Gab & Jam: Musical "Discoveries" Episode 1
This is our first episode of our new "talk-show." Yes, I use the term loosely, since there will be no baby mama drama nor anything equally spicy. Instead, we thought we would keep it loose and light. So, for each show, we'll choose a topic and work our way through chopping it up amongst ourselves. We will make each episode available in a variety of different formats (blog, podcast, and YouTube), so that whichever way you like it most, you will be able to enjoy it. (We will play a clip of their music in the YouTube, but include the video for the song we talk about in the blog; whichever way you decide to consume it, you will find out what it unique about them, in our estimation.)
In this "Musical '"Discoveries'" episode, we will share 10 musical artists who are a little off-the-beaten path, but who have inspired us in some way or another. Either we have recently "discovered" them by appreciating work that they have already done, or we, literally, have recently "discovered" that they exist at all. Either way, there is something about their art that we would like to share, so that more folks can appreciate them too.
*There are affiliate links in this post. If you make a purchase using one of the links, we will receive a small percentage at no cost to you.
1. Foy Vance
When I search for running music, I look for both those unusual artists alongside those more run-of-the-mill, radio-friendly songs. I remember "discovering" Foy Vance while listening to National Public Radio (NPR). I put him in the playlist and now he is a welcomed addition to our home's playlist. He is like a strange combination of Bruce Springsteen meets Joe Crocker meets an Irish-sounding Sting.
Foy Vance's "She Burns" Video
Oddly, Sting is kinda a foundational corner of our sound and provides the faux reggae twang, while maintaining his English credibility. We have followed his music throughout his winding and eclectic career--from the 1980s to now, so though he is considered a major artist, it takes the most diligent deep-sea divers to say that you were on his journey through lesser-acclaimed albums like "If On a Winter's Night" (2009) and "The Last Ship" (2013). We think it's safe to say that this territory was not for the faint of heart, which is why he remains on our list. He's tried it all--from country to reggae to old English ditties--which keeps us on our toes.
Stings "I Can't Stop Thinking About You" Video
3. Jonatha Brooke
We just "discovered" Jonatha Brooke at Sweetwater Sound's Gearfest 2017. She was leading a workshop called "Creative Songwriting Insights." We had no idea what to expect, but between her heartrending, yet funny stories about caring for her mom during her slide into dementia AND her explanations of her songwriting methods--which included unusual guitar tunings and mathematical equations, we were eager to hear what we had missed from her very first album through her recent songs. (Her newest material is written for musical theatre). What we had come to realize is that her newer work is more nuanced--and less like any pop competition than her earlier work, which, not surprisingly, made us prefer it. So far, "Put The Gun Down" is our favorite song of hers.
Jonatha Brooke's "Put The Gun Down" Video
Easily, Bjork is the Queen Mother of pushing the bounds of music, video, and fashion! There is no wonder that we included her in this "Discovery" queue. Of course, she is not new, but she is one that we are constantly discovering new things to love and appreciate within her musical and video works. (Shout out to Marx Talley for coining the term "Grow-on-you" tunes.) This is where her body of creativity lies. As the years have gone on, we have grown to appreciate any and everybody who challenges themselves--and us, as a consequence--to express without regard to "pleasing" fans (which is harder than it sounds).
Bjork's "Hunter" Video
Like unmasking Batman, we were just as surprised as anyone to find that Cylas--our home-grown "alternative country" artist--is actually Cordell Walton; musical director for many well-known gospel artists including Deitrick Haddon, among others. The Cylas records are well-produced, but speak from a particularly dark place. Though the song we are sharing comes from the Blessed and Cursed soundtrack, we suspect that some of the theme that he was working through was deeply personal, since it is some of the strongest and most expressive work that he has created to-date. We were sad to know that Cylas did not continue on to release new material.
Cylas' "Over Again" Video
6. Anais Mitchell
Anais Mitchell is yet another artist that we found through NPR--thus, reminding us all how important a deejay is (to expose you to new and interesting music). Though it is her rather unusual voice and eclectic musical mix that drew us in, it is her songwriting that brings us back; with her story-teller lyrics and her feel of utter authenticity.
Anais Mitchell's "Venus" Video
7. Hot Club of Detroit
We believe this group, Hot Club of Detroit, might be yet another discovery made via NPR, as well, though we are not sure. All we know is that they are an interesting and tight jazz band with sprinklings of a Sting-type horn that is made in Michigan (on Mack Avenue Records). It reminds us of Christmas--because that's when we played it alot, as we were finishing our basement--but it is a cool to listen to them anytime of year.
Hot Club of Detroit's "Song For Gabriel" Video
8. Hiatus Kaiyote
This band plays what they call "future soul," which is at once challenging yet grooving--if you can imagine that. Their sound definitely has first-rate chops, since there is no way they could pull their songs off live without being tiiiiiiiight. They are a "real" band and not a group just put together to tour, so they move as one. We admire that. We also really dig that the lead singer/guitar player, Nai Palm--think about the name--is so bad-ass! She is from Australia, but has a very daring style. She's tough (tattoos, exaggerated makeup), but she's a lady at the same time (dresses in feminine-type outfits, wears some sky-high heels). We love the entire package, which is why Haius Kaiyote makes our list. (Here's a cool article if you want to know more about the band.)
Hiatus Kaiyote's "By Fire" Video
9. Willow Smith
While it seems to go against all that we are trying to do to include someone who has been clearly "commercial," when we first heard Willow Smith's new single, "Wait a Minute," we knew that she was "trying to do something." (Our adage is "If you ain't doing SOMETHING, then you ain't doing NOTHING!") What that means is that she is trying to share some natural expression. Unlike "Whip My Hair," this album does not seem as if it is seeking to be the next hit single. Not that she is a super-serious ARTISTE, but she offers an honest expression by a person who can surely choose otherwise. That is what caught our ear and that's why she's on the list.
Willow Smith's "Wait a Minute" Video
Finally, to finish up today's list of musical "discoveries" we are adding in Anderson.Paak. We heard about him through a co-worker. While he is not flashy in his clothing, his music is an eclectic mix of soulful influences which fuses into it funk, hip hop, and jazz with some playful pop underpinning. We are drawn to calling it "neo-soul," but that doesn't encompass enough of what he offers. Personally, I had a preconceived notion of what I thought he would sound like, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is certainly why he's here.
Anderson.Paak's "Parking Lot" Video
The BIG Idea?
Our goal in putting together this list is to celebrate musical artists that are exploring to the edges of what is possible in their musical identity. We want to share our appreciation for them and, hopefully, help them find a few new fans.
It is our hope that if you decide that you like what these artists offer that you will legally purchase and/or download their music, so that they feel your love in them being able to continue to make their art.
--Remember, no matter how good your intentions, they benefit most by knowing that we support their efforts. The best way to do that--besides telling everyone you know--is by giving them back the joy they have given us (with tangible, take-it-to-the-bank, I-can-eat-this-month support).
Since we KNOW this list is not exhaustive, we want to give you a chance to add your own musical "discoveries" to our list.
Who do you think deserves to be either newly discovered or re-discovered? Please comment, so that we can put together our next list.
Also, as always, feel free to share, share, share.
Finally, be sure you are subscribed to Blooming Prejippie Zine, so that you can receive all the latest. (We wouldn't want you to have to hear it in the streets first, would we?)
Until next we meet, we wish you love, peace, and chicken grease!