INsiders Guide: MIREI, Noah Gundersen, Sam Himself, Scott Hirsch, AJ Mitchell, Sad China, Calling All Captains, Darci, Alicia Stockman, Johnny Stimson, Graham Lake….

Pop, R&B, and chill electronic-influenced Japanese artist MIREI returns with a lush video for new jazz-laced single “1998” out now via Cool Japan Music.

Named after MIREI’s birth year, the track explores her feelings about being stuck between two generations. Split between Millennials and Gen-Zers, she struggles to find which one is most relatable to her and where she belongs. She asks on the chorus, “am I young, or am I old?” The lyrics are filled with juxtapositions of the two age groups, the lyrics mention the shift from handmade mixtapes to Spotify’s algorithmically generated playlists, hand-rolled car windows to self-driving cars, watching celebrity tabloid relationships to swiping left on dating apps. It’ll have you in your feels as MIREI goes down memory lane and reflects on how things have changed over the years.

 On the track, MIREI says, “While looking back at the culture I grew up with, I reflected on who I am and where I belong… Britney Spears with Justin Timberlake in the all denim outfit still brings me back to my sweet childhood memories, and makes me feel like I’m a ’90s Baby. But on the other hand, I love Olivia Rodrigo, and I am so hooked on TikTok, so I feel like I’m much younger. I feel like my birth year, 1998, is a limbo year in between it all.” 

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Noah Gundersen releases his new album, A Pillar of Salt today via Cooking Vinyl.

 LISTEN TO A PILLAR OF SALT

 Gundersen’s fifth solo LP and first new album in more than two years, A Pillar of Salt is accompanied by a video for his song by today’s premiere, “Atlantis (Featuring Phoebe Bridgers) available now at all digital platforms HERE.

 WATCH “ATLANTIS (FEATURING PHOEBE BRIDGERS)”

WATCH “SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE”

Gundersen says of the video, “The Atlantis video was shot on iPhone by my best friend Red Williamson. We’ve been buds for 15 years. Big thanks to our friend Craig for letting us use his venue in Bellingham, The Wild Buffalo. Thanks to my fiancé, Misha for pulling Red down a walking path in a cart so we could shoot those night shots. Thank you, Joey, for the sick jacket. Phoebe may not be physically in the video but she’s there in spirit as the sweet voice of my inner monologue.”

 Gundersen and Bridgers are long-time friends, with Bridgers recently telling NPR, “I’ve been a Noah Gundersen fan since I was a teenager. He changed the way I write music, made me more comfortable with being honest in my songs. Getting to sing with him was like getting pulled onstage by your favorite band during a show.”

On the heels of his breakout year, Swiss indie rocker Sam Himself – New Yorker by choice, Fondue Western baritone by trade – prepares to release his debut album, Power Ballads (October 8th). The Brooklyn-based songwriter, performer, and multi-instrumentalist has been sounding the bell for his first LP with a number of singles, most recently “La Paz” and “What It’s Worth,” which premiered via Under The Radar Magazine and was picked up by KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic and KEXP’s The Morning Show, among others: as of September 2021, three out of four album singles remain on public and commercial rotation in Germany, France, Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe and the US. 

Sam Himself’s full-length debut follows last year’s acclaimed EP Slow Drugs, the artist’s third, which – in addition to the international press, radio airplay, numerous DSP editorial features and critical praise for the accompanying music videos – earned him the Swiss National Broadcasting Service’s Best Talent Award in 2020 and, in early 2021, a nomination for a Swiss Music Award, the most prestigious national prize of its kind in Sam’s home country. 

Acclaimed singer-songwriter-producer-musician Scott Hirsch today releases his third solo album Windless Day through Echo Magic Records with Soundly Music. To mark the occasion, he’s sharing an imaginative new music video for the song “Night People.”

 An original member of Hiss Golden Messenger, Hirsch notes that the video was made “with a couple friends, director Myles Jewell who animated, and fellow musician and photographer/cinematographer Brendan Willing James. I was inspired by the brilliant Charles and Ray Eames short film “Powers of Ten (1977)” – and the discovery of human beings’ minuscule existence in the universe, and how it relates to our overinflated egos. Somehow these concepts were compatible for me with the context of my song “Night People” and generally being at the mercy of nature in our lives. I’m happy with how the collage nature of the visuals aligns with the way the song came together in the studio which was also in a patchwork, quilt-like fashion.

 Presenting a phenomenal widescreen take on pop, gold-certified singer-songwriter AJ Mitchell reveals his anxiously awaited full-length debut album, SKYVIEW, today.  Get the album HERE via Vol 1./Epic Records.

A full circle moment, the album is executive produced by the legendary Mike Dean [Travis Scott, Kanye West], who produced AJ’s first-ever and breakthrough single “Used To Be.” SKYVIEW traces AJ’s journey from the tiny Illinois town of Belleville to the doorstep of stardom—on his own terms. Named after the drive-in movie theater he grew up going to as an escape from his everyday life, SKYVIEW is true  coming-of-age record. It includes previously shared fan favorites such as “Cameras On, “Stop,” “Slow Dance” [feat. Ava Max], and the aforementioned, “Used To Be. The album also houses brand-new songs such as highlights “Heaven’s Gate,” “Lovers On The Moon,” and “Miss You.” Prior to release, album tracks have already reeled in over half-a-billion total streams and counting. Check out the full tracklisting below.

To celebrate the album’s arrival, he also shares the music video for his new single “Hi-Lo” today. Watch it HERE. On the track, warm keys echo between a sparse beat. He flexes his showstopping vocal range, stretching from intimate verses into an irresistible refrain uplifted by his dynamite falsetto. He instantly intoxicates as he holds the high notes on chorus, “I get hi-lo, up down, then I go, ‘Yes no’.” The accompanying visual depicts a cinematic romance with AJ rocking futuristic high fashion in hues of sky blue as he parties in an idyllic and dreamy suburb.

About the album, AJ Mitchell commented, SKYVIEW is the final chapter of the first era of my artist journey. In 2016, I released my first single “Used To Be”, a song I had written at 13-years-old.  That song set me into a year journey traveling the world; learning, writing, collaborating, performing and constantly evolving. In that time, I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with so many talented artists, writers, producers, photographers, and directors around the world. Those collaborations and experiences have sculpted who I am today. I dove into this industry at 15-years-old, only knowing two things: I wanted to write songs and sing them as my career. SKYVIEW is the summary of my artist journey up until now. As a kid, the Skyview Drive-In theater was a place in my small town of Belleville, Illinois that had the power to transport me into a world of endless possibilities. Today, SKYVIEW is proof that anything can happen if you are willing to take the risk and do the work necessary to make any dream come true.”

Photo Credit: Jenn Xu

Just 2 weeks ahead of the release of their debut full-length album, Vancouver musician Sad China (aka Sunny Chen) gives us another taste of what’s to come with their new single ‘Bless.Bliss’ out today on all digital streaming platforms. Listen here‘Bless.bliss’ is the 3rd single from Sad China’s new bilingual hyperpop quarantine album ilyimy, which is set for release on October 22nd. The R&B flavoured indie pop track features Vancouver musicians Khamisa and Adewolf—a collab that came together at the start of the pandemic.“Everything comes together when the universe says it’s time,” says Sad China. “I made this song with friends over Zoom, which showed us it’s the little things that make life worth living for, like listening to the sound of rain, daydreaming about what’s possible, making art with friends, holding space for each other…even if it’s virtually for now. It’s the little things that help us heal and grow. Trust the process.”Sad China worked closely with experimental electronic artist Kerub (aka Vi Levitt) on their new album, crafting 7 of the 10 tracks with them. Created during the COVID pandemic, ilyimy is a quarantine album that Sad China wrote for all of us—their community, their ancestors, and their loved ones.

Originating from small towns outside of Edmonton, Alberta, pop-punk/post-hardcore band Calling All Captains, consisting of Luc Gauthier (vocals), Brad Bremner (guitar/vocals), Connor Dawkins (guitar/vocals), Nick Malychuk (bass), and Tim Wilson (drums), has been manifesting the release of their debut full-length record, Slowly Getting Better, for the past few years and are eager to finally share their creations with the world.

Slowly Getting Better is a compilation of hardships, persistence, love, and acceptance, and is a thrilling follow up to the 2019 EP, Nothing Grows Here. Calling All Captains’ unique sound allows them to dip their toes in both the pop-punk and post-hardcore realms using poppy instrumental elements with a punk-like, aggressive vocal style.

After their initial recording plans were halted in 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic, the band was able to bring in their Nothing Grows Here producer, Quinn Cyrankiewicz, and safely record the album at The Audio Department in their hometown. With more demos and songs than they’d ever written before, the band got to work refining and perfecting every note of every song, taking weeks to decide which were good enough to make the cut for their first debut full length album Slowly Getting Better.

Darci’s new EP Long Days Away is finally here. A hot streak of singles including ‘Stunt’‘Rose Petals’, ‘Last Call’, and ‘Burn’ (featuring Justin Bieber collaborator BEAM) has gained Darci support from the likes of Zane LoweTravis Mills, and more this year as he’s peeled back the layers on this new project. Now we receive the full 9-track pack as it’s meant to be heard. On top of the previously released singles, the project includes 3 unheard songs including a feature from platinum singer-songwriter/producer CADE (Cheat Codes, Lauv, Jennifer Lopez).

 

Following up his Crazy Beautiful Blackout EP, Long Days Away continues to showcase Darci’s versatility. The project combines contemporary R&B, alternative pop, electronic, and hip-hop while remaining grounded in his nocturnal signature sound fans have come to love, all guided by executive production from long time collaborator Rance Riley.

 

“2020 kind’ve sucked, but all that time away from travel, friends, and family did give space to reflect and create. I think we all felt that in a way. ‘Long Days Away’ is the result of that time and space for me. These are some of my favorite songs I’ve ever made. It reminds me that even in the worst of times, there can be positives. Hope y’all enjoy, cheers.”  Darci

 

Since first appearing online, the completely independent artist has created a “cult-like” following, amassing 80,000,000+ streams by 2021. Darci is a glowing example in a list of independent artists choosing to create on their own terms, building businesses from the ground up and finding success in the modern music landscape. With his single “On My Own” eclipsing 15,000,000+ streams on Spotify, and multiple other tracks reaching 3,000,000+ streams across platforms, Darci has continued to build momentum dropping tracks throughout the year.

Alicia Stockman is a Utah-based folk-meets-Americana singer-songwriter whose music pulls back the veil to reveal everyday vulnerability. Her songs are written like intimate moments, drawing listeners into a relatable emotional journey. 

At a young age, Alicia Stockman began her deep love for music, compelled by the vivid storytelling of powerhouse songwriters including Patty Griffin, Brandi Carlile and Jewel.  After performing in a loud rock n’ roll band playing bars with sticky floors and belting out Stevie Wonder tunes, Alicia began writing her own music more seriously.  Realizing her new songs didn’t have a place in a loud bar with a party atmosphere, she branched out and started playing more intimate venues, quickly finding her home in the folk and Americana scene. Her whisky-dipped soulful vocals and creative takes on day-to-day realities soon sparked the interest of “Nashville’s Americana Queen” Mary Bragg who began collaborating with Alicia on her new album.

Her upcoming debut 10-track full-length album is entitled These Four Walls and is a collection of  “songs to make you feel and feel seen.” The album says, “I see you. I’ve been there. I understand.” Written over a three year period, These Four Walls is a luminous roots release infused with gritty blues rock guitar licks and attention worthy melodies. 

The first track on the album, “Stay Between The Lines,” was written during a long drive home from New Mexico and the highway inspired single discusses how we all can sometimes “dance between right and wrong and personal limits and boundaries to keep life interesting.” The reverb drenched guitar and wild west twang make “Stay Between The Lines” an alluring listen. 

In the album’s title track, “These Four Walls,” Alicia hopes to destigmatize the conversation on mental health. She confides, “I wrote ‘These Four Walls’ to help me process a former relationship in which my partner had severe depression/anxiety disorder. This song was my way of unpacking all that and finding a way back to myself.” The song features a stripped-down melody with dreamy, tender lyrics that showcase her vulnerability as an artist. 

Recognized for her unique songwriting and performance formula, Alicia has received accolades from several performing songwriter competitions including Songwriter Serenade, Tucson Folk Festival, Suzanne Millsaps Songwriter Competition, and the Wildflower! Arts and Music Festival. 

These Four Walls is due for release November 5th 2021, worldwide.

Johnny Stimson blends a soulful rasp with a modern pop sensibility to create melodies that make a little home in your heart. Sprinkled with RnB overtones and a classic singer/songwriter sensitivity, he aims to spread love through music. Elton John signed Stimson to Rocket Records in 2015 after his single, “Holding On”, broke a Shazam record for an unsigned artist in the U.K. His songs have been featured in many TV shows and advertisements, including Vampire Diaries, The Flash, Trophy Wife, and The Fosters. In 2018, Stimson’s song, “Honeymoon” went viral in Indonesia, peaking at #2. Following tours with SoMo and Tori Kelly, Stimson is releasing a series of songs for his upcoming project, including self-produced singles “Flower”, “Hard to Say Goodbye”, “Smile” and “Butterflies”.

In some ways, Graham Lake was predestined to make music in the first place. Born to musician parents, mom played classical piano on tour as she carried him in utero. During the first few years of his life, she even fed him in between sets. His father played trumpet, guitar, and sang opera. Both parents taught music in Stockholm. At five-years-old, Graham picked up cello, playing it until the age of fifteen. By the time he entered high school, he had discovered Martin Garrix on YouTube and experienced another musical revelation. He downloaded production software on his computer and started to cook up electronic instrumentals. At the same time, he DJ’ed at weddings and family parties. During his last year of high school, he went through “real love, a breakup, and heartbreak” for the first time and channeled those emotions into lyrics and vocals. Around the same time, he blindly reached out to infamous Swedish rap collective ODZ in order to potentially produce or write together. They invited him to a writing camp, and his music made its way to Linus “Style of Eye” Eklöw of iconic GRAMMY® Award-nominated multi platinum duo Galantis. Linus took Graham under his wing, sharing wisdom and developing his talents in the studio. Stay tuned for more music from this collaboration to come. 

neillfrazer@hotmail.com

Written By: Neill Frazer

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