Sunday Lane – Bring Me Sunshine

If there’s anything in the world that I need during these Pittsburgh winters, it’s a little bit of sunshine. Apparently the girl to bring it on is Sunday Lane. From her press release:

Sunday Lane is not your typical singer/songwriter who left Middle America for the City of Angels. A classically trained pianist, she writes articulate lyrics about social injustices in our society, young love, and growing up. Her soulful approach to songwriting expresses the depth of her musicianship.

“I am most in my element when my hands are on the keys,” says the 20-year-old Tulsa native. After receiving tons of critical acclaim in her home state, Sunday Lane decided to pursue the only career path that made sense… music. She is currently attending the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. Sunday has been playing some of the most sought after venues in Los Angeles and winning over new fans nationwide.

Her debut EP, Bring Me Sunshine, displays her ability to write relatable songs with idiosyncratic phrases. With a new music video for her song “Won’t Go Back Down” and her EP available on iTunes, sunshine is definitely in Sunday Lane’s future.

Apparently, her first big hit, “Won’t Go Back Down” is making some serious waves, and I can see why, but “Lack of Color” is the one that catches my ear every time. I’ve had the EP on repeat for a coupled of days now and I’ve gotta say that it’s my fave thus far. Also awesome is “Reckless One”, with an opening piano line that could easily be mistaken for early Tori Amos. She’s got that sweet, yet gravelly voice of perfection and she’s utter confidence on the keys. You might as well just start memorizing the lyrics now, because I’m sure the radio stations are going to be playing her to death soon enough. Check her out for yourself!

“Won’t Go Back Down”

You know what? I really, actually enjoy this album. The more I listen to it, the more I like it. She gets an A. An A for you Sunday Lane! Good job!

You can find out more about Sunday on her Myspace, Facebook, site, or Twitter.

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Steven Smith in Music Unexpected 3: On the Road with Less Than Jake

So, Steven Smith, formerly of “Steven’s Untitled Rock Show” on Fuse is doing a whole “Music Unexpected” thing, and it’s pretty cool. It’s relatively new, but he’s already gone behind the scenes with A Great Big Pile of Leaves and Less Than Jake, plus, he’s spent a day with Goom Radio in New Jersey.

From what I hear, there’s more fun stuff to come, but in the meantime, check out his quality hangout time with Less Than Jake at their Philly show at the Trocadero! (I know, a Pittsburgh show would have been better…this might also be my crazy hockey fan-dom talking.) It’s pretty rad! (And yes, I still love LTJ, despite that whole TV/EP situation.)

I think they made it farrrr too easy on him! What kind of roadie actually gets to “watch” the show when they’re done!? They’re too busy making sure things run smoothly. That’s kinda what roadies do.

Other than that, though…pretty good stuff! Stay tuned for more fun things from “Music Unexpected”!

The Waifs – Temptation

Well, if absence makes the heart grow fonder, Waifs fans are going to love this album. After more than three years, the Aussie group will release their sixth studio album, Temptation, on March 4, 2011. From their press release:

“Where do we take it from here?” sings Vikki Thorn on “Day Dreamer”, one of the most uplifting moments on The Waifs’ extraordinary sixth album, Temptation, in store March 4th independently through Jarrah Records (the label The Waifs co-own with John Butler) and MGM Distribution.

It’s a question the much-loved Australian band has asked itself several times in the 19 years since Thorn, her sister Donna Simpson and guitarist Josh Cunningham set off on their incredible journey.

A trip that began in a van in 1992, with the three troubadours playing gigs anywhere in Australia that would have them, has led The Waifs to multiple ARIA awards, platinum albums and successful tours across the world. The hard yards in those early days paid off in terms of their career, but also bound the three of them together as friends.

Josh, Donna and Vikki have all moved on in their personal lives since those formative years, whether through relationships, having children or relocating to different parts of the world, yet The Waifs’ journey continues. That ever-evolving trip, and the bond that has developed between them, is very much central to the emotion, sentiment and spirituality of the 11 songs on Temptation.

Temptation is the follow-up to 2006’s Sun, Dirt, Water, which the band recorded in Nashville and which reached No.2 in the ARIA album charts. That album represented a natural progression for The Waifs, one on which they expanded and experimented with their sound.

Temptation sees them stripping back, returning to their roots and playing an assortment of acoustic and electric instruments, joined once again by the established rhythm section of drummer David Ross Macdonald and bassist Ben Franz.

Temptation was recorded in November last year at Underwood Studios, a ramshackle old house-cum-studio in Simpson’s adopted home city of St Paul, Minneapolis.

I just gotta say it…this album is damn good. I can’t blame The Waifs for taking so much time off…there’s been babies, marriages, and all sorts of other life-happenings to keep the trio occupied, but it’s good to see them back in action. After 10 days in a basement in Minneapolis, they came out rocking just as hard as ever. As per Vicki Thorn,

“Traditionally recording has been stressful for us, we have three writers and rarely a collective vision. Maybe we have grown up a bit, learned a little patience and respect.  This time the recording experience felt very relaxed and everything flowed. This album is less disparate than some of our previous albums. As if by moving, literally, so far from each other, our music has come back together. We have found our sound, our voices, our rhythms again and rediscovered our love for playing it.”

And you can really hear that collective love. Everyone was living together, playing together, and recording together, which gives a tangible sense of family to this album. Everyone plays their part, but no one is overbearing. We get to hear Thorn’s starkly beautiful track, “Buffalo” and Simpson’s incredibly catchy “Falling”, along with Cunningham’s voice in the title track. Weaving in and out of all of these tracks are long time touring mates Ben Franz (bass) and David McDonald (drums).

The band came together from all over (seriously, the US, Canada, AND Australia) for this labor of love, which ended up being a roots/rock, alt-country masterpiece. The harmonies of the Simpson sisters cannot be outdone and the instrumentation of Cunningham is utterly amazing, as always. I can see “Falling” becoming the major hit of this album very, very quickly. Check it out for yourself.

“Falling”

In a musical world of pop-wonders and rap stars, it’s refreshing to see someone going back to the beginning in a fashion that blues greats would be proud of. This album gets a solid B and a hearty “Welcome back, Waifs” from me.

You can check out the latest Waifs news at their site, their Myspace, and their Facebook.

Red Hot Rebellion

Okay, these guys are hilarious. Like, Dethlehem hilarious. Self described as “the soundtrack to a bar fight”, the trio from Dayton, OH rock right the fuck on. They’re “feverishly” working on their first album, but in the meantime, they’ve released Two Pretty Fuckin’ Good Songs for your listening pleasure. From their Facebook:

RED HOT REBELLION was formed in the bowels of The Gem City (Dayton Ohio) with a singular goal: to rebel against the watered-down excuse for Rock of the status quo. Our music is loud, fast, and furious — perhaps a throw-back to a simpler time when Rock was fun and full of energy. Where music is more important than fashion. Where intensity is more exciting than whining about break ups and heartache. Where a Les Paul and a Marshall half-stack can rattle your bones and shake your blood. Call it Garage, call it Blues-Punk, call it Roots Rock, call it the Greatest Power Trio in the Mid West…whatever you want…

…and that pretty well sums it up. Red Hot Rebellion wants to play rock and roll, drink beers, and bang chicks, and they’re not afraid to tell you about it. Kinda like the Supersuckers. They’ve got the “Oh” in those “Whoa Ohs” and they’ll definitely kick you into gear (especially when there’s 8″ of snow outside, like there is in Pittsburgh right now). Check ’em out!

“For the Benefit of Evil” and “Built to Rock” downloads. Fo’ FREE!

“For the Benefit of Evil” Video

San Cisco – “Golden Revolver”

This band is ADORABLE. San Cisco (formerly King George), a charming, new Aussie band is fresh off the presses and getting their name out there hardcore. The recent high-school graduates (god, I feel old!) have been playing, touring, releasing their first EP, Golden Revolver, and generally doing things that new bands do.

From their press release:

San Cisco are the latest indie act to emerge from Fremantle in sunny Western Australia. On the weekends they go skateboarding, play Nintendo 64 and make a bit of indie pop on the side. Scarlett bangs the drums, Nick plays bass and Jordi & Josh are the guys that play the guitars, write the songs and sing them.

San Cisco have spent the last year graduating high school, performing at some festivals and playing round town pretty much every weekend. But don’t let their youth fool you. They have also produced their first EP called Golden Revolver, which has just hit and already found a home on Triple J and community radio around Australia. Confident with stage presence & strong with vocals San Cisco continue to impress even the hardest indie critics with their brand of upbeat summer pop.

Produced by Matthew Chequer (Little Birdy) & Steven Schram (Little Red, Cat Empire, Little Birdy), the EP is an eclectic mix of indie pop with folk undertones, slashes of synth and influences ranging from Bright Eyes to Vampire Weekend.

San Cisco performed at last years One Movement Festival which lead to an invitation to appear at the 2011 Great Escape in the UK. They also received their first airplay on London’s influential taste making station, XFM.

In honor of summer being just around the corner, check out their single “Golden Revolver”, a peppy, upbeat, sunny tune that I simply adore. You can also check out more of their stuff over on their Myspace or Facebook. Enjoy!

“Golden Revolver”

Kat McGivern – Kamikaze Heart

I really do enjoy good, not insane female artists. Women like Sara Bareilles, Jem, Poe, Regina Spektor, Tori Amos, Bat For Lashes, Erin McKeown, and apparently now, Kat McGivern are paving the way for a future that doesn’t involve crotch shots, cocaine, yet another DUI charge, or other general cases of celebrities behaving badly.

She seems like a perfectly normal, twentysomething, New England girl, who just happens to have an awesome voice. Not only is she a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, she also does jewelry and photography!

From her press release:

Kat McGivern is not afraid to tell you what she thinks, and you’ll definitely want to listen.

The Boston-based firecracker began her music career at age 13, performing at a local open mic night. Growing up in a family of musicians, Kat initially taught herself traditional Gaelic ballads and started classical training shortly after. Eventually her influences shifted to Bob Dylan, The Cranberries and the ultimate image chameleon, Madonna.

Abandoning classical music in college, she released her first album Armor followed by the more rock-influenced Alice Lost. Her overwhelming passion for what matters to her became a running theme in her songwriting when it came time to pen tracks for her latest EP.

“I dropped out of college so I could record my first album. Then I quit music for two years to bartend and go back to school,” Kat explains. “I realized that I couldn’t walk away from music. So I recorded My Kamikaze Heart, about my inability to walk away from the things I love.”

Released on November 23, 2010, the 7-song EP was produced by Anthony J. Resta and features the brass, assertive title track, which reached the Top 10 on FMQB’s AC Top 40 chart.

Already a multi-instrumentalist, tackling everything from vocals to guitar and keyboards, and a prolific songwriter, Kat is always looking for new outlets for her boundless creativity. She’s finalizing the launch of her own line of jewelry and trying her hand at photography. But music will always be her passion.

“I see myself a bohemian Judy Jetson with a bad attitude,” boasts Kat McGivern.  In a sea of cookie-cutter pop stars, this is one girl who’s not afraid to stand out.

McGivern has managed to escape me for the past few years. Her newest, 7-track EP, Kamikaze Heart hit stores last November and it’s actually her third album. It’s making it’s rounds quickly, though, already reaching the top 10 on FMQB’s AC Top 40 chart. All in all, the album’s not bad. It’s catchy and fun, but some of the lyrics are just way out there. Like, “We’re Just Keystrokes” with “So, forget it, boy, this booty don’t call.” Really? No.

But for what it’s worth, there’s a few really good tracks on this album, like the title track that will be permanently embedded in your brain, “Fall to Pieces” and “Dance with the Devil”. For now, McGivern’s got a great voice and an assured sense of style, she just needs to hone it in and do something with it. I have a feeling she’s a firecracker of an artist waiting for that ignition. She’s definitely one to watch. She gets a solid B from me.

You can keep tabs on her over on Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, and her site. You can also check out some the title track below. Enjoy and have a great weekend!