Talent is talent. One of the reasons that I founded JaxxShack is to expose the fact that an artist who records their original song on an iPhone voice memo application is, almost 100% of the time, much more interesting & passionate than the over-produced studio artifact. Money buys a staff of people & auto-tune (hey, J-Lo), but it will never buy organic, transparent, and raw talent. There are so many hidden gems out in the world, yet we listen to the same songs on the radio so often that we know the words even if we can’t stand the song. Don’t get me wrong – I love me some Britney Spears. But when someone pours their heart and soul into their music, we’re committed paying attention, even when it feels like no one else is.
So that organic, transparent, and raw talent we were talking about?: Joe Terrell and Hannah Thompson (no relation) came together in 2011 to form The Johannas. This portmanteau of their names just seemed like a fun and clever way to represent themselves as a songwriting duo, but after listening through their first album, A Place You Have Prepared For Me, I realized it actually speaks to and embodies their southern folk sound. In fact, Joe’s haunting tone and Hannah’s vocal inflection, which balances on the edge of a ragtime croon, create a quietly powerful musical blend. The inclusion of the banjo and harmonica in The Johanna’s music makes them stand out, and also allows the music to sing for itself in many instances.
After releasing their first album, The Johannas picked up a few new members, Sam Tocci & Charlie Perry, previously of Crisco Dreams, and started working on a new album: Get Ugly. The first single off of this album, Your Own Health, brings a melancholy approach to a more developed sound.
Brian Berger kicks off our new class of posts that we’re going to call “On Our Radar.” Short, sweet, and to the point – we just want to introduce you to these artists, give you a taste of their songs, and provide you with a few links back to their stuff so you can find out more for yourself if you really dig them.
Brian Berger – Indiana – EP, Weekend Astronauts to be released on June 24th
Hi, our name is JaxxShack and it’s been 2 weeks since we brought you your last Spotlight Artist. Totally unacceptable, we know! BUT JaxxShack is super excited to bring you more content and even more new music moving forward after a brief restructuring period. Make sure you’re following our Twitter (@JaxxShack) and Facebook (facebook.com/JaxxShack) pages as well so you don’t miss our Social Exclusive artists. But enough of the shameless social media plug.
Beth Macari is worth the wait. As soon as I heard that groovy bass line in the opening of her single, VooDoo, my interest was piqued. Then, I was hit with her soulful voice. Man, she has some powerful pipes with a refreshing tone that makes you want to just sing along.
I don’t know what they’re putting in the water over in England, but Beth is yet another JaxxShack Spotlight Artist from across the pond. She made it to number 18 on the iTunes Singer-Songwriter chart with her debut single, Heartstrings. In 2015, she was chosen by Nigel Wright to front the house band for the new TV game show, Bring the Noise (on which Nicole Scherzinger hosts, btw).
We first introduced you to Mancunian singer/songwriter Richard Lomax back in April when we launched JaxxShack. He’s back with a new single, Choose Your Own Adventure. It’ll be available on iTunes and Spotify starting on June 24th, but you can check out the Official Video below!
Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox – Postmodern Jukebox is the brainchild masterpiece of arranger Scott Bradlee. PMJ releases YouTube videos each week, which have featured over 70 different guest performers over the years, that turn popular songs into vintage swing/jazz/ragtime gems. The perfect soundtrack to your next Gatsby-esque party.
Ghostland Observatory – This duo from Austin, Texas melds electro music with funk rhythms and rock vocals. They’ve perfected their inventive sound over the last 12 years, and when I listen to them I’m not sure if I want to go for a run or write some crazy blog posts while drinking a bottle of Captain Morgan (one of those little “personal” bottles… I’m not a complete mess).
Lake Street Dive – Awesome folk & southern rock vibes abound. Singer Rachael Price provides an impressive range and bluesy tones, while the rest of the band plays, ya know, the typical instrumental lineup – drums, guitar, trumpet and upright bass. The name? They were inspired by a street in Minnesota with a ton of dive bars (Go Vikings!!!).
Last Saturday night, I celebrated the engagement of two really great friends at a gem of a spot in NYC: Howl at the Moon Dueling Piano Bar. I was not paid to write about them, I’m just absolutely stunned at the level of talent that was on stage. Anything you wanted to hear – from the popular 90’s hits, to singles that were released last week, to the most obscure Disney song – this group of brilliantly gifted musicians played flawlessly & with infectious energy. I left without a voice from scream-singing RENT & Bruno Mars songs (I feel you judging), and exhausted from dancing for 3 hours straight. Recommend.
It’s obviously the Week of the Piano (that has to be some astrological *thing*, right?), because I had already planned to write about the talented, funky, and business savvy Mr. JoeJoeKeys. It’s about time we had a little funk infusion on JaxxShack.
It’s completely apparent from the lyrics in each of his songs that JoeJoeKeys has a sincere passion for music. His rhythms vary from song to song while still maintaining that funky groove that just makes you want to dance. He reminds me of one of my favorite under-the-radar artists, Allen Stone, but with a bit more aggressive instrumental construction behind him. (Also) recommend.
We look everywhere to uncover interesting and talented new artists from around the world. Sometimes we spend hours searching every corner of the internet for a great fit, and sometimes a great band just sends us a DM on Twitter about a radio contest that they’re participating in. Unparalleled Height earned our vote.
You know those singers that claim they were singing the second they left the womb (“even before started I talking!”), and that they received a standing ovation at their 3rd grade talent show from a misty-eyed audience after their rendition of Tomorrow from Annie, so they knew they were destined to be a *star*? My favorite thing about Ashlinn Gray is that singing did not come naturally to her. She grew up in an artistic family, so unsurprisingly, she was in singing, piano, and drama lessons by the age of 4. After realizing that singing wasn’t her strong suit, she pursued it even more – working with some of South Africa’s top vocal coaches.
So just in case you were wondering, as I was, what the hell a troubadour is – this is for you:
trou·ba·dournoun: a French medieval lyric poet composing and singing in Provençal in the 11th to 13th centuries, especially on the theme of courtly love.
synonyms: minstrel, singer, balladeer, poet, bard; “a band of wandering troubadours”
Mama Knows – Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds. Love Sister Sparrow’s bluesy sound and raspy undertones. If you like this, you NEED to listen to her flawless version of Bridge Over Troubled Water. I’m probably 13k of it’s 13,900 views on YouTube.
Cilver – I’m America. The female led rock band Cilver hits hard with this anthemic powerhouse track off of their new album Not The End Of The World. They’re the rock group you’ve been looking for: clean production without that dude that tries way too hard to sound grunge and the guitarist that wants to overpower the rest of the band with his sweet licks.
Leon Bridges – Pull Away. You may have heard his track Coming Home which was one of the most viral tracks on Spotify, and Pull Away is not a stark departure from that Motown sound. Ironically, (Leon must be very confused) the tracks have completely opposite messages, but sound like extensions of the same song.