Freebie Saturdays: Emerging Artists

This is a little like speed speed dating for the musician and the listener. I get a TON of e-mails from bands, many not suitable for review or even consideration. Then I get the stuff that almost makes it. Maybe I only liked one or two songs, but these artists deserve an outlet once in a while. These artists offer their music as an Bandcamp download for FREE, and who knows you may like a lot of them more than I did.
New Paltz kids playing smelly old basement DIY punk pop backed by guitar and a single snare drum. It’s got some charm to it, and songs are under 2 minutes each!

Andy Ketch
Rough as hell Chicago guitarist with a melodic gift, plays both folk and rock.

Daveit Ferris
Irish Musician with a heavy alternative style of power pop offers up a pretty good EP. RIYL: Weezer, Green Day

Slow Buildings
Slow Buildings is the outlet for the songwriting skills of New Jersey singer Jason Legacy. Pretty cool melodic rock – a little like old school Joe Jackson in spots. Just listen to it.

Freebie Friday: Moving To Ashbury, Grant Lindberg, Ben Lee

It’s been a while, but I have lined up some great FREE bandcamp music for you all. And more for you Saturday. Enjoy!

Moving to Ashbury – Swedish power pop along the lines of Green Day or NOFX. “Time to Let Go,” is a catchy guitar melody, the fast paced punk pop of “What Happened to Rock n’ Roll” has plenty of great energy in the guitar licks.

Grant Lindberg – Minneapolis popster Lindberg (Astropop) has been making good music for a few years now. Influenced by Superdrag, Brendan Benson, Cheap Trick, Jason Falkner, Nirvana and Ash. Well he’s consistently improved his songwriting each year. Super Mega has some real winners on it: “Sonic Blues,” “You Alone,” and “Blacked Heart”

And if you really get into Grant’s world – he’s got a collection of outtakes (a whole album’s worth) that’s also available.

Ben Lee – Musician Ben Lee is offering a mix tape for almost free ($1) and you get a pile of impressive guest stars like Zooey Deschanel, Angie Hart, Nina Persson, Sean Lennon and Neil Finn (to name drop a few). Lee wrote these songs specifically for each performer – so check it out.

Emerging Artists: The Low Dose, Zaina, Janet Devlin, and AJR

Already a new group of releases have hit my desk, but before I get to it I wanted to post some new artists that may get some traction this year. Some have music available, and some just have a single. It’s a diverse group of styles, but you may like it!

New Jersey’s The Low Doses are lead by guitarist/singer/vocalist Ryan Masterson and bassist Joi La Cour are working on their debut album. This is the first single from it.

The girl with the purple hair is Zaina. While most of her work is soul or hip hop, this nicely written ballad caught my attention. Her voice is just mesmerizing. Hear more on Soundcloud.

Northern Irish singer-songwriter Janet Devlin grew up outside the village of Gortin in County Tyrone, the only girl and youngest of four in her family. Inspired by bands such as Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers, Janet learned to play the guitar and write her own songs at a young age. Check out Running With Scissors

Indie pop trio AJR had an EP drop this past September, and a full length is due in early March. They reminded me a little of Sunday Sun with their youthful energy. This is the new single “Infinity.” Infinity – EP

Balduin and Flake

Tim Lee 3

Balduin “All in A Dream”

Balduin is a bit of a mystery man from Switzerland,  but for lovers of retro pop this is one of the best recreations of psychedelic music I’ve heard. Heavily influenced by British pop of the late 60’s, Balduin performs these songs on a plethora of period instruments (sitar, mellotron, harpsichord, harmonium, etc.) and if you didn’t know better you’d think this was a lost gem from the record bins of 1968.

“Love Is You” is a sunny baroque pop confection similar to late era Beatles, and most consumer friendly with its sly hook. Next is the sitar raga “Which Dreamed It” recalling George Harrison, and the folky “Autumn” is a reverb heavy folk number like the Byrds or Donovan. Fans of retro acts like The Sunchymes or Any Version of Me will marvel at the delicate arrangements that Balduin creates, bringing the era to life. You can also play spot-the-influences of Syd Barrett, The Moody Blues, and The Kinks. There is some instrumental filler scattered about the 16 tracks, but most of these are gorgeous (“Prisma Colora”). “Father” is another standout, like a lost John Lennon solo (the missing piece between “Mother” and “Beautiful Boy”). Fans of period baroque can do no better. Highly recommended.
power pop
Exclusively from Sunstone Records


Flake “Songs Without Words”

Okay, this weirdness isn’t power pop, but a Swiss duo Thierry Luethy, and Isabelle Ritter do make quality art-pop that deserves to be discovered. No label, no distribution, no publicity — just download the tracks from their website for free.

And while some stuff here is totally skip-able (“Everytime I Get The Shakes,”) there is enough here to make me appreciate the hard work Thierry and Isabelle put in. Check out the catchy “Hipster Girl” and the compelling chorus of “We Are The Night.” Ritter’s vocals are gorgeous and rescues the more ambient compositions, and more modern pop goodies are here too: “Shooting Star” and “As Time Goes By.” The method of discovery and price of admission are just right for finding new music.
power pop

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Michael Carpenter, The Pengwins and Jack Skuller

While I rarely highlight singles, a lot of them have reached my inbox lately.  I wanted to share and even though I didn’t “rate” them, they are most worthy of your attention:

Martin Carr

Michael Carpenter “Too Late/I’ve Been Lovin’ You”

A long-time favorite of this blog, Michael Carpenter has returned to the studio, and he’s taken a break from the covers and delivered some original compositions. “Too Late” is blues-rocker that has a strong pop melody and “I’ve Been Lovin’ You” is a dense guitar chorus that makes most Carpenter songs a joy to listen to.


The Pengwins

The Pengwins “Vol.2”

The legacy of The Pengwins continues to drip out in exclusive box-set singles like last years “Vol.1: Naive/Life After High School”.  This year we have Vol.2 “If U Want 2/Look Around” and its a wonderful new combo. “If U Want 2” was newly recorded and is the real gem here, with echoes of The Shoes and The Beatles it was even recorded in Abbey Road studios.

Lannie Flowers sounds great as always, the second side “Look Around” was originally recorded in the late ’70s and has more of a Cheap Trick vibe. If you order direct from SpyderPop Records, you get a special cardboard box, 7″ single with a bonus CD of the songs, plus guitar picks, photos, and other goodies.

CD Baby

Jack Skuller

Jack Skuller “Can You See Me | Hard To Want”

Jack Skuller is a young modern musician called by some “the anti-Bieber,” or “a mini Jack White.” Skuller cites his influences as Little Walter, Buddy Holly and Elvis Costello. This year he was the recipient of the Holly Prize, an award made possible by the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Songmasters as a tribute to the legacy of Buddy Holly, a Hall of Fame inductee. One listen to the single, and I was impressed. Check it out.

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