Sunday, 1 May 2016

Sunday Selection: Stone Cold Fox - Auna Sims - Adeline Hotel - The Maytags

Stone Cold Fox - Contagion.

Background words - The best kind of road trips are the ones that are spontaneous. You know where you want to go, you have a final destination in mind - you just don’t necessarily know how you’re going to get there. But that’s OK, because it’s all about the journey, right? Brooklyn-based four piece, Stone Cold Fox want to take a road trip with you- they’ll get you to where you want to go, you just gotta let them take the wheel, because in the end whatever will be, will be. And the soundtrack? Their forthcoming EP, Tunnel Vision.

Tunnel Vision is a stunning contradiction- a collection of journeys made up of distorted dance synths that bleed with a rock-heavy heart. Written, recorded and produced over a period of two years, the sound of Tunnel Vision resembles a mindset that is anything but narrow minded- instead, it’s a collection of tracks that skew in every which way, that ultimately steer back to it’s original course to create a wistful, cohesive sound. “Tracks started as total rock songs, then turned into chilled electro songs, eventually finding its way somewhere comfortably in the middle,” explains guitarist and vocalist Kevin. “They find middle ground with a rock core and a dancey pulse,” he adds. So, imagine a world where John Lennon is rose from the dead and conceived a love child with The Strokes while listening to LCD Soundsystem and Beat Connection - that’s the kind of world that Tunnel Vision creates.

'Contagion' is synth pop which leans towards indie rock if you follow? It's the first song on the five track EP 'Tunnel Vision' and each track is equal to the quality of the featured song. Hard to easily categorise, the last sentence in the promo piece above is not that wide of the mark.

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Auna Sims - Dance The Extra Mile.

Background bio - Auna Sims' second song, "Dance The Extra Mile" picks up where her first left off, giving us a first row seat to her musical journey. She is off and running, or dancing, as the case may be. In "Right Place," there was an earnest exploration of performance, creation and identity.  "I wrote this song when I was struggling with the 'Why try again' questions," said Sims of the first material she had released. Now that musical identity seems to have found itself a bit more. "This song is about unapologetic joy in perseverance."  

She had to suffer through adversity from an unknown source to make her work.  She grew up in a home infused with music, the oldest of ten musically gifted children. She herself was a prodigiously talented child and studied classical music and piano throughout her youth. As she embarked on her formal secondary education in music an idiopathic hand and arm injury made playing piano impossible for her, just days before she was to audition for the head of the Atlanta Symphony. Auna was devastated.  But she persevered.  "The struggles lead me to my crumbs of truth and those crumbs tend to grow and turn into hope," she says of the undying love of music that impelled her to create music however she could.

As she continued her journey, music consumed Auna, Her tastes broadened and she began to consume a wide ranging array of pop music. Shortly thereafter, she began to play the piano one-handed and write songs with pop structures. She developed her voice and what she could do with performance, limited though she may be.  The music she kept to herself as she compiled composition upon composition. Throughout, she asked herself, "Does success determine art or is the drive to create and express the true beauty?" she asked.   Now she says, "That mile is calling, and it must be danced, sung, written, found, lost, explored, reached, and ultimately released in order to become the courage and comfort I crave for myself and wish to share."

I really like 'Dance The Extra Mile' however I am struggling to describe quite what it is, that makes it stand out from the crowd. Auna has a distinct and commanding voice that appeals, and musically there is an attractive melody. I suppose it is the commitment, the sheer level of emotion, that gives the song that extra kick, looking forward to hearing more.

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Adeline Hotel - Near You.

Background words - Adeline Hotel is the project of songwriter Daniel Knishkowy. It's Alright, Just The Same (May 13 via Wild Kindness Record Co.) was produced by guitarist/composer Will Stratton and recorded at the Buddy Project in Queens, NY and Will's house in Beacon, NY. It's Alright, Just The Same maintains the intimacy of How Strange It Is To See EP while expanding the band arrangements.

Like all Adeline Hotel work to date, the record is fundamentally concerned with the balance between people and place;about the desire for change and the need for stability;getting high in your ex's apartment and laughing at the Silver Jews;constant questioning and trying to get out of your head;driving through the rain as spring becomes summer;making your world just that little bit larger; about singing along to Big Star with your best friend.

'Near You' is the second of nine songs on the forthcoming release 'It's Alright, Just The Same' and the second single release. The album is a collection of really well constructed folk and folk rock orientated songs, that centre around Daniel Knishkowy's fine vocals, plus the musicianship is first class. A good single from a very good album.


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The Maytags - Marry Ya.

Background promo - Des Moines retro-soul outfit The Maytags announce debut full length, Love Lines, available July 1, 2016 via independent release, and share the album's first single, "Marry Ya." 

Love Lines smoulders with the intensity of a relationship that just ended. Recorded at Nashville's The Bomb Shelter with Andrija Tokic, who has also recorded Benjamin Booker and Alabama Shakes, the album sees Smith achieving a bit of the latter band's gut-busting, almost-preternatural howling on cathartic opener "Pushing Up Rivers." A three-part "Suite for Green Eyes," written as a whole by Smith and Tim Sanders (sax), inhabits the aftermath of a breakup: bitter sweet acceptance, tempestuous reflection, and the lustful confusion of running into an ex once it's all over.

As much as Love Lines is born out of a breakup, it's also an artifact of a seven-piece band that has been honing its chops on the road. "Musically we worked our asses off on this," Dustin Smith says. "Me and Tim got together for the initial writing sessions and really tried to draw a lot of inspiration from the Daptone crew, Stax, Al Green. Just to name a few." The songs were then taken to the band and arranged as a unit, with each member having creative input on each song. The Maytags then tracked the whole album to 2 inch tape in less than 30 hours." That follows December 2014's Nova EP, recorded at the same studio and tracked to 2 inch tape in 19 hours

Dustin Smith's lyrics often reference the cultural geography of his home town Des Moines, Iowa, a music and arts community with a rising national profile highlighted by praise from the Talking Heads' David Byrne and glowing explorations from Politico and The Atlantic. But Smith's words also help evoke the Maytags' journey to this sultry nine-song set, one that also runs through Smith's time in New York — where studied jazz as a drummer — and the band's recording sessions in Tennessee. Other band members have roots in St. Louis; all studied jazz, mainly in central and northern Iowa. If there can be a New South, then there can be a sound that's Midwest Nouveau. 

Retro soul, blues, grooves, funk and a few other styles, make the bands debut album 'Love Lines' something very special. 'Marry Ya' is but a small sip from a full glass, when it comes to, what's in store on this fabulous album. Whilst the influences of others may be there, this band pick up on an idea and develop it into a song to remember. If any of the above mentioned genres and styles appeal to you, I urge that you check this album out in July, it's a good one!
 
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