Sometimes the winters here in Ohio can be pretty cold, so we need good music and a fireplace (literally) to keep us warm. Well, this collection of music is full of so much light and energy that we think it will keep you warm no matter where you are this January.
Eleanor Kaufman – “Open Up Your Heart (The Rapture)”
-I am a total sucker for this kind of chill soul music. I like when it has this kind of heart and sincerity and not superfluous vocal work. Kaufman is a phenomenal singer, who pours out soul music as if from the core of humanity. She sings this cry for her love to “open up your heart” as if it is her genuine heart’s lament. It’s the realest thing you’ll ever hear, captured in the cries of a real woman. She’s definitely for fans of Norah Jones.
Amistad – “Darker Side”
-The easy comparison here is 21 Pilots. The track has a nice driving drum beat and some interesting filtered vocals. The handclaps are a welcome contribution to an cool indie rock anthem. The sound is one that draws in the listener. The lyrical content is a timely reminder that things are not always what they seem. Be skeptical.
The Old Kraftsman – “Lay Down Your Guns”
-The Old Kraftsman is a chill acoustic singer songwriter. I can’t quite put my finger on a good comparison, but he sounds like an artist you’ve known for years. The phrasing on the song is really well delivered. The backing keys are a high point, too, really highlighting the main melody of the song. The balance works toward a relaxed song desiring for relational pacifism between two people apparently at odds. It’s nice.
Michigan Rattlers – “Illinois Sky”
-Pick your favorite 60s folk rock band and you’ll hear them in the sound of Michigan Rattlers. I hear snippets of Dylan, The Band, and a glaring dose of Tom Petty. That said, the Rattlers have their own brand of cool rock, too. Sometimes the vocal comes across as a bit monotonous, but overall the song drives home a great point about the conflict of living in a single place. It’s much more contemplative than it seems at first blush; it’s about relationship and identity in meaningful ways.
ELSEE – “Eggshells”
-Take some blues, mix in some rock vocals, and add in a healthy helping of thoughtful self reflection… you’ll find ELSEE, a remarkably talented vocalist. The overall feeling compares nicely with Alabama Shakes, although you might also hear (according to Matt) some ZZ Ward in the sound. ELSEE is an act to reckon with, especially in the pointed way she uses her incredible vocals to speak truth to us all.
Ainsley Farrell – “Lady Long Hair”
-Ainsley Farrell is an Americana artist with a basis in folk music. The incredible vocals haunt and swoon the listener with equal aplomb. Farrell uses layered guitars and vocals to express some really imaginative lyrical and sonic elements. Imagine listening to a myth, told by a Siren-like troubadour. I wasn’t alive in the 60s folk revival, but I imagine this is what the progressives hoped they’d hear when they first watched Dylan plug in his guitar. It’s just stunning.
Knox Hamilton – “Never My Love”
-If you like glowing major chords and harmonic rock vocals, you need to listen to Knox Hamilton. I hear influences from the Beach Boys to modern bands like Tame Impala. They have a raw, real energy that I love that comes across even despite a perfectly polished sound. I can’t think of a better descriptor for the guitars than to say they are “glowing.” This one is a hit if we get it out there enough.
Flagship – “Mexican Jackpot”
-So Flagship do this thing with a staccato beat and a little “flick” of the chord. It’s crispy and has golden hues when blended with the vocal, which itself comes through some interesting vocal filters. The sound is a bit 80s, a bit trendy, but totally slides right into the 21st century retro art vibe. I can imagine this being a real hit in Portland or Brooklyn. It has that artisan vibe to it. Good stuff.
Glass Peaks – “Speak and Spell”
-If you like catchy riffs and full vox, you really need to check out Glass Peaks. There’s a great rock energy to the way that these guys approach music. They save all the digital tricks for another day and really just rock out with some great guitars and vocal layering. The chorus has a dark minor progression that works really well for creating an ominous feeling. The “lose myself again” lyric resonates extremely well with us.
Caity Krone – “Goodbye to You”
-If you like Norah Jones and a nice, relaxing pop jazz kind of feeling, you’ll love this track by Caity Krone. This stripped down version of the song is particularly effective. The breakup sentiment is sad on one hand, but also really empowering. You can hear liberation in Krone’s voice. She seems genuinely motivated to move on and do what she needs to do. We’ve all known folks in this situation, so it the sentiment resonates and the music is really enjoyable. It’s a winner.