Never mind the timeliness of the release (December 22), “End of the Year” deserves attention. The song is by Small Strides from Düsseldorf, Germany. The members are Leo Bernard (vocals, keys), Manuel Tesch (guitar, vocals), Léon Gelin (bass), and Malin Weber (drums).
The last post of a year should have an anthem. Wild just released a strong one – “This Is Our Time.” Wild is a trio in Los Angeles. The members are Zach DeGaetano (vocals, guitar), Tyler Thompson (guitar), and Lauren Luiz.
The songs of Kate Vogel are confessional, revealing both past vulnerability and current resolve. That description is particularly accurate for “The Cycle” and “Reasons to Stay.” "The Cycle" reveals her story of childhood abuse and
identifies the sadly unfortunate tendency for abusiveness to be passed from one
generation to the next. But “The Cycle” ends with skillful melodic punctuation
- “This cycle ends with me.” Turning to “Reasons to Stay,” the verses
introspectively revisit Vogel’s thoughts that pushed her to an attempted
suicide, while the chorus describes reasons to stay. As in “The Cycle,” the
last line is masterful, when Vogel adjusts the sentence in order to invite the
listener into her resolution – “We all have a reason to stay.” While each song from Kate Vogel carries its individual qualities, her music is characterized by sparse yet emotionally effective instrumental support and choruses in a higher range than the verses. “The Cycle” does become more instrumentally elaborate and textured just before its two-minute mark, but returns to its acoustic guitar roots for the quietly powerful conclusion. In comparison, “Reasons to Stay” is piano that assists the lyrical message without stepping on or distracting from the vocal beauty. Interestingly, Vogel's song “Rain” uses a slide guitar approach to emphasizing the emotion of a magically poetic description of struggle.
Although the verses of her songs leave no doubt that she is a soprano, it is during the choruses that Kate Vogel exhibits her ability to beautifully command upper octaves. Vogel is from Los Angeles, but relocated to Nashville at the age of 16.
“In My Dreams” holds two characteristics that deserve an extended blog post. First, the song from John Lawrie & The Welcome Strangers is a song that demonstrates the error in a judge-and-jump approach to music discovery. If the single is judged without listening to the final two minutes, the strength of its sonic appeal is missed. The second characteristic is the splendor of backing vocals that do not include a word, but powerfully create an ambience.
The voice of Krisha Umali enters at the 2:46 mark of “In My Dreams” and the song transitions from a heartfelt crooning about a dream involving a missed loved one to a crescendo of melody, reverberation and passion. Her voice pulls the listener into the dream, where the lead vocals and the instruments increase in intensity to reveal the depth of emotional investment.
John Lawrie & The Welcome Strangers are based in Sydney, Australia. The credits of “In My Dreams” identify the contributors as John Lawrie (vocals, guitar, synth), Connor Rust (drums), and Sean Niven (bass), as well as guest appearances on the piano from Jerome Blazé and vocals from Krisha Umali, both from The Elevator District.
“In My Dreams” by John Lawrie & The Welcome Strangers
With the year coming to an end, it’s time to pull deserving songs from the queue. It’s not a publish-or-perish situation for the songs, but there is a preference towardposting songs during the year of their release.
Harrison Storm is based in Melbourne, Australia. Four years ago, he exploded onto the blogosphere with his single “Be Yourself.” Harrison will be touring the U.S. in 2020. The schedule is shown in the above picture ("click" the picture to enlarge). There is a stop in San Francisco. On February 25, he will be at Café Du Nord with another recommendation – Hollow Coves. For ticket information to any of the shows CLICK HERE.
Kiol is a multi-instrumentalist with ties to Italy, England and Ireland. He was born in Turin, Italy, but is now based in London. His song “Mallow” is a reflection on his time in summer school in Mallow, Ireland. He explains that during that summer (2014) he was encouraged to sing by some Irish fellas who started calling him Kiol, which is the sound of the word music (ceol) in ancient Gaelic.
Island is another London connection. The band’s bio states that they are an Alternative guitar band whose history is characterized by "old friendships, close bonds, and an almost telepathic mutual understanding. Forming as teenagers when frontman Rollo Doherty’s acoustic bedroom project was treated to the boisterous backing of guitarist Jack Raeder, bassist James Wolfe and drummer Toby Richards in a dingy windowless practice room where they began to painstakingly shape a sound which combined darkly twisting instrumental with a sweetly melodic song-writing nous that belied their age."
“If you're not a fan of the music, maybe you have some electrical work I can help you with.” That is the “bio” of Jordy Maxwell from Perth, Australia. We tip our collective cap to artists who work hard at their craft, but don’t take themselves TOO seriously.
Finding songs that can be legally downloaded is easy. The difficult task is to find legally downloadable music that we recommend. Our plan is to post at least one Free, Legal and Recommended (FL&R) song each Saturday.
The bio drama film “The Two Popes” is interesting and enlightening. It shines a light on the contrast of Pope Benedict XVI and the now-reigning Pope Francis. We don’t know if the film motivated Benedikt to release “Pope Francis.” We only know that the song by the band from Oslo, Norway is pleasing.
Benedikt is a nine-member band, which explains how “Pope Francis” is both calming and highly textured. The members are Hans Olav Settem (vocals, guitar), Stein Boge ( guitar, trumpet, Brage Kristian Einum (synth, accordion), Oddbjørn Sponås (percussion), Sunniva Lilian Shaw-of-Tordarroch (cello), Marit Othilie Thorvik (vocals), Emilie Catrin Korsvold (vocals, trombone), Sindre Skår (bass), and Simen Mitlid (banjo, guitar). Yes, that Simen Mitlid.
The holidays are difficult for many; posting “It’s Alright” may be timely for some. Vocally, the song from Mother Mother has a sweetness, particularly during the female chorus. Lyrically, the song has an importance. The lyrics are directed to the value of self-forgiveness to the healing process. In talking about the motivation for “It’s alright,” Ryan Gulldemond said:
“It’s easy to feel guilty, ashamed and regretful about [an earlier] part of my life, but I try instead to see it as a crucial bridge to becoming a better and healthier person. I am still called to my vices, frequently, and make no eternal promises of perfection to myself, but the call to live out powerful days, fueled by clarity, love, creativity and sustainable productivity seems to be louder right now, and for that I’m grateful.”
Mother Mother is a five-member band in Vancouver, Canada. They are Ryan Guldemond (guitar, vocals), Molly Guldemond (vocals, keyboard, Jasmin Parkin (keyboard, vocals), Ali Siadat (drums), and Mike Young (bass).