Beyond the Horizon – Darity Shares Hopeful Message of Gratitude on ‘Everything’

Darity’s “Everything” serves as a hopeful anthem for 2021. Artwork – Olivia Sergi

For Darity, a new year faintly shines in the distance.

Specks of wintry sunlight peer through thick January clouds and serve as a hopeful reminder of better times ahead. Those far-flung rays symbolically represent the gratitude Darity expresses in her latest uplifting single, “Everything,” which dropped Tuesday via all streaming platforms.

“I wrote this song for myself initially. I just think it’s so easy to think about all the things we don’t have. This song started like a long journal entry. I went on a tour with a band pre-Bitterroot and had a lot of conversations of the leader of that band about the struggles of being an artist and a band leader. I noticed that a lot of it was centered around being on the edge of losing hope and feeling like we didn’t have what we needed to be an artist,” said Darity, aka Linsley Hartenstein.

Throughout “Everything,” Darity, a Cincinnati indie rock singer-songwriter, poignantly captures the fight for hope as twirling synths, pulsating bass, vivid electric guitar, delicate drums and soft cymbal taps slowly surround and envelope listeners. She calmly sings,” Run after it/Desire breathes by design/You’re my dream not a fault line/And disappointment’s bound to dig a cliff/But I will walk with you through all of it/You were made for this edge.”

“Recording vocals for this song was painful because this is such a hard truth to swallow. All of the things, all of the outside support that maybe we think we need, or that we do need, we are all put on this planet to do something specific. If that is your worldview, then you as a person have everything you need. That’s a power and a posture that’s so hard when the whole world is telling you that you lack something,” said Hartenstein, who initially wrote the track in 2017.

After laying the initial foundation for “Everything,” Darity teamed up with Coastal Club frontman and producer Alex Hirlinger and drummers Simon Alexander and Dan Crowe to record the track. Together, they infused the hopeful, whimsical sonic quality to evolve it.

“Alex is one of the best arrangers I’ve ever met, so he did all of the production around it. That’s the first time I’ve ever done that. I gave him what the band and I had been playing live, and he rewrote everything aside from the drums. He is responsible for the world around that song, and I’m really grateful,” she said.

Darity also dropped a stunning lyric video for “Everything,” which features her strolling along a deserted roadside near the Bitterroot Mountains in Montana. It simply captures the personal time Darity needed to process her feelings and develop a mindset filled with gratitude.

“Josh and I made this lyric video here in Montana. When the pandemic hit, I was on tour on the west coast, so I figured I’d put that Easter egg in there and make a little video,” said Hartenstein, who developed the video with her partner Josh Kemp of Au Gres. (Check out Au Gres’ dreamy, pro-soulmate single, “Nervous.”)

Continue reading “Beyond the Horizon – Darity Shares Hopeful Message of Gratitude on ‘Everything’”

False Note – Joss Jaffe Uncovers Empty Political ‘Promises’ with Mykal Rose

Joss Jaffe unearths political fallacies on “Promises,” with reggae legend Mykal Rose. Photo – Kim Jae Yoon

For Joss Jaffe, today’s global political climate runs rampant with false promises.

The Oakland, California world music singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist shares this widely held notion in his latest reggae-infused single, “Promises,” with Mykal Rose.

“Ultimately, I think politics is always divisive. Peter Tosh would call it ‘politricks.’ But yes, this period in time has been especially unprecedented. Although I do not call out Trump by name in this song and take the approach of an old-school reggae song, where we speak in metaphors and allegory stories, clearly it references the cascade of lies and falsehoods that seem to never end,” Jaffe said.

“However, yes, the song also speaks to the timeless, and sadly, seemingly ever relevant problems this poor type of leadership brings, and it’s not just limited to the U.S.”

Throughout “Promises,” Jaffe and Rose quickly unstitch the increasing fallacies Trump and other controversial political figures continually weave into society’s fraying fabric. Vibrant horns, thumping drums, bouncy bass, breezy synths, spirited organ and peppy electric guitar seamlessly undo each tumultuous thread.

Rose eagerly chants, “Promises are a comfort to a fool/All they wanna give is promises/We know the golden rule/Yet they wanna use you like a footstool.” In response, Jaffe soulfully sings, “Step on you to reach that goal/And cast you aside when you played your role/Promises that keep on saying/But then you look at them and see they’d never change.”

“My vision for this song is something that’s uplifting and triumphant over adversity. Something that rises above the current moment, however difficult it is, and gets back in touch with the universal consciousness,” Jaffe said.

With honest, reflective lyrics and a hypnotic reggae sway, Jaffe and Rose triumph with “Promises” as a fitting theme song for our turbulent political and social times. The track serves as the duo’s second dynamic collaboration since the divine, glistening “Elohim” with Shimshai in 2015 for Jaffe’s Dub Mantra Sangha album.

“Mykal Rose has always been one of my longtime heroes of reggae music. We have a mutual friend named Siah who is his guitar player and produces some of his songs. Mykal is a true legend; rocksteady in the studio and always pushing everyone to capture their best possible take. It was a true blessing,” Jaffe said.

Continue reading “False Note – Joss Jaffe Uncovers Empty Political ‘Promises’ with Mykal Rose”

Fired Up – Adam Masterson Ignites Timeless Rootsy Sound on ‘Delayed Fuse’ EP

Adam Masterson blends elements of rock, soul, gospel, folk and country on his latest EP, “Delayed Fuse.” Photo – Robert Ascroft

Adam Masterson beautifully ignites a fiery, sonic explosion of emotion and experience.

The New York City roots-rock singer-songwriter solders timeless, electrifying elements of early rock, soul, gospel, folk and country into his latest high-voltage, five-track EP, Delayed Fuse.

“Every song is like a gift so I’m very grateful when I finish a song. I’ve never really thought about what I want other people to take away. How we form a connection with a song is our own unique experience, and I try not to second guess that,” said Masterson, who’s originally from West London.

“But it’s been a pleasure to write the songs, and if there are people out there who will take these tunes to heart, then that will make me very happy.”

Masterson instantly jolts listeners with combustible tales of misfortune, parenthood, isolation, grit and regret against a sizzling, cinematic backdrop of spirited rootsy instrumentation. A fateful partnership with producer James Hallawell kindled a new, multi-genre musical flame for writing and recording Delayed Fuse in London.

“It was great finding James Hallawell because I felt he understood me and where I was coming from. Who you are as an artist is something you can never really explain because it’s something that has to be felt rather than explained. You need to find someone who’s equally as passionate in their love of music that they know instinctively the feeling you’re looking to create,” Masterson said.

“James has also toured the U.S. extensively working in the studio with a real hero of mine, Willie Mitchell, the great Memphis soul producer who produced Al Green and Syl Johnson, two of my all-time favorite vocalists, for his Hi record label. I know why Willie liked working with James because he has great feeling for soul organ, early rock ‘n’ roll, American country and the English hymnal style. All these styles feed into what inspires me as a musician, singer and writer.”

Continue reading “Fired Up – Adam Masterson Ignites Timeless Rootsy Sound on ‘Delayed Fuse’ EP”

Tale from the Crypt – Melanie Pierce Buries Painful Past on ‘Your Grave’

Melanie Pierce entombs her past on “Your Grave.”

With an eye on the present, Melanie Pierce wants to leave the past dead and buried.

The Ann Arbor pop-rock singer-songwriter beautifully entombs former relationships, painful experiences and destructive thoughts into a secret crypt on “Your Grave,” a heartfelt, courageous anthem about moving forward.

“It was several situations that were not ideal and that happened at the same time. When the song was originally written, I had a lot of rage because it felt like so much was going wrong,” said Pierce, who released the track Oct. 30 via all streaming platforms.

“My mindset when I was younger was more angsty and negatively focused, and I was in a band at the time, and they were breaking up and a relationship was failing. It felt like too much at the time, and this song was born out of it.” 

Throughout “Your Grave,” murky, alternating synths ping-pong between yesterday and today while pulsating drums, calm bass and intermittent piano ultimately lower Pierce’s past six feet underground.

She bravely sings, “Turn left because I ran out of rights/Done pretending to be so nice/So formal like we’re supposed to/Keepin’ tabs on people livin’ my dream/I’m livin’ with the ghost you left for me/Remember when you said this was just a dream/And that’s all it will ever be/I’ve been pickin’ up the pieces slowly.”

“It’s taking the next step and acknowledging things aren’t going your way and have ended. I’m literally speaking through the lyrics that I’m throwing this in a grave, moving on and seeing the other side of the bad situation and stepping into a positive, new beginning,” Pierce said.

“I think everybody has the ability to change in all aspects of life, and I feel like I’ve shifted toward a much healthier perspective. Being able to cope with change also comes with time as you grow and learn more about yourself and the world around you. I was put on this planet to make music, write songs and perform. I’ve really stepped into the artist that I’ve always wanted to become and learned how to navigate this musical journey.”

Continue reading “Tale from the Crypt – Melanie Pierce Buries Painful Past on ‘Your Grave’”

Center Lane – J.C. & the Disciples Steer Middle Course on ‘It’s Happening Here’ Single

These days, J.C. Whitelaw prefers to steer a middle course.

The Detroit classic rock singer-songwriter and guitarist cruises in the center lane as passersby impatiently zoom ahead to the left and right on his latest politically charged single, “It’s Happening Here,” with the Disciples.

For Whitelaw, the lanes on either side of him become congested as drivers yell back and forth across a growing divided national highway.

“With all the Left and Right going at each other over the past four years, it would be hard not to be affected by it. I was shocked to see the level of hate that was conjured by both parties and friends alike and the disrespect for each other over a difference in opinion and ideas. I really believe the loss of civility in these times is unfortunately something that isn’t going away anytime soon,” he said.

Whitelaw emphatically channels those lingering frustrations throughout “It’s Happening Here” as raw, crunchy electric guitars, pulsating drums, crashing cymbals, thumping bass and spirited sax erupt in a fiery Rolling Stones-esque intensity.

In tandem, he passionately sings, “As horror becomes our laughter/Now we’re left in tatters/Scattered on the deafest ears/Happens here!/So now we walk in silence/While hate becomes our triumph/Lost all sense of sanity/Had to be/You and me/We can see/It’s happening here!/It’s happening here!”

“For me, it’s a snapshot of what’s going on right now – mentally, spiritually and socially. I was watching some televised opinion show that most would call news these days, and this melody came to me. I grabbed my guitar and laid it down. I had a few lyrics fly out, and then I left it alone,” Whitelaw said.

“A few days later, one of my old bandmates, Jon Ross, messaged me some lyrics he had been working on and shared the same sentiment that I was feeling. I basically cherry-picked some of his lines and mixed them with mine, and it really took shape over a week or so.”

Along with the single, Whitelaw released new video for “It’s Happening Here,” which features the Disciples’ Jimmy Sparks (drums), James Megerian (bass) and David Reinstein (sax) performing at Jimmy’s warehouse on Aug. 22. Detroit folk rock singer-songwriter Billy Brandt and vocalist Kristin von Bernthal also contribute to the track.

“The Disciples got together for a video/audio socially distanced recording session at Jimmy Sparks’ warehouse and recorded a set for the Beats Go On program. We donated all proceeds to the cause. We were pretty excited as we hadn’t played together since February, and this gave us the opportunity to work on some new material for the new record we’re planning on recording,” said Whitelaw, who worked with The Mission Recording Studio’s Sean Morse and Stellar Videography’s Tracy Viers on the track and video.

“The recording and video is from the second pass of the track after showing the band the song. It’s mostly a live take of the band except I layered in a lead guitar track and Kristin von Bernthal’s vocal tracks at Sean Morse’s Mission Studio. Sean also helped multi-track record the entire session at Jimmy’s warehouse.”

Continue reading “Center Lane – J.C. & the Disciples Steer Middle Course on ‘It’s Happening Here’ Single”

Break the Ice – Au Gres Finds Instant Romantic Comfort on New ‘Nervous’ Single

Au Gres’ Josh Kemp celebrates a new relationship on “Nervous.”

Au Gres instantly creates the proverbial comfort zone.

The Fenton indie pop singer-songwriter quickly throws anxiety, hesitation and doubt aside in his latest warm, dreamy pro-soulmate single, “Nervous,” which dropped Oct. 16.

“The song was inspired by my girlfriend, and I don’t usually set out to write a song. Instead, I mess around with progressions until I get an idea of what I want it to be about, and the song kind of writes itself. But for this one, I just felt so comfortable with her, like right off the bat, and I wanted to write something that felt that way,” said Josh Kemp, aka Au Gres.

“I sat in my room for a long time, and I wrote that bendy hook and everything else around it because it felt perfect to me. It was just me with my laptop in my room. I think I wrote most of it in an afternoon, and then I came back to it quite some time later and added more and more to it.”

With glistening acoustic strums, whimsical electric guitars, vivid bass, pulsating drums and atmospheric synths, “Nervous” serves as the ideal romantic icebreaker that immediately puts apprehensive partners at ease. It’s the melodic, soaring anthem everyone longs to hear on a magical first date.

Throughout the Mac DeMarco-like track, Kemp reveals, “I think I overstayed my welcome/But I think you want me to/Stick around/To bring you coffee or a cigarette/I don’t think we’re done yet/Not for now.”

“It’s a reminder that the reward is worth it so to speak, and I’m talking about long-lasting, real relationships. It’s tough to make yourself vulnerable with people, and sometimes if you want to have that kind of relationship, then you have to be the one to take the plunge and let your walls come down,” said Kemp, who’s inspired by Passion Pit and Phoenix.

Eight months ago, Kemp shared bedroom laptop demos of “Nervous” with Jake Rye at Adrian’s Social Recording Company. Rye solidified the track’s final version while Noah de Leon (guitars, keys, synth) and Kemp (guitar, keys, synth) handled the arrangements and invited drummer Brodie Glaza.

“Noah and I had most of the arrangements filled out, but Jake would take a look at certain parts and help fill in the gaps a little bit. He gave things a lift where they needed and dove into those melancholic, indie feels. He was really good at drawing that part out,” Kemp said.

“I think it really grew into what I had in my head, like when I was in my bedroom. And to hear it come alive with real drums because I was just using samples, and even now listening to it and thinking about that experience, like COVID, and how strange it is to be back working on music, but also at the same time it felt very right and very good. It finally felt like a slice of something very nice.”

Last week, Kemp shared another slice of “Nervous” through a new lyric video recorded with Darity’s Linsley Hartenstein. The quirky video shows Kemp enthusiastically performing multiple parts on a flashy, portable ‘80s color TV (akin to Lindsey Buckingham’s 1981 “Trouble” video).

“It’s a little silly, and it’s my first go ever using a green screen,” said Kemp with a laugh. “We wanted to have fun with it.”

Continue reading “Break the Ice – Au Gres Finds Instant Romantic Comfort on New ‘Nervous’ Single”

Glimmer of Hope – Rags and Riches Shares Newfound Strength on ‘Tension of the Season’ Single

Rags and Riches’ Tanner Whitt and Peyton Whitt inspire listeners to overcome the “Tension of the Season.” Photo – Christian Campbell

Backed by resilience and gratitude, Rags and Riches beautifully infuses hope into the darkest of times.

The Lexington, Kentucky EDM pop-rock duo of brothers Tanner Whitt (vocals, guitar) and Peyton Whitt (drums) shares a newfound sense of personal strength on their powerful, uplifting latest single, “Tension of the Season,” now available on all streaming platforms. It’s the fifth track they’ve dropped this year in a series of refreshing, spirited singles designed to inspire and rejuvenate a growing fan base.

“‘Tension of the Season’ was actually inspired when our grandfather experienced a nearly fatal stroke. With COVID-19 striking, no one could be with him in the hospital during this period. There were so many unknowns in our life. That’s when we knew it was time to write,” Tanner Whitt said.

The glistening, illuminative track blends echoey, wailing synths, shiny piano, upbeat acoustic strums, soft and steady drums, bouncy bass and reflective electric guitars as Tanner Whitt hopefully sings, “Oh, what a time to be alive/A mad world, another sleepless night/Hold your breath/When the tide pulls you under/Never give up, never give up/No never.”

“The words, ‘Tomorrow’s a brand new day, any second is bound to change,’ was more relevant than ever. Originally, the doctor’s prognosis wasn’t the news we wanted to hear. But day by day, he beat the odds stacked against him. Family before everything and everyone else,” said Tanner Whitt.

“There is nothing more vital and important in your life than family. We have been continuously working and perfecting everything we’re doing as a band, but also as human beings. Our love for people and human interaction has grown tremendously.”

Tension of the Season” also features a fitting, socially-distanced video denoting the isolation, hopelessness and depravity people, businesses and communities face during the ongoing pandemic. Filmed in Elkhart, Indiana by director Christian Campbell, Rags and Riches strolls through empty high school football fields, vacant shopping malls and hidden parking lots while keeping a positive outlook.

“We started writing ‘Tension of the Season’ back in April when the stroke happened. We hope that everyone who hears this song will feel hopeful for the future, but also be inspired. Things can and will be rough at times, but tomorrow is the start of something brand new,” said Tanner Whitt, who worked with Peyton Whitt and Campbell to shoot the video.

“Christian is someone we’ve known for a few years now, and we knew he was the right person for this song. He actually took the full reigns and control of the concept and direction for this song. Right when he heard it, he knew where to go with it, and we loved the simplicity of it all.”

Continue reading “Glimmer of Hope – Rags and Riches Shares Newfound Strength on ‘Tension of the Season’ Single”

State of Mind – VK Lynne Smashes Self-Doubt on New Upbeat ‘Brain Waves’ Single

VK Lynne’s latest single, “Brain Waves,” encourages listeners to overcome self-doubt and anxiety.

For VK Lynne, it’s simply a case of mind over matter.

The Los Angeles alt rock singer-songwriter triumphantly tackles lingering self-doubt and paralyzing anxiety on her uplifting new pop-fueled anthem, “Brain Waves,” out now via all streaming platforms.

“I wrote this song several years ago, and finally, this seemed to be the time for it. There are perceptions, expectations and stereotypes about ourselves that we sometimes unknowingly give into and allow ourselves to be held down by other people’s rules. When you finally work out that realization in your mind, your ‘brain waves’ goodbye to the ideas that don’t serve us. There is hope in that departure and freedom,” she said.

Throughout “Brain Waves,” Lynne proudly shares her personal sense of freedom as intermittent vibrant piano, rhythmic finger snaps, humming synths, fuzzy electric guitars, bouncy bass and pounding drums bolster her growing confidence. She soulfully sings, “As it always is/Ain’t how it’s gotta be/Crumpling the page and I’m aiming/For the basket next to me/I’m as empty as the can/Baby can you deal with the drama/Can you fill me up again/And we’ll hold our fire.”

“I usually write my songs in a huge heart-vomiting purge, and this one was no exception. I attempted to put together a production; I played bass, guitar and programmed drums and made the world’s worst mix right after I wrote it. But when I pulled it out this year, I decided that it deserved better,” said Lynne, who plans to release a new video for “Brain Waves” soon.

“My idea was to try something totally different. I’ve done blues, rock, metal and prog, but this had a feel that was decidedly unique to my catalog. I contacted my friends Alexx Calise and Dennis Morehouse of Batfarm. They came on to produce, and we gave this song an upbeat, pop-rock treatment that it seemed to want.”

Continue reading “State of Mind – VK Lynne Smashes Self-Doubt on New Upbeat ‘Brain Waves’ Single”

Rewind Button – Jordan Silver Processes Past Relationship on Cinematic ‘Momentary Thrill’ Single

Jordan Silver revisits the untimely demise of a relationship on “Momentary Thrill.”

Jordan Silver openly reflects on past lives, loves and lessons.

The Brooklyn indie rock singer-songwriter revisits the untimely demise of a promising romantic relationship on his latest cinematic, introspective single, “Momentary Thrill,” now available via all streaming platforms.

“I was in a relationship where we jumped in really quickly, and I basically decided to trust my emotions to guide me through this relationship. Normally, I’m very held back, and maybe I’m typically more of the blocked one you could say emotionally, but at the time I felt very open, like I was diving in,” Silver said.

“It seemed like on the receiving end there were more walls that I was struggling to break through, and eventually when it ended, I just wanted to write a song to recap what had just happened.”

Silver magically tears down those “Momentary Thrill” walls as hypnotic, dreamy electric guitars, delicate cymbal taps, intermittent bass drum kicks, smooth bass and lo-fi, poignant vocals transport listeners to a pivotal break-up scene in a critically-acclaimed romantic dramedy.

He emotionally sings, “Well you’re running for the hills/But you put on quite a show of it/And everybody knows it/You chose it/Well the summer ended early/For the lover losing track of time/Without a reason why.”

“The lyrics are very straightforward; they’re not spiteful, hateful or disrespectful. It’s just very much a recounting of this happened, this happened, that happened. Typically, as an artist and as a person, I like to get the facts of the matter of things,” said Silver, who wrote “Momentary Thrill” last year.

Silver worked with Toledo, the Boston beach goth duo of Dan Alvarez and Jordan Dunn-Pilz, to record, arrange and produce the track in late 2019 as a follow-up to the wistful, yacht rock-esque love anthem, “After a Response Like That.”

“I’ll just come to them with a basic melody, lyric and chord, and then Dan will go, ‘Oh, so like this?’ He’ll play exactly what I was hearing and better. He brings arrangements to the table, where he’ll ask, ‘Do you want it to sound more like this or more like that?’” Silver said.

“He does it all; he does the drums, the bass and the guitar. He really forms all the music with what I brought to him, and sometimes he’ll workshop certain lyrics and verses. They’re definitely a big part of the process and the development of the songwriting.”

In June, Silver released a companion lyric video for “Momentary Thrill” featuring a series of animated, meaningful Polaroids depicting personal experiences and encounters in a simple beige scrapbook. Directed by Shannen Bamford, the video nicely complements the romantic, thoughtful aesthetic of Silver’s latest track.

Continue reading “Rewind Button – Jordan Silver Processes Past Relationship on Cinematic ‘Momentary Thrill’ Single”

Songs of Serenity – Monte Pride Creates Tranquil Escape on New ‘Even in Absence’ Album

Monte Pride stitches personal, transcendent moments on “Even in Absence. Artwork – Shaina Mahler

For Monte Pride, Michigan’s placid sights, sounds and scents invigorate and soothe the soul.

The Lansing folk singer-songwriter and fingerstyle guitarist beautifully encapsulates the state’s sonic sense of tranquility on his latest album, Even in Absence. With magical, pastoral references to the Grand River, Lake Superior, Pictured Rocks and other Great Lakes gems, Pride paints a seasonal, insightful canvas filled with introspective themes of loss, resilience, growth and change.

“I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors, and I’m still big into camping, fly-fishing, hiking and all that. Northern Michigan has always been a really special place for me, so it just kind of naturally makes its way in. Whether I know it or not, I process these experiences in nature and in different parts of Michigan. I think they just all kind of fall into place, and they relate to each other somehow,” he said.

Pride intricately stitches personal, transcendental moments through 10 serene Even in Absence tracks, including the calming title track. Twirling acoustic strums, glistening piano, peaceful violin and Pride’s warm vocals soothe listeners as they quietly reflect on a still September night, “Even in the ebb/The flow of going I pine/I strive to mend the losing/To know we won’t/Be parting then/Even in the changing/The fraying thread/In the almost lost/A sentiment sought/A golden friend.”

As Pride’s latest single and album title, “Even in Absence” establishes a timeless, acoustic-centered sonic quality that instantly appeals to folk music aficionados across all generations. Think hints of Simon & Garfunkel, The Tallest Man on Earth and Nick Drake fused with special musical seasonings from a Michigan-made singer-songwriter.

“When I wrote the songs and recorded them, I was only listening to old Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake albums. I think their songwriting style and instrumentation came through in Even in Absence because I had been listening to them so much during that time,” Pride said.

Pride magically captures his vintage folk aesthetic through a contemplative, poignant “Even in Absence” video directed by Shaina Mahler, who also created the album’s artwork. The thoughtful video reflects Pride’s delicate performance as crystal sea-inspired ornaments and hand-held mirrors depict a quiet, dreamy world beyond the looking glass.

“She has an incredible, amazing eye and style. One day we were sitting outside in our backyard, and she decided to start taking some photos, and I just sang along to the song. She brought so much to the video and the album artwork and embroidered all of the writing on the album cover. It was really special that we were able to collaborate on both of those things,” he said.

Continue reading “Songs of Serenity – Monte Pride Creates Tranquil Escape on New ‘Even in Absence’ Album”