Friday, December 29, 2017

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sigrid: Strangers + Dynamite

Norwegian singer-songwriter Sigrid previously recorded under her full name Sigrid Raabe. Now 21 and signed to Island, she has dropped the four-track EP 'Don't Kill My Vibe'  - which includes an acoustic version of the stellar song "Dynamite" - as well as her newest release, the outstanding single "Strangers".

The quirky video accompanying "Strangers" was created by London-based director-photographer-writer Ivana Bobic.

She flawlessly performed "Strangers" and "Dynamite" at the excellently produced Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo on December 11 hosted by British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo. (Other performers included Lukas Graham, John Legend, Zara Larsson, as well as Matoma with guest vocalists Shy Martin, Adam Douglas and Becky Hill.)  This year's prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons aka ICAN, a global civil society of coalition of 468 - and counting - peace, human rights, environment, development and faith groups.

Sigrid has two dates coming up in January: Debaser Strand in Stockholm on the 21st and Vega in Copenhagen on the 22nd. Between March 12 and 24 there will be seven shows in the the UK plus one in Dublin. Additionally, a gig at the OverOslo festival has already been scheduled for June 20.

Friday, December 8, 2017

BTS: DNA + Blood Sweat & Tears

When South Korean band BTS made their U.S. television debut at the American Music Awards on November 19 in Los Angeles they brought the house down, greatly aided by their loyal fans aka A.R.M.Y.  Yet, until that day, many viewers in the States were likely not familiar with these seven young men from Seoul who brilliantly fuse K-pop with hip hop, boldly sing in Korean sprinkled with English, and deliver dance moves & vocals that make jaws drop and hearts beat faster.

Since 2013, BTS (an acronym that translates to Bulletproof Boy Scouts, though they now also use the acronym Beyond the Stage) have released a handful of stellar singles, EPs, and albums, as well as numerous outstanding videos. In addition to writing their own music/lyrics, they also produce their records.

The members whose ages range from 20 to 25 are:
Jungkook (singer/rapper/choreographer)
V (singer)
Jimin (singer/choreographer)
RM (rapper)
J-Hope (rapper/choreographer)
Suga (rapper)
Jin (singer)

"DNA" and "Blood Sweat & Tears" are my personal favorites, both musically and visually. The stunning clips were created by Seoul based creative collective Lumpens.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Dalli: Who Are You + Down This Road

Three years ago, Brisbane native Dalli released his superb debut single "Down This Road". Then, following a tragedy (five family members were in a light aircraft crash), he dropped out of law school, relocated to Melbourne and started busking full-time.

Now, a year later, the singer-songwriter has dropped an outstanding second single entitled "Who Are You", written on a solo camping trip along the Great Ocean Road.

Both tracks are accompanied by excellent videos. "Who Are You" was created by Melbourne based director Jem Rankin. "Down This Road" was co-directed by Dalli and Melissa Romao.

Check Dalli's Facebook page for gigs in the new year (the last show of 2017 was Wednesday.)

Note: The Great Ocean Road is an Australian National Heritage listed 243 km/151 mi stretch of road along the south-eastern coast between the cities of Torquay and Allansford in Victoria. Built by returned soldiers from 1919-32 and dedicated to soldiers killed during World War I, the road is the world's largest war memorial.
[Wikipedia]  (iTunes Australia)  (director "Who Are You" video)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Anna Leone: My Soul I

So far, Stockholm singer-songwriter Anna Leone has released only one song, but oh, what a song. The single "My Soul I" is a flawless composition of boundless beauty, further enhanced by the stellar, sparse production that wisely gives Leone's stunning voice the ample space it deserves.

I can't wait to hear more from this immensely gifted artist who is 19 or 23 years old, depending on which media source one picks out of the bunch. But whether Leone is 19 or 23, one thing is for sure: she has her whole life ahead of her - and hopefully a brilliant career.

The lovely video was shot around the Stockholm archipelago by French directors Victoria Lafaurie and Hector Albouker. 

And speaking of French: the track dropped back in September on Paris/London indie label AllPoints.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Panda People: Overflow (Featuring Jonas H. Petersen)

Fridolin Nordsø + Julius Aas in NYC

Fridolin Nordsø aka producer Nilo + Julius Aas aka producer/dj Ligron make up brand-new Danish/Norwegian duo Panda People, formed only this year. Friends since childhood, the two have worked with stellar Danish artists such as Mø, Oh Land, Choir of Young Believers, Fallulah, Mads Langer, and more.

Fridolin Nordsø also happens to be the son of Mikkel Nordsø who was the stellar guitarist in Sneakers, one of Denmark´s all time best rocks bands. With his twin brother Frederik Nordsø as well as Kristian Leth he also found time in 2008 to form The William Blakes; fourth member Bo Rande was added later.

Panda Peoples' ambitious plan is to release one single a month plus remixes. The first single "Accidentally" featured American singer-producer-songwriter Brandon Beal who has collaborated with Lukas Graham, among others.

The second single "Overflow" features Danish singer-songwriter Jonas H. Petersen who started his acclaimed solo project Hymns From Nineveh in 2007.

The studio version of "Overflow" combines future bass & pop with Petersen's indie-meets-altar boy vocals to such a heavenly effect it might make angels weep, not to mention boogie 'til the break of dawn.

The stunning acoustic version of "Overflow" performed by Petersen solo (with older b/w photos of Denmark's long-reigning Queen Margrethe and her French-born prince consort Henri aka Prince Henrik watching) strips the song down to its beautiful basics, sounding very much like the quintessential Hymns From Nineveh composition.     

Panda People do not have any shows scheduled at this point. 

However, you can catch Petersen with his Hymns From Nineveh live band at two Christmas concerts:
First up: Saturday, December 2 @ 7 pm at the Christianskirken, Frederikshaldsgade 15, 8200 Århus N.
Second show: Saturday, December 9 @ 8 pm at the Christians Kirke, Strandgade 1, 1401 Copenhagen K.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Cut Copy: Standing In The Middle Of The Field

Australian band Cut Copy dropped their fifth studio full-length 'Haiku From Zero' last month.

The superb album track/single "Standing in the Middle of the Field" now has a fantastic and very clever video created by Moscow-born, Melbourne-based sound/audio wizard Vincenzi Vandella of Sensory Systems.

Dan Whitford, Tim Hoey, Mitchell Scott and Benjamin Browning kick off an extensive North American fall tour in Santa Cruz on November 9 and wrap it up in Miami on December 6.(there are two shows scheduled in Canada: Toronto November 21 and Montreal November 22).  They will also be performing at four festivals in Australia in late December and late January.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

City Calm Down: Blame

Melbourne quartet City Calm Down was founded in 2008, but did not release their debut EP 'Movements' until 2012. The full-length 'In a Restless House' followed in 2015. They are currently working on a second album.

The stunning new single "Blame" is paired with a stellar video, shot in the Nevada desert by L.A. based director Sam Kristofski.

Tour: Jack Bourke (vocals), Jeremy Sonnenberg (bass), Lee Armstrong (drums) and Sam Mullaly (keyboards) have five dates between November 23-29: four in the UK and one in Paris.  Between February 2 and 11, the band will be playing five shows in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Fremantle as part of the annual Laneway Festival.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Ibeyi: Away Away + Deathless

Naomi & Lisa-Kaindé

22-year-old Paris born twins Naomi Diaz & Lisa-Kaindé Diaz aka Ibeyi (in Yoruba, the language of their Nigerian ancestors, the word means 'twins') have just dropped their second full-length 'Ash' on XL Recordings. The multi-lingual daughters of the late renowned Cuban percussionist Anga Diaz and French-Venezuelan singer Maya Dagnino (now also the duo's manager) once again combine vocals, percussion plus piano, and come up with their own intoxicating, unique sound.

My favorite tracks on the album, the superb "Take Away Away" and "Deathless" (featuring acclaimed saxophonist and L.A. native Kamasi Washington), are accompanied by excellent videos: the first clip gets the playful treatment from Christian Beuchet; for the latter clip, directed by Ed Morris (a frequent collaborator), a more artsy, but no less effective approach was taken.

A tour kicked off September 30 in France and also wraps up in France, March 25.  With more than forty shows this fall and winter in the UK, continental Europe and North America ahead of them, the Diaz sisters would be forgiven for taking some time off when they're done.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Nelson Can: Break Down Your Walls + Move Forward + Miracle

Danish trio Nelson Can drop their third EP, simply named 'EP3', September 29. Three outstanding singles with accompanying videos are already out: "Break Down Your Walls", "Move Forward" and "Miracle".  

Tour: Bassist Signe SigneSigne, drummer Maria Juntunen and powerhouse vocalist Selina Gin have five shows in Denmark October 5-20 plus eight shows in the UK November 17-27.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Kllo: Virtue + Nylon

Melbourne duo Kllo aka cousins Chloe Kaul and Simon Lam drop their 12-track debut full-length 'Backwater' on October 20. So far, two songs have been released to whet our appetites:

The bouncy-yet-chill "Virtue" echoes some of the best output on legendary U.S., label Naked Music (Lisa Shaw, Gaelle, Aya, Miguel Migs, Blue Six, etc.).  "Nylon" uses a minimalist approach that is equally enthralling. The outstanding EPs that have come before showcased Kaul's hypnotic vocals and Lam's playful production; the new album looks to be of the same stellar quality.

 A video for "Virtue" was published last month; as of today, there is only an audio clip to go with "Nylon".  Hopefully, a regular video will premiere soon.

Kaul & Lam have a string of shows lined up for October, November and December with dates in the U.S,, the UK, continental Europe and Australia.

NOTE:  Unfortunately, the tour schedule listed on Facebook and Songkick differ somewhat, so be sure to check online for each venue.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Interview With Sara Grabow

In February, Danish composer-singer-guitarist Sara Grabow (born 1979) self-released her album 'EneRum' [Solitary Space] containing ten beautiful songs that - as is the case with all great music - have universal appeal and thus do not necessarily require the listener to understand the lyrics; it's about the vibe and the sound. Having said that, Grabow happens to be such a skilled lyricist that I find myself wanting to give my non-Danish readers a crash course.

The ten tracks were recorded north of Copenhagen at the centuries old Esrum Abbey, a location chosen specifically for its sublime acoustics. A musical labor of love about Grabow's journey of the past two years and the search for contemplation and tranquility, the songs are also an exploration of sound and tone. The lyrics express longing and pose questions, including "Might music help show us the way?" I believe her flawless album answers this question with a resounding yes.

The Nightfly
At what age did you start writing songs?

Sara Grabow
I remember writing a funny little song at age 7 or so. I still remember it. A song about a pencil and an eraser.

The Nightfly
What came first – singing or playing an instrument?

Sara Grabow.: Singing I guess. When I look at my children today, it’s obvious that singing is a part of  every human being’s life from an early stage - even before talking.

The Nightfly
What is your songwriting process typically like?

Sara Grabow
I wait until there’s a special feeling in my body. I really don’t feel that I am a songwriter. Songwriting to me is not that enjoyable and free anymore. Too much anxiety and too many thoughts: Is it good enough? It destroys my creativity. So I have to wait until it’s really there - the feeling. I have accepted the fact that it can take years. In between, I concentrate on singing and performing and writing poems and stories.

The Nightfly
What and/or who inspires your songwriting?

Sara Grabow
If speaking of writing - not just songwriting - I am inspired by my inner emotional life and development, the nature and silence.

The Nightfly
Which do you enjoy the most: writing, recording or performing?

Sara Grabow
Definitely performing!

The Nightfly
Do you prefer not to label your music in terms of genre?

Sara Grabow

The Nightfly
Do you view your songs as having a specific feminine element and/or woman’s point of view?  

Sara Grabow
My songs are very soft, heart-opening and calming.  Those are feminine energies. If we talk about a balancing alchemy between the masculine and feminine which is often seen in great music artists such as Prince, Madonna and David Bowie - or the classical sensitive songwriter guy - there is a very feminine energy to what I do. But the way I do it is masculine. I play alone and stand strongly with my message, I hold the room with my energy and create a direct contact with my audience when I perform - and I am not afraid to do it. That is masculine, I guess.

The Nightfly
You often perform in churches.  Is this mostly a choice based on the beautiful acoustics in church rooms?

Sara Grabow
Yes, that is the main reason. But I am also very interested in the religious symbols and wisdom. Church rooms hold a treasure of wisdom about the human body, mind and soul that we need to rediscover.

The Nightfly
Do you ever see yourself not creating music?

Sara Grabow
Yes. But I could not see myself without a creative output - it might be writing or painting instead.

The Nightfly
It´s often said that great music is universal.  In your opinion, how vital are lyrics to a song?

Sara Grabow:
I love lyrics and a strong text, but it has never been my first priority. It has always been the feeling, the mood in the song.

The Nightfly
Have you performed outside Denmark, and if not, are there plans to do so?

Sara Grabow: I was playing some small concerts in New York 10 years ago. I have played in the Faroe Islands and in Norway. It would be great fun to play abroad again!

The Nightfly
Unfortunately, few readers outside Scandinavia are likely to be familiar with your father Sebastian (born Knud Torben Grabow Christensen in 1949), one of the most celebrated and beloved songwriters in Denmark. You’ve both recorded his songs as well as performed them live, and have stated in interviews that you are very proud to be his daughter. Has it been a challenge to find your own path as a songwriter in Denmark?

Sara Grabow
Yes, definitely. My album 'EneRum' is about finding my own voice after being in the shadow for years. It has been a long journey, and finally now I am beginning to find my own path and seeing my mission as not only being a songwriter writing in a specific way, but more of a performing artist concentrated around experiencing music together with other people, discovering, listening, sharing.

The Nightfly
All of the ten tracks on your latest EP “EneRum” are stunning. Do you have a personal favorite?

Sara Grabow: 
Til Dagen Svales!

The Nightfly
Tell me a little about each of the ten tracks: 

Sara Grabow:

Fald Ned Engle Små [Fall Down Little Angels]
it's a small song about walking in the forest. Accepting the solitude. Connecting to the trees and nature instead of people.

Fuglene [The Birds]
The birds are a symbol of thoughts flying around, disturbing and distracting. By connecting to a higher wish or intention and by patiently listening, the birds slowly descend and place themselves quietly on my shoulder.

Kære Stille Hjerte [Dear Quiet Heart]
A song about listening to your heart. The heart is always with us. It is our true home. It was written at a time where a large number of immigrants fled from Syria in boats and I thought about this feeling of survival and connecting to your inner values, a feeling which immigrants in a crisis situation must feel quite intensely. In comparison, we live in our safe homes and forget to listen and keep on living our money fixated lives.

Søvnige Øje {Sleepy Eye]
It’s a song about letting go. Here, it is letting go of the soul that flies to the sky during sleep to get nourishment from above. Whether it’s during sleep or when you die - you have to let go to enter the flow.

Lille Atom [Little Atom]
This is my song about micro-macro. And I invite the audience to sing with me on this one to make it obvious how good it feels to sing. When we stimulate our own cells, it affects everything around us, and in the end, if everyone on Earth were singing at the same time, I think we could heal all the wounds we have created on our planet.

Stilhed [Silence]
A melody I wrote to Sanne Tytte Hoffmann Rasmussen's lyrics. She died from cancer last year. Before she died we did some small lectures where she read from her diary about how cancer affected her family, including her three small children and how they prepared for her departure. I played songs that I wrote to her lyrics and this one made it to the album. The lyrics are about embracing the darkness and having a feeling of being home and safe in the dark silence.

Aftentak [Evening Thanks]
I wrote it as an evening prayer to my children at a time they were feeling uncomfortable at bedtime. I suddenly felt like putting it into music and it has been quite popular, even though I have some trouble with using God in my song.

Til Dagen Svales [Until the Day Cools]
The lyrics are from 'The Song of Songs' in the Bible. I picked the words and sentences that spoke to me. It is the most beautiful story of letting go of your loved one. Be patient and humble when it comes to love.

Daglige Brød [Daily Bread]
I haven't played this song live, so I forgot what my intentions are. Hmm, I guess it’s a kind of prayer and a thank-you to my mother and father.

Improvisiation Løgumkloster Kirke [Improvisation, Løgum Abbey, Jutland]
This is quite interesting for me. It is a landscape of sound without words. It is the total devotion to moods, my inner feeling here and now, the acoustics in the room, playing with overtones, singing with the room. This is something I’d like to work more with in the future.  (iTunes Denmark)  (tour schedule)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Odette: Watch Me Read You

Born in England, but raised in Sydney to a South African mother and a British jazz pianist, 19-year-old Odette has just dropped her flawless debut single "Watch Me Read You".

The clever video was created by Melbourne based director Josh Harris.

Odette has three gigs lined up in Australia: two shows at the Big Sound Festival in Brisbane September 5 + 6, as well as a performance at the EMI New Music Night in Sydney on October 3.

Hope to see much more from this wonderful new artist.  (director)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

MOZA: Keep Up + On The Line

Cam Nacson and Toby Chew aka Sydney duo MOZA have a stellar new track and video out. The hyperkinetic clip for "Keep Up" was produced by local company yeahsure, based in Surry Hills.

The spooky video that accompanied the excellent 2016 single "On the Line" was created by Nacson/Chew themselves and starred Australian model/singer Tristyn Lecia.

Shows: None are scheduled at this point.  (Tristyn Lecia)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

What So Not: Trust + Buried

Sydney producer Chris Emerson aka Emoh Instead has been doing just fine on his own with What So Not since musical partner Flume's departure in early 2015 from the project they co-founded in 2010. (Flume is not doing so bad himself.)

The stellar EP 'Divide & Conquer' was released almost a year ago to great acclaim. Two superb videos directed by fellow Sydney creative Leticia Dare were created for the outstanding tracks "Buried" and "Trust" (the latter brand new clip features American model/Alvin Ailey trained dancer Shaun Ross whose unique beauty and immense charisma makes it even more memorable.)

"Buried" is a flawless collaboration with Australian artist George Maple and Atlanta rapper Rome Fortune.  On "Trust", Scottish singer/songwriter/dj/producer BURNS provides the gorgeous vocals which have distinct echoes of Usher''s gem "Climax" from his 2012 "Looking 4 Myself" album.

There are four shows remaining in the U.S. and Canada this weekend.
August 12 - 27 he'll be performing in continental Europe and the UK.
And between September 23 and November 25 there are a string of gigs back home in Australia.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Fool: Deserve It + The Green + Live A Little

After being spotted on YouTube, Adrian Mikkelsen from the small town Svaneke on the island of Bornholm was invited to participate in Danish Television's short lived talent show Mentor in the fall of 2013, impressing with a Frank Ocean cover among other songs and citing Bieber and Usher as his primary influences.

Now 20, the singer/multi-instrumentalist (who now goes by his first name only) has resurfaced as a member of Copenhagen duo FOOL, formed only last year with experienced producer Jabs, ten years his senior.

While clearly showing great promise four years ago on Mentor, today Adrian can rightly call himself a bona fide artist. Effortlessly producing downright goose bump inducing notes, his gifts as a singer are on full display on the outstanding, utterly addictive tracks "The Green" and "Deserve It" as well as the new single "Live a Little".

And when on January 27 FOOL performed a flawless, stripped down version of "Deserve It" in Copenhagen as part of the ongoing concert series Sofar [Songs From a Room], Adrian truly got to shine, showcasing what a superb vocalist he is.

FOOL has been signed to Sony Music DK which will hopefully do their part in ensuring that the duo gets the attention they so richly deserve both in and outside Denmark.

On iTunes, where (so far) only "Live a Little" is available, FOOL has apparently been erroneously listed together with an artist who goes by the same name.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Victor Furbacken: Somebody Help

35-year-old Gothenburg based musician Victor Furbacken spent his formative years in a Parisian suburb, but went to high school in the southern region of Skåne, majoring in music and fully absorbing himself into the world of jazz. An acclaimed bass player in Sweden, Furbacken played in a number of constellations before delving into songwriting and finding his own voice with the release of the excellent four-track debut EP 'In the Rain' in the fall of 2015.

On the beautiful new single "Somebody Help"  the listener is taken along on a 5:14 long yet all too brief otherworldly musical road trip that is perfectly complemented by the stellar video, co-directed by Furbacken and Nils Dahl.

I close with a statement by the artist himself:

I was always intrigued by language, storytelling and poetry since an early age, and I attribute it mainly to French schooling which presented me with a lot of the classics in their tradition. I was lucky in that I had many enthusiastic and good teachers who saw my curiosity and really did 'beat' this interest into me, which I am deeply thankful for today. English isn´t my mother tongue but it's actually been a constant in my life since I met the language through music early on and it did not leave me when I relocated. This is why I've turned to English in my writing so far. Early memories of school were encounters with imagery and stories that really caught my attention. I loved many styles but my writing is probably quite influenced by French Symbolists like Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Verlaine but also by English poets like Blake, Elliott, Poe or even Joyce, who I believe all share a common fascination for darkness, life and death, love, absurdity and humor.

Friday, July 7, 2017

LANY: Good Girls

L.A. based trio LANY is one of the hardest working bands in the business, having done 229 shows in the past 30 months. The rest of 2017 is shaping up to be just as busy: Currently doing the festival circuit, they have a tight fall tour schedule with a string of North American dates September 25 - November 12, a single festival appearance in Mexico City the weekend after, followed by seventeen gigs in continental Europe and the UK between November 27 and December 20.

Their latest video accompanies the outstanding track "Good Girls" off their self-titled sixteen-track debut full-length, released June 30 on Polydor. The simple yet highly effective clip was directed by L.A. film maker Joel Knoernschild and seamlessly continues the obsessive love narrative from the January 2017 video created for the superb 2016 hit single "ILYSB" (Note: That video was not directed by Knoernschild; unfortunately I haven't yet been able to find info out who did.)

LANY members Paul Jason Klein (a former model from Tulsa, Oklahoma) Jake Goss and Leslie Priest (both from Nashville) may not have grown up in Los Angeles like the Beach Boys, but they may as well have. And like the BB, they have expertly crafted a gorgeous signature sound, sunny but with hints of dark skies. I will even go as far as saying that LANY's debut album is Pet Sounds for the 21st century. Like that seminal 1966 collection of brilliant pop songs, its 2017 counterpart perfectly captures the essence of the both eternally seductive and maddening Southern California.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Elkkle: Diderot

22-year-old Australian artist Callum Baker aka elkkle grew up on Phillip Island of Hemsworth brothers and penguin fame. Picking up the guitar at 13, his true moment of inspiration arrived in 2011 when hearing beat maker friend Jack Vanzet aka producer Thrupence, now signed to Future Classic. Relocating to Melbourne in 2012, he became a music composition major at the Victorian College of the Arts after impressing with tracks made at home using Ableton Live production software.

In August 2015 an excellent four-track EP was released with fellow Melbourne producer/singer-songwriter Elle Graham aka Woodes. His solo debut came last fall with the stellar singles "Soft Erasure" and "Don't Look Down".

This month he dropped the superb single "Diderot". Inspired by the concept 'the Diderot Effect', elkkle himself describes it as being essentially a heart break song, but one which seeks to "step away from stories that overromantise or use hyperbole to make them engaging, in favor of a more documented form."

The video by director Rex Kane-Hart, a longtime friend and frequent collaborator, is exceptional, perfectly matching the refreshingly playful, constantly surprising, and utterly hypnotic soundscape created by elkkle.

Three shows supporting Max Byrne aka acclaimed Brisbane producer Golden Vessel are coming up this week and next week.

NOTE: Golden Vessel's single "Shoulders" featuring elkkle and 18-year-old Brisbane female singer-rapper Mallrat was released June 9.

Melbourne: June 29, Workers Club
Brisbane: June 30, The Foundry
Sydney: July 6, Brighton Up Bar

Monday, June 19, 2017

Melissa McMillan: Frail Ground + Shade

Brooklyn based singer-songwriter Melissa McMillan graduated from the University of North Texas with a music degree before moving to NYC and picking up composing. An in-demand session
singer, she eventually formed her own band and released a stellar six-track self-titled debut EP in 2015. 

On March 16 she performed a new and stunning song of hers entitled "Frail Ground" at the Chord Club on the Upper East Side as part of the ongoing Sofar concert series; the clip was uploaded to the Sofar YouTube channel June 14.  Note: The stellar guitarist is Brad Allen Williams.

McMillan's flawless live vocals are as mesmerizing as the ones she delivers in the recording studio: the most recent example is the dreamlike video accompanying the beautiful track "Shade" uploaded to Vimeo in October of last year by the director Aaron Vazquez. 

No gigs are scheduled at this point, but check her website and FB now and then for announcements.  (director Aaron Vazquez)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Dua Lipa: Lost In Your Light (Featuring Miguel)

Dua Lipa has a very busy concert schedule that stretches into next year. Currently performing at summer festivals, she kicks off her fall tour October 5 in Brighton and wraps up a month later in London; in between is a string of gigs in continental Europe, including Scandinavia. In late February/early March she has four shows at the Spark Arena in Auckland.

The 21-year-old London native with Kosovar-Albaian parents dropped her self-titled debut full-length earlier this month. The sixth single off the album is the irresistible "Lost in Your Light" which features Miguel and was co-written by him as well.  The video perfectly matches the floating-on-a-cloud vibe; the clip was shot in L.A, but no word on who directed it.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Charlatans: Plastic Machinery

The Charlatans dropped their 13th full-length 'Different Days' this week: the low-budget teaser video for the outstanding track "Plastic Machinery" was published a month ago.

Among the contributors on the album are The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, New Order drummer Stephen Morris and Paul Weller.


- Tonight, lead singer Tim Burgess and guitarist Mark Collins will be doing an acoustic set at the annual Sound City festival in Liverpool.

- Tomorrow, the band has a gig at Rough Trade East in London.

- So far, four summer festival appearances are on the schedule for June, July and August.

- On November 29 the band kick off their UK fall tour in Nottingham; it wraps up in Belfast December 11. (There is also a show in Dublin on December 10).

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Nick Hakim: Roller Skates + Bet She Looks Like You

Three years after dropping the excellent two-part EP 'Where Will We Go', singer-songwriter Nick Hakim has released his twelve-track debut full-length 'Green Twins'. The 26-year-old Washington D.C native graduated Berklee College of Music in Boston before relocating to Brooklyn in 2013 and it's here that he seems to have truly found his own voice.

On the new album, the soul influences are still there, but more layers, reverb and distortion have been added into the musical cauldron by Hakim and collaborator/Berklee classmate Andrew Sarlo. In "Roller Skates", Hakim has created a trippy soundscape with echoes of a late Beatles period/early solo career John Lennon. On "Bet She Looks Like You" he whips up a frothy, mad bartender cocktail of Motown and Hendrix with a pinch of country. The result is beautiful and gutsy.

The superb, tragic-comic animated video accompanying "Roller Skates" so perfectly compliments the song one would think Hakim and Kansas-based director/musician Micah Buzan were in the same room when it was made.

Fellow Brooklyn artist creative Terence Nance directed the video for "Bet She Looks Like You". I personally don't feel this clip serves the song very well. But to each their own.

Tonight he's performing at Rock & Roll Hotel in D.C.
October 14:  ALC Festival in Austin.
June 9: the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles.
June 12: Amoeba Records, L.A.
In early November he returns to the UK for five shows.

Other interesting facts: His mother is from Peru, his father is from Chile. Both of his brothers are musicians. He teaches and mentors kids and teens in NYC.  He has spoken openly about struggling in school where he was placed in special ed classes from second to tenth grade, in great part due to his dyslexia.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Kristian Kostov: Beautiful Mess

The annual extravaganza known as The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final took place Saturday night in Kiev, Ukraine. Portugal's contestant 27-year-old Salvador Sobral's beautiful performance of his sister Luisa Sobral's lovely composition "Amar Pelos Dois" won first place. A far cry from the uptempo pop or power ballad type of entry which usually wins the ESC, it was nevertheless an early favorite among both juries and viewers in the 42 participating countries. A soft, cabaret style, vintage Brazilian jazz flavored song (Antonio Carlos Jobim-meets-Billie Holiday), it clearly moved those listening in the arena and in front of their TVs at home.  A wild card, a dark horse, but a worthy winner.

My personal favorite in the race however was the runner up, Bulgaria's superb entry "Beautiful Mess", performed by 17-year-old vocalist Kristian Kostov. Born in Moscow to a Bulgarian father and a Kazakh mother, he was singing from the age of six as well as competing in contests in Russia. In 2015 he came second in the fourth season of X Factor Bulgaria and was signed to Bulgarian record label Virginia Records.

One of the five co-writers of Kostov's almost-winner is listed as Alexander V. Blay, better known as Danish artist Alex Vargas whom I first blogged about in 2014, before he became a big name in Denmark. "Beautiful Mess" has a distinct Vargas touch to it, so much so that it's hard to believe he didn't pen it on his own. Kostov has stated he is a dedicated Vargas fan; it would be interesting to see them perform the song together live at some point.

The official clip was directed by renowned Bulgarian music video producer Liusi Ilarionov. The shoot required 35 actors and lasted more than 20 hours. The result is powerful and bears a great resemblance to one of my all-time favorite videos, "Iron" from 2011 by Yoann Lemoine aka Woodkid. It also recalls Lemoine's stunning 2012 clip accompanying "Take Care" by Drake ft. Rihanna.

My three blog entries about Alex Vargas:

My blog entry about Woodkid/Yoann Lemoine: