On Saturday, May 20, multi-instrumentalist and lauded bass player Erik Kramer released his debut studio endeavor, an EP entitled ‘Missed the Boat.’ The Brooklyn-based musician has an especially eclectic sound, one that employs the talent of a slew of musicians: saxophone, trombone, viola, trumpet, back-up vocalists - they’re all there. An experimental record through and through, ‘Missed the Boat’ is an indie record quite unlike anything else that’s come across my desk in recent months.
The most unique quality ‘Missed the Boat’ boasts is its ability to effortlessly hop between genres, all while maintaining an aura of cohesiveness. It’s very difficult to be an artist that pulls influence from so many sonic avenues and keep your sound organized, and Kramer does this remarkably well. The titular track, which opens the EP, has a very Radiohead-infused sound. The soft vocal croons, funky bass riffs, and erratic brass sections all sound like they’re from a ‘King of Limbs’ session.
The following track has much more of a jazz influence, offering a rather beautiful soundscape of piano noodling accented by a fantastic string section. If New York experimental music was written for a late night jazz club, ‘Seagulls’ would be the song that would result from it. ‘One of Many,’ the track after that, is a tune that really lets the brass section shine. There’s more funk and fusion influence apparent on that song, and the more upbeat nature of the track gives Kramer more room to experiment as a vocalist.
The EP’s most easy-listening track is surely ‘Tell You Otherwise,’ a sublime listening experience that washes over the listener in a surreal fashion. The equally enigmatic lyricism matches the instrumentation beautifully, as does the sparse, but effective female vocal backing. Heavy jazz inspiration then returns for ‘The Way It Goes,’ exhibiting some of the collection’s most excellent musicianship.
The finale of the EP, ‘The Light,’ may be its strongest song, at least, lyrically. The story-like lyricism puts the vocal content at the forefront of the song, whereas the rest of the EP usually reverses that dichotomy. At this point, it’s also very much worth mentioning that the production on ‘Missed the Boat’ is incredibly good, too, and Kramer has a superb hand over such a large soundscape of musicians.
‘Missed the Boat’ is an excellent EP from beginning to end, defying genre by jamming together funk, jazz, and experimental influences. It does it in an unpretentious fashion, too, which is rather vital to success in this arena.
"Flowers on the Moon" is more complex that it might seem on the surface. It's not just a dreamy pop song-- it's an invitation to imagine what we can't see. All of these different flowers-- visions, colors, and perspectives-- could exist together like they do in my dreams, but that's a world we have to build ourselves, from the ground up. We need to imagine, first, in order to create.
The Kenyan born and now Seattle based artist has received wide spread recognition being featured on NPR. In "Beautifully Human", Wachira highlights issues of human equality, especially when it undermines the divine sacredness of those who are different. Her sophmore album "Songs of Lament" she describes, ‘was born out the many tragic losses we’ve witnessed globally."
Los Angeles-based collective Salt Petal is invigorating audiences and critics alike with a tropical surf-dance sound in a category all its own. A cross-border combination of Argentinian folk, Brazilian tropicalia, cumbia and up tempo surf rock blurs ethnic and musical boundaries, bringing to mind Blondie, Os Mutantes, Gal Costa, and 60′s rock and roll. The band’s sound is one of the freshest to come out of Los Angeles, showcasing deep South American rhythms with vibrant indie pop harmonies and textures.
Founding members, Autumn Harrison and Rodrigo Gonzalez started the band after a trip to Buenos Aires, where their late night singalong sessions turned into the beginning of their first record. After performing in small cafes and receiving positive responses from musician friends, they began to play bigger stages and soon became one of the most sought after festival bands in Los Angeles.
Salt Petal has played high profile venues and festivals such as SXSW, Los Angeles Times’ Festival of Books, Echo Park Rising, Chinatown Summer Nights and Make Music Pasadena, performing alongside well-known artists including Lila Downs, Grimes, Robert DeLong, We Are Scientists, La Santa Cecilia, Chicano Batman, members of Blondie, Jane’s Addiction and more. Not only have their videos been featured on MTV Tr3s and the band written up in Billboard, but they recently won an international songwriting competition voted on by representatives of the BBC. The musical collective has also performed a special in-studio for Seattle’s acclaimed NPR station KEXP, broadcasted internationally.
Salt Petal’s latest release, Rare Hearts was recorded at the famed London Bridge Studios in Seattle with producer Eric Lilavois (Saint Motel, Atlas Genius) and mixed and mastered by Raymond Richards (Local Natives, Avid Dancer). The album aims to be a constant reminder for humanity to have faith and love in ourselves, in order to continue to get through difficult moments. The central theme is “exploring the fight everyday against yourself to be able to see what you have around you” reveals Harrison.
Their sound is heavily influenced by the adventuresome explorations of South America's music revolutions in the 60s and 70s, such as Tropicalia, Gonzalez confides,"Tropicalia had such a great philosophy of taking things on, consuming and devouring what was available and experimenting with it in a boundary-less way, in the search of a new identity." Salt Petal aspires to do the same, with their new release Rare Hearts. They write from loving a variety of sounds found in California, with rhythms and sounds from across the Americas considered on equal footing with rock, soul, and blues. The musical collective describes their sound as subconscious and a natural extension of who they are and hope that Rare Hearts will inspire people to be passionate, courageous and of course to dance!
Leading single ‘Telephone’ is a mixing pot of surf rock and 60’s psych, a dance anthem for the millennium. While the single ‘Disco Rats’, successfully showcases Salt Petal’s diverse musical sound. Rare Hearts features heavy trombone, funky bass lines and surfrock guitar riffs, paired with Harrison’s vocals creating a colorful and vibrant musical journey.
Joel Porter started playing music at an early age, starting with violin and then moving onto french horn (5th grade), guitar and bass (6th grade), and songwriting in high school. Porter and Eric Hillman (producer + 1/2 the band Foreign Fields) recorded everything on 'Mountain Twin' in the Dark Heart studio by themselves, covering violin, guitar, bass, piano, trumpet, french horn, and vocals, as well as any electronic samples you might hear. the Porter explains that Mountain Twin' EP is about growth. Over the course of four folk-based, painstakingly carefully crafted songs, which include a song he co-wrote with his musician parents, he illustrates the nature, feelings, memories and what it means to seek for the truth. You can easily feel yourself being in the desolate plains, where the snow is falling, the river is flowing and the mountains howling.
Davenport Rex is a music project based in Detroit, Michigan. Their sound is diverse and challenging, yet accessible and appealing. The band’s music stands out as a combination of tasteful progressive rock, with shades of various influences, ranging from alternative to symphonic hard rock, just to mention a few.
GroundBurst is an instrumental rock trio whose sound strikes for the band’s kaleidoscopic approach and wide-open mindset. The band consists of Phil, Si, and Erik, respectively on guitars, bass & keys, and drums. These three talented musicians set out to create a lush, diverse and textural musical backdrop, borrowing from influences as diverse as electronic music, psychedelia, rock and even jazz with a minimalistic flair. Their recent release, “Triad” is an EP featuring 3 original compositions, as the title of the release might lead you to guess!