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Songwriters





Danny Golden Delivers a Heartfelt Haymaker in Latest Single

Danny Golden puts his heart out on a limb in his latest single, “Cigarettes and Sunburn.” The track is a cohesive blend of folky acoustic guitar, ethereal electric guitar overdubs and crisp, plaintive vocals. It’s obvious that Golden has no issue conveying emotion in his music -- the pain in his voice is palpable, as he sings about an impermanent lover. Paired with his latest single is a black and white music video that perhaps symbolizes the lack of color in his life after dealing with the transience of his relationship.

Many artists come to mind while listening to “Cigarettes and Sunburn.” His tender, emotive style of singing reminds me of Fleet Foxes’ lead vocalist, Robin Pecknold, as well as Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice. The subtlety of the instrumentation allows the vocals to really shine, while providing texture that perfectly ties the song together as a whole. The spacey, electric guitar sounds are reminiscent of Bon Iver’s self-titled sophomore album and Jeff Buckley’s classic album, “Grace.” I applaud lead guitarist Ben Brown for his minimalistic approach. There’s not a wasted note, as he fills in the space and complements Golden’s voice beautifully. Everyone associated with the making of “Cigarettes and Sunburn” deserves credit for crafting such a unified piece of music; there’s nothing extra, but every chord and note sung is impactful. 

With lyrics like “I told you I was falling and you told me not to talk/just treat it like a sunburn and let this moment be enough,” one can assume this track is about falling in love with someone, but both people know it can’t last forever and all they can do is live in the moment as much as possible. It’s clear that the narrator is having difficulty accepting this reality with lines like “You’ll go back to Paris and I’ll go back to sleep.” Sometimes love is, unfortunately, impermanent. Though you can do your best to accept that something won’t last forever, accepting this is far from easy, and I believe that’s the main message in “Cigarettes and Sunburn.”

Additionally, the music video contributes to the song’s overall melancholy. It is shot in black and white, which seems fitting given the relatively bleak, colorless mood of the song. Golden appears to be singing to a girl in the video but it never shows them actually together until the end, presumably depicting a memory.

Simply put, “Cigarettes and Sunburn” is a beautiful piece of music. Golden’s voice and lyrics serve as the driving force of the song, but the understated instrumentation allows this to happen. Not to mention, the music video itself could stand alone as an aesthetically pleasing, expressive form of art. Danny Golden’s latest single hits on all cylinders and we should all be excited about his future releases.

- Quinn Donoghue

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VIDEO: “Half Life” Finds appleby Brimming With Life

Photo Credit: Annie Rhodes Kane

L.A.-via-Chicago artist appleby spent much of his early childhood competing on the international tennis circuit, before reassessing his priorities as a young adult, shifting to pursue his music-making ambitions. Judging by his latest single, the soothing yet cathartic “Half Life,” and its accompanying zen-like poolside video, it seems his dedication to honing his craft hasn’t wavered a bit.

The track begins with a simple repeated electric piano note, setting the stage for appleby’s soulful harmonized vocals to enter shortly thereafter, followed by warm and full-bodied piano chords, all of which are later joined by a skittering electro-acoustic beat that propels the track just enough to inject it with energy without shattering the overall life-affirming vibe. The track gets fuller throughout, but it never gets too busy. And all the while, appleby’s vocals—which brings to mind other alt-soul auteurs such as Moses Sumney—keep things comforting and uplifting until the track gently crescendos, his vocal finally fragmenting like the beat.  Perhaps it’s a fracturing or, possibly, a transcendence? 

There’s hardly any help in his lyrics, which find him in a state of limbo: “I’ve been stuck in this half-life full time / and I don’t know what to do.” In press releases, though, appleby describes the genesis of his latest track as “…organic and borderline magical…” If that’s the case, here’s hoping he indulges his taste for both on his upcoming releases. Gabe Hernandez

 





Elizabeth Wyld breaks silence on Quiet Year

Bobbie Gentry pops into my head occasoinally (and she's always welcome there) while listening to Elizabeth Wyld’s Quiet Year, the seven-song debut album she released earlier this month, whether in terms of vocal cadence or country twang or plain-spoken storytelling. Except on this record instead of stories about living a hardscrabble life in Chickasaw County, Mississippi and bridge jumpers and familial indifference, you get songs about leaving behind rural Virginia for the big city and dealing with vocal paralysis and romantic infatuation. But still if any marketing person wants to use “Elizabeth Wyld is the indie Bobbie Gentry this world needs” as a pull quote I’m not going to stop them.

Falling under the general rubric of indie-folk and alt-Americana closely associated with artists like Phoebe Bridgers, Angel Olson, and Kacey Musgraves, Quiet Year spans the stylistic gamut from its open-hearted, full-throated opener “I Still Believe In Ghosts" which depicts a road trip in terms equally brash and vulnerable (“pull over I’m taking it in / how’d I get here and where have I been?”) to the closer “Hudson” that moves with a slow, steady flow like its namesake river in tandem with lyrics about lovelorn enervation and resignation to the extent that it could lead one to spurn the advances of a foxy artistic type at a Brooklyn apartment party for no other reason than to go back home and wait on one’s errant, absentee lover.

Bigger picture-wise this appears to be an album about losing and re-locating (and remaking) one’s own voice in various metaphorical and literal senses—whether by speaking up for sexual self-determination via a set of Sapphic-themed Southern Gothic-tinged love songs, or seeking one’s voice by moving from the country to New York City, or recovering and retraining the literal voice after a year long struggle with a rare vocal cord condition.

Soon after completing a six-month engagement in Europe with a touring company of the Broadway revival of Hair, Elizabeth Wyld lost the ability to speak above a whisper and was diagnosed with unilateral vocal fold paralysis. No longer able to sing in any capacity much less to belt out tunes on stage, the self-described theater kid refocused her energy onto writing poetry and playing guitar which culminated in the songs heard on this record--a solitary creation made public after vocal cord surgery and rehabilitation, and turned into a record at Greenpoint's Studio G with the audio production/multi-instrumentalist assistance of Brooklyn-based Oscar Albis Rodriguez and Zach Jones who between them brought a range of experience reaching from extreme and nü-metal production to playing guitar in the pit band for the Spongebob Squarepants stage musical. So maybe change that pull quote to "Elizabeth Wyld is the new indie Squidward-meets-Degrader sonstress that this world needs". (Jason Lee)





On Psych-Jazz “Kensho ! EP,” The Growth Eternal Finds Quality Over Quantity

Tulsa native and L.A.-based psych-jazz auteur Byron Crenshaw unveils their second official work as The Growth Eternal. Clocking in at a brisk 10 minutes, Kensho ! EP, is a collection of six lovingly-crafted miniatures that offer, according to the artist, “…introspective sentiments on Black identity, love for the environment, social media anxieties, and more.” Crenshaw continues: “This EP comes from my direct experience, me trying to see and connect with my true nature. I hope it helps you like it helped me. If it does, that’s Kensho.”

Kensho is a Japanese word from the Zen tradition, roughly translated as “seeing one’s true nature.” And these six tracks, although just a taste, feel as if we’re getting a small but vivid glimpse into the artist’s inner world. The songs pulse with anxious and wobbly, pitch-shifted vocals; haunting, spiraling vocal harmonies; guitar fragments filtered through a broken kaleidoscope; skittering minimalist grooves, and elastic and jazzy bass lines reminiscent of L.A. jazz/R&B virtuoso Thundercat. In other words, it’s a view into a complicated yet fascinating musical world.

Here’s hoping that The Growth Eternal shares a fuller look at their true nature with listeners soon. A fuller sense of Kensho. Gabe Hernandez





Lionel Boy Oozes Laid-Back Melancholy On New Single "Mango Michelada"

Photo Credit: Basil Vargas 

Lionel Deguzman, the singer/songwriter mastermind behind Lionel Boy, hails from Hawaii, one of the chillest places on Earth. Clearly the laid-back island vibe stuck with him, even after his move to his current home base of Long Beach several years back, as the first single from his self-titled debut album (Out May 14th on Innovative Leisure) demonstrates. 

“Mango Michelada” delivers a satisfyingly chilled-out, mildly psychedelic downtempo groove, with a minimal but assured beat draped by gauzy synth pads, while the breezy male/female “call and response” vocals amp up the sense of absolute cool. Overall, the impression is of a track that falls somewhere with within rap, RnB, ambient and psychedelic music all at once. 

Lyrically, the track is a softly stream-of-consciousness recollection of a past love that ended in betrayal. “All my life I’m fuckin’ with savages/looking for love in the wrong places,” sings the female vocalist, at first by herself with only the synths framing her. When Lionel Boy joins in to double her, just as the full arrangement returns, it’s a genuinely relatable moment of emotion that make us eager to hear what Lionel Boy has in store for us with his coming debut. Gabe Hernandez

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