Petaluma’s retro soul collective the Highway Poets have been jamming in the North Bay and beyond for several years now, racking up three Bohemian NorBay Music Awards and many other “best of” accolades along the way. A dynamic live band who push the boundaries of rock ‘n’ roll, folk, indie and soul music, the band is currently prepping to record their first professional studio album and they’ve kicked off a Kickstarter campaign to help raise the funds necessary.
The band promises the new album will be a gritty and sophisticated collection, a modern blend of rock infused with classic influences and diverse feel-good vibes. With a little help from friends and fans, the Highway Poets plan on making this record the right way in a decked-out studio, produced with the best engineers and equipment available.
Click on the link here to go to the band’s Kickstarter site and throw them a few bucks to get them in studio. Donation perks include copies of the album and production credit, meaning that this is a great chance to both pre-order the album and help ensure it gets made at the same time. There’s also a chance to appear in an upcoming music video, backstage meet-and-greets and more, depending on your donation. Don’t delay, help the Highway Poets now.
The Highways Poets perform next on Saturday, Oct 29, at Kokomo winery, 4791 Dry Creek Rd Healdsburg. 5pm. 707.433.0200
Fairfax songwriting partners Velvy Appleton and Anita Sandwina have spent more than a decade making harmonic folk under the moniker of Spark & Whisper. Their rhythmic tunes stand out from the crowd thanks to transformative melodies and undeniable chemistry. This month, Spark & Whisper released their third, already acclaimed album, Monument.
Available now on bandcamp, the record of 11 original compositions continues to advance the pair’s mature, eclectic songwriting and assured aural aesthetic. With Sandwina’s expressive vocals and Appleton’s sizzling guitar solos, this is a modern, rock-tinged take on traditional folk, presented in a fresh and engaging arena.
Though the band doesn’t have any live dates until the new year, you can stream Monument now and mark your calendars for February, when Spark & Whisper return to the stage.
Singer and songwriter Emily Jane White’s mysterious new album, They Moved in Shadow All Together, is already out in Europe, but fans here in the states have had to wait patiently to hear the latest from the darkly experimental Oakland-based artist and Fort Bragg native.
Until now, as White this week unveiled the lead single from the new record, “Frozen Garden.” The song is a lush and melodic journey through dense layers of instrumental textures, with White’s voice acting as a guiding light breathlessly leading the listener ever deeper into the tangled brush.
They Moved in Shadow All Together will be released in the US on June 10 through Talitres Records. Get your copy by clicking here.
Sonoma County songwriter Neem Wood mixes together shimmering electronics, soulful guitars and heartfelt lyrics for a compelling, emotional blend of indie rock and pop under the name Become the Villain.
Wood has a new album due to be released this weekend with a show at HopMonk in Sebastopol, and he has a preview of his latest work in the form a new single, “Slip Away,” that’s available to listen to right now.
Stylistically and sonically sophisticated, “Slip Away” features Wood’s soaring vocals and dark percussions with strong pop hooks and a cathartic chorus. Click on the track below; and catch Become the Villain tomorrow, Saturday Jan 23 at HopMonk, with other local luminaries Lungs and Limbs, Horses Heaven and Charley Peach. Details are here.
San Francisco soul swingers Royal Jelly Jive just crossed the finishing line in their ongoing fundraiser for their upcoming sophomore album, “Dear Mr. Waits,” which means not only will we get a new collection of the group’s groovy gypsy rock soon, but the band will be able to take the show on the road for a 2016 tour.
That’s great news, obviously. Today, the jiving jellies share a sneak peek at the upcoming album with a live studio recording of their first single, “Story,” featuring special guest Marty O’Reilly, of Marty O’Reilly & the Old Soul Orchestra.
Recorded at the always excellent Prairie Sun Studios in Cotati, the single, “Story,” is a slow burning and sultry dirge, featuring harmonizing vocals from Royal Jelly singer Lauren Bjelde and O’Reilly set against dusty vintage guitars and jazz rhythms. Click on the link below to watch the studio recording. Royal Jelly Jive perform on New Year’s Eve at the Big Easy in Petaluma. Details for that show are here.
Psychedelic North Bay post-rock trio the Vibrating Antennas has a new head trip of a music video for their single “The Tourist,” off their upcoming sophomore LP, State of the Art, due to be released on Jan 8 from Melotov Records.
This darkly stoner rock dirge is a swirling shock of soaring grunge guitars, strained screaming vocals and a killer thumping bassline; and it’s been on repeat in my browser since the video’s release last week. Lyrically following a medicated loner adrift in Sonoma, “The Tourist” sees the Vibrating Antennas maturing into a spellbinding band unafraid to go into the darkness and bring it back with them.
This month, the band embarks on a West Coast tour and plays in Santa Rosa on Jan 9 with other local rockers the Down House and Red Wood, who are releasing their split 7″ and JRR Tallcan, whose new EP, “Smile,” is also fresh off the presses. Check out the video and get over to the show, details are here.
Folk and Americana duo Eight Belles is made up of Michigan-born and longtime Bay Area-based singer Jessi Phillips and Sonoma County native songwriter and guitarist Henry Aloysius Nagle. The pair met in 2010 and first made noise in 2012 with their debut album, “Girls Underground,” hailed as a vividly beautiful country rock record.
Now, Eight Belles is back in the spotlight with a new self-titled album on Saint Rose Records, a recently premiered music video and an upcoming record-release show at the Last Record Store in Santa Rosa on Saturday, Dec 12, at 2pm.
Even with their impressive debut, the new self-titled record proves to be an even stronger effort, with Phillip’s lovely voice sounding like a mixture of Patsy Cline and Carol King, and evolved melodic arrangements performed with a full band of popular Bay Area musicians.
To get a taste of the new album, Eight Belles offer up a music video for their single, “The Old Life,” that matches their timeless country folk with enchanting black-and-white visuals, click on the video below to watch.
This weekend’s release show at the Last Record Store will feature the pair playing in an intimate setting, with Sonoma County songstress Ashley Allred opening. Vinyl and CD copies of the self-titled album will be available. The show starts at 2pm and is free.
Award-winning Asheville, NC, bluegrass ensemble Steep Canyon Rangers is having another busy summer, touring the country with Steve Martin and finishing up touches on a new LP, Radio, due to be released in early September.
And for your listening pleasure, the band has released the music video for the album’s title track and first single. The nostalgic lyrics and melodic fiddles of “Radio” are presented in a video collage made up from intimate, on-the-road footage gathered from the band’s relentless touring life.
Earlier this year, I caught up with Steep Canyon Rangers banjo player Graham Sharp. You can read that interview here. And click below to hear “Radio.”
Steve Martin & Steep Canyon Rangers perform on Thursday, Aug 20, at the Green Music Center, 1801 East Cotati Ave, Rohnert Park. 866.955.6040.
New Jersey punk rock band Titus Andronicus have always been as ambitious as they were aggressive in their fiery punk revelries. Fronted by songwriter Patrick Stickles, the band is no stranger to concept albums, producing a Civil War themed record in 2010. This month, though, the band is taking things to a whole new level with the forthcoming release of The Most Lamentable Tragedy.
Clocking in at over 90 minutes and packed with 29 sprawling tracks, the group’s latest self-described “rock opera” is poised to become one of the most challenging and talked-about records of the year. Thematically the band says the new record plays out like a piece of long-form fiction. From a press release they describe the plot:
TMLT concerns an unnamed protagonist whom we meet in deep despair. Following an encounter with his own doppelgänger (an enigmatic stranger, identical in appearance though opposite in disposition), long held secrets are revealed, sending our protagonist on a transformative odyssey, through past lives and new loves, to the shocking revelation that the very thing that sustains him may be the thing to destroy him.
That’s some heavy stuff right there. The Most Lamentable Tragedy comes out on July 28. Below you can stream the new album via NPR, and in September you can see the band when they perform at the Phoenix Theater in Petaluma.
Yo La Tengo, the Cure, and total world destruction; these are a few of my favorite things. Which is why this new video from prolific New Jersey rock band Yo La Tengo seems almost too good to be true. The long-time trio of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew are known for their unbelievable ability to play ANY song by request, and their upcoming covers album, Stuff Like That There, tackles classic songs by everyone from Hank Williams to the Lovin’ Spoonful and re-works their own tunes, culled from a 30-year career in music.
Set for release at the end of August, the album also features a demure cover of popular ’80s hit “Friday I’m in Love” by British new wave icons the Cure. And now, Yo La Tengo present that song’s bizarrely hilarious official video. It’s a tale of woe, as singer Georgia Hubley wanders the streets collecting nicknacks while an invading force of extra-terrestrial hearts pummel mankind into the stone age. I love it!