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Frontloader Sessions: Alice Wallace (part 2)

I am so pleased to bring you the second part of the Alice Wallace Frontloader Session. In case you missed it, here’s part 1 –> click me!

Alice possesses one of the purest voices I’ve heard in a long, long time, even purer than my voice when I stub my toe and let out a string of expletives that would embarrass the finest cusser in the world, Yosemite Sam.

Don’t believe me? Check out THIS rant:

Anyhow, Alice recorded a total of six songs for the Frontloader Session, and I’m crossing my fingers that she will, in fact, release these songs as an EP…

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Everybody go to her Facebook page and tell her to do it! Do it now!

First up is “A Thousand Miles From Home,” a song I’ve come to become quite intimate with. The other day, I had this on repeat for about an hour and kept singing along during the chorus… “As far as the eye could seeeeeeee… in front of me…” I then took this song out for a drink and some dancing. I’m not ashamed to say that we shared a moment together beneath the great oak tree out by the park. Nope. I’m not ashamed to say that.

Going back to what I was saying about her voice – I swear I did not touch it in the audio. No EQ’ing at all. Some may tell me that I should’ve done this or that to the vocal, but I was completely happy with what was captured. Her voice simply doesn’t need anything. That’s so cool.

Up next is “Poor Cleopatra,” a song that describes a woman’s fall into her own self-importance and worth (at least that’s what I think it’s about!) [update – Alice just informed me of the real meaning of the song. I was WAY off. Go ask her about it. Pretty cool]. Her vocal shines here again as she displays her gorgeous falsetto. Check out Tom Bremer’s guitar solo as well… love that Tele sound. I’m still amazed on how he makes the guitar sound like a pedal steel. Maybe someday he’ll show me a few things that I can rip off.

Lastly is my new favorite song from the session. “A Traveling Song” was the final song of the day, and I’m so glad she decided to record it. Lyrically, the song captures two separate encounters with people Alice has met during her time on the road. I’ve always loved the straight forward storytelling song, one that does not need much interpretation other than the one the artist delivers. Alice reminds us that life is all about perspective, and what we take from it defines our own existence. It’s poignant, thought-provoking, and altogether beautiful to listen to.

The smiles on Alice and Tom’s faces at the end of the video are priceless. I’m so glad I was able to get this on tape.

So there you have it, the complete Alice Wallace Frontloader Session. Alice has a few Southern California shows coming up before she hits the road again to Florida.

Jan 30 9:00pm @ Big’s GrillFullerton, CA US
Jan 31 8:30pm @ Yves’ BistroAnaheim Hills, CA US
Feb 06 7:30pm @ California SolSpring Valley, CA US
Feb 07 8:30pm @ Yves’ Restaurant & Wine BarAnaheim, CA US

Thanks again to Alice, Tom, and Robert for coming out to do the session. Great music, performances, and people. I love what I get to do!

Alice Wallace on: [Official] [Facebook]

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artistcalled6: “Passed Transgression”

35375a3d1451c20fd1d5854550beb60f_400x400You just never know what can happen from the simple act of trying to sell your stuff.

Through the years, I’ve acquired a bunch of music gear. Don’t ask me why I keep getting more stuff… it’s truly a disease… but I keep finding stuff that I apparently need. It’s often referred to as GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), and I’ve got a bad case of it.

So I’ve got all this gear, and I don’t use all of it because of various reasons. Some of the pieces are simply so old that it either doesn’t work anymore or I’ve come across a more efficient version of it… some of it isn’t used because, frankly, I never took the time to learn how to use it. Surprising.

I put up a post on Craigslist to sell some of this old stuff. Someone replied with questions, to which I answered. Turns out the item wasn’t what they were looking for, but we started a conversation about what we do musically.

The guy turns out to be artistcalled6, a talented electronic dnb, chillout/industrial artist that describes himself as “a musician that traverses all genres, and really has no genre…unless there is a genre called “whatever the fuck I feel like playing.””

He let me hear some of his demos and pointed me to his website… one track caught my attention: “Passed Transgression.” Completely blew me away.

This track is absolutely thunderous. I must have listened to it 4-5 times straight. The repeating chord progression and motif puts you in a trance… and then the drums… oh, the magnificent drums… wow. I highly recommend using headphones for his music.

There are no lyrics, no vocal lines, nothing to sing to, but the sheer power and dynamics of this song is all you need. He has a way of taking a simple idea and expanding it to the point where you think the dam is going to break if one more drop is added. There’s so much to listen for, so playing one 3-minute song leads to 30 minutes because you hit “repeat” so many times.

I have no idea how he puts his songs together, but I hope to find out. We’ve stayed in touch and you can bet I’m going to pick his brain.

Lately, the work I’m doing with Kaity and The Flood has brought me back into electronic music, so artistcalled6 came at just the right time. His music lets my imagination wander and rethink how I approach writing. There truly are no limits except for the ones we impose on ourselves.

Yes, you never know what can happen from the simple act of trying to sell your stuff. I should do that more often. Maybe Bruce Springsteen will want to buy this old reverb unit that’s been sitting in my closet now for 10 years.

artistcalled6 on: [official] [soundcloud] [twitter]

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Frontloader Sessions: The Lovebirds

I hope you’re having a great 2015 so far. The other day at work, I told someone “Happy New Year!” to which they responded, “It’s already almost halfway through January… you can stop saying that!” I scratched my head and wondered if that was correct, if there is a time when “Happy New Year!” isn’t appropriate anymore. I supposed if you’re still saying that in August, then you MIGHT want to stop, but it’s still January! I figure if I see you for the first time in 2015 during the month of January, it’s appropriate to say it.

What do you think?

Now, I know that you didn’t come to this post for a lesson on “Happy New Year” etiquette, so I’ll get to the point.

The Lovebirds (Lindsay White and Veronica May) came in for a session last year and I’m just getting to them now. I have to say that I was extremely swamped last December. I fell behind on finishing the session videos, and then I fell behind even MORE when the holidays hit. I took a month off from the sessions to spend time with family, and I’m honestly just now getting back into the swing of things. I’m ashamed to say that I’m still behind on a couple of the sessions, but I will catch up in no time because someone gave me THIS for Christmas:

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Pretty cool. I intend to fire it up this week. I’ll let you know how it goes 10 years ago. By the way, if you didn’t know what that is, then I’m going to point and stare at you in a most judgmental way until you tell me not only what it is, but who created it.

Anyhow, I came across The Lovebirds whilst clicking on a bunch of links one night. I can’t recall where the original link came from, but it took me to a YouTube video that captured a live performance. I said to myself, “Wow!” and continued to listen to more of their music online. The songwriting was top notch. The performances were stellar… and man alive, the harmonies… the harmonies were exquisite. I wrote them and after some exchange, they decided to drive up from San Diego on the Friday after Thanksgiving for the session. On their official site, The Lovebirds akin themselves to The Indigo Girls and Tegan and Sara. By the time you watch all the videos, I’m sure you’ll find some truth in that description.

Such a big sound from two people. The dynamic range of their songwriting kept me captivated throughout the session. From the rocker “Gray,” to the tender and delicate “Volcano,” I was amazed on the control they had over their voices and how they played within the music. I don’t know how much they practice, but the end result is a sign of their dedication to their craft.

“Gray” was the first song up… drums, electric guitar, and vocals. Veronica had this (old?) Ibanez guitar that we ran through my Vox Night Train amp. If I recall, she just plugged the guitar in straight… no effects… the EQ was straight up at 12 o’clock… just some grit. The bluesy riffing and groove to the music fits the lyric that plays out a boxing match that must have a deeper meaning than my tiny brain can handle.

Loved the bow at the end. I need to start doing that in everything I do. Even after ordering something at In-N-Out, I need to just turn around and bow to the rest of the customers. Somebody will film it one day, put it on YouTube, and it’ll go viral. Then I’ll be famous for the most ridiculous reason. Livin’ the dream.

Coming off a rocker of a song, The Lovebirds turned to one that started off so quietly that I had to hold my breath while filming. “Boat Train” showcases their wonderful harmonies… I love the ornaments they throw in at the end of some of the lines. Such a gorgeous piece of music.

“Boat Train”

Recording drums in the space I have here is always a challenge. The chances of the drum tracks bleeding into the rest of the microphones is high, as you’ll hear in this next performance. In “Whiplash,” the drums bled into Lindsay’s vocal mic a bit too much. Personally, I liked how big the drums sounded, but I think in getting that big sound, the drums drowned out her singing a bit too much, especially in the middle section. Live and learn. I absolutely love this song. The line, “If the crash doesn’t get you, the whiplash will,” is one that I sincerely wish I came up with.

“Whiplash”

For their last song, Lindsay and Veronica decided to sit on the (now famous?) black couch for a more intimate song, “Volcano.” For the guitar, I plugged it into the board as well as sticking a mic in front of it. Love the sound I got. I need to get a Taylor guitar. If anyone wants to buy me one, let me know and I’ll send you 1,000 links to the one(s) I want.

This song was the perfect ending to the day. I’ll say it again – the harmonies! Man ALIVE I love harmonies. Their voices blend so well together. This may seem like a small detail, but it’s one that I think is overlooked in many singers that harmonize together… notice how Lindsay and Veronica handle the “s” at the end of the lines. They both end at the same time, so there is only one “s” that you hear. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but pay attention and I think you’ll hear what I mean. Paul Simon (of Simon and Garfunkel) once explained how he and Art would sit in front of each other study how the other sang… all for the purpose of getting this sort of timing down.

Take a look/listen. This is a great song as well, so you’ll doubly rewarded!

“Volcano”

The Lovebirds have a few shows coming up:

Jan 16 @ 8pm – Java Joe’s/Artlab Studios in San Diego, CA
Jan 31 @ 1pm – Belly Up Tavern in Solan Beach, CA
Feb 14 @ 7pm – San Dieguito United Methodist Church Hall in Encinitas, CA
Feb 19 @ 9pm – Folk Alliance Internation in Kansas City, MO.

I highly recommend catching a performance. I described their music as “powerful” to a friend of mine, and I’m going to stick with that. Thanks to Lindsay and Veronica for making the trek to do the session. It was such a joy to meet and record them, and I really, really, REALLY hope to have them back sometime soon. They were kind enough to gift me with their catalog…

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Yeah, I’m kind of a big deal. I should’ve had them autograph the covers. Rats.

Check out the pictures from this session on our Facebook page here.

The Lovebirds on: [Official Site] [Facebook] [Twitter]

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The Norms: “It Takes Two”

It’s always exciting for me to write about artists I’ve already written about. I guess at the most basic level, I’m thrilled that the artist in question is still producing new material. They’re still moving forward, they still have their eye on the prize. That’s never a bad thing.

I’ve been involved with a number of projects that eventually called it quits because of one thing or another, so believe me, I know how challenging it is to keep it together as a group.

The Norms have been covered by TheFrontloader a few times already. They’ve come in for a Frontloader Session, and just recently they reached out to inform us of their new single and video for “It Takes Two.”

I says to myself, “Sweet!” and took a listen/look. The song showcases their blend of pop/rock, with catchy riffs, guitar lines, and a sound that is inspired by The Strokes, Vampire Weekend, Weezer & Bloc Party. I always dug the quality songwriting of this band… take a look!

In their most recent press release, The Norms state that their “EP is set to release in late January after which they will embark on their first national tour.” Very cool, indeed. I look forward to the new EP and can’t wait to be invited backstage at their shows.

Guys… I’m going to be invited backstage, right? RIGHT?

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

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Twin Oaks: “Animal” and “Clarity”

It should be obvious by now that I’m a fan of Twin Oaks. I’ve written about them a few times already, and they were gracious to come into the studio for a Frontloader Session.

Recently, they released a couple of new songs… and you need to hear them before they’re gone.

“Gone? Where are they going?” you may ask.

Truth is, I am totally kidding. They’re not going anywhere. I just needed a way to get your attention.

“Animal” builds on their established sound of atmospheric/dream pop found in their Lion’s Den EP. One thing to notice in this song is that the drums are becoming a more prominent player in their sound. Thundering, pounding, intense, dynamic… Twin Oaks seems to be expanding their soundscape.

Very cool.

“Clarity” seems to be the antithesis of “Animal.” Calm, cool, and serene, “Clarity” is a headphone user’s heaven.

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Twin Oaks has a way of sounding organic yet unorganic at the same time. Their music screams to be in a movie… the sound is so visual (at least for me). Take a listen, revisit their Frontloader Session, and check out their websites. This is a band that deserves attention.

Twin Oaks on: [Official Site] [Facebook]