Musicians full of depth: Hollow Wood

Young musicians are awesome. They bring so much passion and energy and creativity to their projects, and I honestly think that’s great, becausewhen you’re listening to their music, you can almost feel that.

That being said, meet killer newbies, Hollow Wood.

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I saw these guys open a couple of weeks ago at a Kris Orlowski show and I was blown
away. Originally from Boise, Idaho, these guys do strive for honesty and
purity, with their bio stating they work to “express music in an honest way.”

Two EP’s right now, both 6-track records. I can only run
through the highlights of each, but I just want to say, that for the most part,
what these two EP’s collectively do for me is just fully demonstrate how mature
these guys are at artists. They’re not very old, they’re all 18-22 in age
range. And they’re from Idaho.

But it’s good.

Their earlier EP Seasons,
which was released just this past summer in August has some of my solid tracks. “Forget me Forgotten” plays it up with some
mournful intro piano chord progressions, and the lead vocals coming in “One
more time across the empty sea/Promise me you won’t sleep.” Then bass comes in,
with underlying vocals and we get to the harmonies. So…Hollow Wood’s lead
vocalist, is a guy with a cool different sound in his vocals. It’s folky, it’s throaty,
it’s different. Solid drum rhythms, harmonica, violin, and some bass thrown in
for the quick instrumental and we just fall into this mournful state. It’s a little
depressing, maybe, but it’s introspective. This is a kind of song that really
makes you sit. Make you write, makes you think.

Their later EP, Wallflowers
has one of my favorite tracks of theirs, “Little Bird.” It’s soft, with sweet
guitar melodies creeping in under the intro vocals. Then bam! Listen to the way
belts “Oh don’t you cry, no don’t you cry, without me by your side/I gave you
my all, I gave you all, but that world was just way too strong.” The
juxtaposition of this strong, harsh, hoarse chorus with the sweet first and
second verses accompanied by simple guitar melodies is brilliant. The rhythm of it all keeps you on your toes to build up
to a fantastic bridge of grand instrumentals. Ending the track with resounding
chorus and a strong drum set brings it home. It’s the best track they have.

Listen.

Other tracks on both EP’s are also great. Check out “Memento
Mori” on the Seasons EP if you want a
sense of indie folk and soft harmonies. There is a definite sense of unity
within the band in this track however, especially as they build up throughout the
chorus. What is best about Hollow Wood is not only their originality, but the
fact that all the vocalists have such distinctly definite sounds in their
voices. Yet they make it mesh.

They remind me of a young Typhoon in other tracks like “Wallflower”
on the Wallflower EP where they have more synchronicity among the vocals, while keeping it soft and unique.
These guys like soft guitar harmonies, they like moody vibes, but they’re not
afraid to jam it out like they do in “Families” on the Seasons EP.

It’s rough trying to give you a taste of everything, but for
the most part, Hollow Wood, for being young, is good. They’re tryin to keep it
100 with us, and I dig that. Check em out.

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Ariana Rivera



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New artist sparks my heart: JUNGLE FIRES

In this dreary period of somber winter nights, I’ve felt a little melancholy. I’m pining for sunshine, for sweet summertime nights, for nights around the campfire drinking some lemonade. I’m pining for the days of cool relaxation and no stress. Mostly, I’m pining for cool, fresh new music, and I think I found it.

So… we should meet JUNGLE FIRES.

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A New York based duo composed of artists Menashé David Israel & Kéren Or-Tayar, JUNGLE FIRES is a brand new artist that puts indie pop and indie soul on the map. With beautiful piano harmonies,some chill electric guitar, and soulful vocals, their debut album Bliss Point is sure to take center
stage.

It’s a six-track album with its number one track creating
the perfect interest into their record. Brilliant song, “Nothing Can Be
Changed,” JUNGLE FIRES builds this track up softly, quietly, but very, very
clean. Kéren, one of the artists in the duo, dominates in terms of vocals with Menashé
backseating it. However, the two harmonize well, and Kéren’s voice is beautiful
as she rolls on with excellent control. This track is full of acoustic
harmonies and some nice piano melodies that hints to me of some jazz
influences. This song sounds cool and all, right? Yet, I think what makes it
excellent is its free-flowing rhythm and very distinct lack of catchy “boppiness.”
This is no Alex & Sierra piano pop duo in which you take hold of the
predictable chorus and happily sing along. The melody in this track takes turns
you wouldn’t expect, but the artists do it very masterfully with soft vocals
and strong instrumentals reminiscent of instrumentalist artist Explosions in the Sky. Ending the first
track with some echoing whistles, I got the campfire, classy soul vibe and I
felt tranquil.

I’m not going to spoil the entire album for you, as you should
take a listen for it yourself. But, we definitely need to talk about my favorite
track off this new record, “It’s Okay.” There are so many reasons I love this
track. It’s a little more fast-paced, and we hear more of Menashé’s vocals and
it’s great. But more than that, the two did something awesome, and added horns into
this track. The trumpet that’s going on gives this Middle Eastern/Spanish vibe,
and it creates this song as jazz, soul, and pop all in one. I think what I love
most of about this track is its ethnic reminiscence and its musical diversity.
They have soft vocals, and they have good vocals, but I could definitely see the two going off in this direction that is
very acoustic guitar pop, very cookie cutter radio style. And the fact they are
doing their completely own sound makes me very happy.

The rest of the album is pretty fantastic for a debut. Their
October 2014 single, “Hold,” is a track that is a bit more folk based, but has a bit
more traditional harmony with Kéren leading the vocals. I like it though, and I’m
glad they put in the record. “Open Eyes” is beautiful as Menashé softly almost
whispers “Shouting as loud as a siren of war/ Just to desperately reach to your
world” over the hints of tambourine, violin, and guitar. “Best of Me” ends the record
on a fantastically high note, with a much more pop vibe, and I’m not complaining.
These guys know what they’re doing.

Agh, have I converted you yet? Hopefully, enough for you to
listen to their album here:

http://junglefires.com/releases

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Get it now while it’s hot.

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Ariana Rivera

Artist Profile: Let’s talk about Doja Cat

Whoaaaa, so I’m completely out of my element.

Actually, I was really wanting to share with you another reallyhippie indie, guitar playing artist that “seemed incredibly raw” as I like to
say. But enough of my uppity attitude, we should switch it up sometimes, you know?

Let’s talk about Doja
Cat
.

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I’m not super into hip-hop or rap so when I became intrigued
with Doja Cat, I was a little inspired. Not much is known about her, really, but
born Ami Zindale, she’s an 18 year old singer/rapper and L.A. based. She’s
young and she’s new, but she’s got this weird trippy vibe about her, and I
really just dig it.

This EP Purr! that
Doja Cat has out is relatively new, released in August 2014. It’s got 5 tracks,
and I’m not a fan of all of them, but her sound is just so different and airy and
so blended with soul vibes, I can’t help but like it.

“So High” was a single Doja Cat released prior to her EP, in
April, and is one that definitely gives off the impression of being high. It’s
dreamy, kind of psychedelic with the beats she uses, and her voice is kind of
just this high lilting mystery that pulls you in. It’s not a catchy, boppy
song, but definitely when she sings over and over again “You get me so high/You
get me so high” I catch myself grooving along to her.

It’s good, listen. It’s really trippy.

Okay, so then we continue on to the rest of the EP and it’s
pretty much along this vibe. She has this absentminded, lazy, spacey way of
singing, but once in a while, she dips into smooth straight rap like in “Nunchucks”
get this slower, soul Nicki Minaj
feel to her tracks.

Honestly, I have no idea why I like this, but I just do. I
listen to a track like “Beautiful” and it’s dreamy and mixes her smooth rap with
hippie beats in the background.

I really like “No Police.” She mixes her rap stylings with
some really chill beats, and her overall style makes it one of the best tracks
on the EP. But I also like “Control,” with her slow builds and real, breezy,
echoes that just relax you.

Doja Cat is consistent within her EP and that’s good, but
she’s definitely different. I think that’s what it is. She’s weird. She’s
different, I’ve never really heard anyone like her before and her originality
of mixing soul, rap, and R&B together is intriguing. She mixes her little
cat references into her rap and just randomly purrs or meows in her tracks, so
you definitely can’t escape Doja Cat’s identity. It’s weird. It’s cool.

Or maybe I’m the weird one. Either way, check her entire EP
out here:

Ariana Rivera

Baby Artists are Adorable: Alex & Sierra’s “It’s About Us”

I’ve never really been a fan of vocal competition shows, especially in today’s day and age, just because I tend to fall in love with a lot of artists, and if they don’t make to the top of the show, or on the pop charts, they fall off the grid and I never hear from them again.

But that being said, a lot of shows have brought some good artists. Which leads me into topic of the week, some pretty people singing pretty songs.

I was just minding my own business the other day, listening to Andy Grammer, getting ready for his show in February, and while checking out the show, I decided to take a listen to the opener, just to get a feel for them before the show.

And I feel a little grimy, and very white girl right now, but I had a bit of a fling with a folk pop duo. Please try not to cringe tooooo much.

Gang, meet Alex & Sierra.

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They won season three of The X Factor USA last year, and just this year in October released their debut album It’s About Us. And I’ve gotta say, it’s got some good tracks on it.

Let’s just start off with my favorites, because we all know I’m some weird moody, soulful ballad lover.

The first track off the album, Little Do You Know. Sierra has this incredibly beautiful velvet voice that has a pretty limited range, but I still think is very pretty. We’ve seen that I am not particularly prone to having a preference for female artists, because for the most part, little whiny girl voices tend to annoy me, but Sierra’s vocals when she intoned “Little do you know I’m still haunted by the memories/Little do you know/I’m trying to pick myself up piece by piece,” honestly draws me in. In this track, Alex doesn’t come into the song until the chorus, which he sings himself. The two don’t harmonize until the second crack at the chorus, and they fit together nicely (Thank god for that, because they’re dating, so…). But regardless of this point, it’s still a pretty mournful, song. It’s soft, a little sad, not very creative lyrically, but the two sing well together. Harmonizing well is difficult, but I think, just going off this first track that Sierra’s vocal are going to take lead in this vocal duo.

Let’s move on. “Bumper Cars” is probably my favorite track in the entire album, and probably because there’s a lot of simple piano melody throughout, and because the duo start off the track singing together, which highlights more of the chemistry and just well round harmony skills between the two. They know what they’re doing. This is also a sad love song, with a bridge that Alex cries out, “This was supposed to be fun/ This was supposed to be the one,” to which Sierra responds, “Maybe we stayed too long/Maybe we played all wrong.”

Okay, so yes, for the most part, this album is very piano pop, with a lot of love ballads (cue the track “I Love You”) that are unimaginative in lyrics, but very clean and pure in vocals. There are some other great songs on this record though! “Just Kids” is the one track on this album that seems to gain a little bit more of a mainstream pop feel, and I get a hint of LIGHTS or Ellie Goulding or something like that from Sierra. I liked this track because Alex takes some of the lead vocals here and he does some great things with the arrangement. It’s also a little different from the rest of the album because they’re not just expressing love or heartbreak, so I’m glad they experimented there a bit. “Broken Frame,” also a great track, has some more interesting instrumentals, and a little bit more overlay of vocals rather than choppily cutting up verses per person.

The record takes a weird turn when they hash out this country inspired track “Cheating,” which just seemed really strange and a little creepy since the lyrics were literally “Do you ever thinkabout cheating on me?” Honestly, that’s a strange song to write with someone you’re dating. They finally end the entire album on this jazzy, saxophone laden tune, that I like, but seemed very out of place. But they really used their vocals on this track, so good for them for trying something different there on the end.

By the way, you can listen to the whole album here:

Okay, verdict.

I like them. They remind me a lot of James Morrison or Kris Allen and Lenachka in their “Prove it to You” duet on his record Horizons. When they keep it simple with their voices and some piano, I think they do what their voices are good for. They definitely try to attempt every genre possible in this record with hints of indie, folk, pop, country, and jazz, and for some parts it works, and for other parts it doesn’t. Overall though, as a debut album, they did a solid job, and I’m excited to see what kind of future music they’ll create when they mature a little as artists and come into their own.

And hey, at least now I know I’m not going to see a crappy opener.

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Ariana Rivera