MUSIC

Wilmah Release Emotional, Risk-Taking Single “It Will Always Be You”

Wilmah release It Will Always Be You
Photo by Alec Ilstrup

“Chin on wrist adoration from the start,” is not only a beautifully written song lyric but the perfect way to describe listening to the band Wilmah for the first time. The pop duo from NYC creates tracks that evoke infinite heart eye emoji reactions from their fans. In their newest release, “It Will Always Be You,” Wilmah bottles up those feelings and delivers them in a jazz heavy, R&B inspired tune.

“Someone translate what I’m feeling…”

Matt Connolly and William O’Connor (hence Wil+mah), have known each other since grade school and played in the middle school band together. They are the definition of a ‘do-it-yourself’ group when it comes to songwriting, instrumentation, and production. Their songs can either have you dancing like no one’s watching or sobbing on the floor reminiscing on old scars. Wilmah draws their fans in with poppy feel-good tunes such as “Dancing With a Mixed Drink,” and “Forever,” while also incorporating teenage angst soundtrack cuts such as “Nothing to Say,” and “Secretly Sad.”

The band’s release of “It Will Always Be You” combines the best of both worlds for Wilmah fans. The song will have you spinning around the room one minute and crying happy tears the next. Either way, it is one that you will want to spin endlessly into fall.

“It Will Always Be You” // Unlike Any Wilmah Track You’ve Heard Before

My chat with Wilmah was full of laughs and gushing over similar interests in the music industry. It certainly did not take long to realize that these two have what it takes to conquer their bucket list goals as a band. Citing inspiration from The 1975, LANY, and MGMT, they embrace a genreless music era in the creation of their sounds.

“It Will Always Be You” is a surprising and risk-taking track for Wilmah and their fanbase. It is not often that you hear the type of production and instrumentation that the song incorporates. On first listen, you may be wondering who is playing the saxophone and how the sounds all came together. Matt and Will explain that this is their first collaborative type track where they feature another musician. Upon receiving a relatively well laid out demo of the track online, the saxophonist added his original flare to the sections they had chosen for the feature.

The saxophone collaboration is not the only surprise on “It Will Always Be You.” Fans will undoubtedly be drooling over the key changes at the end of the song as well. The band mentions that they enjoy playing around with different formats and crazy ideas when putting songs together. They recount that “It Will Always Be You” is a product of that experimentation.

“And my sweet brain plays tricks on me every day…”

Lyrical Life Lessons

Wilmah is a band of emotion-evoking lyrics. They tend to encapsulate the perfect picture of nostalgia, all-in first love, and naiveté in their songwriting. “It Will Always Be You” features on-brand lines such as “Backwards marathons and pleading payphone calls” and “I apologize for not being sorry.” They elaborate on the lyrical meaning during our interview, “It’s about when you’re young, and you are trying to navigate how you are feeling. You are fearful of losing someone and struggle to see a future without them.” “The song portrays the conflict of learning about yourself while you are simultaneously learning about your partner,” Matt Connolly recounts.

A Taste of What’s to Come

“It Will Always Be You” will also bring a new EP with the same title. EP two will feature six songs, that will include two more singles to follow this release. From the sounds of it, the second EP will follow their signature style along with more differentiation between the tracks. Fans should expect dance anthems, a ballad, jazz influences, and some 2010s throwback style vibes.

“It Will Always Be You” will surely open up doors for the band to accomplish their long list of future goals. They recently played their first Manhattan show alongside the band Drive!Drive! and have hopes of adding more tour dates in the future. As they continue to take inspiration from the artists they come in contact with and collaborate with on tour, they hope to develop an organic live show for fans as well.

“It’s the you, that nothing and no one can ever compare to…”

Wilmah will cross off another bucket list item when they play on October 29th in Brooklyn, NY with the band MILKK. Tickets are available here.

Stream the new release “It Will Always Be You” by Wilmah available now on all music platforms. Follow them on social media to share your thoughts on the new single!

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Last Vacation Premiere New Introspective Single “Started”

Last Vacation Premiere "Started"

It cannot be easy to merge countless influences into one fifty-second introduction, but the indie-pop band, Last Vacation, has done just that with the premiere of “Started.” The new single is the perfect addition to their catalog of ’90s and 2000s inspired tunes. Mixed with the progression of today’s music, they’ve got themselves an easily identifiable hit. If the previously released “Neon Home” is an upbeat dreamy dance song, then “Started” is an ‘in-your-face’ call to action.

The Boston pop band, Last Vacation, features Travis Rutzel on vocals, Scott Anderson on drums, Dan Hennessey on bass, and Stephen MacDonald on guitar. Today we bring you an exclusive premiere of “Started,” the introspective new single from Last Vacation.

“I bet you got it all worked out, I bet you’re doing better on your own…”


A Fresh Start

The band released their reinvented debut single, “Neon Home,” in May of this year. To say making music is new to the four-piece, however, is not the case. They have a history of working together for quite some time. To better convey their message, the band decided to undergo a name change within the last year. The name “Last Vacation,” initially penned as a song title, stuck out to them as a pop band moniker with a bit of darkness to it.

Although Last Vacation has recently switched up their name and sound, their desire to create music remains unchanging. The songwriting process seems innate to the band. They mention that each member adds to the creativity of the group. Rutzel and Anderson are a lyrical and instrumental duo that play off of each other. They ignite the initial flame for each new track. The two frequently bounce ideas for off of Hennessey and MacDonald, who provide a fresh and honest perspective in the development of the music.

If you haven’t already, you will want to check out “Neon Home” and “Moon Lake” to paint the full picture of Last Vacation’s story thus far. In their early stages, these songs were destined for the band’s first EP. Focusing on having their music heard and creating a recognizable brand, led the group to share them as stand-alone singles.

“I wish that I could see you now. Wishing for a better place, a better place…”


The Message of “Started”

Upon listening to the single “Started,” you may do a double-take on the vocals and overall sound. It is unexpectedly unique, nostalgic, and intriguing. You can hear notes of Jimmy Eat World coming through, a band of which they cite as a longtime inspiration. The instrumentation is the underlying force that takes you back to Warped Tour days and early 2000s pop-rock anthems. The band recounts tweaking these sounds many times until they were able to achieve this vibe.

In regards to the message, “Started” is up to personal interpretation and may pull you in different directions emotionally. In our interview, the band recalls the early days of laying down the lyrics, “At first, I think it was a lot about the pressures to fulfill a relationship or your job. As you grow up, people put a lot of emphasis on sticking with something and seeing it through. In reality, this advice is not always healthy in relationships or career choices. It is a very personal song for us. Now we see it as a career-defining song because we want to push ourselves as a band and we have a responsibility to see this through.”

Starting to Leave a Lasting Impression

It is easy to see that “Started” has the qualities of an opening track to a larger project. It is bound to leave a lasting impression on fans and new listeners alike. If the chorus does not circle your brain in the forthcoming days, you’re doing it wrong, and I recommend playing the song again. Not only will “Started” provide you with a catchy weekend soundtrack, but it will also prompt you to reflect on carrying out your endeavors to the fullest extent.

Last Vacation plans to release two more singles to round out to a series of five before the end of the year. The band describes the next two songs as “a little more emo and brooding” which fall in perfect time with Halloween around the corner. You can also catch them live with MILKK in Cambridge, MA on October 28th.

“You got to finish what you started…”


Be the first of listeners to hear the premiere of “Started” from Last Vacation below. Follow them on social media to share your thoughts on the single!

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Jonah Melvon: From Ghostwriter to Solo Artist

Jonah Melvon Artist to Watch

Have you ever had a kick yourself moment when someone tells you an artist is going to blow up, you ignore it, and then they do? Well, listen up because Jonah Melvon is one heck of an artist to watch. Plus, you can enter our giveaway* to hear his new single before anyone else and cop some merch from his latest album!

*All details, requirements, and rules for the giveaway can be seen here on my Instagram post.

San Francisco Bay area artist, Jonah Melvon has been making waves in the music industry for quite some time now. Starting his career as a ghostwriter, Melvon quickly realized his passion was in songwriting and artistry. He has since gone on to release his debut album Rain Water Project in January of this year. He plays countless live events and is currently gearing up to release his new single “Sunday Mornings” on September 15th. Today we talk with Jonah about his tireless journey with songwriting, tour success, and the direction of his new music.

‘Rain Water Project’: The Drought is Over

PoetryDansLaRue: Tell me about the concept of your album Rain Water Project that you released in early 2019.

Jonah Melvon: “When I began writing for this album, I was writing this other project called Dreaming Again to help save a non-profit organization. One of the songs that I was writing for that project, “Knockin,” became the last song on Rain Water Project. That song felt very much like rain to me, almost Sade-ish. As I transitioned to writing the album, I started writing more songs with very reflective and thought-provoking arrangements. The chords were feeling a lot like rain in the harmonies.

When it came time to choose the title, I thought of my now 4-year-old daughter and the difficulty of getting her to go to sleep. I discovered this ‘rainwater app,’ and it worked wonders. There had also been a bit of a drought for me musically. As a ghostwriter, I could not even claim my work. These concepts all came together as well as adding the symbol of the cover art. The idea of the umbrella makes sense because I enjoy helping people, and I’m big on equity and empowerment.”

PDLR: It’s cool to hear how all of those pieces came together in the right order and how the album has multiple meanings to it as well.

Renowned Songwriter

PDLR: I did see that you have toured with some insane artists in the past, Miguel, Black Eyed Peas, and T.I. to name a few. Do you have any interest in collaborating with them or other similar artists?

Jonah Melvon: “I’m open depending on the message, the sounds, and the vibes. I’m more into the vibe than the message at first. Then I’m into what the song is saying. If it is an inspiring song that puts you in a certain mood, for example, I’m more into that. Being in the Bay area, there are a lot of relatively unknown artists, but all it takes is someone in our group to make some noise. I have been collaborating for the most part with my close community. As far as specific artists go, H.E.R. and Daniel Cesar would be on my radar. Sade would be a bucket list collaboration because I grew up listening to her music. I’m fortunate to be working with my sisters on my music as well.”

PDLR: You mentioned before that you were doing some ghostwriting for other artists. Do you do all of the writing for your projects?

Jonah Melvon: “Oh, yes! If I’m gifted with something, it’s the ability to be able to write songs. I have no shortage of words *laughs* and I love to connect with people and engage. There are a lot of things that I’m passionate about and want to share. So, yes, I have written all of my songs. If someone else wrote for me, I would first want to see what it is. Also, with jumping genres from soul to hip-hop, it probably wouldn’t work for my autobiographical style. Now, having an editor and people to bounce ideas off of will certainly help to define what you are trying to say.”

From The Bay to the U.K.?

PDLR: You look so busy with live performances! How do you prioritize the shows that you play?

Jonah Melvon: “We have a great thing going on here in the Bay area. The tech-craze boom has taken over. We are playing everything from tech companies such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Pandora, etc. These are elite types of shows exclusive to those employees. Although my friends, family, and fans are thankful for these types of opportunities, they can’t get into the shows. So, my sister and I have decided to do a lot more specific cities, venues, and festivals. It’s a lot of art and culture that celebrates the African diaspora and all of these different walks of life. So, we play a lot at the moment, but I am trying to slow it down a bit. I recently had an offer to join a tour in the U.K., but we turned it down. I want to focus on new music and recording first before we get there.”

PDLR: Have you done, or do you plan on doing any shows on the East Coast?

Jonah Melvon: “It has been a while since I have played out there. We played in Rochester at Blue Cross Arena with a friend of mine, but it has been a long time. Ironically enough, all of the new works that I am producing are with a guy in New York. We have the coast to coast thing going on. I will probably reach out to him in the future and start doing more out there. L.A. is right around the corner for me, which provides a lot of opportunities. I might end up playing in the U.K. before I play in New York, though, we will see.”

PDLR: It seems like you have a connection in the U.K. having mentioned a tour opportunity and playing over there.

Jonah Melvon: “They are playing my project there more than anywhere else, specifically in London. I’ve done a million radio drops for the DJs out there.”

PDLR: I love the U.K. radio! I think they are so progressive. The concept of Beats 1 on Apple Music, coming from Zane Lowe (formerly of BBC Radio 1), is so innovative. The hottest records that they release daily are always the next big thing. It’s a perfect market for artists!

Jonah Melvon: “The U.K. is very passionate about the arts in a very raw sense. It’s not as commercial. They love songwriters, innovation, artists getting paid their due justice. I would share with them some of my Spotify or Apple Music links and some of them would say they don’t even use it and would prefer the MP3. They didn’t want to promote all of the streaming services. I don’t think it’s how it’s being received (streaming, download, CD, etc.), but more that music is a piece of art and the value should reflect what it is worth. That way, artists can stay creative if we give them the space to do it.”

The Calm of “Sunday Mornings”

PDLR: I heard your snippet of your next single “Sunday Mornings” on Instagram. Is this new track branching out in a different direction from Rain Water Project? Or is it stemming from the sounds on the album?

Jonah Melvon: “It could be an extension from Rain Water Project. I enjoyed making the sounds that we made on that album. I felt like it was a cool place for me to be as an artist. The fans are asking for more of this type of material. This song, however, and these new songs that will be coming out, are lyrically infused with rhyming, but have a lot of singing tones. I think people are intrigued by the title of the song and they will understand it as soon as they hear it. Sundays, traditionally speaking, are the days that we allow ourselves to be most calm. Everything from the melody to the delivery is saying slow down with me like Sunday morning and take the time to engage each other.”

PDLR: Anything else you would like your fans to know about your new music coming out?

Jonah Melvon: “I’m just excited for everyone to hear it! This campaign is the most strategic I have been because I haven’t posted the whole song ahead of release. Before I would be so eager to share my work with promoters, curators, and editors that my songs would end up being shared before they dropped. This time I’m proud that I’ve held onto it, and I’m grateful that fans are so supportive and engaged.”

It is apparent that Jonah Melvon, having dedicated an endless amount of time to his work as a songwriter, should be on your radar as an artist to watch. You can check him out below and stay tuned for “Sunday Mornings” to be released on September 15th!

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The Perfect Back to School Playlist for Your Summer Nostalgia Needs

back to school playlist

Welcome back to school! Bonne rentrée ! Whether you’re a student, teacher, parent, or school employee it’s the time of the year when we say goodbye to the pool days and hello to the well, you know! Here’s a Back to School playlist for those early mornings, late-night study hours, and some well-deserved carpool karaoke Starbucks runs. Let’s take a look at some of the ‘so-long-sweet-summer’ tracks featured on this playlist!

“Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” by Taylor Swift

Taylor released her 7th album as a rather strategic finale to summer days sending you back to school with some singalong anthems. “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” sounds like a trip down memory lane to walking the halls on the first day of school. As Taylor chants out, “GO!” “FIGHT!” “WIN!” throughout the song, you get the impression that you are sitting sideline at a fall football game.

“People” by The 1975

With an opening line like “Wake up, wake up, wake up, it’s Monday morning, and we’ve only got a thousand of them left,” this track is practically a personal alarm clock. Now, I must say, while this track is not entirely off-brand for The 1975, it is not an easy-listening tune for the masses. The band took several risks with “People.” They ultimately go back to their roots by adding more of an early 2000s punk influence. If you listen intently to the lyrics, you will find that it is a wake-up call on many levels.

“Do You Remember?” by Chance the Rapper and Death Cab for Cutie

This song screams nostalgia. I think that anyone can relate to the idea of being younger and feeling as though summer would never end. The Death Cab for Cutie feature caught me by surprise on this track. The collaboration of these artists paints the perfect ‘summer-coming-to-an-end’ picture. If you are a Death Cab fan, it adds to their summer song repertoire (Summer Skin, Summer Years). It’s bittersweet, yet optimistic. Check out the rest of this album from Chance. I guarantee that there is a collaboration for everyone.

“Nostalgic” by A R I Z O N A

Okay, we may have a theme here. While this early June release features those familiar ‘woah-oh-oh’ choruses from A R I Z O N A, it strips back their usual dance anthemic sound. The reflective lyrics and repetitive beats evoke clear images of driving down a backroad with the windows down.

“She Plays Bass” by Beabadoobee

The Dirty Hit artist and alternative/indie songwriter, “bee-ah-ba-ba-doo-bee” has done it again. Soothing vocals over poignant yet straightforward lyrics will calm your mind after a long day. Hold off for the unexpected outro, and you will hear an entirely different side of the song.

Enjoy this Back to School Playlist! Good luck, kids, parents, teachers & school employees!

SAINT SLUMBER ‘YOUTH//3’: The Culmination of ‘YOUTH’

saint slumber youth//3
Photo by Keira Zhou

New Jersey indie-rock band, SAINT SLUMBER, completed their YOUTH// EP trilogy Friday with the release of YOUTH//3. The three-piece, made up of lead vocals Josh Perna, guitarist Aaron Brown, and drummer Matt Carpenter, has focused on the concept of youth and its fragility throughout the trilogy. Today I chat with drummer Matt Carpenter about why YOUTH//3 is “brutally sad,” finding their sound, and what’s next for SAINT SLUMBER.

‘YOUTH//3’: Grieving the Loss of YOUTH

PoetryDansLaRue: So, the EP is out now, which is very exciting! I know it was mentioned that YOUTH//3 is “brutally sad,” can you pinpoint one of the five songs that was more emotional or difficult to write?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I would say, “THIS TOO SHALL PASS.” It’s a big, sad ballad. I think it’s going to tug on the heartstrings of people. There are a few lines in there that make you want to tear up. Josh writes all the lyrics, so it’s more personal for him, but we can all relate to what he’s talking about.”

PDLR: Is that the [only] one that sticks out as “brutally sad” or is the theme to the EP more emotional stripped-down songs?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I’d say that there is a more emotional theme to the whole EP. Especially since it’s a culmination of the whole topic that occurs throughout the YOUTH trilogy. YOUTH//3 is a final statement, grieving the loss of youth.”

PDLR: With it being five years since the beginning of the trilogy, has your perspective of the concept of youth changed?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I’m the oldest member of the band. I’m 28 years old, but at heart, I always feel like I’m a 14/15-year-old kid. I think it’s holding onto that aspect of wonder and awe of life and the innocence of being young. It never really goes away. You have to grow up and mature a little bit, but it doesn’t entirely go away. I don’t know if too much of my perspective has changed. I think in general, we did our best throughout the trilogy to encapsulate that feeling. Some of these songs aren’t very old, so they are pretty fresh ideas.”

Finding Their “MANTRA”

PDLR: Is there a defining song from the trilogy that you would recommend to new fans?

SAINT SLUMBER: “For me, I’d say it’s “MANTRA.” What we thought was interesting throughout the whole YOUTH trilogy was not only topically, that it’s about maturing and the loss of youth, but that by YOUTH//3 our sound has evolved the most. We feel like this EP is the sound that we’ve been trying to reach for the past five years. “MANTRA” was the one that immediately, once the song was in its finishing process, that we were like, “This is it!” Although I do think people are going to like “BIG BIG LOVE.” I think it’s the most unique song that we’ve written so far.”

Coincidentally, “MANTRA” was the first song that I heard by them. The theory checks out, in my opinion.

Before ‘YOUTH//’

PDLR: In the early days of songwriting before YOUTH//1, what artists did you draw inspiration from to create your sound?

SAINT SLUMBER: “I think it’s been a long process of the development of our sound. We all grew up playing in metal and hardcore and post-hardcore bands. So that’s our background, and I think that will always be part of us. It influenced our current sound and especially our live show. As you get older, as you mature, you want to create music that is a little bit more you. So, we grew up also with The 1975. We were on the earlier end of The 1975 (THEY STAN AND WE ARE HERE FOR IT). We looked up to bands like Imagine Dragons that were redefining the indie sound. Radiohead has been a big influence to us as well. I could name a million bands…”

After ‘YOUTH//’

PDLR: So, I hear that the 4th EP is already in the making? Does EP 4 have a completely different vibe? Or is it stemming from the momentum from the 3rd EP?

SAINT SLUMBER: “The next batch of music is coming from what we’ve been writing throughout the YOUTH// process. We didn’t necessarily think that they belonged on any one of the albums. They still fall within the same vibe. Not that these are leftover songs, but they are other ones that we had in our pocket. Then we have some MORE songs too for the future that kind of break away from that vibe a little.”

PDLR: Aside from EP 3 and 4, what’s next for SAINT SLUMBER? Can we expect any shows soon?

SAINT SLUMBER: “We are right now, most focused on getting tours. We are hoping to book some shows soon for the fall. We do want to get some live shows in New York and Philly in the earlier fall.”

We will be on the lookout for sure! Check out YOUTH//3 and the trilogy in its entirety with this SAINT SLUMBER playlist below!

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PLAKE Nix the Filter On Raw New Single “Bleeding Out”

Plake Bleeding Out

Hunter Plake made his break-out debut on The Voice Season 12 by turning the chairs of Alicia Keys and Gwen Stefani. Initially joining team Alicia but later stolen by Gwen, he made a lasting impression on Voice fans nationwide. Today we talk about his band, PLAKE, with brother Dakota and their newest track, “Bleeding Out.”

Recommendation: If you haven’t already, listen to the song NOW! Try to focus on the lyrics and the message and your overall first impression of it without context.

On New Single”Bleeding Out”

PLAKE dropped their new emotionally transparent single “Bleeding Out” on August 2nd after a ten-month hiatus from releasing music. Upon asking about the concept and process behind the making of the song and his struggle with depression here is what Hunter had to say:

PLAKE: “I mean, people don’t really write about it [depression] because you feel like it’s an embarrassing thing. Honestly, I think being a creative person, when I experience emotions, I don’t feel half-assed with any emotion. If I’m experiencing love, I experience it very intensely, anger, etc. When I wrote the song, it’s about the feelings of depression. It’s constructed in a way where it talks about the different stages of it and where you end up mentally at the end. At the end, the reason why I switched the lyrics up, the reason why I did that is because that’s how you get out of depression. You start to care about other people instead of just yourself.”

“This is the first time that we released a song that’s so intense. I like to say that we have pretty different sides to our band: our happy side with songs like “Eden,” and then “Bleeding Out” is the most extreme sad version of our band that we have.”

Unfortunately the music video for “Bleeding Out” was recently removed, but Hunter describes it as “very dream-like.” He explains that the video paints a picture of your average person struggling with day-to-day life and using devices as a distraction to escape depression. In the video, his brother, Dakota, is “trying to get him out of the virtual world and back to reality.” We will be on the lookout for the repost in the future!

On the Songwriting Process

PoetryDansLaRue: Can you guys talk about your songwriting process? Who does most of the writing? Who does the producing?

PLAKE: “I write my best when I’m honestly by myself. I do like writing with people too sometimes. With an emotional song like “Bleeding Out,” I wrote the song, and then after that, I had ideas of where I wanted to go with production because I’m producing as I write too. I start with a melody, and I have that melody in my head. That’s kind of how our song begins. Once we start recording it, we start picking it apart. When we’re doing that, both of us are in the studio. Dakota is playing guitar mostly and helping me get a fresh perspective on what’s inside my head.”

PDLR: So, “Eden” was the first song that you released as a band and you released eight songs after that, correct? For some reason, I could not access “Hurricane Lovers” on Apple Music…?

PLAKE: “We released seven songs after “Eden,” including “Bleeding Out.” We released “Hurricane Lovers,” and we pulled that one down, “Scared,” and “Cold Vibes,” we pulled down. So those, that we pulled down, there’s different reasons behind each one, but we just realized it was a hard left. We see ourselves as what we’re gonna be in the future and anything that might hurt us, we eliminate.”

PDLR: Which song do you feel represents your sound the most and the sound that you’re going for in the future?

PLAKE: “My answer is going to be the same as every artist. Whatever we just released is gonna be the answer because we just did it. But, it’s a journey, if we look back on it in twenty years, we might see a different version of us. Right now, “Bleeding Out” is exactly what we want.”

On The Voice

PDLR: Can I go back a little and talk about The Voice? Do you keep in contact with any of the coaches/contestants?

PLAKE: “I stay in contact with the contestants. As far as the coaches go, the show and my relationships with the coaches are not as personal as you would think. So, I haven’t stayed in touch with them. There are a few people from the show that I stay in touch with.”

PDLR: I feel there is a little bit of a disconnect from following some of The Voice contestants throughout the years…

PLAKE: “Honestly, unless you’re an internet meme, blowing up overnight doesn’t happen. I made the decision that I was doing music full time before I even auditioned. So, when I went there, I thought it was convenient, and I could get a little bit of attraction. Since then it’s been making connections with people in the music industry. A lot of our connections came from the show and us just reaching out to people. It helps being on the show to reach out to producers, etc. I think the disconnect you’re talking about is the fact that people don’t blow up overnight. They might go there and expect that they will. That’s not how it works if they don’t put in the work like every other artist, building your sound and building your image.”

Coming Soon

PDLR: What’s next for PLAKE?

PLAKE: “We’re about to release the rest of our projects and are planning that out right now. Probably going to be a single next month and a full EP in October. The rest of the EP is more based on relationships with kind of the same sound as “Bleeding Out.”

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Check out this PLAKE playlist below for more!

“1975” // Billy Raffoul

1975 Billy Raffoul

There are moments in certain tracks that pause and come back to hit you with an unexpected punch to the gut. “1975” by Billy Raffoul is one of those tracks. Raffoul is a songwriter that seems wise beyond his years, narrating stories of the past and life lessons. As I listen to this song several times over during this post, I hope to keep it together. I can’t make any promises, though.

Billy Raffoul has been on my watch for some time now. You may recognize his raspy acoustic sound from the TV series, A Million Little Things, hence the tears about to be shed. This song, off of his most recent EP with the same title, is beyond breathtaking.

“1975” takes you back to a time the young artist hasn’t experienced, storytelling from the perspective of a loved one. You’re there with the woman in the song. Even though the context is not clear, you can relate to her lifechanging story. “She said time and time again, I wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for the summer of 1975.” “Everyone has a moment when it’ll never be the same again.”

The entire EP has back-to-back magnetic songs that pull the listener in from the first chord. I highly recommend you listen to both the track and the EP in its entirety. Let me know your favorite one! Also, while you’re at it, check out his newest single “Easy Tiger.” It’s all heartbreakingly beautiful.

Fair warning: You may need the tissues, but it’s guaranteed to tug on your heartstrings. Listen to the official audio of “1975” by Billy Raffoul below.

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Hopscotch Music Festival 2019: Lineup Playlist

Raleigh’s own Hopscotch Music Festival is back for year ten September 5th-7th. Rolling Stone denoted Hopscotch as having, “an extraordinarily cool roster of bands with a Mardi Gras-like atmosphere.” With most recent years featuring acts like Gary Clark Jr., Young Thug, Vince Staples, Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals, Solange, Lizzo, The Revolution, Nile Rodgers & Chic, and Miguel, I would say it’s about time to pay attention.

This year’s lineup has some real stand-out acts at first glance. It is clear to see that Hopscotch Music Festival is building their name and becoming a must-watch scene for up-and-coming artists. Let’s take a look at some artists to watch from this year’s lineup.

Snail Mail: Thursday 9/5

Lindsey Jordan, or better known as the alternative one-woman act Snail Mail, is headed for the City Plaza stage. Her songs have a very chill yet punk sound. She reminds me of Soccer Mommy with her raspy voice and ’90s grunge music style. Her songs “Pristine” and “The 2nd Most Beautiful Girl in the World” will take you back to ’90s teen angst movie soundtracks and artists like Liz Phair or Fiona Apple.

Kurt Vile & The Violators: Thursday 9/5

You may be familiar with Kurt Vile as the former lead guitarist from The War on Drugs. Indie-rock singer-songwriter Kurt and his band, The Violators, are back to play their second Hopscotch set. Songs like “Wakin On a Pretty Day” and “I’m an Outlaw” are tailor-made for folk, indie, rock, or country music fans alike.

James Blake: Friday 9/6

This guy is everywhere! I was very excited to see that James Blake is headlining Hopscotch. He is an act that has popped up so many times on my Twitter feed and recommended artists. “Retrograde” is one of those songs that builds so much it slaps you in the face with its power. I have a soft spot for “Limit To Your Love” which is a mostly piano-based track as opposed to his usual electro style. Overall, there is a lot to say about this artist, and he is one you will not want to miss!

Raphael Saadiq: Saturday 9/6

Raphael Saadiq will be playing at City Plaza on Saturday. His most recent release, “Something Keeps Calling,” ft. Rob Bacon is a song with emotional vocals that will cut through on first listen. Oo la la! Vocalist and bass guitarist for the R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné!, Saadiq has also produced songs for iconic artists including Whitney Houston and John Legend.

Phantogram: Saturday 9/7

Can we now agree that this lineup is stacked? And, we haven’t even discussed the undercard yet. Phantogram is a dream pop (I think that genre best describes their music) duo that you have likely heard before. Their hit “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” is their most well-known tune. Check out the music video that they released yesterday for “Into Happiness” for a taste of what you can expect at Hopscotch.

CHVRCHES: Saturday 9/7

Ultimate. Festival. Band. Headlining. HopScotch. This band is going to be so much fun at Red Hat on a Saturday night. I have mentioned CHVRCHES recently because of their pump-up Coachella set this past spring. Their songs are so irresistible with easy-to-learn lyrics that get embedded in your brain. Some crowd favorites are “The Mother We Share,” “Miracle,” “Leave a Trace,” and “Get Out.”

Here is a shortlist of other MUST-KNOW artists on the lineup by genre:

Thursday 9/5: Joey Purp (Hip Hop), Yowler (Alt/Indie), David Nance Group (Alt/Indie), Lucy Dacus (Indie Rock), Tomberlin (Folk)

Friday 9/6: Tyler Ramsey (former lead guitarist from Band of Horses!), Deerhunter (Indie Rock), Channel Tres (Dance/Electronic), The Waston Twins (Alt Country), Ryley Walker (Indie Folk/Blues)

Saturday 9/7: Cate Le Bon (Folk/Pop), Daughter of Swords (Folk), Boogarins (Psychedelic Rock), Matt Martians (Southern Hip Hop), Kelsey Waldon (Country)

Raleigh Alternative Concert Lineup: Must-See Acts Coming This Fall

Raleigh Fall Concert

These fall shows are so hot; everyone already has tickets! It’s not too late, though to check out these artists, buy tickets, or enter contests to win. Here’s the hookup for the Raleigh alternative concert scene coming this fall.

*Sidenote: Feel free to click on the venue links to check out plenty of other artists headed this way or download Bandsintown to track shows in your area.

Catfish and the Bottlemen

Catfish and the Bottlemen are a British alternative rock band from North Whales. Their lead singer, Van McCann, has one of the catchiest names ever as well as the most poignant vocals. Modern-Day British rock and alternative/indie bands always seem to have the key to what is next in this genre. Catfish and the Bottlemen are similar to the likes of Arctic Monkeys and The Hunna. These bands are paving the way for the future of alternative rock music.

If you are new to Catfish, take a journey back to 2014 and check out their most popular tunes “Cocoon” and “Kathleen.” For a fresh, recent sound, their tracks “Conversation” and “Longshot” are ‘get stuck in your head’ catchy. Don’t miss Catfish and the Bottlemen at The Ritz on Tuesday, September 24th.

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RADIO CONTEST

The Head and the Heart

The Head and the Heart are a perfect chill band with authentic, storytelling folk songwriting. They will be playing at Red Hat for the second time on Tuesday, October 1st.

Most of you will be familiar with The Head and the Heart from their radio single “All We Ever Knew” in 2016. But, man do they know how to write some heartfelt songs. Their album, Signs of Light, is a no-skip type record that you play on a sunny fall afternoon. Songs like “Rhythm and Blues” and “I Don’t Mind” show off their versatile style. Off of their new album, Living Mirage, “Glory of Music” will bring fans of any kind to tears.

If you want to listen to their earlier songs, “Coeur d’Alene” is a fan-favorite and “Lost In My Mind” is pretty much guaranteed to be on the setlist.

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RADIO CONTEST

The Kooks

The Ritz, Raleigh has a killer alternative concert lineup this fall! The Kooks are a fun band that I haven’t listened to in a while. They have some songs that are a little more pop-rock than Catfish and the Bottlemen. Their earlier songs like “She Moves In Her Own Way,” “Naive,” and “Ooh La” will take you down memory lane.

Admittedly, I need to go back and relisten to their music and add their new stuff. You should do the same! “Always Where I Need to Be” will bring back ‘early 2000s car singalong’ days. The Kooks are headed this way Wednesday, October 9th.

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The Neighbourhood

The Neighbourhood, playing at The Ritz on Wednesday, November 6th, are a unique take on today’s alternative music scene as they incorporate hip-hop influences and electronic beats into their work. Everyone is familiar with their 2012 single “Sweater Weather.” If you listen to some of their other tracks, you might get more of an upbeat emo sounding vibe. Take “R.I.P. 2 My Youth” or “Cry Baby” for instance that have serious lyrics contrasted by vibrant beats.

Their track “Void” off of their most recent album is an emotionally transparent anthem. “Softcore” is a supernatural sounding tune with relatable lyrics about a toxic relationship. “You’re like the sun, you make me young. But you drain me out if I get too much.” Whew!

FACE-VALUE LIVE NATION TICKETS

// THE 1975 //

This ‘pop-rock emo, ambient synth & guitar’ band dropped five new tour dates on us a week ago. It has been a bit of a process for long-time fans to get these tickets as they tried a new pre-presale strategy. Nevertheless, they are coming to PNC Arena on Tuesday, November 19th! I repeat, PNC. ARENA. *Deep breath.*

If you want the tea, you’ll listen to “Robbers,” “Couldn’t Be More In Love,” “I Like America & America Likes Me,” and “You.” Or all of the songs. All. Of. Them.

The good news is that you can still get face-value tickets and maybe even cheaper tickets; they are on sale now. Bring your mom, dad, husband, wife, kid, brother, sister, cousin, friend, neighbor, dog, cat? And I’ll see you there!

GENERAL SALE TICKETS

*I will update this post with other Raleigh alternative concert contests as they pop up.

Opening Acts That Will Turn You Into Forever Fans

How many times have you seen a live show where you were not familiar with the opening acts? Maybe you even missed the opening acts because of travel or lack of paying attention to the start times. Sometimes it is unavoidable depending on work schedules, travel plans, or traffic, etc. More often than not, though, you can count on the headliners to tour with equally incredible artists.

So, get to the show early and let’s check out these memorable openers!

Marc Scibilia

My mom and I first saw Marc Scibilia open for James Bay in 2015. Although you may not know Marc by name, you will likely recognize his voice from a familiar Jeep Super Bowl commercial. Hearing “This Land Is Your Land” had the crowd experiencing a déjà vu moment. You’ve probably seen it, check it out here.

Marc played several songs that had the crowd hooked on first listen. He was an act that you frantically type into your search bar and instantly add all of his songs. His single at the time, “Wide Open Arms,” had such an anthemic vibe in the small theater. If you are a Springsteen fan, give Marc Scibilia a listen. He has that American folk-rock kind of style. He often likes to cover a little Springsteen now and then which tends to draw the crowd in even more. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for his album Out of Style out in October of that year. From that album, “Better Man,” “The Moment,” and “Jericho” are vulnerable tracks with relatable lyrics about love and relationships.

Marc Part 2 & 3

Fast-forward a year later, and Marc was opening for Gavin Degraw here at Red Hat in 2016. He played an emotional stripped style version of “Jericho.” There couldn’t have been a more picturesque venue for the song. “How Bad We Need Eachother” was an anthemic crowd favorite that got everyone on their feet clapping along.

The best thing about discovering new artists that tour with your favorites is that they usually come back around for shows of their own. Marc was headed back to the triangle for the “Summer Clothes” tour at the Pour House in 2017. Although it may have been an untimely Monday in June, it was a fan’s dream. Let me say that his voice and performance were both much bigger than the venue. He has released several outstanding singles since this show. His most recent release, “You Are the Night,” has a Calvin Harris type beat on a classic love song.

Joseph

James Bay sure knows how to pick impressionable opening acts! For round two of the “Choas and the Calm” tour the female band, Joseph blew fans away. Their harmonies are insane, which makes perfect sense because they are sisters, after all. Songs like “White Flag” and “Canyon” had Bay fans immediately hooked and wanting to hear more. I haven’t taken their album out of the now spinning queue since. Perfect timing to check them out now as they are back with a new powerful single “Fighter.” They also announced an upcoming album along with a North American and European tour this past week.

Jamie Lawson

Jamie Lawson was the first artist signed to Gingerbread Man Records by Ed Sheeran in 2015. Although he opened for many Ed shows on the road, he also opened for Vance Joy AND One Direction!

Jamie is a timeless songwriter with a voice that will cut through and mesmerize a crowd of any size. His intimate style of performing reminded me of Damien Rice’s shows. If you are unfamiliar with Damien Rice, he is one of Ed Sheeran’s longtime idols. You could drop a pin at his shows, and everyone seems frozen in awe. This comparison makes perfect sense in regards to the allure of Jamie Lawson. He had Ed, Vance, and 1D fans eating out of the palm of his hand; convincing most of them to book trips to see him again. Grab the tissues before you listen to his chart-topping single, “Wasn’t Expecting That.”

Opening Acts, Jamie Lawson
Opening Acts, Jamie Lawson

Mikky Ekko

Mikky Ekko was the most surprising opening act I have seen in a while! Immediately my mom and I were blown away by his voice and his stage presence. You may think you are not familiar with him, only to find out that he wrote and sang on the hit song “Stay” with Rihanna. Boy, did he ever hit that one out of the park on stage! If you want to check out his solo version of the song, this one is stunning.

Every other song that he played made the crowd feel like they were at his headline show. For instance, “Not the One” is a song that draws you in so much that you forget where you are. I haven’t had the chance to see him again, but I have since followed all of his releases. I am looking forward to what he has in store next.

lovelytheband

What a perfect festival band! After lovelytheband opened for Vance Joy and 5 Seconds of Summer in 2018, they seemed to pop up on every festival lineup. Most listeners will be familiar with their radio single “Broken.” However, this was not the tune that jumped out to me the most. Their song “Coachella” was the one that turned me into a fan, and has become somewhat of a ‘Chella season anthem.

Furthermore, “Your Whatever” off of their debut release, Finding It Hard to Smile, is a ‘write the lyrics in your away message’ kind of track. “You’re obsessed with the moon and in love with the stars. I’m in love with your soul and everything that you are.” Yes, please!

Lauren Jenkins

This recommendation comes to me from my parents. They recently saw Lauren Jenkins open up for The Wild Feathers at the Chameleon Club. My mom felt that the crowd was drawn to her “humor and comfort with telling her story.” “She had that personality that pulled you in, and she wasn’t afraid to talk about her failed relationship that inspired some of her songs.”

If you listen to her album, No Saint, you can quickly tell that she has a Nashville influence. One of the stand-out tracks is “Running Out of Road,” which may be reminiscent of early Taylor Swift tunes like “A Perfectly Good Heart” and “The Way I Loved You.” This track has the lyrics that Taylor is capable of today as a veteran songwriter. Point blank: Taylor Swift fans would LOVE her music. I hope to see her up on stage doing her thing alongside Taylor in the future!

Check out this playlist featuring these A-List Opening Acts!