Jack + Eliza: “Hold the Line”

A few days ago, I receive an email about Jack + Eliza, a duo that I had never heard of before. The email opened with this: “They’re young kids. Still in College. Out of NYC. They’ve known each other for years via mutual friends but only linked up to make music together recently. They paired up and started making some folky sun-drenched pop with a bit of a high lonesome lilt.”

I was intrigued, as I do enjoy the “folky sun-drenched pop” sound… and throw in a “bit of high lonesome lilt” to it? I’m sold. I click on the link to listen, and I said, “Wowzers.”

Sometimes, that’s all you can say. That, and “Sure, supersize it,” but that was a long time ago.

So after listening to their song, “Hold the Line,” I found this awesome picture of the two…


Being a musician myself, I was amazed to see that Jack is playing the Curt Cobain signature Fender Jaguar guitar. You can tell by the silver volume/tone nobs, the three-way switch in the lower horn, and the binding on the fretboard. If I’m wrong, then I want to know what those modifications do on that particular guitar, and where he got it done. If I am right, then somebody owes me a lollipop. Grape.

Yes, I judge musicians by the gear they play. It’s like judging a book by it’s cover. We all do it, even though we don’t admit we do. If book covers didn’t matter, then every book would look like this one:


Or this one…


Or even this one…


Oh, wait… I find absolutely nothing wrong with that last one.

Anyhow, Jack + Eliza’s wonderful harmonies are showcased in “Hold the Line,” as well as their unique songwriting. Their press release gives this description: “Their voices to coalesce into a sparse landscape of melancholy memories, narrating a bittersweet nostalgia built on radiant layers of sound.”

I’d say that sums it up. Take a listen and look for their debut EP, No Wonders on September 23rd via Yebo Music

Here’s a video of the duo performing the song live… in black in white!

Totally dig it. And so should you.

Jack + Eliza will be performing in Brooklyn, NY on August 23 at Glasslands w/ Ski Lodge

Jack + Eliza on: [Official Site] [Facebook] [Twitter]

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The Norms: “Notes”

A couple of weeks ago, I sat up one night surfing the web for some new music. While it is true that I still have 11,667 emails to go through in my Inbox, I still enjoy discovering new music the new old fashioned way: through word of mouth on the Internet. Music sites (like this one!), blogs, and music chat forums are still a goldmine for music lovers. This is how I originally discovered Ryan Adams, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Rachael Yamagata, and Black Mountain. A goldmine, I tells ya.

n98t54-b88146287z.120140724175122000gqj3rcsa.10So a couple of weeks ago, I come across a band called The Norms. I thought to myself, “Self? That’s a cool name.” Never underestimate the power of a good band name. I clicked on the link to hear some music, and now, a few weeks later, I’m sharing their music with you.

The Norms are a Southern California band… not far from me, actually. I bet if I yell out the window, they could hear me. Hold on, let me try.

**** Some screaming involved for about 15 minutes ****

Nothing? I guess I need a bullhorn. My birthday is coming up, so if anyone has a bullhorn they’re willing to donate to me, my address is:

80085 Ron Popeil Lane
Los Angeles, CA, 23801-3242-41-2.98

Getting back to The Norms… their name was apparently chosen by a coin toss. “The Norms” actually lost, but stuck because it was better than the name that really won… which begs the question, “What name won?” I’m going to take a shot and say the name was something like, “Wankerfish.”

Oh wow. I think I just came up with the single greatest band name ever, other than The Norms, of course.

So back to The Norms. Singer Gabriel Benitez Jr. and lead guitarist Austin McCracken formed the band in 2012 have since released a few songs through their official site. I have no idea what made me listen to the song, “Notes,” first, but it caught my ear and I remember playing it a few times before moving onto the other selections. There’s a tenderness to “Notes” that shines through in Benetiz’s vocal. A great example of this is at the 0:20 mark when he sings the word, “rent a car”. Take a listen:

Totally dig it. And you should, too.

I just missed their show this last weekend because I was working. I don’t plan on missing their next performance… unless I’m working… which I am on their next show day. Rats.

Catch them on August 3rd at The Sportsman Bar: 21779 Temescal Canyon Road, Corona. Showtime @ 2pm.

The Norms on: [Official] [Facebook] [Twitter]


MP3/Video: Depeche Mode Bare

0Acoustic (or “bare) versions of songs are one of my favorite things in the world. If Fraulein Maria would have to somehow squeeze that line into that song she sang to the sad and depressed Von Trapp kids, it’d go like this:

    Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
    Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
    Acoustic versions of the songs that we sing
    These are a few of my favorite things

Sweet. Made it work. First try!

It’s no secret that Depeche Mode is one of my top 5 most absolutely favorite bands in the world. They’ve stood the test of time and have influenced a whole generation of songwriters, producers, and singers. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I came across a couple of “bare” versions that I have never heard before for “Clean,” and “Waiting for the Night.”

There’s a wealth of other “bare” Depeche Mode videos to be found on YouTube. For all you DM fans out there, prepare to lose hours of your life finding, watching, rewatching, and listening to even darker versions of the dark songs we have grown to love.

You can download the audio to these videos below in the Dig-It section. Enjoy and pass it on to a friend!


“Waiting for the Night”

Your Dig-It Downloads:

*** to download, click on the link and follow instructions ***

Download: Clean (bare)
Download: Waiting for the Night (bare)

Depeche Mode on: [Official Site]


Kyle Cox: “I Ain’t Been Lonely, Until I Met You”

I woke up this morning and shuffled downstairs, only to find my sink riddled with ants. Now, I don’t know how many of you have an ant problem, but this is the first one for me this summer… and it sucks. The good news is that since the ants were all in the sink, clean up was easy. The bad news is that now I have an ant problem… and it’s probably just a matter of time before I discover more ants, looking for revenge for their fallen brothers.

You’re most likely wondering what my ant problem has to do with Kyle Cox and his song, “I Ain’t Been Lonely, Until I Met You.”

The answer is… let me think about it for a second… the answer is that Kyle Cox’s music is much like ants: You can’t help but discover more of it. Yep.


In 2010, we wrote about Kyle in the This Week’s Top 5 Most Played Songs From Swap’s iTunes” (click here to read the post). He was a mystery, as there was not much info on the web about him at the time. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I received an email about his upcoming album, The Plan, The Mess, set to be released on September 30. Produced by Mike Marsh (Avett Brothers, Dashboard Confessional), Cox continues his wonderful blend of country, rock, folk, blues, and swagger… enough to make me say, “Who IS this guy?”

Well, he’s been featured in American Songwriter magazine five separate times. He’s also the only songwriter in the history of the magazine to have won the American Songwriter Lyric Contest twice. TWICE. The only award I have ever won twice is the “Student of the Week” award back in the 6th grade, and that was only because I paid off the teacher.

Maybe if I had dug a little harder back in 2010, I would have uncovered this information on Kyle, right?

Kyle also composes film and video music. Very versatile. Check out his work here.

So after 4 years, I finally know more about Kyle Cox. I’m very excited to share this track with you, and I’m even more excited for his new album. Can’t wait to discover more of his music.

Totally digging it.

To top it off, here’s Kyle performing that very song acoustically. Very cool.

Get your fix of Kyle Cox in the links below… and share it with someone you know! They’ll thank you for it.

Kyle Cox on: [Official] [Twitter] [YouTube]

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Black Couch Sessions: Micah Justice – “Once Again”

Ever since I decided to start the Black Couch Sessions, I have been working out how I am going to make it work. As I explained in my last post about these sessions, I am going for the minimalistic approach with sight and sound. There’s a couch, the artist, a couple of microphones, and that’s it. Makes things easy for me!micah_justice_crop

Last week, I was excited to have Micah Justice pay a visit to record a few songs on the black couch. She came in with an energy that reminded me why I enjoy her music so much. Micah wears her heart, lungs, liver, and probably her gall bladder on her sleeve, and makes no excuses for it. She is as honest as a the final score in a ballgame, and her music reflects this quality.

Micah sat down with her guitar and asked me, “So what do you want me to sing?” For those of you that know me, you know that I am always ready with a brilliant reply… I said to her, “I dunno,” and we were off and running.

“I dunno” is most likely the #1 answer to the #1 question musicians ask each other: “So, what do you want to play?”

Ok, either “I dunno,” or “I don’t care,” which immediately is retracted when someone suggests “Margaritaville.”

So after a few “I dunno’s,” Micah began playing her song, “Once Again.” I hit record and enjoyed her performance. The opening lyric says it all:

    “Once again, I’ve dabbled in sin / only to find a little bit of Heaven.”

Wonderful, wonderful line. Her smile at 2:19 of this video is priceless…

Thanks to Micah for taking the time to record. I had a great time and enjoyed the music!

Please subscribe to TheFrontloader.com’s YouTube channel to keep updated on any new videos that are posted!

Micah Justice on: [Official Site] [Facebook]


Rivergazer: “Safari Jack”

I came across this song by Rivergazer today in my email. I’ll admit it… the name “Rivergazer” caught my attention and thus I was propelled to take a listen. If you know me, and I think you do, you know that I judge books by their covers. Yes, you can call me shallow or superficial, but band names are preeeetty important, in my book. A name like “Rivergazer” just sounds cool… unlike “The Beatles,” or, “The Downtown Moneywasters.” I mean, come ON… “The Downtown Moneywasters?” Really???

PromoImage.jpgSo I opened the email for Rivergazer and was pleasantly surprised. The retro-nostalgic-pop sound grabbed me like Bluto used to grab me by my shirt collar as he said, “Where’s Popeye?” I was just look at him and reply, “In your butt!”

Bluto did NOT have a good sense of humor. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

According to the press release, Rivergazer’s first full length studio album, Random Nostalgia, tells the tale of “modern sadness — growing up in the suburbs, getting married and divorced, having no money, being in debt, driving mom’s car, friends, isolation, wanting a dog, finding zen, and making memories.” Very cool. I can relate to most of those things except for finding zen. I’ve never found zen. Zen has found me.

How profound was THAT??????

Mucho profound. That’s how profound.

Take a listen to “Safari Jack” and drift away to the sounds of the olden days. I dig. So should you.

Rivergazer’s album drops August 12 on Father/Daughter records. Here are some upcoming show dates. Catch one if you can.

June 9 – Brooklyn, NY @ Palisades
August 9 – Hampton, NY @ Adventure Bandits Art Club
August 14 – Kingston NY @ BSP Lounge
August 15 – Beacon NY @ Quinn’s

Rivergazer on: [Facebook] [Twitter]


Bootlegs: Bruce Springsteen Live Acoustic (Happy 4th of July!)

Happy 4th of July! Independence Day!

I have a friend that tells me that the 4th of July is her favorite holiday because A) you don’t have to find presents for people, B) it’s all about family and friends, and C) one word: fireworks, baby. I found that to be an excellent list of reasons for enjoying this day, and I hope you are going to enjoy at least one of those things.

As for me, the 4th of July will always bring back memories of barbecuing in the backyard with my father. Ok, to be honest, I didn’t really help my father since I was just a kid, but I do recall standing next to him and pretending I knew what I was looking at:

Me: Dad, I think the steaks look done

Dad: Son, I haven’t even put the steaks on the grill, yet.
And by the way, you’re not looking at the BBQ… that’s the fire pit.

Ah, memories.

americanSo to celebrate America’s Independence Day, I’ve posted a small, 7-song collection of Bruce Springsteen live acoustic tracks from a wonderful 1996 Berlin show. The sound quality is excellent, as are the performances. I didn’t post “Independence Day,” because that would be exactly… what… they.. would… expect. Plus, he didn’t perform it in this concert. I did, however, post “The Promised Land,” because that’s what America is to me.

Man, I love Bruce Springsteen.

Here are the selected tracks included below in the Dig-It section:

1. The Ghost of Tom Joad
2. Brothers Under the Bridge
3. Spare Parts
4. Across the Border
5. Streets of Philadelphia
6. Galveston Bay
7. The Promised Land

Thank you always for reading! Have a great 4th of July!

Your Dig-It Downloads:

*left-click and follow directions*

Download: 1996 Berlin selections (live acoustic)

Bruce Springsteen on: [Official Site]


MP3/Video: Thomas Lee – “One and the Same (Black Couch Sessions)”

Ever since TheFrontloader.com came to life back in 2008, I’ve wanted to develop a series of videos that showcase artists that I write about. Well, that time has finally come and I decided to start experimenting with how I want to present it. I enlisted the help of myself for this first video.

Yup... that's me.

Yup… that’s me.

I took a minimalistic approach… an empty room with a black couch. At first I wanted to call the video series “Black Couch Cuts” but then decided against it because, even though it’s a fun play on words, it occurred to me that Black Couch Sessions sounds more… familiar, if that makes sense.

My recording gear can be considered as prehistoric, but I like the sound it delivers. Plus, I know my way around it, and that can come in handy when I’m working with other artists. This way, they don’t have to sit around as I Google how to do something. I threw two microphones in front of me, set up the video camera, put on my hat (gotta have a hat), and went for it.

The song, “One and the Same,” is about a person that struggles with the inner conflict we all face at times, and how, in the end, all these different parts in conflict really come from one singular whole. Accept it and work with what you have, because that’s really all you have.

Or it could be about some jerkwad in particular… I can’t decide which explanation makes me sound “deeper.” So whichever one sounds more deep, go with that one.

Hope you dig the video:

In future posts, I would like more camera movement and angles. I discovered quickly that I couldn’t move the camera and perform at the same time.

I posted the audio track of this video below in the Dig-It section. Just left-click on the link and follow the directions. Please let me know if you are having any difficulties downloading the track.

The Black Couch Sessions is something I’m incredibly excited about. There will be future videos of other fantastic artists, so be on the look out for them! I hope you enjoyed today’s video and, as always, thank you so much for reading.

Your Dig-It Download:

*** to download, left-click on the link and follow instructions ***

Download: One and the Same (Black Couch Sessions)

Thomas Lee on: [Official Site] [Facebook] [Twitter]