Sunday, 14 August 2016

Quality Not Quantity: Shannon Söderlund - The smallest Creature - Rachel Mason

Shannon Söderlund - Tomorrow's Only Tuesday.

Background bio - A fresh musical force on the NYC scene, Shannon Söderlund is serving up catchy pop-rock anthems to a hungry city. With driving guitar riffs and punchy rhythms reminiscent of the late 90’s, Shannon’s anthemic music is influenced by the soulfulness of gospel music and the spontaneity of jazz, resulting in a sound that is at once bright, clear, and deep. Her songwriting and performances capture the complexities of life — the highs, the lows, the trials and the joys — while indulging in head-bobbing grooves and infectious lyrics that get lips smiling and toes tapping.

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Shannon’s childhood was steeped in music. She spent the entirety of her youth playing and singing with her siblings and parents, who served as musical missionaries in Washington State and beyond. They toured internationally from the late ‘80s to the early 2000s, wandering over the continental United States, Mexico, Great Britain, and Europe, singing in 5-part harmony and generally rocking out.

While Shannon has written songs since the tender age of 7, it wasn’t until her college years that she began to pursue the craft of songwriting in earnest. Studying jazz in Washington and Montana, Shannon’s writing began to draw from the diverse history of american music. In 2012 she moved to New York, where she continued honing her craft while performing around the city. She released her first EP of original music in 2014, the demo Innocent Heart. Her follow-up EP, The Magic, is set to be released in the summer of 2016.

Shannon now lives in the delightful borough of Queens, writing and singing wherever and whenever she can. She spends her free time watching the flow of the East River, drinking local beer, and listening to the beautiful music the city has to offer.

From the four song EP The Magic released a short while ago, we feature the first song in the collection 'Tomorrow's Only Tuesday'. What a refreshing set of songs these are, pop/rock by nature, there is energy and depth within each song. Whether it's the stompy power of the featured track, or the more sultry blues feel within 'Addicted' the quality is constant, and always delivered with real feeling, and superb vocals.


The smallest Creature - Reboot.

Background - The smallest Creature is the brainchild of Stefanos Marnerides, with the name starting off as an alias around 2007. At the time, Stefanos was composing and performing small gigs in New York, while also putting together demo recordings with the help of Stefan Held in Brooklyn, NY.

In 2011 Stefanos moved to Larnaca and signed up with Fishbone Records, though that collaboration ended peacefully later on. Meanwhile, The smallest Creature turned into a power trio with long standing friends and past bandmates Stephanos Nicolaou on the bass and Iacovos Stylianides on the drums. For a brief period Pavlos Chrysanthou joined as a lead guitarist, while Demetris Marnerides accompanied on the guitar and piano occasionally.

Over several live shows the trio evolved and gave flesh to a number of original songs, which were eventually recorded towards an album release in Fishbone Studios, under the old Barrel House pub, with engineer Marios Hadjikos, a.k.a the Mole. The album is in the final stages of production and it will be released independently soon.

'Reboot' is one of four song's Ive been able to listen to from The smallest Creature, and on the strength of that I have a feeling the promised album will be pretty special. Reboot gives an idea of the thought and creativity found in the bands music, overall I think the alt rock tag is a fitting one, however expect them to explore many different ideas and do them extremely well.


Rachel Mason - Tigers in the Dark.

Background - Renowned performance artist and musician Rachel Mason, freshly signed to Los Angeles-based Cleopatra Records, has announced her forthcoming single ‘Tigers in the Dark’, along with an accompanying video, directed by Matthew Spiegelman and choreographed by Haylee Nichele. This is the first single from the forthcoming album ‘Das Ram'. The single, which is due out on September 9, will be followed by the 'Das Ram' LP, to be released digitally by Cleopatra Records and on limited edition cassette by Practical Records.

This song is written from the voice of an imaginary animal-human hybrid, who expresses the idea that real life only occurs on the stage, as it represents the creative dimension where everything is possible.

‘Das Ram’ is the first complete set of songs written and performed with Mason's longtime creative partner Jeff Hassay. An artist, writer and publisher, who also co-runs an art gallery, Hassay recorded, mixed and produced these tracks at his studio in Los Feliz. He has previously worked with Jonathan Richman (Modern Lovers), Jennifer Herrema (Royal Trux, Black Bananas), Avi Buffalo, Chris Cohen (Deerhoof), and Carolyn Penny Packer (Bouquet).

“Tigers In the Dark is one of those songs that felt like it was already written when I started singing it. Jeff was playing this little guitar riff and I just heard the lyrics and the melody instantly. It felt like it was just handed to me,” explains Rachel Mason. “The voice of the character in the Tigers song feels like it just wanted to exist with or without me. I'm just the vessel that gets to carry it out into the world right now. The video feels like it magically coalesced.”

In scripts, sculpture, rock operas, performances and songs spanning over a decade, Mason has created imagined worlds where animals, objects, mythological creatures and all forms of non-human entities have taken shape through her body and voice. Her shows wrap the audience in fantastical narratives which interweave musical, theatrical and narrative elements into unexpected operatic journeys.

'Tigers in the Dark' has a feisty vibe running through the song. Rachel Mason's vocals demand your attention, as they explore the drama of the music. With a marching beat, the track is something of a mini epic.


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