It seems like its once in a blue moon that you hear the success story of a backup singer finally getting out of the shadow of another and into the limelight. LA native, Judith Hill, who performed behind greats such as Stevie Wonder, has finally found herself on the top bill.
Its no surprise that Hill was born into music. With a father who has worked with A-list names (such as Bob Dylan), she was able to pen her first song at the impressive age of only four years old. From the start, Hill found herself falling in love with the sounds of soul, jazz, and mostly, gospel.
After growing up and refining her craft, including attending Biola University for a degree in music composition, Hill moved to Paris where she sang background vocals for French singer/songwriter, Michael Polnareff. Returning home, she received the opportunity to sing backup for Michael Jackson’s This Is It Tour. Unfortunately, Jackon’s untimely death in 2009 halted Hill’s plans.
It also changed her life.
Singing at his funeral, an event watched by one billion people around the world, Hill gained a hurricane of media attention. Pressured to release music almost instantly, Hill decided to refine her craft. Taking up the opportunity to sing back up for Stevie Wonder, Hill has proven herself as a force to be reckoned with.
With a voice full of vigor and described as powerful and emotional, Hill has wowed audiences on the hit show The Voice and is now headlining her own shows. And this time, she has her own backup singers.
Catch her at the House of Blues San Diego on November 30th.
Melophobia (n) 1. The fear of music 2. The name of the third album by American rock band, Cage the Elephant.
Hailing from Bowling Green, Kentucky, Cage the Elephant have, in the past few years, made strides from being a small town band to one of the biggest groups of today, headlining tours and festivals alike. Unlike many bands, Cage the Elephant, made up of Matt Shultz (vocals), Brad Shultz (guitar), Lincoln Parish (guitar), Daniel Tichenor (bass), Jared Champion (drums), have found success and critical acclaim from every full length album they’ve put out.
Taking a break now from releasing their album as well as a recent tour with Muse, the 5 are gearing up for an extensive round of festivals as well as a headlining tour. Brad describes life on the road as “… a never ending cycle of wanting to get home then wanting to get back on the road. I think you get to a point that you’re on the road so much that you really want to be home as much as you possibly can. Then you sit at home for a month or two and then you’re bored with it, so you want to get back on the road.” Touring with long time friends, Foals, here in the states and then heading to their side of the pond to support them through a tour through the UK. Brad explains that Foals’ influence on the band was pretty strong, “We were babies as far as musical influences and knowledge. We hadn’t heard a lot of stuff outside of our box. When we first heard Antidotes (2008) it blew our minds and changed the way we thought about music.”
Cage the Elephant not only headlines an up coming tour, but will also be making appearances at a number of festivals, including San Diego’s very own Wrex the Halls on December 6th. Brad explains that while they may not be headlining a festival, he still enjoys playing them just as much as their own show. “There really cool stuff that comes out of both. With headlining shows, everyone is there to see your band. But with festivals there’s a bunch of people that know your music but there’s also the discovery aspect that you get to experience. People discovering the band for the first time or digging a little bit deeper into your band and finding excitement out of that. And not only do I play music but I love to see other bands. I’m a music lover. Being able to see 10 concerts in one weekend is pretty amazing. We’re not the kind of band that sits backstage. We’re all over the festival.”
Whether it be at a festival or their own show, Cage the Elephant fans are sure to know nearly every lyric of every song, even off their most recent album, Melophobia, which was released in October of this year. Brad describes it as “…a trip to see people singing the words already. You don’t know how far people have dug into the album.”
With such a huge fan base and high expectations towards them, its hard to imagine the pressures the band has faced as they raise the bar with each new album. While the album name, Melophobia, is all about the actual fear of music, Brad describes it as more of the pressures of producing a quality sound and meeting that already high bar. “We just wanted to be hyper sensitive or hyper aware from any distraction that was going to keep us from making a totally honest record. Getting past not settling for anything. Not settling for a part in a song just because you feel like you have to put something out. We want to love every part of every song that we did and we wanted it to come from an honest place in our hearts.”
So if you haven’t got your tickets for Wrex the Halls yet, (which is including Queens of the Stone Age, Vampire Weekend, and more) then you’re out of luck because they sold out quickly.
When asked if he wanted to add anything, Brad summed up everything we San Diegans could ever want…
OnCue dropped the Leftovers 2last night, confidently proclaiming “This is what you’re waiting on/They ask why it take so long”, defying the blogosphere to take the title literally at their own peril. His twitter feed the past few days has consistently emphasized that many of these tracks were recorded recently, and specifically for this project, rather than being castoffs from the forthcoming Angry Young Man album. Distributing both mixtapes and albums for free (or with similar price points when they’re for sale) on the internet with no DJ, Cuey has undermined the distinction between the two, providing high-quality material in both formats.
From CJ Luzi flipping a TV on the Radio sample on the aforementioned “Staring at the Sun” to work with legends like Just Blaze and the highly buzzed-about Party Supplies, the instrumental selection here is both varied and distinctly of-the-moment. Even when closer “What I Love, Will Kill Me” makes use of the intro from Common’s Be, it accompanies lyrics addressing the current state of hip-hop and the need to study its history, explicitly referencing Kendrick Lamar’s controversial “Control” verse. It would be hard not to see Common’s stance on the industry in 2005 as a kindred spirit. The loosies collected here fill out the new material with some of the best OnCue has ever released, including one of my favorites, “Rich Kid”, an up-and-comers’ anthem packed with addictive synth lines and a monster hook:
No matter how much longer his fans wait for Angry Young Man, one thing is certain: their appetite for jams from a skillful rapper with respect for the past and eyes locked on the future who sings his own hooks has been substantially sated by Leftovers 2.
By Dave Fox | Philadelphia Ambassador | @philosofoxthedj | Beat-Play and Music Without Labels, LLC
Safe in Blue is an alternative indie band based in Nashville, TN formed by Phillip Englehart and Vian Zaayman. Originally from South Africa, Vian came to the states to attend school at Belmont University, where he met Phillip, originally from Canada. The two formed an instant friendship, discovered they share the same birthday and musical interests, and began writing music together. They’ve been recruiting listeners with their debut album This Heart Will Bring, which contains ten of the band’s best songs to date. Recent attention has surrounded their single, “Song I Believe In,” after Coldplay (yes, THE Coldplay) featured the official music video on their Hypnofeed in September.
I’m honestly not sure what the fascination is with color runs these days, but the colored chalk sure makes for an awesome effect in the video. Safe in Blue has been making their debut playing shows locally on some of Nashville’s staple venue stages, gathering new listeners along the way. Within their first few months playing locally, the band has already played The High Watt, The End, Rocketown, and 12th & Porter. Safe in Blue has made it a point to make sure the audience feels part of the show by taking their new song, “Into My Arms” into the crowd for an acoustic singalong. Not only does this create a great moment for everyone, but totally eliminates the barrier of the stage that is so often present when you see a band for the first time. Well done guys. It also doesn’t hurt to have good songs.
“Safe in Blue’s sound is based around melody and poetic lyrics. We find that words evoke powerful pictures in our heads and melody intensifies these pictures. Others have described our sound to be similar to that of Death Cab or early Coldplay. We are always very flattered and humbled by this. We try very hard to be similar to them, though sometimes we feel like a young child trying to shave after seeing his father shave. In this sense the ‘father’ being Coldplay or Death Cab. We know we’ve still got so much more to learn but we are so thankful for the kind words of others. Those two bands influence us greatly.” – Vian
Here’s the new one, “Into My Arms,” tracked at Oceanway Studios in Nashville.
Another one of their tunes, “Marble Floors, was in a film produced by David Letterman and is currently licensed out to Restoration Hardware stores nationwide. So you can sit on their comfy couches and dream of a home with marble floors!” They will soon release a Christmas EP and a live video for one of my favorite songs on the album, “Wolves of the Revolution.” If you like what you’ve heard so far, here’s some good news.. there’s more where that came from. Safe in Blue released their debut LP in September. Get it today by clicking on the album logo below and don’t miss their next local Nashville show on December 9th at Soulshine Pizza!
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC
LEAGUES just wrapped up their fall tour with a phenomenal hometown show on Friday at the infamous Cannery Ballroom in Nashville, TN. After seeing them earlier this year open for Local Natives at Live On The Green, a free outdoor fall concert series with thousands in attendance each week, I was excited to see LEAGUES in a hard ticket venue setting. Live On The Green was a huge show for the band, but 10,000 people on a downtown lawn can also come with a number of distractions. The Cannery show was thankfully quite different. There were hundreds of people focused solely on enjoying a show from one of their favorite local bands. LEAGUES delivered. Man, they sure did deliver. If you haven’t heard them before, check out the video of their recently recorded performance of “Spotlight” live at Chicago Sound Exchange:
Although awesome, it just doesn’t do them justice to see a video. Hearing LEAGUES play their songs live truly brought the album to life on Cannery Row. They even treated us to a beautiful cover of “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan, and a new song. I’ve been to number of shows there, and this was the best sounding by far. Tyler Burkum (guitar), Thad Cockrell (lead singer), and Jeremy Lutito (drums) have a natural ability to bring their studio-level musicianship to the stage. Before their existence as a band, each member was accustomed to hours of work in the studio for their individual careers, perfecting tones, rhythms, textures, grooves, and understanding the balance of songs that brought them joy. When asked about their inspiration, the band would agree that they aren’t necessarily inspired by artists as much as they are “inspired by songs.” “Songs that stop the room for a quick second,” adds Jeremy. It was in 2010 when they unknowingly played their first show as a band at Bowery Ballroom in New York. Just ten shows later, they stepped onto the stage at the great Ryman Auditorium opening for The Fray. It seems like there’s been a vibe of no looking back for the band as they now headlined their own tour this fall. Check out another live in studio performance; this time, at The Smoakstack with “You Belong Here.”
“In order to truly create something new you have to do something you don’t know how to do,” – Thad.
I believe that statement is relevant to a lot of art and product that gets exposure these days. It’s that, combined with an ability to pinpoint the one thing you are best at and can execute to full potential, to transform good to great. In this case, LEAGUES is the best at what they do. They have received some major press in the last year from the likes of MTV, Esquire, Paste, and many more. In a recent interview with Paste, Burkum described some of the band dynamics. “In my opinion, for it to be a LEAGUES song, all we have to do is agree. And it’s going to sound a little different and be a little different than anything any one one us would do [on our own]. If what we’re making excites us all, then that to me is a good sign.” They’ve also described the audience and listeners as being an unofficial fourth member member of the band, which is evident in the way they play shows. “My favorite music connects people and engages you to participate,” says Cockrell. “Look at folk music, those songs got passed down because it was something people could sing together.” As folk music has been passed down, there are many ways in which people can discover music today. The best, in my opinion, is still simply word of mouth. If you dig it, share it! And of course, get a copy of their album, You Belong Here, by clicking on the album art below. Thanks for listening!
By Steve Harpine | Nashville Ambassador | @Steve_MWL | Beat-Play & Music Without Labels, LLC