Big Little Lions – Alive and Well

Indie folk-pop duo Big Little Lions are set to turn helpless apprehensions into hopeless optimism with their latest album, Alive and Well, a collection of songs that manage to capture this moment in time in a way only songwriters can. The group’s third studio album, set for worldwide digital release on February 23rd release (Far Flung, via The Orchard), features 13 original songs that deliver their signature folk-pop shimmer with a hint of Americana twang and a new lyrical edge inspired by the growing polarity of our world.Alive and Well is currently available for pre-order in the iTunes store.

The album’s title track, released earlier in January as a single, is also an instant-gratification track and will be available for immediate download when a pre-order is placed; two additional songs will be delivered to pre-order customers before album release (“Find Your Tribe” on February 9th and “Static” on February 16th). In addition to the digital worldwide release, fans can get physical copies of the new album atwww.biglittlelions.com. Fans can also check out the brand new video (directed by Greg Otten) for the first single and title track on B-sides and Badlands.

Big Little Lions’ most cohesive project to date, Alive and Well dances from songs that acknowledge human frailty and modern preoccupations to anthems of hope and resistance. It turns the duo’s illuminating songwriting to the tasks of buoying spirits, inspiring sing-a-longs, and lighting candles of optimism in difficult times. Watching Big Little Lions on the stage, audiences will understand what the closing lyrics of “Alive and Well” proclaim so clearly, when people gather to share music, “love is all there is.” The duo will kick off its Canadian tour in Red Deer, Alberta on February 23rd, followed by over 20 stops north of the border. Big Little Lions will then head down to the U.S. for a run from Ohio down to Florida in the month of April. The U.S. tour dates will be announced soon. Confirmed tour dates are listed here.

Big Little Lions is Helen Austin and Paul Otten, two successful songwriters and musicians who have also found collaborative success after joining forces in 2013. Since roaring onto the music scene, Big Little Lions has won an armful of awards for its work including first place in the International Songwriting Competition, Song of the Year in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition, and Ensemble of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

With Austin based in Canada on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and Otten based in Cincinnati, Ohio, the duo has been bridging geographic and cultural distances since their first collaboration when Otten produced Austin’s 2014 Juno-winning album Colour It. The legions of loyal fans they’ve gathered since agree: Austin and Otten have stumbled on a powerful musical chemistry. Big Little Lions has played renowned festivals including Shelter Valley, Islands Folk Fest, Mariposa, Summerfolk, the Alianait Arts Festival, the Paper City Music Festival, and the Vancouver Island Music Fest. The duo’s songs have also been featured across Canada on CBC and in the United States.

Clara Rose – The Offering

A SINGER-songwriter whose roots lie in Counties Fermanagh and Monaghan has released her second studio album, called ‘The Offering’.

The new recording from Clara Rose is a collection of 10 songs that bring the listener on a journey through folk rock, blues, funk, soul and contemporary folk.

Although Clara Rose now lives in County Meath, she has plenty of local connections.

Her grandmother, Elizabeth Monahan (nee Gunne), was born on the shores of Lough Erne and spent many summers rowing across to Trannish Island with her father to tend their cattle there.

Clara’s musical influences have come from a varied background.

Her grandfather, Eamon Monahan, worked as a musician until his retirement.

He performed across Monaghan and Northern Ireland with his show band, ‘The Northern Airs’.

Clara’s mother, Elizabeth Monahan (nee Deery), is a fantastic singer and songwriter and toured with many bands.

Her father Alan Monahan is a gifted guitarist and vocalist.
‘The Monahan Family’ have toured as a family playing shows in Germany and more recently, a mini-tour of Northern Italy.

Clara has an All-Ireland Medal for Sean-Nos singing at the age of 12.

With Irish traditional music being her influence at this time she then began to explore other influences and through her teens was a member of some ‘all girl rock bands’… the kind who never played a gig but practised every weekend.

In Maynooth University, while studying music, she was a member of the Classical Choral Society, The Maynooth Gospel Choir and formed her first blues band, ‘Jungle Train’, who did play gigs!

She began writing and performing her own music in university.

Her style developed and she began to play solo gigs on the Dublin Music Scene (Whelans, ‘The Ruby Sessions of Doyles) and Monaghan (McKenna’s Brewery).

As she developed as a songwriter/performer, this lead to the creation and recording of her acclaimed debut album, ‘A Portfolio’ which she independently released in 2010.

The album saw her embark on a nationwide tour with her band as well as achieve national and local radio airplay, TV appearances and critical acclaim.

Clara Rose is a featured artist on the 2013 album release from Irish Blues Harmonica legend, Don Baker, ‘My Songs, My Friends’.

She features alongside Sinead O’Connor, Finbar Furey, Mick Pyro, Liam O’ Maonlai, Brian Kennedy and Paddy Casey, among others.

Clara and Don formed a collaboration and recorded an album together, ‘Baker Rose’ (2016) and went on a national theatre tour.

In 2017, Clara Rose became part of a stage show called, ‘Ladies in the Blues’.

There are four women backed by a top-class band who tell the story of the blues through the female voice.

2018 promises to be an exciting year for Clara Rose as she releases her new album, ‘The Offering’.

It was produced and recorded by Gavin Glass in Orphan Recordings.

It features stellar performances from The Clara Rose Band – Sean Beatty, Tony McManus and Michael Black – aided by the musical professor Gavin Glass and guest appearances from vocalists Elizabeth Monahan, Claire McLaughlin and Paula Higgins.



Recommended If You Like: The Head and the Heart, Lumineers, Fleet Foxes, Vance Joy

… And I’m too afraid to be alone

At its core, attraction is a wondrous thing. How many stimuli have that kind of physical and emotional control over the individual? To be moved so vividly by someone else that your behavior changes in their presence; to feel that strongly about another human being; it’s natural, and yet it often feels totally unnatural. Attraction is as powerful as it is beautiful, an overwhelming sensation that Driftwood capture perfectly in their new song “Too Afraid.”

Oh am I falling for your lies again
Falling for your lies again
But you look so damn good

If I look into your eyes again
Look into your eyes again
Well it feels like going home

Listen: “Too Afraid” – Driftwood


City Lights - Driftwood

City Lights – Driftwood

.A song about falling uncontrollably hard for someone else, “Too Afraid” focuses on the fatal attraction experience: “Sometimes there are women that strike your fancy to the point where you lose a bit of yourself,” explains Joe Kollar (vocals/banjo).

It’s also easy to lose oneself in Driftwood’s music. The band pulls upon a pastiche of warm American roots and folk influences, landing somewhere in-between The Head and the Heart and The Lumineers in terms of sound, while offering a fresh, if not timeless perspective on the individual experience through harmonious music and lyrics. The group’s instrumental arrangement – which consists of Dan Forsyth on guitar and vocals, Joe Kollar on banjo and vocals, Claire Byrne on fiddle and vocals, and Joey Arcuri on bass – might be considered ‘traditional,’ but they wield their instruments with polished grace. In a music landscape where electric so frequently replaces acoustic instrumentation, Driftwood’s music provides an anchor to a past that is still very much the present.

Driftwood © Marc Safran

Driftwood © Marc Safran

“Too Afraid” opens with a sweetly seductive interaction between fiddle and bass, where the fiddle plays a hypnotic, repeating arpeggio sequence over punctuated bass hits. The combined effort is light, yet incredibly evocative: In a sense, it’s the perfect backdrop for a personal story. “Oh am I falling for your lies again,” sings Kollar as the verse opens. His words are raw and humble, his demeanor vulnerable as he places this interest over himself. That elevation of another, and the subsequent submission and reduction of oneself, becomes especially resounding in the chorus and second verse:

But I’m too afraid
Yes I’m too afraid to be alone

You talk like you should be my friend
Talk like you should be my friend
So tell me what it is that you want

Oh am I losing all my lines again
I’m losing all my lines again
But you look so fucking good

In his explanation of this song, Kollar notes that “Too Afraid” is, for him, about “the power of a beautiful woman,” but the song is obviously so much more than that. “I’m too afraid to be alone,” he sings. Sometimes we know something is bad for us, but we want it anyway. Loneliness is one of the hardest to cope with – so perhaps that special someone isn’t right for you, but at least it’s something. Rather than explore the intricacies of that mess, Driftwood stick to the surface and leave the diving to the listener.

“I think everyone knows someone (close or distant) that makes them weak in the knees and maybe act differently as a result,” says Kollar. Those who have known love, and perhaps more so those who have known a truly fatalattraction, can easily relate to Driftwood’s lilting melodies and uncertain, scrambling lyrics. It doesn’t matter who you are, or how confident you might appear. Every Samson has his Delilah.

River Whyless – We Are the Light

The second full-length from Asheville, North Carolina’s River Whyless further confuses labels of folk and indie, securing a region of their own that’s part folk-rock, part traditional folk, and part artful singer/songwriter commune, sometimes sounding as if Joni Mitchell and Punch Brothers got stranded together in a remote cabin with some decent recording equipment (“One for One,” “Bend Time”). The band occasionally wander into relatively poppier territory, as well, on We All the Light (“Falling Son”), but never forsake their acoustic core. Regardless of tempos or volumes, the full set is marked by creative yet refined arrangements that are by this point a distinguishing characteristic of the group.

Matt Townsend – “The Drifter and the Dream part 1”.

new EP from acclaimed North Carolina indie folk artist Matt Townsend entitled “The Drifter and the Dream part 1”.
The Drifter and the Dream (Part I) is the first installment of a two-part EP series. It features some of Western North Caroli-na’s finest musicians, such as Bill Berg (Drums on Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks) River Guerguerian, Kat Williams, Franklin Keel, Jackson Dulaney, Carly Taich, Charles Gately (Doc Aquatic), Ryan Burns.

The album was produced by Michael Selverne (Welcome to Mars productions) at Echo Mountain Recording Studios. With this new offering, Townsend has moved (mostly) away from the solo acoustic sound of his first two albums, and has developed toward a more eclectic, spacious sound. Drawing on influences from American folk, 60’s rock and pop, american indie rock, and ambient music, The Drifter and The Dream maps out a fresh avenue in his growing catalog.

Matt Townsend is performing with his band throughout the East Coast in support of this album. He has also launched a Kickstarter for the project.

Share “Came Down from the Mountain” via Bandcamp: https://matttownsendmusic.bandcamp.com/album/the-drifter-and-the-dream-part-i

With his distinctive voice, and a world weary insight, Matt Townsend delivers his original songs, formed in the wells of Folk music, 60’s rock and pop, indie rock, ambient music and the American songwriting tradition.Live, his band flows from high energy rock and roll, to quiet folk tunes and back. Bob Dylan, Neutral Milk Hotel, Neil Young are counted among some of his musical guiding lights.

The Asheville, North Carolina-based musician has been performing across the country since 2012. 2016 marks the anticipated release of Townsend’s latest work, The Drifter and the Dream (Part I), a five-track EP, which is part one of a double EP series. The songs were recorded at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville with producer Michael Selverne (Welcome to Mars Productions), and features Bill Berg (The drummer on the Minnesota sessions for Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, Cat Stevens, Leo Kottke). The first EP explores the personal relationship to social and political issues, spiritual connection, and humanness in a de-humanizing society. Along with recording and touring, Townsend is also the the founder of Eternal Mind Records, a new arts collective and record label in Asheville, NC.

In addition to recording his own album, Townsend was tapped to work with the Asheville Symphony for its latest release, The Asheville Symphony Sessions. Townsend’s song on the compilation, “For Now, We Are,” was arranged by Michael Bearden (Neil Young, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga).

To learn more about Matt Townsend and his upcoming dates, visit matttownsendmusic.com.
Band/Artist: Matt Townsend
Location: Asheville, NC
Styles: Indie-Folk, Americana, Folk-Rock
Similar to/RIYL: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Neutral Milk Hotel, Iron & Wine, Josh Ritter

CD: The Drifter and the Dream (part I)
Release date: December 2
Featured artist on the “Asheville Symphony Sessions” a collaborative record of 8 Asheville artists (including Steep Canyon Rangers and Lizz Wright) with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra. http://ashevillesymphony.org/sessions/ , Also one of 3 artists who performed a sold-out show (1,000 cap club) with the Symphony for the release of this album.
Performed at LEAF Festival May and Oct 2015 and July 2016.
Will be playing the south Florida Folk Festival in January.
Opened for Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, Big Thief, Ballroom Thieves, Family and Friends.
Toured the Eastern US playing over 180+ shows across the rom 2014-2016.
Joined Welcome to Mars Productions.
Founded Eternal Mind Records, a record label/arts collective based in Asheville. (www.eternalmindrecords.com)

Matt Townsend – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
Bill Berg – Drums
Rodney Easter Jr. – Bass
Jackson Dulaney – Lap Steel
Franklin Keel –Cello
River Guerguerian- Percussion
Carly Taich – Backing vocals
Kat Williams –Backing vocals
Adam Bonomo –Piano and Organ
Michael Selverne – Acoustic guitar
Charles Gately –Synth
Ryan Burns – Organ

All songs written by Matt Townsend (ASCAP)
Produced by Michael Selverne
for Welcome to Mars
Recorded by Julian Dreyer at Echo Mountain Recording, Asheville, NC.
Mixed by Michael Selverne and Julian Dreyer at Welcome to Mars, Asheville, NC
Mastered By Eric Boulanger at The Bakery

The Great American Madness
Came Down From the Mountain
Roaming Twilight
Freedom is Calling Again

Instagram: @matt_townsend_music

Artist contact: [email protected]
Press contact: [email protected]independentmusicpromotions.com

William Tyler – Modern Country

Guitarist and composer William Tyler has been thinking about America for a long time in the aftermath of 2013’s loose, rambling, and beautiful The Impossible Truth, which referenced the country’s musical traditions and landscapes. Afterwards, he spent almost two years touring solo, driving back and forth across the country. In a short promo trailer for Modern Country he stated that, “The cultural geography of this vanishing America is what I sense as a slow fade on these long road trips….It still lives, even as the highways and the high rises push it to the fringes of the countryside and the static of the airwaves.” This album is his “love letter to what we’re losing in America. To what we’ve already lost.” He wrote the music in Oxford, Mississippi, recorded it in Eau Claire, Wisconsin with co-producer and multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook, percussionist Glenn Kotche, and bassist Darin Gray, then finished it at home in Nashville. At the album’s heart lies a pervasive sense of loneliness and a longing for a home that exists only in memory. “Highway Anxiety” recalls Bill Frisell‘s roots music recordings from the ’90s, but the expansive sonic palette here, with reverbed electric guitars, droning synth, gospel piano, lap steel, Kotche‘s rolling snares, etc. are more panoramic and kinetic. “I’m Gonna Live Forever (If It Kills Me)” is built on a single acoustic country vamp that kaleidoscopically advances, plateaus, retreats, and begins again as each instrument engages and disengages. Blues and folk roots inform the album’s two hinge tracks: “Kingdom of Jones” was inspired by the Mississippi county that seceded from the Confederacy during the Civil War, while the wistful “Albion Moonlight” is titled after Kenneth Patchen‘s novel about an individual so unwilling to heed any but his own counsel, it proves his undoing. “Gone Clear” is built from intimate, shifting melodies offered in rounds toward a series of striking interlocking rhythmic patterns that point directly at Steve Reich‘s Electric Counterpoint: Different Trains with Pat Metheny. Kotche‘s range of percussion instruments (bells, marimbas, low toms, etc.) provide the guideposts for the dynamic changes. Closer “The Great Unwind” commences as a melancholy, nostalgic, country waltz. Its circular theme is articulated by sweetly played melody from reverbed guitar accompanied by bass, drums, and piano. Guitar feedback and noise are stacked on top until it vanishes under their weight. A short silence is interrupted by singing birds who introduce a new harmonic line, one that recalls the iconic vamp from Prince‘s “When You Were Mine.” It too eventually fades, leaving only bird song to close the album. Modern Country is vast in scope and ambition, but tightly written and expertly arranged. The sprawl of motion, texture, and color is reined in by immense, emotive lyricism and dynamic group interplay, making this musical “letter” to his vanishing nation well worth repeated listening.

Iron Wine & Ben Bridewell – Sing into my Mouth

It turns out that bearded gents Sam Beam of Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses were friends in their hometown of Columbia, South Carolina back before they were ever touring-bill companions or Sub Pop labelmates (mid- to late aughts), and well before they recorded a covers album together. Perhaps a studio collaboration was inevitable or even overdue given their amity, frequent path-crossing, and shared tastes and influences represented small-scale here on the 12-track Sing into My Mouth. The title is taken from lyrics in the opening track, “This Must Be the Place” by Talking Heads, a sign of the relative diversity to come, which bridges Sade, John Cale, El Perro del Mar, and Peter La Farge. The Talking Heads tune is a toned-down take with acoustic and slide guitars, bass, piano, accordion, and light percussion, representative of an album full of slide guitar-heavy arrangements that fall squarely within folky expectations. Versions most similar to the originals include Ronnie Lane‘s “Done This One Before,” ’70s U.K. band Unicorn‘s “No Way Out of Here” (better known via David Gilmore‘s cover), Spiritualized‘s “Straight and Narrow,” and fellow South Carolinians the Marshall Tucker Band‘s beautifully spare “Ab’s Song” — all folk-inspired or twang-leaning to begin with, and covered affectionately with Beam and Bridwell trading lead-vocal duty throughout the record. Most altered are the duo’s reworkings of the strings-supported, Brill Building-esque “God Knows (You Gotta Give to Get)” by Sweden’s El Perro del Mar, which is slowed down here and given an earthy woodwind and guitar delivery; Sade‘s “Bullet Proof Soul,” which still sounds uniquely Sade despite a rootsy rearrangement; and Them Two‘s 1967 soul plea “Am I a Good Man?,” previously covered by Bridwell‘s Band of Horses and captured with enthusiasm on Sing into My Mouth by piano, reed instruments, electric guitars, bass, and percussion. Other songs include Bonnie Raitt‘s “Anyday Woman,” John Cale‘s “You Know Me More Than I Know,” and J.J. Cale‘s “Magnolia.” That kind of variety keeps things interesting, though none of the arrangements comes as a real surprise with the exception of the closer, “Coyote, My Little Brother” (later covered by Pete Seeger but recorded by its songwriter Peter La Farge in 1963), a yodeling, Native American-inspired lament that gets full dream pop treatment with Bridwell on lead. Still, the represented songwriters and the sequencing, which nimbly waltzes through 50 years of song selections beginning with a quirky new wave tune and ending with a howling cautionary ballad, are rendered with grace. Those attracted to the collaboration’s premise will very likely appreciate its results.

Lord Hurton – Strange Trails

On their follow-up, Strange Trails, Lord Huron settle into the Western themes and sense of open prairies that marked the band’s debut, Lonesome Dreams. Frontman/songwriter Ben Schneider fully embraces the American West/Troubadour character, illustrated even in song titles like “Dead Man’s Hand,” “Meet Me in the Woods,” and “The Yawning Grave.” The album’s lyrics tell haunted stories of adventure and survival (“On the night you disappeared/Oh, if I had seen it clear/But a strange light in the sky was shining right into my eyes”), with nature imagery (“In a grave out here where the carrions cry”), and the occasional old-time turn of phrase (“Before I commence my ride/I’m asking Lily to be my bride”). With warm electric guitar sounds, soft and constant reverb, harmonized vocals, and a faint but persistent twang, it’s a contemporary, specifically Fleet Foxes-reminiscent, indie folk-influenced rock haunted by allusions to the Old West. Listeners may envision fringe and spurs without any overt country presence (though there’s certainly a subtle one) outside of lilting vocals, such as on “Way Out There.” The band still focuses more on atmosphere and haunting, harmonic sound and rhythm than on progressions or memorable hooks, but the landscapes that they create are consistent and sound-defining, and there’s no shortage of eerie beauty in the melodies. “The Night We Met,” in particular, has a lullaby quality to its wistful, singsong melody (“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do/Haunted by the ghost of you”). The record takes a few interesting musical routes on its journey: the reverbed rockabilly and surf sounds of “The World Ender,” the campfire-gathering feel of “Meet Me in the Woods” with handclaps and female vocal harmonies, and the pulsing, ramblin’ road tune “Frozen Pines” all contribute to an impression of timelessness as well as a certain folksiness befitting the album’s well-established rural themes. There are no big surprises here; fans of Lonesome Dreams will surely be pleased, and Strange Trails‘ serene ambience and unconventional narrative may capture the imagination of inclined first-timers.

West My Friend

Described as everything from indie-roots to chamber-folk, West My Friend has an acoustic blend of instruments and four-part harmonies that challenges the conventions of popular music. The band features pure and thrillingly elastic vocals with catchy arrangements of bass, guitar, mandolin, and accordion that draw from jazz, classical, folk, and pop influences. Inspired by artists such as Owen Pallett, Joanna Newsom, Bright Eyes, The Decemberists, and the Punch Brothers, and forged from a sonically adventurous acoustic music scene on Canada’s west coast, West My Friend is proving to be a key part of a new generation of grassroots folk music.

The wealth of musical experience and classical training in the group creates an interesting backdrop for their songwriting, allowing for levels of detail, intricacy, and counterpoint balanced with moments of simplicity. Their diversity in taste and influences and a keen interest in both traditional sounds and innovation leads to constant exploration of new sounds that places them as a distinctive voice in the landscape between Canadian folk and indie-pop. West My Friend’s commitment to creating original indie-roots music, and their dedication to giving their audiences a meaningful and memorable experience, is sure to catch hold of listeners as they regularly tour through Canada, the United States, Europe, and beyond.

Quiet Hum, produced by Canadian mainstay David Travers-Smith (Wailin’ Jennys, Pharis & Jason Romero) is the third outing from West My Friend since the band formed at the turn of the decade.  Its 2012 debut, Place, garnered several nominations, including “Roots Album of the Year” and “Song of the Year” at the Vancouver Island Music Awards.  Its follow-up, 2014’s When The Ink Dries, was nominated for the Oliver Schroer “Pushing The Boundaries” Award at the Canadian Folk Music Awards and received the Readers’ Choice award for “Best New Sound of 2014” at Sleeping Bag Studios. With the release of Quiet Hum, the members of West My Friend build admirably on the body of work coming out of Victoria, Vancouver, and across British Columbia.

The Crane Wifes – Turn Out the Lights

The Crane Wives are a home grown indie-folk outfit from Grand Rapids, Michigan. They utilize three-part vocal harmonies, eclectic instrumentation, and a passion for song-craft to create organic music that is both accessible and innovative. Each live show features contagious energy as well as original music that ranges from whisper quiet ballads to danceable grooves. 

The band formed in late August of 2010 and has released three full-length albums, “Safe Ship, Harbored” (2011), “The Fool In HerWedding Gown” (2012), and “Coyote Stories” (2015) with a fourth album “Foxlore”released April 2nd, 2016.