Tag Archives: Indie

Johnzo West ‘Glory’

About a year ago Musically Diversified did an artist profile on singer/songwriter Johnzo West. Since then West has been very working on his own solo album and performing live with Billy Ray Cyrus. We recently got the opportunity to take a listen to West’s latest album, and we were blown away with the ten tracks he presents on Glory, which was released in February.

Glory is a great collection of songs that show West’s skills on guitar and vocals. The album starts off with a song entitled “Don’t Leave Me Hangin’” which is a track that starts off nicely with some great guitar work, but is definitely carried by a great vocal performance by West. The song really takes off during the chorus sections and is especially good during the wah drenched guitar solo. The next song is called “The Shallows” which is a track that has been re-worked from West’s 2008 release Bring On The Burden. It’s a great song that features a soulful performance from West on vocals.

“Heart of Stone” is another great track on the record. The lyrics tell a great story and the accompaniment suites the lyrics perfectly.  “Tell Your Mother” is the next track and this song has a very country feel, especially the drums which keep a steady beat that keeps the country time while the guitars slide in and out. West’s vocal fit perfectly over this track.

“The Constant” is the next track on the album, and it has a great funky feel from the beginning. The bass, guitars, and drums instantly catch your attention, and you get to the chorus and West’s vocals take over. “On My Way” is a great track that is an old school rocker and features great guitar work throughout. Lyrically it tells a great story too.

“The Good Fight” is probably my favorite track from West. Lyrically and musically it just works, and makes a very enjoyable listening experience for anyone involved. Arrangement wise the piano and guitar work excellently.

Glory is a great collection of tracks. Be sure to take a listen HERE

-B. Harlow

Johnzo West

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Quick Artist Profile: Futurebirds

If you want a listening experience that is very pleasurable, I’d suggest looking no further than the Athens, GA based band, Futurebirds. Futurebirds are a great amalgamation of Country, rock, and a slight portion of psychedelic-rock. The band which consists of Payton Bradford, Thomas Johnson, Carter King, Dennis Love, Brannen Miles, and Daniel Womack formed in 2008, and since then have been creating their unique sonic brew.

Since the bands creation they’ve been delving into their classic rock and country roots to create music that is truly a throwback (but in a good way.) If I had to compare their music to anyone artist it would be Neil Young, especially on songs like “Battle For Rome.” But then again the band definitely has its own sound mixing in acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, mandolin, pedal steel, and percussion with sweetly arranged harmonies.

Be sure to take Futurebirds for a listening test drive because you will be in for a joyous listening experience.

-B. Harlow

Futurebirds

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Fascinating Frantic Instrumental Music: Alright The Captain

Most people have a hard time sitting through a song, especially if it is an instrumental. However this is not the case with the music that is produced by the Derby three-piece, Alright The Captain. Alright the Captain consists of Marty on guitar, Todd on bass, and drummer Ash. Together they create a new sound that mixes elements of many sub-genres of rock and even show some jazz influence. They describe themselves as “noisy experimental music,” but I would tend to emphasize the experimental instead of the noisy part because of their tremendous musicianship which makes their intense instrumental compositions avoid the staleness that many instrumental bands fall prey to.

Since 2009 Alright The Captain have released three records all containing very different music that in no way could be considered monotonous. Their first EP was released in 2009 and was titled 123.EP. The EP contained three tracks including “Honey Badger” which is a frantic composition that has its roots in math-rock along with a slight influence of post-rock. The bands next release was entitled SNIB and contained ten tracks including three tracks from their first EP. This was followed by BINS which was a remix album that was the original albums title backwards.

Alright The Captain is a great band that is extremely experimental and extremely awesome.  The band will be releasing a new EP entitled Conversational Skills for the Socially Anxious which will be released in late March or early April to coincide with their European tour with Knifecutter.

-B. Harlow

Check Out Alright The Captain’s acoustic performance for the BBC below:

Alright The Captain

Alright The Captain live

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Quick Artist Profile: The Hotel Year

When listening to the Dudley, MA based four-piece, The Hotel Year, the listener cannot help to be amused and like their music. Sound wise they are a loosely a mix indie, pop, and punk, indie rock. The Hotel Year have a certain special sound that is much more mature sounding than most music produced by people their age. Another huge bonus is the production value of their self-released album which was excellent.

The band will finish up recording for their sophomore full-length this month and Tiny Engines Records will release their new LP on 12″ vinyl this Summer. The album will be an excellent follow up to the band’s 2011 debut, It Never Goes Out. Be sure to check it out when it is released.

-B. Harlow

The Hotel Year

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Quick Artist Profile: Fences

I first heard Fences after listening to a collaboration with Macklemore on a song called “Otherside.” After hearing that amazing performance I looked into this project, and I found out that it was the brainchild of Berklee schooled musician, Christopher Mansfield. The group also features guitarist Ben Greenspan and bassist Lyndsey Starr.

Mansfield started putting together the Seattle project together in 2009, and shortly was discovered online by Sara Quin (Of Tegan & Sara Fame) after releasing his first EP, 2009’s The Ultimate Puke. Soon Mansfield was back in the studio working on Fence’s self-titled debut album. This album was released in 2010 and was produced, recorded, and features vocals from Quin. It also featured some great tracks. One of these track is entitled “Same Tattoos” which is a great narrative about growing up without a father. There is also a great track on the album entitled “Your Bones” which sounds to me like a mix of U2 and Coldplay.

I like Fences a lot because of Mansfields’s very subdued and unique style. His delivery is very deliberate and the arrangements are very mellifluous making it a pleasure to listen to.

-B. Harlow

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Quick Artist Profile: Nadia Kazmi

With a voice that is a mix of Soul and pure Rock and Roll it’s almost impossible to go wrong. This is the combination that Candian artist Nadia Kazmi plays with. Her voice and music is a mix of both grit and smooth beauty, which is reminiscent of artist from the 60’s and 70’s, but she is not a novelty act by any means.  She brings something new that adds to the music of the past, yet still respecting and honoring her idols.

She has released two records so far the first of which was called, Arrival, and was released in 2009. The album was crafted by Nadia, Alex Elena, and Josh Valleau. The album mixes poetry with awesome vintage style grooves all with a modern feel. One of the best tracks on Nadia’s first release was “Mothers” a track that moved slowly like a blues number, but was so clearly a modern song. One of the albums other stand out tracks was the title track, “Arrival”. This track sounds like a soulful Elton John track, but with a beautiful melody put over by Nadia.  Another standout track is, “My True Love” who’s strong beat and keyboards keep the listener enticed.

Nadia’s second album is a lot different from most other artists’ sophomore release, as she chose to do a collection of covers. She chose to put a collection of songs of fellow Canadian songwriter, Leonard Cohen. On this album she puts together nine carefully picked tracks, and she put her own spin on each of them. Most notably, “Came So Far for Beauty” with its fuzz-tone guitars really stands out.

If you want to listen to a modern artist with a vintage feel Nadia is definitely the artist for you. You will not be disappointed with her mix of actual poetry and music that add so much to the listening experience.

-B. Harlow

Check out the Music Video for “Julian” Below:

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Artists On The Rise: Lord Huron

I often stumble around the internet looking for new music, yesterday I happened to stumble upon a great band called Lord Hurron. Lord Huron started off as a solo project, but soon turned into a full band with Singer-songwriter Ben Schneider, Mark Barry on percussion and vocals, Miguel Briseno on bass, Brett Farkas on guitar and vocals, and Tom Renaud on guitar and vocals.

I was so impressed by the music when I found Lord Hurron, that I instantly downloaded a lot of their music and was blown away by the projects uniqueness and feel. The project which released their first EP, Mighty returned this year with their great full length album, Lonesome Dreams which features ten great tracks. Schneider says that the album is actually the product of reading a series of books called Lonesome Dreams which are Western tales by George Ranger Johnson an author, that doesn’t exist, but in Schneider’s mind, but the visionary would be able to produce the series in hard-copy  But will they ever be produced? That remains to be seen, but until then we have some great music to listen to.

-B. Harlow

Lord+Huron+lordhuron+sea

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Quick Artist Profile: Menomena

Menomena is a great two piece based in Portland. Oregon. The duo consists of multi-instrumentalists, Justin Harris and Danny Seim who share singing and songwriting duties. The bands formed in 2000, and were originally a three-piece until Brent Knopf left the band in 2010. Justin Harris and Danny Seim who had played together kept on playing music together, just as they did when they were in high school.

Menomena self-released their debut album, I Am the Fun Blame Monster! in 2003. It was later distributed by Portland-based label FILMguerrero. The band released their sophomore album in 2005 entitled, Under an Hour. The music on Under an Hour was all instrumental and consisted of only three tracks.  In 2008 the band released their third album Friend and Foe on The Seattle Based Label, Barsuk Records which lead them to also sign with City Slang for European distribution. The album also received a Grammy nomination for “Best Recording Package.” In 2009 the band released their fourth album, Mines, which was quickly followed by a world tour. This tour was followed by the band’s latest album, Moms which came out in September 2012 and was the band’s third release on Barsuk Records. If you like great music, Menomena is definitely a band you should check out!

-B. Harlow

Menomena

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Who Is The White Buffalo?

One of my favorite shows is the FX network series, Sons Of Anarchy. On the show’s season finale last year they chose to feature a haunting rendition of the Leadbelly song, “House of The Rising Sun.” The song more closely resembled The Animals cover of the song, but had a very cool   bluesy feel and altered lyrics to fit the story of the show. It was truly one of those songs that fit the show perfectly. What I really wanted to know was, who was behind this awesome rendition. At that moment I stumbled across The White Buffalo.

The White Buffalo is actually the stage name of singer, Jake Smith. Smith has a big voice, and he knows how to use that gift to display tremendous songwriting and storytelling talents. His songs encompass blues, country, folk, and at points straight up rock. What I enjoy about Smith most is his amazing lyrics and singing ability. His songs vary in topic from things such as everyday life, to various outlaw characters. His ability to tell stories through his songs reminds me a lot of Bruce Springsteen.

Smith has put out two full lengths and three EP’s under the White Buffalo moniker. Most recently he put out the full length album, Once Upon A Time in The West. The album consists of thirteen songs, and also produced two singles, “BB Guns And Dirt-bikes” and “Wish It Was True.” The songs on this album take the listener back to when all was good and when vagabonds traveled the countryside, much like Smith’s stage-namesake, the buffalo.

Anyone that likes music would enjoy The White Buffalo. I hope that this man continues on his great path of success.

-B. Harlow

Check Out The Music Video for “Wish it Was True” Below:

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Local Music Monday: Our Interview with Seth David Christian From Our Burgundy

A few months ago I asked a group of local bands if they’d like to do interviews for Musically Diversified. One of the bands that responded immediately was the Connecticut based two piece, Our Burgundy. I then listened to their EPs and was blown away by the originality of vocalist and guitarist Seth David Christian and drummer Alex Herr. Both are influenced by rockers like Neil Young and Nirvana, and this shows throughout their music. Their songs are great and all of their EP’s are recorded on vintage 4 track tape machines which gives the music a real analog tone. Our Burgundy is currently recording their debut full length album, Itinerant Statesmen, and I look forward to reviewing it when it comes out.

-B. Harlow
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