With the voice of an angel, Lapsley will make your heart ache. “Hurt Me” is the latest track from the 19-year-old English singer. A medley of synth and piano introduces the song with the line, “can’t look at you the same way, anticipating heartbreak,” hooking the listener with the promise of emotion in a sort of remixed ballad. She sings she “heard these scars never go away” and now she’s “running out of ways to numb the pain,” building up to the premise of the song – seeing her heartbreaker and letting out the pain she’s been holding inside. Lapsley’s heartbreak is an open book, a raw bleeding heart. Each verse crescendos into the chorus, a direct address that feels a stab to the heart: “so if you’re going to hurt me, why don’t you hurt me a little bit more? / just dig a little deeper / push a little harder than before.” Through her beautifully crafted lyrics, she surrenders to her pain, delivering the melody with grace that shows her fragility and power that screams “no more.”
“Hurt Me” showcases Laspley’s talent as a singer and songwriter, leaving potential for her to step into the mainstream light as England’s next star.
September is my favorite month and we have some great tunes for this month’s playlist. Listen to the newest form Foals, Metric and CHVRCHES as well as some indie songs from Ofelia K, Tropical Zombie and fleurie.
I caught up with Marc Scibilia and his band on Sunday at Emo’s in Austin, Texas. He’s currently touring the United States in support of ZZ Ward and recently released his Out of Style EP. A talented singer, songwriter and guitarist, Marc Scibilia will soon be a name you’ll know. The band brought their energy to the stage, producing a massive full band sound throughout the set and impressing the crowd with his closing song “How Bad We Need Each Other.” I want to give a huge thanks to Marc and the band for inviting me out and welcoming me into their pre-show routine. See more photos from the show on flickr.
Los Angeles solo artist Lostboycrow, who chooses to be identified as his artist name, dreams of one day performing on Saturday Night Live. “Personally I just want to make music, write songs and be known as a storyteller and a performer,” he says. Lostboycrow crafts a unique fusion of R&B and pop sounds with his soulful voice that stands out from the crowd, proving that he will be around for a while.
The identity of Lostboycrow is not a stage name or a front – the name holds bigger meaning. Talking on the phone with Lostboycrow, it is apparent that he draws influence from everything in his life, whether that’s his discovery of Journey as a high school freshman, his competitive athletic side or his roots growing up in the Pacific Northwest. “I think that’s why Lostboycrow has been able to go the farthest of any venture I’ve been a part of,” he says. “I feel like it’s just my identity. All of these things just kind of bleed together.” The passion in his voice is clear and driving, making it obvious that he believes whole-heartedly in Lostboycrow. The name itself sits close to his heart.
As a young boy traveling with his family, he began to connect with the story of the Crow Indians in Montana. “I would read stories about them and it almost felt like I was remembering things and learning about things,” Lostboycrow says. “It was a beautiful, untouchable explanation. I wanted to have a name that played homage to something bigger than myself, and yet something that was unique to me and my experiences.” Creating an identity for himself also created an identity for his music.
He says his art is unlike anything he’s done before. His first song “Adolescent,” released in December 2014, presents smooth vocal melodies accompanied by electronic pop elements and R&B undertones. Lostboycrow followed up a month later with “HiyHiy,” showing off more of his lyrical abilities that bring us lines such as “I’m the midnight ride, I’m that ancient pride that can never go away” and “I don’t believe you know what I can do / I’m a medicine man.” The song dares listeners to question his passion and serves as a clear indication that Lostboycrow is here to prove himself as a storyteller and an artist.
The songs quickly gained recognition with music blogs such as Hype Machine and Hilly Dilly. Lostboycrow has since released three more original songs, each more popular than the last. His music video for “Start Something” debuted on idolator. Lostboycrow says the response has been overwhelming in a positive way. “All in all it’s been really nice to read, but honestly it just makes you work harder,” he says.
Finding his identity was part of Lostboycrow’s journey, but moving to L.A. last year helped to bring out his art. He says he found his sound with direction from the right producers. (All songs have been produced by flor’s Dylan William.) “It felt for the first time like these songs had been in me my whole life. It was the right time, the right people, the right place and the right energy to bring them out of me,” Lostboycrow says. The move to L.A. was not just intentional but necessary.
Born in Portland, Oregon, Lostboycrow says he always knew he would move to California, even calling it his “long lost lover” in “Start Something.” In L.A., he has been fortunate to find a family of like-minded artists who have fostered his dreams. “When you work hard and have the right attitude and put a sincere foot forward, you’re going to attract people who also work hard,” he says. “It’s an unspoken community of artists and producers who are all coming up together. The people genuinely love each other’s music and support each other.”
As for the future, Lostboycrow says his goals come to him in visions. Listening to him discuss his wildest dreams with such passion and belief, it’s not hard to believe he’ll accomplish everything he sets out to do. A few of those dreams are performing for huge audiences and being known as a songwriter into his 70s. For now, Lostboycrow says fans can expect more music and a possible tour. “I’ve always had visions of going on to bigger shows and bigger things,” he says. “I have high hopes and I’ve always been the craziest dreamer. I don’t think I’d be even where I am now without that.”
The other night when I was on the search for new music I came across this song that I had previously listened to long enough to give it a heart on SoundCloud. But the second time around it stopped my racing thoughts. The lyrics caught me off guard. I was grabbed by the incredibly raw and honest emotion in the lyrics – “I think that we are fine / not doing great but getting by / I guess we laughed right at the start but now I think I’ll cry.” It’s wanting a relationship to work out, but you know it’s over before it even starts. The instrumentals sharply contrast the emotional honesty of the lyrics with lo-fi electric guitar twang and ringing tambourine, creating an ever-lasting wonderland. Constant strumming of acoustic guitar, continuous beating of percussion and soft spoken verses wash over the listener like a novocaine-induced dream, making the pain in the lyrics feel fuzzy and warm. The 90s lo-fi production only adds to the nostalgic emotions. Overall, the song is inexplicably happy, making this the sweetest sad song I never knew I needed.
“Easy” is the first release from Tiny Little Houses’ debut You Tore My Heart Out EP. With a handful of releases (mostly demos) on SoundCloud, it leaves me looking forward to see what the Melbourne, Australian band can do.
Riding high from “Circles'” success with 1.6 million plays on Spotify, machineheart’s vocalist Stevie Scott says it is just the tip of the iceberg for them. The band looks forward to touring and sharing an album later this year. On the way to start their summer tour, I chatted with Scott from Tucson, AZ.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
How did you get started in music?
We’ve all been doing music since we were kids pretty much. Carman and Trevor have been playing since they were teenagers, and then we met a couple years ago. I was doing another project and the boys were doing other various projects. When we met, we kind of clicked. I had never been in a band before.
Being from various backgrounds and working with different sounds, how did you collaborate to end up with machineheart’s sound?
That’s the beauty in a band, I think. People come together with different backgrounds and experience in music. I think that’s what really give machineheart its sound. I come from British-loving Anglophile kind of thing. I love very ethereal stuff. The boys come from Seattle and have that more rock ‘n’ roll front like Nirvana and Radiohead. Together it feels good and right and special. Someone actually recently referred to us as an intergalactic take on Fleetwood Mac, but I love that.
You guys are from L.A. That’s a place that has always been a culture capital for musicians. How do you like it?
Everyone there is creating. Everyone is doing something in the entertainment industry. I think it really inspires you and challenges you to really do your best, because there’s so many talented people – not in a competitive way to beat someone out to take their place. We always just try to compete with ourselves – try to have a better song, a better show than our last one.
With so many indie and alternative bands coming up right now. How do you differentiate yourselves?
We didn’t start with the idea that we wanted to sound a certain way, like “we have to be this alternative band.” I think that’s where we find a lot of freedom for ourselves. We didn’t have any requirements of what we were going to be. We just tried it out and it worked. We really liked that. Obviously with everyone having put in years of hard work, when we came together it was so easy.
Are there any artists you would ever like to collaborate or tour with?
Oh my gosh, yeah. I think everyone definitely has a dream list of who they would like to collaborate with. There’s the iconic ones, for me, like Stevie Nicks or Kate Bush or the musical artists that everyone looks up to. The boys love Dave Grohl. I mean the list goes on and on. That’s a good question. I’ll have to think about that.
You were just in Austin, TX for South By Southwest. How was it?
That was our first show in Texas. We had such a blast. We were talking about L.A. being a creative mecca. I think Austin is creative. There are so many talented people trying to get their music out there. We are grateful to be doing what we’re doing. There are hundreds of people just as talented as us or as passionate as us that are wanting to be doing what we’re doing. We are very thankful.
Machineheart just played Bunbury and you have Summerfest and Fashion Meets Music Fest coming up. Festivals are a different environment than touring. Do you prefer one or the other?
Festival are so fun and laid back because you play once in the day and then you’re done. You get to hang out with other friends or bands or bands you’re fans of. We get to listen to great music. I love the festival environment. There’s also fashion and all of the people there are so hungry to be inspired or to inspire. We definitely love festivals.
Is live performance an important aspect for you as a musician?
That’s probably what we consider our strong suit – more because of the energy we experience on stage and that exchange between the audience and us. It’s so special. It’s not how it used to be where everyone would go to shows constantly, but it’s a little more rare. So when fans come out to shows we want to give them an experience they won’t forget. It’s really magical. It’s not just a one way conversation but we really do feed off the energy. Fans singing those songs back to us is just as important. It’s more of a dialogue [than a monologue].
Do you have an albums in the works right now?
We do have an album in the works. It’s actually done. We just got out of the studio. It should be released sometime later this year. We’re very excited about that actually because we’ve only released “Circles” up to this point. We love playing and connecting with our fans but people are really going to be able to dig in so much more with the album and get a better taste for who we are. “Circles” is just the tip of the iceberg for us.
I personally can’t stop listening to “Circles.” It was at the top of the Hype Machine charts and it was on Spotify’s U.S. Viral 50 playlist. Did you expect that kind of reaction?
No. It’s just so exciting when something connects with people. Obviously that’s what we hope for as a band. That’s why we do this. It’s really cool to see it happen. It’s kind of fun too to watch the little number count go up online. To see numbers and actually be able to equate that to people now when we play shows and people are singing along with us, that’s when for us it really hits home.
Catch machineheart on tour this summer with Vinyl Theatre.
All photos from Wolf Alice’s show May 19 at Holy Mountain in Austin, TX can be viewed here.
Halfway through Wolf Alice’s 12-song set, I find myself with a huge smile on my face when I soak in the reality of the moment. “Storms” is not the soundtrack to this moment. Packed into sold-out 200 capacity Holy Mountain with fans jumping and head banging, it is the moment.
There is a special feeling to hearing music performed live – the raw, unedited vocals, distorted guitar, the sound of fingers running up and down the strings, the thumping bass and the tinging cymbals. If the atmosphere is right, it is magic. It’s easy to get lost in it. Smiling to myself, that was my realization. It’s such a dream-like state, you forget it’s real. A 12-song set turns into hours and with the blink of an eye back into a second.
For the time being, Wolf Alice transported me to the place where all that mattered were the vibrations ringing in my eardrums. Some people say Rock ‘n’ Roll is dead. But Wolf Alice is gives me hope that it very much alive. Wolf Alice is a young band, no doubt, still solidifying their sound. But they are talented.
Starting out as a a folk-tinged pop project, “Leaving You” was the first glimpse we saw from Ellie Roswell and Joff Oddie in 2010. Followed by “Fluffy” in 2013, with the addition of drummer Joel Amey and bassist Theo Ellis, they formed their rock roots. The end of 2013 also brought us Blush EP, showing off a mix of driving drums and grunge guitar distortion on “She” contrasted with hauntingly delicate vocals and resonating guitar progression on “Blush.” Creature Songs EP, released May 2014, displays different sounds still – more guitar distortion, more hard-hitting rock beats, more driving bass, and overall more play with vocal expression and distortion.
Wolf Alice’s songs translate well in the live setting, emphasizing the grunge appeal. The four-piece are outfitted in Dr. Martens and ripped skinny jeans. Oddie uses a pedal board that looks like it could control the starship Enterprise. And Roswell adds another mic for distorted vocals. It’s a ragged act that could use some cleaning before hitting the big stage, but surely, their sound will command the audience at the many festivals they are playing this summer and fall, including Austin City Limits Fest’s second weekend. Listening to “Moaning Lisa Smile,” I can feel myself surrounded by tens of thousands of people singing and jumping along with the sun bearing down on my shoulders mid-day at a festival.
With the many different sides Wolf Alice has shown, there is much anticipation leading up to their debut album release My Love Is Cool on June 23 (US). Most recent singles “Giant Peach” and “Bros” establish that roller coaster sound that we are likely to hear on the album, from soft and tender to driving and powerful. It is one of my most anticipated albums of the year.
The United Kingdom has a plethora of rock bands popping up all around, and many of them have already received popular status across the pond. Soon, there will be a British invasion in America. From South by Southwest (SXSW) last March to festivals like Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits, the British artists are making their mark this year. Here are some of those artists you need to know.
1. Wolf Alice (North London)
One of the artists I’m the most excited for is Wolf Alice. Debut album My Love Is Cool is set to release on June 23. For now, you can listen to “Bros,” which premiered on NPR’s Songs We Love. If My Love Is Cool is anything like Creature Songs EP, it will be a combination of heavy-guitar rock-beat songs reminiscent of Nirvana, but with the sweet, soft and resonating vocals of singer Ellie Rowsell. Wolf Alice is everything I didn’t know I was missing. Their name covered SXSW. While I was unable to catch one of their shows, the band is currently touring America and will be in Austin, TX on May 22. If you can’t make it to the show, don’t worry – they’ll be back for weekend two of Austin City Limits on October 9-11. They have a massive sound that I look forward to see translated into the live setting, particularly at festivals.
2. Catfish and the Bottlemen (Wales)
Another artist that made a stop at SXSW, Catfish and the Bottlemen are selling out entire UK tours, playing each night to venues of several thousand people. As of last month, the September 2014 release of debut album The Balcony is certified gold in the UK. While receiving such success in the UK, the US has yet to catch on to the sensation. Once it does, it will be contagious, becoming a name to be known alongside Arctic Monkeys. The young rockers display an affinity for music through their song composition and impressive guitar tone. While they already have a steady fan base growing in the US, I think it will take another release or two to propel them into full-on popularity in America.
3. Royal Blood (Brighton)
Royal Blood’s self-titled debut album hit the scene in August 2014 and immediately received recognition, reaching number one on the UK charts. They won the title of Best British Group at the 2015 Brit Awards, nominated alongside Alt-J, Clean Bandit, Coldplay and One Direction. Royal Blood is a duo composed of singer and bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher, but the sound created with the two of them is enough for a full band. Their music draws heavily on blues rock, heavy metal and grunge of the 80s and earlier decades. It is refreshing to see a band with a strong rock sound delivering the music in a new light. They aren’t just repeating rock history, but making it. Luckily for you Austinites, they are playing both weekends of ACL Festival.
4. Circa Waves (Liverpool)
Taking it back from the hard rock, Circa Waves displays a sound more akin with 90s Britpop, and fits in somewhere among The Kooks and The Wombats. Circa Waves is another young band. And yet, they’ve played with artists like The 1975, Royal Blood, Interpol and Temples. Having released T-Shirt Weather EP in Feb. in the US with Virgin Records, Circa Waves also graced SXSW with their nostalgic pop rock sounds. The band recently announced a UK headlining tour, making a stop at London’s 5,000-capacity O2 Academy Brixton. “T-Shirt Weather” is currently played on SiriusXM’s Alt Nation, and with a sound like this, the band is sure to follow in the footsteps of many Alt Nation artists before them, like The Neighbourhood and Bastille, reaching festival-sized fame.
5. The Vaccines (West London)
The disparity between UK success and US success is felt firsthand by The Vaccines. Too famous to show their faces on the streets of London, the band, dressed in all black, stands in line at SXSW to get into a showcase. No one stops them for a picture or bothers them for a chat. The only one to recognize them is a friend (and huge fan) I’m walking with. While SX lends it self to blending the masses of bands into the crowd, even a band of The Vaccines’ size in the UK would be gawked in the streets of SX. Releasing their first song in 2010, “If You Wanna” was an instant hit, being named Zane Lowe’s “Hottest Record in the World” days after the band uploaded the demo to YouTube. The Vaccines are set to release their third full length album English Graffiti on May 26. From the sounds of the first three singles, it lands them somewhere between Arctic Monkeys’ heavy guitar riffs and The Kooks’ carefree jangle pop.
Matt and Kim played at Stubb’s in Austin, TX on April 23 with support from WATERS. Their current U.S. tour is in support of their album New Glow, which released earlier this month. All photos from the show can be seen here.
The first time I saw Matt and Kim was at Stubb’s in 2012. I remember them bringing the party to the big stage, and I must say three years later, they’ve still got it.
The 2,000 capacity sold out show packed in people of all ages from young teenagers to moms and dads. The concert goers at the front of the crowd had been waiting for hours in 80 degree weather and humidity so high it felt like you stepped into a sauna. WATERS opened the show and brought the fun. It was hot. It was sweaty. And it was a dance party. The stage was adorned with flowers on each mic stand and in vases spread across amps. Keyboardist Sara DaMert also brought out a bouquet of flowers and handed it out to crowd members before starting the show. They rocked their set with a San Fransisco sound reminiscent of Grouplove’s good vibes. Frontman Van Pierszalowski even commented that he hardly saw anyone distracted by their cell phones. Instead the crowd’s full attention was captivated by WATERS.
Austin was a special show. You could feel the energy the crowd had before Matt and Kim even started. Audience members were singing and chanting as the anticipation rose. One of the security guards even commented, “this is going to be a fun crowd.”
Finally an ecstatic Matt and Kim took the stage to a wild, roaring crowd. Kim Schifino ran around the stage, waving and smiling at different parts of the audience, while Matt Johnson waved a Matt and Kim t-shirt above his head before throwing it into the audience. Ascending an elevated stage that seated them high above the crowd, Matt and Kim mounted their keyboard and drums to start the first song with a bang. From that moment until the end of the hour and a half set, there wasn’t a sweaty body in the crowd that wasn’t dancing.
Matt sang in his quirky voice and played the keys while Kim banged on the drums, never stopping from smiling and yelling with the crowd. Already after the first song, the duo stopped to talk to the crowd before entering a dance break. Matt, laughing to himself, asked the sound engineer to turn down his in ear monitor and explained that the crowd that they have monitors so they can hear the crowd, but Austin was already so loud on the very first song that they didn’t need the extra amplification. Matt played a recorded dance track before shooting confetti at the crowd, all while Kim danced.
The rest of the night continued in more high energy antics set to new songs with a couple oldies here and there. Multiple times both Matt and Kim stopped between songs to talk to the crowd, repeatedly saying how insane the crowd was. Austin has always been a favorite city of theirs, and they expressed how thankful they are to be able to play sold out shows on all of their Texas dates. Matt said to come back to a city like Austin and have a crowd like that is an amazing feat for any band, and they are grateful for it.
One of the loudest crowds I have ever witnessed, it was no lie that Austin really was a special show for them. The pure energy exuded from the band and the crowd was larger than anything I’ve felt at a show in a long time. When the two left the stage, the night was far from being over. With the crowd chanting “Matt and Kim,” they returned for an encore that was almost more epic than the rest of the set. Matt explained that the two agreed on this tour not to do what they were about to do, but if it felt right they would. Going in, they both knew Austin might feel right, and it did. So for the encore Kim climbed on top of the crowd to dance, for a minute of booty shaking and head banging. For the final song, Matt and Kim both took their shirts off, a rarity for Matt, and asked the crowd to do the same. The duo hardly wanted to leave the stage when the show was over, taking time to say good-byes and toss memorabilia into the crowd.
At the end of the night, every sweaty body in the crowd left wanting to continue the party. That show wasn’t just one for the books, it was one to remember for a lifetime.