Jessica Lynn - Fos - Lo Tom - the Good Graces - Tamino

Jessica Lynn - Crazy Idea.

Background - Being hailed as “the New Woman in Country,” and “Shania's Successor,” Jessica Lynn is fast on her way to becoming a household name.  

In the last two years, the New York singer/songwriter has completed three highly successful nationwide tours of the United States and has seen her first two full length concert television specials, “This Much Fun – Live from the Winery at St. George,” and "Jessica Lynn - Takin' Over - Live from The Paramount " be met with rave reviews and seen by millions of viewers nationwide across America.

She has sung her country’s National Anthem twice in New York’s famed Madison Square Garden by special invite, signed a major publishing deal with publishing giant Round Hill Music that had her in Nashville writing with today’s top hit writers, and wrapped up three national summer tours sharing stages with Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Hank Williams Jr., The Band Perry, Thompson Square, Jake Owen, Sammy Kershaw, Clint Black, Montgomery Gentry, Phil Vassar and others. 

Last year, Jessica hit the road with country legend Jo Dee Messina for a west coast tour and recently had the honor of opening for the “Queen of Country Music” herself, Loretta Lynn.  

Her high-energy and dynamic live show has garnered rave reviews from critics worldwide with the CBS Evening National News calling her a "Rocket Force."  

2016 saw Jessica on her first international tour in Canada and Europe and she released her debut self-titled EP.  The first official music video and single from that EP, "Not Your Woman," hit #1 for four weeks in a row on "The Iceman's Top 40 New Country Chart." The Iceman’s chart is the only New Country Countdown show listed and recognized in the 2016 Country Music Association’s Industry Guide.

2017 will take Jessica and the band around the world once again with a busy schedule that includes a summer long European/UK tour in support of her brand new EP, “Look At Me That Way,”. The new EP produced and co-written in Belgium by acclaimed Producer Patrick Hamilton (Katherine Jenkins, David Garrett), includes three new cuts that will be making their way to UK and European radio this summer. Website here, Facebook here, UK live dates on Beehive Candy's tour news page.

'Crazy Idea' merges modern country and pop styles together, in an upbeat and vibrant manner. Jessica's melodic & cheerful vocals are well up in the mix, supported by some top quality musicianship, no wonder the attention she is receiving.


Fos - Captain Free.

Background - London based Greek born artist Katerina Koutouzi, aka Fos, is releasing her third album “Captain Free” on the artist's own label, Near The Exit Music. The captivating melody of the main song from which the album takes its title, dominates this record. Captain Free takes you on a journey from Dalston neon market stalls reflected in kerbside puddles to the silvery darting fish swimming in the clear Greek island waters. Squidgy beats and airy synth complemented by a gentle voice full of promise, blow over the listener like a familiar summer breeze. 

Katerina has recorded, produced and mastered this record herself and you can feel that this is a song that has been lovingly nurtured into being. When she was a girl, Katerina grew up on a small Greek island and her island memories paint a sort of glorious technicolor-nostalgia over this beautifully formed, catchy electro pop song conceived in the bustling city.

The rest of the album takes the listener on a sailing trip through varied musical waters. The whole album evolves around the theme of sailing on one's sailboat in the vast blue as a symbolic metaphor on the meaning of life and being alive. Following in the footsteps of her second album “Rock”, “Captain Free” is a well crafted assortment of all the different elements that Koutouzi likes to play with. 

Fos brings together traditional acoustic instruments like the daouli Greek drum, ancient instruments like the conch-shell, other acoustic instruments including the piano and the accordion, an electronica style of programming beats using pebbles, shells and bells. Katerina often sings in different languages, using the sound of a language as another sound tool but also using voice as an instrument. This contemporary approach blends styles such as dance music, song structures using simple archetypal melodies, ambient soundscapes using her own field recordings of natural sounds like the sound of waves and minimal instrumental explorations. The pieces sometimes sound like a sound collage of different instruments and natural sounds, but with an overarching aim of creating a certain atmosphere and an emotional reaction. Website here, Facebook here

Not so much one of nine songs but four of nine as 'Captain Free' takes us on a musical journey through four parts, alongside five other fabulous tracks. The whole album is an imaginative breath of fresh air, with an eclectic mixture of musical sounds, intricate beats and more. If you like the featured song, the album is a must.


Lo Tom - Covered Wagon.

Background - Lo Tom is made up of David Bazan (Pedro the Lion), Trey Many (Velour 100, Starflyer 59), TW Walsh (Pedro the Lion, The Soft Drugs), and Jason Martin (Starflyer 59), friends who started playing music together when they were still pretty much kids. The band will release its self-titled debut LP on July 14 on Barsuk. The band has shared its second single, "Covered Wagon".  

While many bands are a collaboration between artists with a message, a shared vision for a record, or an idea of a sound they want to create, Lo Tom is a group of friends who missed making noise together and wanted to hang out. The off-hand -- almost dismissive -- way they talk about the experience of making their self-titled debut masks the excellence of the music they’ve written and produced together as Lo Tom, but perhaps their casual approach to the whole endeavor is part of why it came out so great.

Recorded over two different sessions when they could find the time to spare, the four friends gathered with half-formed riffs and beats to see what would come out of it. The album’s thematic direction is loose and conceptual. The melodies recall Pedro the Lion and TW Walsh, the guitars sparkle with hints of Starflyer 59, and the songs hurtle through the major keystones of guitar rock - tight conversation between percussion and guitar, heavy fuzz, and some genuinely joyful breakdowns that give way to catharsis. Lyrics were mostly written by Bazan, who would take a melody and make up words quickly, then finish them over time.  

What makes this record special is not just how it’s built on melodies and riffs and songs with the looseness and ease of four friends who have been making music together for decades, but how vibrant and energetic and smart and funny and fun it is. For fans of a particular brand of indie-rock founded in the seventies and eighties and honed in the nineties and oughts, Lo Tom is one of the best things to arrive in a very long time. Website here, Facebook here.

Our second feature for Lo Tom this month following on from 'Overboard' a couple of weeks ago we now have 'Covered Wagon'. We have already remarked on the experience and quality of Lo Tom, hopefully this second share confirms our high regard for the new album is indeed well deserved.


the Good Graces - Remember the Old School.

Background - Mining the same rich vein as ’90s alt-country favorites like Freakwater and Whiskeytown, the Good Graces unspool delicate, warbling indie-folk and jangling roots pop. The project originated in 2007 but really started gaining momentum when it was handpicked by the Indigo Girls to open their 2015 summer tour. More of a community musical collaboration than a band, the Good Graces are the brainchild of singer, songwriter and guitarist Kim Ware and include a rotating cast of a dozen musicians playing the typical four-piece accouterments, as well as piano, harmonica, mandolin, wind chimes, cello, violin and more.

“I’ve never really called it a band,” Ware says. “I'm kind of weird about that term, which is a little silly, but I’ve always liked to mix it up depending on what I'm doing at the moment. I'm super fortunate to have a lot of really talented friends, but many of them have their own thing going on, and it's hard to expect the same group to be available all the time. I’ve always called on different people."

But Ware’s attitude has evolved on this point recently, given her deepening connection with the core members of the Good Graces’ latest iteration—pedal-steel and electric-guitar player Jonny Daly, and Uncle Green drummer Pete McDade, who were a key part of the sound and creative process on new record Set Your Sights (out July 7 via Pretty New Songs / Potluck Foundation). “Making this record did help me settle on a solid lineup that I'm going to at least be using for shows—Jonny, Pete, Lee Kennedy, Chad Mason and John McNicholas. I can’t overstate the importance of their contributions to the Good Graces.”

True to form, Set Your Sights was written on Ware's front porch on acoustic guitar. Touting such influences as Neko Case, Laura Veirs, K.D. Lang and Lydia Loveless, Ware's Southern drawl and straightforward, confessional lyrical style are at the forefront of the songs, while the production is atmospheric and exquisitely layered, showcasing a menagerie of styles. 

Exploring themes such as getting older, past relationships and coming to terms with your place in the universe, this album is Ware's attempt to examine past missteps. "People so rarely learn from their mistakes,” she says. “Everyone talks about it, and it's easy to throw that out there, but we so rarely focus on why we made a mistake in the first place. It's important to not just treat the symptom but the underlying cause. I think that should be the bigger focus."

In the past, Ware has been described as a less surly Lucinda Williams or a country-fried Liz Phair. This time around, she also channels Beth Orton's spaced-out Trailer Park soundscapes, especially on album opener "Out There," which asks the age-old question, "Are we alone in the universe?” Website here, Facebook here.

'Remember the Old School' is catchy from the opening riffs. Packing a sprightly, powerful, rhythm alongside some fine rock guitar work and vocals that are organically just right for high spirited rock songs, such as this one.


Tamino - Habibi.

Background - The first born son of a Flemish, anthropologist mother and an Egyptian, salesman father who met in the West-African republic of Guinee, 20 year old Tamino Moharam Fouad's first artistic love was theatre. ‘It must’ve been the first bite of the performance bug’, he explains. ‘I always had an interest in translating feelings, emotions and ideas into something else, something beyond the casual state of affairs’. Intuitively, his mother named him after the hero and prince in Mozart’s opera ‘The Magic Flute’.

The search for ‘alternative worlds’, as Tamino describes it, also guided him towards literature – ‘there’s seldom a quiet moment where you won’t find me reading a book’ – and, eventually, music. While in high school Tamino was your typical fourteen year old punk rocker, playing in bands inspired by bands like Billy Talent. An adolescent phase, looking back, because at home his mom’s record collection opened up his ears and mind to other, alternative worlds. The pop genius of The Beatles and Serge Gainsbourg, for instance, or the smoky, blues bar ballads of Tom Waits’ ‘Closing Time’, and the heartfelt, empowering music of Malian songbird Oumou Sangaré. 

‘According to my uncle, as a youngster, I was always scanning the car stereo for oriental flavoured tunes’, Tamino says. This is where the bloodline comes in. Some of the music he was exposed to at home were the albums of his late grandfather Moharam Fouad, a renowned actor and singer in the Arab world, from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. ‘My mother played his music around the house, and I remember being particularly taken by his live recordings with orchestra. There’s a certain kind of raw emotion in his singing, and in Arab music in general, that is mostly absent from Western music. Even when the tunes are kind of cheesy, there’s always something real, something sincere embedded in the voice. Complete surrender, much less calculated than most Western music. Oum Kalthoum, one of the most famous Egyptian singers, also had it; that intense kind of testimony about a past, scarred life of hardship and poverty. Just like Edith Piaf, someone else I very much admire’.  

When, near the end of high school, Tamino added Radiohead and Jeff Buckley – ‘ever since I was singing in punk rock bands, people kept dropping his name’ – to his roster of artists to be inspired by, it become obvious: ‘I wanted to pursue music. I could either do it by myself in my bed room, or I could broaden my horizons, meet and work with new people, learn new things’. He left his Antwerp suburb, moved to Amsterdam and enrolled in its music academy.   

Tamino’s debut EP for Unday Records is not only a showcase of his impressive vocal range, but also an impressionistic tableaux of his many moods and talents. Introspective yet bold. Otherworldly yet firmly grounded in tradition, electrifying yet embalmed in finesse. Unday Records Facebook here.

'Habibi' is a beautiful song. Tamino is upfront about his musical influences, and with ones of the calibre mentioned above, I personally expected to feel let down by the track. Rather the vocals and music exceeded my expectations, this is natural talent, and I am now impatient to hear more.