Amy LaVere and Shannon McNally have teamed up and will release their debut collaborative EP, Chasing The Ghost Rehearsal Sessions, on October 23rd. Brought together by their mutual mentor to form the band The Wandering, the two female singer-songwriters immediately clicked, jammed and recorded the EP. Says McNally of their chemistry, “We were both instantly struck by our numerous similarities. It’s not your average gal that drinks bourbon neat, walks around with a pocket atlas and a drives a big white gear van. I thought she was charming and awfully funny.” You can stream two songs, “Never Been Sadder” and “If It Were Mine to Keep,” from the EP below. McNally seems to have added some pep to LaVere’s noirish Memphis sound.
Queen Esther is in the process of recording what she calls her “Black Americana” album and is asking fans to help fund the project via Kickstarter. She only has 4 days left to raise $13,213. Please donate if you can. If her cover of “I Feel Like Going Home” (which you can stream at the link below) is any indication, this is going to be an extraordinary and superb album. It’s the most moving cover of the song I’ve heard since the Inner Voices Choir sang it on My So-Called Life.
Sugar & the Hi-Lows are Nashville singer-songwriters Trent Dobbs and Amy Stroup, whose previous duets have been featured on Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill, Bones, Private Practice and Parenthood. The duo’s self-titled debut won’t be released until February 14th, 2012, otherwise it would be a last minute addition to my best of the year list. This brilliant collection of songs beautifully marries modern indie-pop with retro rockabilly and soul. The sound is Sun Records meets Raising Sand.
My personal favorite tracks are “Two Day High,” “I’ve Got You Covered” and “Skip the Line,” but the whole album is catchy, melodic and absolutely fantastic.
Goapele’s new album, Break of Dawn, will be released in October. Her label is making the album’s first single, “Play” available as a SoundCloud stream, which you can hear below. If you wonder where you’ve heard Goapele before, her song “Closer” was featured on So You Think You Can Dancein 2006. Her music often blends soul with a New Age sound, but this new song is more Neo-Soul. Whatever you call it, it’s good.
Irish band Bell X1 recently released their new album, Bloodless Coup. I’ve been loving the new song set, which turns the band’s signature blend electro-pop and rock up a notch.
Bell X1 first shared a stream of the opening track, “Hey Anna Lena,” back in January and I’m happy to say it’s the weakest track on this excellent release.
“Velcro” is an atmospheric ballad of love in modern era that is both wistfully romantic and sensual.
“Sugar high” layers a perfect mesh of electronic skips, blips and beats and rock instrumentation over a surging pop melody. It’s the kind of song that leaves me in awe, wondering how the band chose just the right combination of sounds in the arrangement.
“Built to last” is a quieter, gentler acoustic moment, while “4 Minute Mile” is the kind of exhilarating, clever electro-pop number that makes me think Bell X1 may be the successor to Talking Heads.