It’s amazing, crazy and sometimes a little heart wrenching when a song hits way too close to home. Clare Maguire, the young British singer-songwriter with a magnificent, smoky, Stevie Nicks-esque voice does an excellent job of creating beautiful, soulful and somber songs that relate to many.
Following her recent hype-worthy track, “Paper Thin,” Maguire has released yet another enchanting, nostalgia inspired and heart breaking track, “Half Hearted Love,” written by Jarvis Cocker. With lyrics like, “I can stand all the booze and the drugs, but not this love, this half hearted love,” the song easily, painfully yet beautifully strikes a chord in anyone.
Clare Maguire – Half Hearted Love
There’s an interesting contest and event called the Oaktown Music Festival which showcases and celebrates musical talent hailing from the other side of the Bay Bridge. San Francisco always seems to steal the Bay Area music spotlight, so it’s refreshing and exciting to see some Oakland representation.
The contest is put on by local Oakland venue, Awaken Cafe and entertainment production company, Oaktown Indie Mayhem. The first round of the contest began with an online song and video contest in which bands were nominated and voted upon by judges and the public. This year, there were supposedly 2,100 submissions and 30 band finalists selected. The final round of winners (see below) were selected by a jury (musicians, writers, marketers, producers, etc.) and have been given the title: “Best of Oakland.” The winners will be headlining the Winners’ Party/Concert on November 15th & 16th at Awaken Cafe, and are also given recording time at Fantasy Studios, along with other perks.
Below are hand-picked, highlighted (and alphabetized) winners and finalists – Some beloved, some newfound joys, and a couple of wacky gems ranging from groovy funk, whimsical folk, surf/punk/psych-rock and “chill pop.” I’ve included commentary on any of the bands I’ve actually seen live; hopefully more so in the future.
My boyfriend, an Oakland resident, (does this mean I get some Oakland street cred?) introduced me to Bells Atlas. We saw them play an insane debut album release show back in June at The New Parish in Oakland. They have a huge and loving Oakland/Berkeley fan following, which was easy to hear and see why. They’re an extremely talented, vibrant, groovy, funky group.
Bells Atlas – Loving Your Down (Won: Honorable Mention for Best Video)
Emily Moldy – My Own One (Won: Best in Show – People’s Choice)
Fever Charm – Magazine
Minute is 4-piece of good lookin’ boys and their good lookin’ musical toys. I saw them play a packed show at The Stork Club in Oakland and it was a sweaty good time. Occasionally a trombone was thrown into the mix and people commenced to dance up a storm. They also did a cover of Keyboard Cat just for kicks and I nearly went insane with excitement. This is one of their dreamier, psych-inspired slow jams:
Minute – Adrift
This year I saw Shannon and the Clams play at Burger Records’ Burger Bugaloo Music Festival in Oakland, and as an opener for Sonny & The Sunsets in SF. They’re one of my favorite Bay Area acts to see live and they always steal the show! The rippin’ three piece look and sound like something out of the movie Hairspray, and their jams are so damn catchy. I obsessively listened to their latest LP, Dreams in the Rat House, for a good three weeks.
Shannon and the Clams – Rip Van Winkle (Won: Honorable Mention for Best Song)
The Tambo Rays – Take That (Won: Honorable Mention for Best Song)
Tin Cup Serenade – Sunny Oakland Day (Won: Honorable Mention for Best Song)
We Became Owls – Suitcase (Won: Runner Up for Best Song)
Y’all, let’s get funkaay. And, that’s exactly what I’m doing with Blood Orange‘s latest release, “You’re Not Good Enough.” It’s deliciously smooth, upbeat, addictive, funktastic and heart jabbing. Some are even comparing the jam to Prince, thee man, himself. With lyrics like “I never was in love. You know you were never good enough,” it’s hard to imagine a track could be so easy to get down to. However, Devonté Hynes, the man behind the BO band never fails to produce a pop hit. He’s written for Florence and the Machine, Solange, Sky Ferreira, Kylie Minogue and is currently working with Brittany Spears on her upcoming album, after all.
“You’re Not Good Enough” featuring Samantha Urbani on vocals, swiftly follows Blood Orange‘s recent release of “Chamakay,” both of which will be featured on his highly anticipated forthcoming album, Cupid Deluxe due out November 18th. We’ve all been dying to hear the new album, so join me in this mini celebration of pre-LP-release by listening to the pure funk that Blood Orange exudes:
Blood Orange – You’re Not Good Enough
Blood Orange – Chamakay
Sometimes you need some seriously sweet, soulful, groovy, get-down, funky jams to reassure you that everything in life will (probably) be all right. Luckily, I’ve come across a slew of new groovy jams that’ll get you vibin’ in no time. So let’s cut to the chase:
George Evelyn is the house, trip-hop, electro producing Brit behind Nightmares on Wax. He’s back with a new EP, Feelin’ Good, and it’s FUNKAAAY! “Be, I Do” a single from the LP will have you hooked for dayz, and there’s a psychedelic video to match featuring behind-the-scenes tour and studio footage. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the listening addiction you’re about to ensue:
Nightmares on Wax – Be, I Do
Lady is the smooth, 60s soul-inspired, modern R&B group and moniker of Nicole Wray (who, at 17 was the first person signed to Missy Elliot’s Goldmind Records) and Terri Walker. However, as BrooklynVegan recently reported, Lady lost a lady and Walker is no longer part of the group, as she’s working on a solo album. But, the show must go on, and though Lady is minus one, Wray is currently on tour belting out soulful gems from their recently release self-titled debut album. Now ride this soul train… c’mon ride it:
Lady – Tell the Truth
Lulu James is the 21-year-old, Tanzanian-born, UK-based vixen who packs a punch with her powerful voice. Her latest sultry, pop single “Sweetest Thing” embodies her self-proclaimed “21st century soul” sound. The funky break-out artist is also supporting Ellie Goulding in October during her UK tour – Now that is sweet. Have a listen:
Lulu James – Sweetest Thing
What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?- High Fidelity
Clare Maguire, the young British singer-songwriter with a voice reminiscent of Stevie Nicks has released a new single, “Paper Thin.” It’s a brooding, somber, soulful and beautiful gem laced with keys and Maguire’s delicate, enchanting sound – An excellent track if your misery needs company:
Clare Maguire – Paper Thin
The LA-based sisters that make up Haim have done it again – Released yet another ridiculously catchy pop song you just can’t hate. I’m still debating what the lyrics actually mean. Did she cheat on him? Regardless, the “new” single (the track has been around for a while, but they finally created a fine-tuned studio version) is already blowing up blogosphere, and it’s well-deserving. the The trio have yet to release a full-length album, but each new single creates even more hype than the last. Enjoy:
Haim – The Wire
UK dance quartet Rudimental has been giving electro-pop brothers, Disclosure a healthy dose of competition. The group released their album, Home in the UK earlier this year and it’ll soon be hitting US streets in August via Big Beat Records. According to BrooklynVegan, Rudimental has collaborated with “choice vocalists like Sinead Harnett, and even more interestingly, Angel Haze, they’ve also got a track with Internet Explorer commercial soundtracking dude Alex Clare,” and of course Ella Eyre as heard below in the upbeat and infectious track, “Waiting All Night.” Have a listen …and tell me that you want me:
Rudimental – Waiting All Night ft. Ella Eyre
Judson Claiborne is an indie-rock-pop-folk band hailing from Chicago. They’ve been compared to Beck, Rufus Wainwright, and on last.fm someone tagged their music: “makes good goddamn hibiscus rose hip tea.” So, you know, it’s gotta be good. “Neo-Pagan Lovesong” is a romantic new number that can be found on their recently released LP, We have Not Doors You Need Not Keys.
Judson Claiborne – Neo-Pagan Lovesong
GEMS, the Washington D.C. based couple who’ve been taking the dream-pop spotlight by storm (and filling the hole in your heart you have reserved for ‘old’ Beach House sounds) has released yet another “gem.” “Sinking Stone” is a dreamy and nostalgic track, one in which front woman Lindsay Pitts delicately and somberly coos the chorus, “Could you ever love me again? I need to know…” successfully crushing your heart.
GEMS – Sinking Stone
One of my most beloved possessions is a 4 disc compilation entitled, “Superstars of 70s Soul,” that my mother bought after watching some PBS program. When it arrived, the moment those sweet sounds soothed and grooved my ears, I was sucked in for a lifetime of hopelessly loving soul. The compilation is full of THE best soul singers and groups including: Chaka Khan, Al Green, The Emotions, James Brown, Gladys Knight, Rick James, The O’Jays, L.T.D. and more. Soul music is unbelievably catchy, sultry, funky, soothing, emotionally driven and timeless, which certainly isn’t easy to capture. However, in the words of Chaka Khan, I’ll tell you somethin’ good:
Just the other week, Alice Russell, the Brighton, UK-based soul and blues singer, succeed in producing the epitome of a soul superstar worthy track: “Twin Peaks.” It’s an amazingly sexy, sultry and groove inducing track that’ll capture your ears for hours. The steadfast to stardom single is from Russell’s forthcoming album, To Dust, due out February 25th. Now give it to me baby:
Alice Russell – Twin Peaks
So there’s been a lot of okcupid talk/mishaps amongst friends lately, and don’t deny being on the online human catalog, ‘cus everyone is – or in the very least, someone you know is. What I find interesting though, is the alarming number of people who flock to okcupid immediately following a bad break up. Instead of oh, you know, dealing with the break up by focusing on and being content with yourself for a while until you can fully grasp and appreciate i.e. loathe dating again, people pounce onto the dating site to reel in yet another significant other replacement. I find this “coping mechanism” beyond annoying, (maybe ‘cus everyone I seem to date has ‘ex-girlfriend-issues’) but to others, it’s a passage of throwing themselves ‘back out there,’ as if this is some sort of vicious Hunger Games of love and if you’re single, you might just die.
So whether you’re ‘fighting’ singledom, or are eye rollingingly happy, here are four luv jams that’ll make you swoon:
Tom Krell aka How to Dress Well makes an appearance on Coco Stereo often because 1) He’s like, ridiculously dreamy and 2) He’s REALLY good at what he does, and that’s creating fragile, beautiful, impactful R&B jams that make you wanna get doooown… and/or mostly cry. Here’s another gem (my favorite thus far!) from his soon-to-be-released album Total Loss:
How to Dress Well – & it was u
I saw Poolside open for Twin Shadow a couple of weeks ago, and dare I say, I actually enjoyed their set more – gasp! They’re full of indie pop, a hint of electro, and sweet beats. Also, the lead singer looks like Erlend Øye from Whitest Boy Alive which is simply adorable. This bouncy jam is from their recently released album, Pacific Standard Time.
Poolside – Kiss You Forever
Slam Donahue are a couple a’ bros from Brooklyn – suuuurprise! And their sound is a little more indie-popaliscious than what I typically listen to, but the lead singer’s voice is addicting and this jam, off their new EP Hemlock Tea, is catchy as hell.
Slam Donahue – C’mon C’mon
So “Felix Green” was just on this blog (Holobody), but anyone who does a Mariah Carey cover will undoubtedly make it back to the top of the blog in no time.
Felix Green – Fantasy (Mariah Carey cover)
I was watching this two-part documentary on Woody Allen last night, and the whole thing made me very nostalgic… for what, I don’t even know. It was so good, it made me miss something I don’t/didn’t even have (NYC livin’, love, talent?)… wait, did I say nostalgic? I meant depressed. Hah, kidding. The clips of a young Woody Allen and Diane Keaton working on Annie Hall together were charming, whimsical and romantic. The storyline of Annie Hall alone exposes this raw, realistic love story – The notion of falling in love, and then falling out of it…
Tom Krell from How to Dress Well has struck a similar dreamy and nostalgic chord with his latest beauty of a wavering and delicate version of Janet Jackson’s 1993 hit and ballad, “Again.” According to Ad Hoc: “Again will be available as a limited edition 7” for those who pre-order his upcoming Acéphale album, Total Loss, which comes out September 18th.”
Listen and fall in love again…
p.s. I accidentally played the jam and the movie trailer at the same time, and it’s actually pretty fitting. Try it.
How to Dress Well – Again (Janet Jackson cover)