Brooklyn & a Banjo: The Johannas

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.

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Beth Macari’s VooDoo Voice

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 ( 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).

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JoeJoeKeys: What the Funk!

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.

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Artist Spotlight: Unparalleled Height

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.

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Artist Spotlight: Ashlinn Gray

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.

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Artist Spotlight: Rent Party Troubadours

So just in case you were wondering, as I was, what the hell a troubadour is – this is for you:

trou·ba·dour noun: 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”

Troubadours in NYC is a fantastic visual.

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Artist Spotlight: The Artificial Spring

The most interesting show I’ve ever seen was Ben Folds performing with yMusic. Music genius aside, Ben Folds has successfully replaced the guitar with a piano in his various bands to create rock music with more depth and agility than we typically see with the standard drum-bass-guitar lineup. The Artificial Spring, fronted by keyboardist Sean Embry-Stine, embraces this guitar/keyboard swap and strong pop overtones resulting in a “Ben Folds meets A Great Big World” sound.

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Artist Spotlight: Justin Sosa

When I listen to artist submissions I typically just glance at their description of their own sound and aim to develop my own opinion. Music is subjective, and I find that I often hear influences from various styles and genres in every artist’s music – many times in a single song. But, Justin Sosa has mastered the art of defining his own sound so succinctly I couldn’t have put it better myself: Americana-infused, new wave tinged, alternative rock.

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Artist Spotlight: Greg in Good Company

While developing the idea for this blog, I tweeted my contact form out to see if any artists would let me showcase their work (even though I still hadn’t even come up with a blog name). Truthfully, I wasn’t expecting to hear much of anything right away, but only a few minutes later I received an email from Greg Gilman about his band – Greg in Good Company. Sitting there and listening to Greg in Good Company’s debut EP was the first time I had the thought, “This was a really good idea”.

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Artist Spotlight: Robbie Rosen

What were you doing at 22 years old? Had you already been in the Top 16 of American Idol, debuted at #16 on Italy’s iTunes Dance Charts, watched your original song be featured throughout March Madness on CBS, or opened up for Shawn Mendes, Jake Miller, Karmin, Aaron Carter, or Cassadee Pope?

No?! Obviously. Because you are not musical-phenom-slash-nicest-person-EVER: Robbie Rosen.

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