#NowPlaying: Lovely Little Lonely

In April of 2017, alternative/indie rock band from Tempe, Arizona released their sixth studio album, Lovely Little Lonely.  This album has colossal rock feelings, with a touch of catchy pop.  The album, if listened to straight through, is massively cohesive.  Lovely Little Lonely is a quick listen, at only 34 minutes in length.

The Maine - John O'Callaghan

The album opens with immense energy with “Don’t Come Down,” which then flows into their lead single, “Bad Behavior.”  These two songs start the album off with The Maine’s classic rock feels.  The album deals with various portions of love, lust, and loneliness.

Personally, my favorite part of the album is listening to tracks 10 and 11 back to back.  “I Only Wanna Talk To You” into “Lonely.”  The songs perfectly flow into each other, and something about the music makes you feel sadness and loneliness.

The lyrics throughout this album are so widespread that they can relate to most people.  There is a sort of nostalgia throughout the record.

The Maine just wrapped up their latest tour, “The Modern Nostalgia Tour,” where they performed both Lovely Little Lonely and their fifth studio album, American Candy in their entirety.

Stream The Maine on Spotify here.

On Tour: Gone Now Era

Monday, November 20, 2017.  Terminal 5, NYC.  Bleachers, Bishop Briggs, Amy Shark.

Opening acts are the best way to find new music.  If an opening act can command a venue of people who don’t even know who they are, they’re doing there job.  That is just what Amy Shark and Bishop Briggs did on a chilly Monday night in the middle of November.

Amy Shark

Amy Shark is an Australian singer-songwriter with a very unique blend of sounds.  With Lorde-esque productions and lyrics (Aussies, right?), but somehow making it her own.  She performed with a drummer and a keyboardist, and Shark would also play the guitar on certain tracks.  She helped make a 3,000 capacity venue feel intimate, and she helped to set the tone for the rest of the night.

Amy Shark 11/20/17 Terminal 5 NYC

Right before she performed “Weekends,” she told a story about how she called a boy Peter’s home phone (before cell phones) and his mother picked up, and that when her mother called him to the phone, she pressed the phone so close to her ear so she could try and listen in on his life, does he have any pets or any siblings?  Then she began to sing and the song went along with the story she told: “And I took your number quicker than my next breath / I call your house phone just to listen / to hear, what your life might sound like.”  Before this show, I never heard of Amy Shark before, but her live performance drove me to obsess over her music.

Bishop Briggs

Bishop Briggs is an alternative rock/indie pop artist hailing from London, England.  In the summer of 2016, her song “River” was one of the hottest on alternative radio for the entire season, and the entire year of 2016 as well.  I already had an idea of her music, because I knew her singles “River,” “Wild Horses,” “Dream,” and her feature on the Cold War Kids track “So Tied Up.”

Bishop Briggs 11/20/17 Terminal 5 NYC

Briggs had an intense energy on stage, but the 25 year old’s smile could not be wiped off of her face.  She must have ran across the stage a thousand times during her 45 minute set.  Briggs is a vocal powerhouse, and her live performance showcased that.  She brought a new energy to the audience, who was patiently waiting for Bleachers’s set.  She told the story of how she met Jack Antonoff (lead singer of Bleachers) in LA, and how he told her that her performance inspired him to go home and write music.


Where do I start?

If you don’t know Bleachers yet, you should.  The indie pop/alternative band is one of my favorites of all time.  They started the night off with the first track of their second album, Gone Now, “Dreams of Mickey Mantle,” with Jack Antonoff in his hat and jacket from their “Don’t Take The Money” music video.  With the spotlight on Jack, the adventure began.

There is nothing comparable to watching a Bleachers show.  There’s just something about the way they perform.  They give every bit of themselves.  There is so much passion, intensity, happiness, devotion, and sweat on the stage, all at once.  In between songs Jack said, “all of us on this stage had to mess up something huge in our lives to be here.”

Bleachers Terminal 5 11/20/17 NYC

Towards the end of the night, Jack told the story of how Bleachers started.  He was listening to a bunch of records and he was looking for a sound he kept hearing, and he searched for it.  The sound was coming from a Roland Juno-106 synthesizer.   Jack said he brought the synthesizer up to his room, put on headphones, and played a single note.  He kept having one of the keyboardists, Evan, play that same tone, the note that started it all, and kept telling him to turn it off, and turn it back on.  He then went on the explain in the silence of the venue (not a person was speaking, all eyes and ears were on him) that for a very long time his life was silent.  The silence that filled the venue he explained to feel as if “anxiety was bounding off the walls.”  He told Evan to play the note again.  While the note was suspended Jack told us all that this one note, somehow felt comforting.  There’s a certain kind of safety in it, and he asked the audience if we felt it too.  Somehow, that one note made the silence he felt go away.  Then, he told Evan to play the melody that began it all, and the crowd went wild when they heard the opening to one of his greatest hits, Rollercoaster.

After Rollercoaster, he brought the lights down and it was just him and Evan on stage, as opposed to his normal four-piece set up.  He began to sing a tribute to Tom Petty with “American Girl” and he went straight into “Carry On” by his former band Fun.  Next, was a heartfelt performance of “Like A River Runs,” which is the most emotional portion of the show.  The song is about his sister who passed away when she was 13 and he was 18. The studio version is extremely amped up, but at the first Bleachers show I ever saw he explained that he plays it live the way it’s intended to be heard.

The show closed out with insane intensity with “I Wanna Get Better” and his debut single from Gone Now, “Don’t Take The Money.”

Bleachers give their blood, sweat, and tears at every show.  Antonoff’s music is so deeply personal, it attracts a certain crowd who has felt the same sort of pain he has decided to share and put into words.  I highly recommend going to see a Bleachers concert, even if you don’t listen to Antonoff’s music.

Listen to Amy Shark on Spotify here.

Listen to Bishop Briggs on Spotify here.

Listen to Bleachers on Spotify here.

Album Alert: Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – Live at Red Rocks

On November 9th, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats released their first ever live album, Live at Red Rocks.  The album encompasses their entire set of 18 songs, and features the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.  NR&TNS are a retro-rock, folk band.  Their songs feature Rateliff’s iconic raspy, soulful voice, paired with smooth harmonies.

It makes sense that they would choose to record the album at their stop in Red Rocks, for the band hails from Colorado.  You can feel the energy through the speakers.  Live albums are either a hit or miss, but personally I always love them.   Hearing live music, there’s nothing like it.  You can hear the passion in the music that they play, and the love they have for their art.

Stream Nathanial Rateliff & The Night Sweats on Spotify here.

Artist Spotlight: Anderson East

Anderson East (born Michael Anderson) is a singer songwriter from the Southern United States.  The Alabama artist is highly influenced by gospel, and rhythm & blues.  His southern charm breaks through in his music, with his lyrics and his twang.  Anderson has been writing and performing his own songs since he was just 10 years old, and he hasn’t put the guitar down since.

Anderson East Black and White

In 2015, Anderson released his major label debut album, Delilah, under Dave Cobb’s Low Country Sound label, and distributed by Elektra Records.  The album has the soul of gospel.  Track 4 “Devil In Me” opens with a piano riff, horns, and a strong rhythm section.  Throughout the song there’s a choir in background vocals, which helps paint the perfect picture of his style.  Anderson sings about faith and love throughout the album.

Anderson released two new singles in 2017, “All On My Mind” and “King For A Day.”  “All On My Mind” is an intense, raw, soulful, single.  On the other hand, “King For A Day” is going back to his soothing sounds from Delilah.

Anderson East’s sophomore studio album, Encore, is scheduled for release on January 12, 2018.

Anderson has 570 thousand monthly Spotify listeners.

Stream Anderson East on Spotify here.

Artist Spotlight: Ben Howard

Ben Howard is an acoustic singer/songwriter from South Devon, England.  He is largely influenced by his love for surfing and the culture surrounding it.  Other influences include Donovan, Richie Havens, and Joni Mitchell.  Howard dropped out of college six months before graduation, he was studying journalism.  He was convinced to pursue music instead.

Ben Howard I Forget Where We Were

Howard’s music has the melancholy feel of Benjamin Francis Leftwich, but the bigness of Dermot Kennedy.  Howard’s music builds throughout each song, and each time you listen you get more invested in what he has to say to the world.

Howard released his first album, Every Kingdom, in 2011.  Since then, he has amassed over four million monthly Spotify listeners.  His song “Only Love” off of Every Kingdom, has close to 135 million listens.

Howard has not released an album since his U.K. number 1 sophomore album, I Forget Where We Were, in 2014, where he took more of an electric approach.  He is not currently on tour, but we’re not so patiently awaiting new music.

Listen to Ben Howard on Spotify here.

New Music Monday: Vance Joy

Vance Joy is an Australian indie folk singer/songwriter.  In 2013 he released his debut EP, God Loves You When You’re Dancing.  His debut included the future single to his debut album.  “Riptide” from Dream Your Life Away peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  The ukulele based hit muscled it’s way to pop radio and even landed him a touring spot on Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour, alongside HAIM and Shawn Mendes.

Joy’s first single, “Lay It On Me,” from upcoming sophomore album, Nation of Two, was released on July 12, 2017.  The song features his signature fingerpicked acoustic guitar sounds, and it progressively gets bigger and bigger as the song reaches each chorus, with a vibrant horn section.

“Like Gold” is Joy’s newest single from Nation of Two, it was released on November 2.  The song sets the tone for his newest album, and the message it is going to convey.

Nation of Two is set for release in February of 2018, four years after Dream Your Life Away.

Vance Joy Live

I fell in love with Vance Joy when I heard his song “Georgia”.  His lyrics and sound pair perfectly together.  His music is something I like to relax to, or put on in the background of a group hangout.  I have been waiting for new music from Joy in a very long time, and “Lay It On Me” and “Like Gold” did not disappoint.

Stream Vance Joy on Spotify here.


Artist on the Rise: Benjamin Francis Leftwich

Benjamin Francis Leftwich is a singer-songwriter from York, England.  Although he has 2.5 million monthly Spotify listeners, he is not as popular in the United States as he should be.  His melancholy, acoustic folk/pop sound pairs perfectly with his voice and his lyrics.  His music just as relaxing as it isn’t.  His lyrics reflect struggles of relationships, love, and loss.  His music has been featured in episodes of popular television shows, Grey’s Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars, One Tree Hill, and 90210.

Benjamin Francis Leftwich Instagram Photo

Leftwich’s first album, Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm, was released in 2011 and features 10 tracks, including “Shine” and “Atlas Hands”.

After the Rain was released in 2016, and is my favorite album of his.  This album has 13 tracks, and has a more mature sound than Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm.

Leftwich is signed to U.K. label, Dirty Hit Records, who also represent The 1975, The Japanese House, and Wolf Alice.

He recently put his own spin on the smash hit “When You Were Young” by alternative rock band, The Killers.

Listen to Benjamin Francis Leftwich on Spotify here.

Who You Need To Know: Martin Johnson

Martin Johnson is a man of all trades.  The singer, songwriter, guitar player, and producer has been in the music business since 2005.

Boys Like Girls

Johnson was the front man of pop punk band, Boys Like Girls, that began in 2005.  The band was comprised of Paul DiGiovanni (lead guitar), Morgan Dorr, John Keefe (drums), and former member Bryan Donahue (bass).  Their first album, Boys Like Girls, was released in 2006.  The album featured their most popular single, “The Great Escape” which has over 33.5 million streams on Spotify.  It peaked at 70th on the Billboard Hot 100, and spent 4 weeks on the chart.

Boys Like Girls - Martin johnson

Their second album, Love Drunk, released in 2009, had two singles that peaked at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100.  “Love Drunk” spent 23 weeks on the chart, and “Two Is Better Than One” featuring Taylor Swift spent 19 weeks.

Bryan Donahue left the band in 2011.

Their last album was released in 2012, entitled Crazy World, which didn’t generate much buzz.

Songwriting and Producing Credits

Johnson is credited with many pop and punk hits.  In addition to writing for Boys Like Girls, here is an abridged list of his many songwriting and producing credits:

“Bad” – The Cab; 2011; 16 million Spotify streams

“Getting Over You” – The Used; 2012; 860,000 Spotify streams

“9th Life” – Papa Roach; 2012; 370,000 Spotify streams

“Bad for Me” – Megan & Liz; 4 million Spotify streams

“One for the Money” – Escape The Fate; 2013; 26 million Spotify streams

“The Other Side” – Jason Derulo; 2013; 92 million Spotify streams; RIAA-Certified Platinum

“Best I Ever Had” – Gavin DeGraw; 2013; 27 million Spotify streams

“Waiting for Superman” – Daughtry; 2013; 35 million Spotify streams; RIAA-Certified Platinum

“human” – Christina Perri; 2013; 115 million Spotify streams; RIAA-Certified Platinum

“You Got Me” – Gavin DeGraw; 2014; 7.5 million Spotify streams

“Once in a Lifetime” – Flo Rida; 2015; 19 million Spotify streams

“Yesterday’s Song” – Hunter Hayes; 2016; 14 million Spotify streams

The Night Game

The Night Game is Johnson’s solo project, and it’s my favorite of all of his music so far, even though there are only two songs released.  The Night Game was on tour with John Mayer this past summer.

“The Outfield” was the debut single.  The song is eerily reminiscent of music from to 80s.  The song is about chasing after something you want so badly, but can’t seem to get.  It’s something that is all-consuming, and takes up every inch of everyday, but you always feel like you’re in, well… the outfield.  It’s something that is out there, but no matter how hard you try, you’ll never get to it.

The next single was “Once in a Lifetime.”  This song gives you a better glimpse of who The Night Game is.  Sticking to the 80s pop feel, but getting deeper into Johnson’s world.  The song is about how there was a point in Johnson’s life where he couldn’t will himself to leave his apartment, but he eventually found a small beam of light and his world got brighter.

Martin JOhnson - the night game - velvet jones

“Kids in Love” is a single by artist Kygo, that features The Night Game.

Martin Johnson is a powerful force in todays music scene.  He doesn’t get enough credit, because he is mostly behind the scenes.  Definitely look out for him in the near future.  His new wave 80s pop/alternative style is on the way up.  And now, we patiently wait for his new album.

Listen to Boys Like Girls on Spotify here.

Listen to The Night Game here.

In Memoriam: Tom Petty

On October 2nd, the music world lost a legend.  Tom Petty was a Rock and Roll hero.  Petty was a renaissance man.  He was not only an incredible guitar player and singer, he was also a songwriter, producer, and actor.  Throughout his career, he stood for many things like artistic control and freedom.  Petty had a number of top-charting hits, solo and with his main project, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, including “Free Fallin'”, “Won’t Back Down”, “American Girl”, and “Last Dance For Mary Jane”.  Tom Petty was a driving force in Rock and Roll, and it feels like a little piece of it has left with his passing.  But we won’t back down.

Rest in peace, Tom Petty.

Stream Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on Spotify here.

Stream Tom Petty on Spotify here.