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.

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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.

Artists on the Rise: Wallows, Yellow Days

Wallows

Wallows is a three-piece alternative rock band from California, comprised of Cole Preston, Braeden Lemasters, and Dylan Minnette.  The band released their first sing “Pleaser” in April of 2017, and quickly amassed over 3 million streams, and over 150 thousand monthly listeners on Spotify.  Their next single, “Sun Tan” was released shortly after.  Early in September they released their merchandise store, which features t-shirts, hats, and sweatshirts.  A few weeks later, their third single “Uncomfortable” was released, which is my personal favorite.  Their signature distortion on the guitars and production gives the music a perfect road trip feel.  If you are into the sounds of HUNNY or COIN, you would love Wallows.  Definitely look out for them in the near future, because they are on their way up.

Listen to Wallows on Spotify here.

Yellow Days

George van den Broek is Yellow Days.  The melancholy rock is perfect for hanging out with a group of friends.  Hailing from Haslemere, England, his soulful voice pairs with his deep and emotional lyrics perfectly.  His newest single “I Believe in Love” was released in mid-September.  In an interview with Wonderland Magazine, Broek says the following about his latest single: “The song is about believing in love despite the pain that goes on when you’re with someone. For me, love is a reason not to give up on your life. The sheer power of love makes it the one most meaningful thing that you can find/experience on this earth, so regardless of the hurt as a romantic I will chase that feeling to find a true honest love.”  Yellow Days has one album, Harmless Melodies.   His first single, “Your Hand Holding Mine,” was released a year ago in October.  Since that release, he has over 370 thousand Spotify monthly listeners, and close to 35 thousand followers.  The indie rocker is going to make a splash real soon.

Listen to

Yellow Days on Spotify here.

Release Radar: 10/13/17

This Friday the 13th gave us new albums from Beck, St. Vincent, and King Krule, and new singles from WALK THE MOON and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

Colors – Beck

Beck returns with his 13th studio album, on Friday, the thirteenth of October.  The 45 minute LP reminds us of why Beck has been around long enough to have 13 studio albums.  The alternative/indie connoisseur plays with pop melodies and feels while sticking to his guns as an artist.   Colors earned 4/5 stars from a Rolling Stone review.

Listen to Colors on Spotify here.

MASSEDUCTION – St.  Vincent

MASSEDUCTION, the fifth studio album from American musician, St.  Vincent, is raw and emotional.  Featuring her single “New York,” produced by Jack Antonoff, which got plenty of radio play in the alternative world.  This is her first full-length album since her self-titled LP in 2014.  St.  Vincent is currently embarking on her “Fear the Future” tour.  She will be at Kings Theatre in Brooklyn on December 2nd.

St. Vincent Live

Listen to MASSEDUCTION here.

The OOZ, King Krule

The return of King Krule has come.  His first studio album since 2013 is refreshing,  His soulful voice brings something to indie/alternative rock that I love.  Hearing his iconic guitar sound with new music made me more excited than I thought it would.  The album is different than the last, with more emphasis on drums and percussion.

King Krule

Listen to OOZ here.

“Headphones” – WALK THE MOON

WALK THE MOON’s second single “Headphones” from their upcoming album, What If Nothing.  This single follows their alt-rock politically charged anthem, “One Foot.”  The two songs differ in message.  One is political, one is personal.  The song has a classic WALK THE MOON vibe, and the end of the song is loaded with a half-time guitar solo powered through by the rhythm section.

Listen to “Headphones” here.

“Holy Mountain” – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Noel Gallagher is best known for the band Oasis, in which he and his brother, Liam Gallagher, started.  If you don’t know, the brother’s don’t get along very much anymore, and Oasis split in 2009.  In 2011, Noel released the self-titled album for “Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.”  Their new song “Holy Mountain” is gaining a lot of traction in the U.S.    The song tells a story about meeting a girl and wanting to get to know her, and she eventually falls right under her spell.

Listen to “Holy Mountain” here.

 

 

 

Artist Spotlight: Dermot Kennedy

When he’s singing to me Glory.

Singer-Songwriter Dermot Kennedy is a native Irishman, hailing from County Dublin.  In 2013, he released his first, but not his debut, EP, Dancing Under Red Skies.  Three years later, he released three singles, “An Evening I Will Not Forget,” “Shelter,” and “After Rain.”  “After Rain” earned him nearly 30 million streams on Spotify, and commercial success and exposure.

In 2017, he released his debut EP, Doves & Ravens.  The four track EP features his single, “Glory.”

Dermot Kennedy

Kennedy finds a way to mesh R&B and Hip Hop drum feels and combinations into his hybrid genre.  He writes songs about being human.  Love, loss, life, and death.  Inspired by poetry, his lyrics often feel like somewhat of a masterpiece.  In his track “Glory,” he sings “I guess I’m tired of talk of hope, I’ve learned that doves and ravens fly the same.”  His use of ravens in this context can be tracked back to the Edgar Allen Poe poem “The Raven.”  Whereas ravens often symbolize a bad omen, doves symbolize hope and love, or for Kennedy’s sake, loss, and falling in love. The other three songs on Doves & Ravens deal with the same theme.

The Dulbiner’s soulful grit is something I haven’t heard in a while.  His music is incredible, and he is the only artist I have been listening to for the past week.  His single, “Boston,” is included in Taylor Swifts popular Spotify playlist, Songs Taylor Loves.

Kennedy just announced a European tour, hitting popular venues across the continent, ending in his hometown of Dublin, Ireland.  The tour will begin in January of 2018, and will finish up in February.

“Moments Passed” is the newest single Kennedy has released.  The song is much bigger than his past songs, with more Hip Hop elements added to his Singer-Songwriter vibe.  If this song is any indicator of his future music, then I can’t wait.

Dermot Kennedy Guitar

Kennedy is often linked to the same type of music as powerhouse Bon Iver.  Other related artists include Blanco White, Fenne Lily, and Harrison Storm.

Stream Dermot Kennedy on Spotify here.

Album Alert: Wonderful Wonderful

The Killers are back.

I repeat.

THE KILLERS ARE BACK.

On September 22, 2017, The Killers made their comeback with their fifth studio album, Wonderful Wonderful.  This album earned them their first ever number one, and it is well deserved.  The politically charged powerhouse of a record resonates with many feelings people have today about government and politics.

The Killers in Concert

It’s been a long nine years since Day & Age, but the wait was definitely worth it when you hear the opening notes of the title track.

The debut single for the album was “The Man,” back in June.  The song dominated alternative rock radio all summer.  The second single “Run For Cover” followed, and is the poster child for the message of the record.

Wonderful Wonderful sounds reminiscent of their older albums, as if they are getting back to their roots.  In my opinion, this is their best album since Sam’s Town.

The Killers are timeless, and one of the biggest rock bands of the century so far.  They have given the millennial generation so many anthems that we will be listening to for the next 50 years, like “Mr.  Brightside,” “When You Were Young,” “Somebody Told Me,” and so many more.  They are one of the few versatile bands that can release alternative rock songs, but make it to the top 40 easily.  Other acts that can do this are Imagine Dragons and Bastille, but not on the same scale as The Killers.

The Killers are so big, and loved by so many, they can headline venues like Madison Square Garden and Wembley Stadium, and headline musical festivals like Governors Ball, without even releasing new music and everyone knows all of the words.  I saw The Killers headline at Governors Ball in the summer of 2016, and hearing 80 thousand people sing alone to every song was something I will never forget.  They put on such a great show, and to this day they will be one of the best live performers I have ever seen.  The way Brandon Flowers (lead vocals, piano) commands the stage is something every up and coming tock band should look at, and take notes.

Take a listen to the #1 Album, Wonderful Wonderful, on Spotify here.

My Heart is with Las Vegas…

Tragedy struck last night as more than 50 were killed, and more than 400 injured at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, as country artist Jason Aldean took the stage.

Many survivors believed the noises to be fireworks before they realized they were under fire.

Music should be a safe space for all.  These acts of cowardice will not get the best of us.

Music is an escape from reality, somewhere that love is spread.

My heart is with the families and friends of the victims and all who were present during this selfish act of hate.

Cowboy Hat - Route 91

If you are currently looking for loved ones call: 1 (866) 535-5654.

If you are in crisis, call this number, toll free: 1 (877) 941-8079.