding the Wave, Summer in Illusion Land, Me and the Kid from Santa Cruz, and Honor Among Thieves. In addition, Bob was a featured artist on the album A Musical Tribute to the Olympics, which was a commemorative compilation featured at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Delivering an exciting mix of head-bopping songs and tear-jerking ballads, Bob displays charm and grace on his latest effort, King of Nothing, produced by Grammy-nominated producer David Grow (Michael Bolton) and Jim McGorman (Avril Lavigne, The Corrs). With more than three million YouTube views for the music video, "The Blue Has Left Your Eyes" is a catchy mid-tempo track that reveals a more vulnerable Bob. The singer laments the loss of his queen with sweet melodies led by a soft guitar and carried away by wailing violins in the emotional "King of Nothing." Hoping to meet his internet crush in "iGirl," Bob's infectious hook is lead by major rock guitars and supported by a solid vocal performance. Each song on this well-produced album is capable of transporting listeners to different dimensions.

Receiving "Top Honors" for his outstanding YouTube views, the New York native has been cranking out live performances left and right for his fans. Bob's performances landed him a gig at the South By Southwest Music Festival and his very own Comcast-produced OnDemand concert entitled, "Bob Pressner at Infinity Music Hall." The concert was promoted on cable channels like A&E, AMC, ESPN, CNN, Bravo, MTV, VH1, and TBS. With four albums under his belt, Bob has let go of all inhibitions and nothing can hold him back. The world better get ready.

2012Candy's Final Words: Saved this for last in this round up as Bob Pressner is a very hard act to follow. Along with a rather a large number of others I love this song, check out the album, it's a goldmine of great songs.
Listen: King Of Nothing (Player Only). Web: Official HERE.

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