Chicago-based Nick Shaheen is breaking new ground with his latest single, “Flashbulbs,” from his stunning album, Sauvignon, out now. His second full-length release to date, Shaheen brings to the forefront a stunning mixture of modern Americana sound and incredibly strong songwriting. This breathtaking piece is just one of the highlights you will find on Sauvignon.
“Flashbulbs,” is an intriguing song that takes the listener deep inside the mind, exploring every inch, every crevice. In this piece, Shaheen struggles with being framed, and eventually exonerated for murder, a scenario that developed from a real-life panic.
“I was in the kitchen cooking dinner. I remember I was chopping up potatoes when this violent vision completely overtook me. Everything was so vivid. I had a full-on panic attack right there,” shares Shaheen. Two weeks later the vision still haunted him. “I couldn’t hold a knife for weeks; ‘What the hell was that? How could you even think that? You’re going crazy.’ I read all about it online, like I’m a psychiatrist trying to diagnose myself and find the cure all at once. I found these message boards for intrusive thoughts where people were dealing with stuff like this for years. It made me more nervous, but at the same time gave me hope. After I had some time to reflect, I started to write down the scene as it came to me and a song started to take shape. The idea was to lay it all out and triumph over it.”
A hypnotic yet chaotic rhythm section and the battle of menacing electric guitar versus victorious Dobro are joined by Shaheen’s captivating vocals, which provide a powerful listening experience from start to finish. “Flashbulbs” is just a slight taste of the musical journey that Sauvignon takes listeners on.
Nick Shaheen “Flashbulbs”: https://soundcloud.com/nickshaheenmusic/flashbulbs
Show Date: May 16, 2015
Venue: Rockwood Music Hall
On a lovely Saturday evening, May 16, we watched Brooklynite Craig Greenberg take to the stage at Rockwood Music Hall. Having been a fan of his new single, the foot-thumper, “That Girl is Wrong for You,” I was immediately enticed and intrigued by his musical passion that flows throughout. The show at Rockwood Music Hall was the album release party for his new LP, “The Grand Loss & Legacy,” which is a must-listen for this Spring.
The Rockwood was nicely filled this evening, with a warm reception in tow. Greenberg took to the stage like and old pro. His years of touring and crafting records are most certainly noticeable, and shines through with his stage presence. Playing selects songs from the record, he put on a show that could easily be put on in a big-name arena. His vocals were filled with energy, and on key. His piano playing is smooth and beautiful, fitting in perfectly with his vocal work. Somber yet playful, which is something that is very hard to pull off; especially in a stage setting I imagine.
Highlights of the evening for me included “I Hope You Understand,” and “I’m Coming Around.” Greenberg’s backing band is also to be noted. They fit Greenberg like a glove. With tight harmonies, and astounding playing, it was like heaven. Another piece that stood out to me that evening was “Wanting to Hear.” I feel like this was one of the most epic performances of the evening. It even reminded me of vintage Elton John, which is a HUGE compliment by far. Greenberg really wailed on the piano during this song, creating an explosion of sound, which struck my ears like a hammer.
In a city of literally thousands of musicians, Craig Greenberg stands out as one of New York’s finest. If you have the chance to see him live, do not hesitate. Your ears will thank you.
On the twelve songs comprising San Francisco-based romantic indie pop outfit Geographer’s fourth proper studio album, Ghost Modern, composer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mike Deni creates timeless compositions with blossoming synthesizers paired with precise orchestral arrangements. Growing increasingly tired with the lack of emphasis on songwriting prevalent in today’s popular culture, here Geographer has fashioned their most cohesive and compelling work to date. “I took a great deal of time crafting the songs for this album before arranging them, before blowing them out with swelling sonic textures that might override or overshadow the need to make the song – at its core – the most important thing,” explains Deni.
An almost Freudian attraction to water engulfs the band’s 4th studio album. Deni wrote much of the record driving out to a cliff overlooking the beach in the Presidio of San Francisco and worked on lyrics in the back of his car whenever he found a spare moment. “When I was feeling stuck I would walk down to the bluffs and sometimes down to the water and run lines in my head over and over,” recalls Deni. “The vision of that massive swath of blue, promising so much beneath and revealing so little on the surface, so terrifying but so beautiful, like ourselves. It was a huge image in my mind, it finds its way into a lot of songs, most notably ‘I’m Ready.’”
Having taken the time to meticulously craft the songs on the record proved to be one of Deni’s most difficult and greatest learning experiences. “I’m Ready”, which was the last song written for Ghost Modern, in the end tied everything together. Here the antagonist appearing throughout the record is ready to give up. Ready to give in. As the guitars begin to bloom and rhythm begins to build, he suddenly finds himself ready to stare into the unknowable depths of existence and to raise his head and look at the world. Look at the people around him.
Another benchmark in the writing process for Ghost Modern appears on “Patience.” Here Deni claims to have written his “first simple song.” “I had all these crazy, circuitous metaphors, and complicated twists in the lyrics as I have a tendency to throw everything I see in front of me into a song,” he confesses. The song was written over the course of an afternoon while standing on a deck of a friend’s house overlooking the ocean while he gazed at the specs of people below temping his companionship in the endless blue ocean of everything and nothing. In the end the song was recorded in one take and its simplicity was greatly encouraged by producer Eli Crews. “For me it was as like surfing on a whale, almost slipping off the whole time, but ultimately its austerity gives an almost effortless truth and beauty to the song.”
It seems baffling that a songwriter as adept as Stockholm’s Simon Stålhamre, the gentleman behind Small Feet, is only now releasing his first record. Things apparently don’t get finished when one’s interest is always sprinting to the next experiment, and Stålhamre’s stumble towards discovery began around the time he was 15, when he decided to quit school. Though he was – and remains – possessed of a natural intelligence and a gift for music, he was also shuffling a pack of demons that provoked an increasingly reclusive lifestyle. So, instead of attending school, he employed TV as his academic mentor – learning English from the American shows that dominated his small country’s schedules – while, all the time, building up a catalogue of songs.
Though his virtual substitute teacher somehow provided him with the wherewithal to synthesise Salvador Dali landscapes, a linguist’s laughing diction, a note on free will, and various social jabs into his compositions, the spectres that haunted him ensured that the tapes he made of his songs were kept stored in a closet at his parents’ home. Blessed with twin talents from an early age, Stålhamre’s propensity for vanishing acts tended to overcome his flair for songwriting: whatever wonders he’d conjured up in his isolation seemed destined to remain hidden. By the time he met Jacob Snavely – an ex-pat American musician with whom he shared friends and who started to nudge Stålhamre toward focusing more energy on his songs – the Swede had spent time as a nurse, a fly-poster and a café worker, and was about to enrol in a course to become a city bus driver.
Listen to “Rivers” https://soundcloud.com/small-feet/rivers
Multidisciplinary artist Tim Harrington is best known for his extravagant performances as frontman for the influential rock band Les Savy Fav. In addition to his work as a performer and provocateur Harrington, the father of two young boys, writes and illustrates interactive picture books for HarperCollins Publishers imprint Balzer+Bray. His newest book, “Nose to Toes, You are Yummy” brings a taste of the exuberant physicality he expresses on stage to the under-eight set. The catchy accompanying song and dance for the book are poised to dethrone the classic “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” as king of the kids body parts tunes.
POP ETC’s follow up to their single “Running In Circles” as it premieres on SPIN. Be sure to watch Stereogum’s premiere of the video for the track documenting the band’s misadventures around NYC! The second song to be released from POP ETC’s recording sessions in Brooklyn takes the listener on a fast paced journey through the band’s psyche. It’s thoughtful and exhilarating all at once. For this track, the band collaborated with the legendary Bob Clearmountain (Bruce Springsteen, Tears For Fears, David Bowie, Bryan Adams) on the mix, and again with Vlado Meller to master the track.
Chris Chu explains, “We wanted there to be a few pretty different emotional flavors running through the video the whole time- the super, over the top happy, stock-karaoke scenes, mixed with the strange, constantly looking over your shoulder, escape scenes through New York. And it’s all filtered through a slightly cartoonish lens, that for me, feels pretty similar to the way ‘Bad Break’ sounds- kind of dark and sad, but also pretty exciting.”
Watch “Bad Break” Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSgrtlRPQJY