Those Lavender Whales - Kacey Johansing - 23rd Hour - The Weeks - Heavy Suns

Those Lavender Whales - Lose My Mind.

Background - Columbia, South Carolina indie/psych pop band Those Lavender Whales, are releasing their sophomore record ‘My Bones Are Singing’ via SC label Fork & Spoon 4/7/2016. Written around singer Aaron Graves’ struggle with a rare, life threatening brain tumor in 2014, the tracks on My Bones Are Singing are existential, intricate pop songs that highlight spirituality, growth, family, and hope. 

Throughout the record, in the darkest spots and the brightest moments, though, Graves sticks to the central motif of his oeuvre as Those Lavender Whales, which he started in his college dorm room at the turn of the millennium: striving to be a better person. “I know it really hurts to grow,” Graves concedes on “Open Up,” before offering, “I know you’re taking us through rougher weather.”

My Bones Are Singing marks a considerable growth for Those Lavender Whales, too. Recorded with Chaz Bundick (Toro Y Moi) in Berkeley, California, and at Graves’s home in Columbia, South Carolina, My Bones Are Singing is full of bigger sounds and a broader palette that parallels the way this band’s world expanded suddenly in a period of rough weather with huge amounts of uncertainty and love. The personal songwriting, thoughtful arrangements and delightful quirkiness that Graves established on a handful of EPs and 2012’s Tomahawk of Praise remain, but Bundick’s production gives My Bones Are Singing an airiness imbued by stacks of vintage synthesizers and crisp production.

Indeed, Those Lavender Whales has grown physically as well, not into simply a fleshed-out band, but a full-fledged family. Jessica Bornick, Graves’s wife, plays drums. Multi-instrumentalists Christopher Gardner and Patrick Wall, two of Graves’s longtime friends, round out the band. Facebook here, Bandcamp here.

'Lose My Mind' mixes fuzzy psychedelic sounds, alongside steady rhythmic vocals that seem to rotate around the music creating a hypnotic feel  throughout.
 
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Kacey Johansing - Do You Want Me.

Background - Kacey Johansing announces new album, The Hiding, shares first single "Do You Want Me". “It seems great opportunities come in blessings as well as tragedies,” Kacey Johansing sings on the title track of her third album, The Hiding. After the breakup of her band Yesway, and an abrupt falling out with her closest musical collaborator, Johansing set out to record a new batch of songs that resulted from the sea change in which she had now found herself.

Instead of drawing from her regular band, Johansing pulled from a wider cast of players that she’d come to know in the community of musicians throughout California and the West Coast. The resulting sound is one based wholly and unabashedly in pop. Nods to Christine McVie and Fleetwood Mac can be heard, but Johansing brings these sounds to a modern stage, blending her ethereal vocals with effervescent synthesizer washes and reverberating open-tuned guitar.

Recorded at Panoramic House in Stinson Beach, where Kacey worked as caretaker, as well as at home in Bolinas, on a ridge above the cloud layer in Big Sur, and at a friend’s studio in Portland, the album also serves as a document of Kacey’s time spent traveling in search of the sound she was after. After finishing initial tracking, and still reeling from the heartbreak of losing her musical community, Johansing found a necessary move was in order. Landing somewhat-blindly in Los Angeles, she continued to work on the album and hold it close. The end result is The Hiding, a tone poem about loss, growth and “leaving the insular beauty of a tight-knit community,” as Johansing describes it. The release of The Hiding comes at a time when Johansing is deeply longing to emerge from her extended absence and reconnect with her desire to create and share her music.

“The Hiding” is set for release June 2 on Night Bloom Records, a brand new label Johansing founded with Real Estate’s Alex Bleeker and longtime-friend and songwriter Jeff Manson. Website here, Facebook here.

A vibrant pop vibe is right there from the start on 'Do You Want Me'. It's a song that grows in depth musically, whilst the vocals not only drive the melody, they add additional sonic layers and atmosphere.


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23rd Hour - Hypothetically.

Background - 23rd Hour are currently sharing their video for "Hypothetically" from their upcoming record Perfect Strangers out this month.

23rd Hour was created after a chance meeting at a coffee house transformed unlikely bedfellows Sherry-Lynn Lee and George Paolini into sympathetic artistic souls. They come from different backgrounds, genres and eras, but when their individual aesthetics intertwine, they hit that sweet spot of subtle adventurousness epitomized by artists such as James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Norah Jones, and The Civil Wars.

Sherry and George creatively interlace as songwriters, singers, and instrumentalists. Songs on Perfect Strangers fluidly shift from Sherry at the center, with George on background vocals, to tunes led by George with Sherry providing support. George sings in an understated baritone, and Sherry possesses a versatile mezzo-soprano. Often their vocals blend in tight, flowing harmonies. Both are gifted instrumentalists, proficient on guitar, piano, mandolin, harmonica. And they dabble in cello, clarinet, ukulele and percussion.

Their debut album Perfect Strangers wraps visceral stories with clever wordplay and elements of jazz, classical, rock, folk and pop. Their sound is notably organic, employing acoustic instruments and, when electric, a very clean, unprocessed tone. Facebook here.

Both gentle and sensitive 'Hypothetically' mixes a beautiful duet alongside intricately delivered music, that adds to the intimate mood of this delightful song.

 

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The Weeks - Start It Up.

Background - The new single from Easy, the highly anticipated new album from rising band The Weeks, has now been shared. The Weeks is twin brothers Cyle (vocals) and Cain (drums), Sam Williams (guitar/vocals) and Damien Bone (bass). Formed when its members were in high school in Jackson, Mississippi, the band self-released its debut EP Dog Days. 

More than ten years and a handful of critically acclaimed albums later, the band has relocated to Nashville and toured extensively worldwide with Kings Of Leon and the band liked them so much, they set up their own label – Serpents & Snakes – to put out their record. But their influences run deeper than that, and the grittiness and authenticity of their sound has seen them tour with the likes of both Meat Puppets and Local H in the past.

Of the record, frontman Cyle Barnes says, “We called it Easy because every time I make music with these guys, it’s easy. It feels good. But the other side of it is there’s nothing easy about being in a band. There’s nothing easy about staying together for ten years and still wanting to make music. We have the hardest and easiest job on the planet. But it works for us.” Thematically, Easy explores new ground for the band. Bassist Damien Bone explains, “We just wanted to make a rock record. We weren’t as concerned making it a southern rock record. The southern thing is always going to part of what we do. ” Facebook here.

Our second feature for The Weeks and 'Start It Up' is another powerful rocker, with vocals and musicians competing for their own personal share in the action. Collectively they deliver a bluesy and punchy rock'n'roll delight.

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Heavy Suns - Hide.

Background - There is a thumping psyche-rock single with swagger, attitude and meaning coming out on April 14th from Barnsley (UK) based Heavy Suns. When it comes down to it, who doesn’t have a love for The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin?

It sounds cliché that South Yorkshire’s newest and most exciting export Heavy Suns take influence from those classic bands as well as recent incarnations of the psyche-rock genres but with the dark, thumping new single ‘Hide’ the five-piece are doing things with these roots that are seriously worthy of note.

Exciting as much as it is familiar, the single is the result of years of honing the band after originating as a three piece and the current line-up finally coalescing together in 2015. “Being born and raised in a town like Barnsley you always have some sort of awareness of anybody around you that is involved in music and I think that was the case with the five of us. Travis, Tom and Luke all being in different bands at the same time around 2009. Callan later joining Travis's band and Ross working as a local gig promoter & DJ,” explains lead vocalist and guitarist Travis Glen Eaton.

Having recently sold out shows in Sheffield and Leeds, the buzz around this band is really taking hold locally across Yorkshire and title ‘Hide’ is an oxymoron for the band’s plans with its release. The in your face fuzzy riffs and psych atmospheres swallow whole all exposed to it in a gloriously free floating tsunami of hypersonic sound. Facebook here.

'Hide' cuts to the chase as a formidable, dominant rock track. The music is tight and menacing, the vocals add the swagger and psych, and the band deliver with aplomb.

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