Sounds: Vern Matz // Cityscapes

Vern Matz, the result of an Ivy League collaboration based on the campus of Yale University, is a delicate, emotive blend of indie rock, folk, and alternative sensibilities, wrapped up in mellow rhythms and bluesy melodies. “Cityscapes,” their latest release, drifts naturally, like a leaf on a cool autumn breeze, moving along at an easy pace as lead singer Daniel Belgrad strings together a beautiful story.

“For now, it’s fine
Waste of our time
Out where the stars forget to shine.” 

“Hold your breath, it’ll all be over soon / Stuck inside this cage that’s built for you / Stuck inside this cage that can’t fit two,” Belgrad sings. The first release from their upcoming Bobblehead EP, “Cityscapes” is the perfect soundtrack to those January blues.

Stream “Cityscapes” here:

Sounds x Premiere: Banana Cream // We’ll Shine

Words by William

Banana Cream‘s “We’ll Shine” is a dreamy and ethereal lullaby. Its beeps and dings are the edge of falling asleep. You know that moment? You’re warm, surrounded and covered in blankets and pillows as you drift in and out of sleep. Reality gets a little fuzzy at that point — you’re in bed, but you’re somewhere else, too. You’re one foot in a dream.

For me, I get pulled back into a warm July day in 2013. I was sprawled out in the grass by a lake. Fish jumped, birds chirped, and kids laughed somewhere nearby while I read “Leaves of Grass.” This tune pulls me back to that moment, and the warmth of my bed can almost be mistaken for the warmth of the summer sun.

Banana Cream is the Commerce, California based lo-fi, bedroom music project created by multi-talented Will Gonzalez. He writes, records, mixes and produces for Banana Cream at his home studio.

Hear it below:

Sounds: Let Me Know x Banana Cream Boy

Words by William

I’m back in my bedroom and up in my head with Banana Cream. This dreamy bedroom pop project by Will Gonzalez is the sound of standing in the cold far past when you said you’d be home. Trying to cover a new tattoo. Delete a text message. Cover the liquor on your breath. Practicing to lie away the fun that occupied your night.

Gentle harmony and a heavy beat keep you moving while you fumble for your keys. Your immediate future looks grim, but it was worth it. You were you for just a little while.

Hear it below:

Wm

Sounds: Fresh Brad x Inning

I bake a lot of bread during the summer which inspired me to write a song about leisure, love, and baking.

Everyone and their mama knows that I have this major ear-crush on Inning. Their sound is a full-body experience, the vocals touch your soul, the instrumentals stroke your ears, and everything just feels pure but also sad at the same time; and also complete.

Does that make any sense? Sometimes I feel like I’m just writing an online diary or talking to one of those modern internet therapists.

I guess that’s what music is anyway.

Inning got its start last fall at The University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia (apparently it’s a really good school. fun fact: my uncle went there). The cool thing about Inning is that it sounds like a full band but it’s actually just the homie Evan Frolov, laying out his life and love and soul and everything from his Macbook Pro in his dorm to the internet waves. He’s deep and cool; understands complexities of life, but is able to make them feel so simple and soulful. Which is a fucking art.

I think that good lyrics come from the words spoken on the street. If I don’t say it in real life, I won’t sing it, unless I’m being ironic, but I haven’t smoked that much pot.

So the thing about this track is that unlike some other tracks of his that really hit home (Expensive Flights makes me cry), this track truly is just about his love of baking bread, and love, and leisure.

It’s a mix of what you get with Inning and that’s what I love about them. It’s accessible and fun; beautiful and sad; and leaves a little spot on your heart.

This review was not paid for, I just really like their music. Hopefully you will too …

Sounds: D.C. Party Machine x Inning

Charlottesville, VA indie rock group Inning – featuring songwriter/vocalist Evan Frolov – made their debut on Left Bank a few weeks ago with the shoegaze dream track, “White Girls, Black Jackets.” The second release and title track from Inning’s debut EP, The D.C. Party Machine EP, “D.C. Party Machine” is an equally dreamy track chronicling a new era of Frolov’s life.

Inspired by a stint as an intern in Washington, D.C., “D.C. Party Machine” is a love song to the city and the changes Frolov experienced during his time there.

“I felt proud of my accomplishments and confident in myself,” Frolov says. “It was a departure from the indie rock, awkward, slightly self-deprecating persona I had somehow acquired. But while in D.C., I felt respected. I was making money doing something I loved, and I was going to fancy parties. This song is an ode to adulthood, and a love song for D.C. and myself.”

Adept at painting a scene with great detail (I left my car on Wall Street / And I look cool with my shades on / And every blonde girl thinks I’m so tight / I wanna be there / I even try), Frolov has a unique ability to draw me into the song until I’m there with him, walking into a party with a bottle of rum in a brown bag because “I’m no boring birthday card.” I can’t be sure, but I might even love D.C.

Watch the music video to “D.C. Party Machine” here:

Sounds: Hearth Music’s Best of 2018 Playlist

Words by Kat Bula, Hearth Music

I’m delighted that Left Bank has invited me to introduce this playlist of a few of the amazing artists we at Hearth PR have had the honor of promoting this year.  As the firm’s newest publicist, it’s been a great chance to catch up on the ones I missed before I started at Hearth…and what a catalog! From gritty fringe country to poignant craft songwriters, from roots traditionalism to lush indie shot through with Arctic throat singing, here’s a sampling of 2018’s best:

J.P. Harris – “JP’s Florida Blues #1” 

Free Dirt Records had a big year this year, and fringe country artist JP Harris was kind of their flagship. A carpenter by day, JP’s lived a Woody Guthrie life, hopping trains and living in the mountains. But his new album taps into his wide Nashville network (and was produced by Morgan Jahnig of Old Crow Medicine Show).

Sunny War – “Gotta Live It”

One of our breakout artists this year, Sunny War came off the LA streets with a wildly inventive and virtuosic guitar style, and lyrics that were brutally honest views at life, love, and being black in America right now.  

The Rails – “Hanging On”

The Rails are like if Nick Drake and Coldplay had a fashionable British baby, but without any of the sentimentalism. They’re perfect for an angry walk around town, the soundtrack for your morning commute, or seeing your lover in a more honest light.  

Jonathan Byrd – “Taking It Back”

Byrd’s diamond-sharp songcraft is in turns slyly comedic, bittersweet, and vividly narrative.  Expansive electric guitar and cello convey the vastness and grit of the American West, home to many of the ranch hands, roughnecks, and other contemporary cowboys that populate Byrd‘s songs.

Vivian Leva – “Bottom of the Glass”

We still can’t figure out how Appalachian-country songwriter Vivian Leva, not even old enough to drink, could write a song that so piercingly describes a marriage gone cold. “Bottom of the Glass” sounds like a tears-in-your-beer instant-classic but chills our bones with its hard observations.

The Jellyman’s Daughter – “Oh Boy”

With stunning duet vocals and sweeping string arrangements, this Edinburgh duo seamlessly blends roots music influences with a contemporary indie folk sensibility and loads of heart.

3hattrio – “Faith”

3hattrio’s American Desert music has a wild and otherworldly sound, the product of three very different musicians merging their work together with the arid, high-altitude soil and shifting shadows of the Utah wilderness. Mixing the routine with the unusual, they fuse American folk music with outsider elements like autotune, psychedelia, and minimalism.

Beatrice Deer – “Takugiursugit” 

Beatrice Deer is wildly difficult to classify; not because she refuses to be, but because a cloud of mystery clings to each of her artistic endeavors (she is also a seamstress and educator). Her throat singing, in the vein of Tanya Tagaq, brings an eerie beauty to her releases that has earned her countless awards, such as the Canadian Aboriginal Music Award. Her latest record, My All To You, calls upon the strength of her native culture and womanhood.

Pharis & Jason Romero – “Sweet Old Religion”

Masters of acoustic tone; no other duo in roots music sounds like this. The songs on the new album tap into old world spirituality and the love of community.

Kevin Gordon – “Saint On A Chain”

Kevin Gordon is an anomaly as a storyteller. In Lucinda Williams’ words, “His songs are like short stories.” In the economy of words, Gordon is a savvy deal-maker, imbuing the final product with a value that is hard to come by in the broad landscape of contemporary music. Whether he has more in common with John Prine or Jim Jarmusch or Ovid or Walker Percy is a discussion that could be had over the course of a four-pint night in a muggy Nashville bar, but even then, it would be difficult to arrive at a conclusion. But in any case, as Buddy Miller says, “It reminds me why I love music.”

Leftover Salmon – “Show Me Something Higher”

Americana originals Leftover Salmon have been on the road for thirty years, but the music only grows brighter. Their new album features more contributions from each band member, taking them into new territory like horn-blasting R&B and reverb-drenched desert noir.

Sounds: Vern Matz // Shelby

Vern Matz formed at Yale University, where the members are currently finishing up their undergraduate studies. The bandmates met at a college party and instantly connected over their mutual admiration for Radiohead—it was like love at first sight.

Got this adorable track in from this Yale University band, Vern Matz. According to their Facebook page, they are “the lovechild of a philosophy student, an investment banker, and a boy with a David Foster Wallace tattoo.” Can I be 10 years younger so we can be friends?

Vern Matz’s eponymous debut EP was born out of several road trips between New Haven and Philadelphia. In a lot of ways, the EP is about Vern Matz coming of age—as individuals and as a band. Faced with finding a place in the world, the band shies away from those looming decisions and instead embraces a wistful indifference.

The single from their EP, “Shelby Park” is this amazing, smooth-sailing track that is very reminiscent of Wilco; and even brings back some old nostalgia from my own college days with Yellowcard and Dashboard in that slow and sentimental, but also catchy kind of way.

“As a band, we call the song Shelby Park — “Shelby”. Perhaps we are on a first name basis with the song because of how close we have grown to it; Shelby’s a big part of our lives now. But this wasn’t always the case. Shelby Park didn’t have it’s identity until it was done. It was only until after the song was complete that it really grew on all of us.”

Listen to the track here xx