Opinion: The Boys Are Back: why 2023 might save music – Eastern Echo

Wednesday, January 25, 2023
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When I heard the powerhouse indie/alt super-group boygenius, made up of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus, had announced that they were finally releasing a debut album together, I wasn’t surprised. To the delight of myself and many fans, rumors of a debut boygenius album had been swirling on the internet ever since their appearance on the Coachella festival lineup.
If you didn’t know, back in 2018, the three artists, all at various points in their careers, joined efforts to create a uniquely gut-wrenching extended play titled “boygenius.” This was just the start; fans of all three eagerly anticipated more music from the trio. After five years, boygenius’s debut album, “the record,” will be released on March 31, and three singles are available now.
“$20,” initially written by Baker outside of the group, features heavy tones of angst and melancholia over a track that calls on the soft punk influences of Baker’s solo work.
“Emily I’m Sorry,” also initially written outside of the group, this time by Bridgers, is a crooning ballad whose lyrics pay close attention to detail in the true fashion of Bridgers’s style.
The final single “True Blue,” primarily written by Dacus, highlights the soothing harmonies of the group and Dacus’s amorous lyrical themes.
There is no doubt that “the record” will steal the show for music in 2023. However, boygenius isn’t the only band that is back after a bit of a break and working on other projects.
Next up, The National, an alternative band from Cincinnati, Ohio, just announced their new album “First Two Pages of Frankenstein” and has garnered widespread attention for its slew of collaborations. Features include Taylor Swift on “The Alcott,” Bridgers on “This Isn’t Helping” and “Your Mind Is Not Your Friend” and Sufjan Stevens on “Once Upon a Poolside.”
The album will be released on April 28, and the first single “Tropic Morning News,” is out now.
Aaron Dessner, a founding member of The National, spent the last few years exploring collaborations with other artists, including the Grammy-winning “folklore” and Swift’s second pandemic album “evermore.” Dessner has also written and produced music with Girl in Red, Clairo, and Gracie Abrams, solidifying himself as a musical force to be reckoned with.
Finally, for what might be my most anticipated record of the year, Lana del Rey will be releasing an album entitled “Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” on March 24. The title track was released as a single on Dec. 7.
The New York City native, whose most recent release was in 2021 with the album “Blue Banisters,” one of my personal favorites, has kept a low profile in the last few years. She made this most recent album announcement on her private Instagram account, which is named after her 2015 album “Honeymoon.”
The forthcoming album will include features from many artists, but the one I’m looking forward to the most is “Margaret” featuring Bleachers, whose frontman, Jack Antonoff, produced del Rey’s Grammy-nominated 2019 album “Norman F***ing Rockwell!” Antonoff has also produced with the likes of Clairo, Lorde, and Taylor Swift, winning two Grammys with Swift on “1989” and “folklore.”
By Aaron Hughes
By Layla McMurtrie
By Bryan Alfaro
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Remembering Pioneer Sam Cooke, Who Established His Own Record Label And Retained The Rights To His Music – Moguldom

Photograph of Sam Cooke used in an advertisement in Billboard magazine for "Let's Go Steady Again," April 9, 1966, Billboard. Vol. 78, No. 15. page 21. Author: RCA Victor Records.
Written by Ann Brown
Jan 25, 2023
Soul singer Sam Cooke was ahead of his time, not just musically but in the business of music. 
He was born Samuel Cook on Jan. 22, 1931, in Clarksdale, Mississippi, to Rev. Charles Cook, Sr., a Baptist minister, and Annie May Cook. In 1931, his father added the “e” to their surname. Raised in Chicago Heights, IL, Sam Cooke went on to become a singer, songwriter, producer, entrepreneur and one of this country’s most influential artists.
His singing career started in gospel and he joined the groundbreaking gospel group The Soul Stirrers when he was just 15 years old. They released such hit songs as “Nearer to Thee” (1955), “Touch the Hem of His Garment” (1956), and “Jesus, Wash Away My Troubles” (1956), according to Britannica. Cooke acted as the group’s lead vocalist until 1957. That year he recorded his first solo record, “Lovable,” under the pseudonym Dale Cook. After this, he made the difficult decision to transition to popular music. Gospel music circles frowned upon artists that did secular music.
One of his earliest singles under his own name, “You Send Me,” shot to the top of the pop and R&B charts. It was the first of 29 Top Forty hits for Cooke, who was soon to be in major demand.
By 1958, he signed with the William Morris Agency and appeared on numerous television programs, including “The Ed Sullivan Show.” That same year, he performed for the first time at New York City’s world-famous venue Copacabana.

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Two years later, in 1960, he signed with RCA, where he wrote hit after hit, including “Chain Gang,” “Bring it On Home To Me,” “Cupid,” “Another Saturday Night” and “Twistin’ the Night Away.”
The deal was groundbreaking as under his agreement with RCA he retained control of the copyrights to his music, AllAboutJazz.com reported.
Cooke was not content with just singing, he wanted to be in control of his musical creations. And his actions to do so forever changed the mainstream music industry. He founded his own his publishing company (Kags Music), and launched his own record label (SAR Records) in 1961, according to Cooke’s official website.
Cooke also began producing records and writing music for other artists.
 By 1964, Cooke was one of the few Black artists whose music crossed over to large white audiences. Even so, Cooke remained committed to civil rights and refused to perform for segregated audiences.
But, at the height of his career, Cooke, 33, was killed in Los Angeles on December 11th, 1964. He was shot to death a motel manager in an incident that still today is shrouded in mystery. 
The release of his first posthumous single, “A Change Is Gonna Come,” is regarded as the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement–which is what he intended, according to his website. In 2007, the harrowing song was selected by the Library of Congress.

Photograph of Sam Cooke used in an advertisement in Billboard magazine for “Let’s Go Steady Again,” April 9, 1966, Billboard. Vol. 78, No. 15. page 21. Author: RCA Victor Records. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sam_Cooke_2.jpg
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MorMor carves his own path: How the Toronto indie pop artist crafted his debut album 'Semblance' – Toronto Star

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Earlier this month, MorMor released a live session from inside the white-domed David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill.
Surrounded by colossal telescopes and other equipment, the Toronto singer-songwriter born Seth Nyquist and his two bandmates performed four songs from MorMor’s debut full-length album “Semblance,” which arrived in November.
The backdrop is perfectly apt — much like stargazing, MorMor’s tender croon and unique style of indie pop evokes feelings of awe and introspection, but also an aching sense of loneliness.
“Happiness is like a wave and now it falls aside / You had seen what shadows came to keep me up at night,” Nyquist sings on “Here It Goes Again,” a breezy track that cloaks its melancholy beneath a cascade of luminous synths.
Such contrasts span the 11 songs on “Semblance,” a breakup album that swings between devastating lows and hard-won moments of clarity.
“Music operates through my subconscious,” Nyquist told the Star via video call when asked about his songwriting process.
“Whether I’m freestyling (lyrics) or playing an instrument, it kind of steers me in the direction of what the song should be. Over time I’ve learned not to shy away from that.”
It’s mid-January and Nyquist is camped out in a small studio space he has set up at his parents’ place in Toronto as he prepares to embark on a North American tour, which includes a stop at the Axis Club on Thursday.
Soft-spoken, friendly and dressed in a black Patta hoodie, the 31-year-old explained how he’s been living something of a nomadic lifestyle these last few years, bouncing between Toronto, London and New York.
“Growing up (in Toronto), I was around so many different types of people and there was this accessibility to other cultures very early on. That meant I was able to find myself at a young age,” he said. “But I am constantly looking elsewhere for inspiration.”
Indeed, one could easily imagine Nyquist finding success within the burgeoning “Canadian soul” scene alongside Toronto contemporaries like Daniel Caesar, whom MorMor toured across Canada with in 2019, or Charlotte Day Wilson.
Instead, he’s continued to carve out his own sound on “Semblance,” dabbling in post-punk (“Don’t Cry”) and glitchy slowcore (“Crawl”), and stretching his falsetto to brave new heights (“Far Apart”).
“I don’t necessarily feel like I ever actually fit into the (Toronto) scene,” he added, saying that while he’s crossed paths with other local artists and their camps, he never belonged to their inner circles. “I’ve always felt like a lone wolf in that journey.”
Nyquist was born in Toronto and raised in the city’s west end by his adoptive mother, Mary Nyquist. An English professor with Swedish roots, Mary encouraged her son to nurture his creative side and to follow his passion for music.
He grew up listening to a wide range of music, from the Beatles to Motown to Feist — a blend of influences that would shape his approach to songwriting when he decided to drop out of Toronto Metropolitan University after a semester studying sociology to pursue music instead.
The moniker MorMor, which means “grandmother” in Swedish, is a tribute to his grandmother, with whom he had a close bond as a child.
His first project, titled “Live for Nothing,” came out in 2015. But his breakout arrived three years later with the song “Heaven’s Only Wishful,” a quirky but carefully crafted earworm that amassed tens of millions of streams on Spotify and YouTube.
MorMor released a second EP in 2019, titled “Some Place Else,” which solidified his standing as not only a compelling singer, but a skilled multi-instrumentalist with a detail-oriented approach to production.
“Whatever Comes To Mind,” a dreamy standout from the project, was nominated for the prestigious SOCAN Songwriting Prize, which recognizes the most creative and artistic work by emerging songwriters in Canada.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Nyquist scrapped his plans to record his debut LP in New York, instead renting a bunch of gear in Toronto and setting up a studio in the living room of a house near High Park.
“I like less traditional spaces, especially if I’m writing,” he said, citing “Funky Monks” — a 1991 documentary about Red Hot Chili Peppers recording their seminal album “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” with superproducer Rick Rubin at a mansion once owned by Harry Houdini — as an influence for his creative process.
“I really fell in love with the idea of being able to live where I work and, as a ‘bedroom producer,’ that felt right,” he said. “I’m someone who likes to have the opportunity to create whenever I feel like it, rather than stick to a schedule. It worked out when things were shut down, too; we were able to keep recording.”
Nyquist recorded about “80 per cent” of the instrumentation on “Semblance” himself, before recording additional vocals and strings at a leading commercial studio in London, England. The result is MorMor’s most cohesive and polished project to date.
But “Semblance” wasn’t supposed to be a breakup album.
During early recording sessions, Nyquist would keep a microphone on as he experimented in the studio. Often, he’d find sections of music to freestyle over, letting the words and melodies flow out from his subconscious. This approach proved premonitory.
“My partner and I hadn’t broken up yet when I was writing (the album), but I was obviously dealing with a lot of feelings about how the relationship was going. The words kind of just came out of me.”
“We had enough / A lie that we both knew / We had called this love / A love that wasn’t true,” he sings on the album’s opener, “Dawn.” “The less I need someone / The less I hurt somehow.”
“Was I ever enough for you?” he ponders on “Crawl,” a down-tempo ballad punctuated by colourful bursts of distortion, a technique Nyquist said was inspired by the last two records by the legendary slowcore band Low (the song features production from Low producer BJ Burton).
“Hearing back some of those tracks, it was right there in front of me,” he said. “I guess I felt it coming.”
“Semblance” is also an album about depression, an issue Nyquist has never shied away from exploring in his music.
I’m tired of the days / They came and went,” he laments on “Don’t Cry,” a propulsive track that Nyquist called his “pandemic song” — it was released alongside an unsettling animated visual, in which a man is shown pacing restlessly alone in his darkened apartment.
“See this sorrow I’m bound to,” he sings faintly on “Lifeless,” the album’s heart-wrenching centrepiece.
Nyquist has always considered songwriting therapeutic, he said. But the challenges of the last few years also revealed to him the limits of using art as self-care.
“Music absolutely cannot solve everything,” he said. The mounting pressure of releasing music “made it difficult to get up and create.”
“I was writing about (mental health), but I wasn’t truly facing a lot of the other aspects of my life that were building up. The breakup (was) the straw that broke the camel’s back and I couldn’t really find ways to kind of get from underneath all the things that I had been suppressing.
“From as far back as I can remember, (writing music) was always something that would get me through. When that slowly became more difficult … I was forced to find other ways. And that takes a long time, if you’re at my age, trying to sort through things alone.”
At the same time, the pandemic pushed Nyquist to make an album that, despite its sombre themes, still contained a clear sense of optimism — and wasn’t a slog to listen to.
“I needed something to be hopeful about and I didn’t want to double down on the sound on ‘Lifeless,’” he said. “I wanted to inject some energy both into myself, but then into the listener through the course of a project. I just tried to imagine what coming out of the pandemic might feel like.”
One can hear the fruits of this labour on tracks like “Far Apart,” on which Nyquist serves up a spoken-word verse over punchy drums and a loping bass line before launching into a Prince-like falsetto. Relationships end, but life moves forward.
Today, Nyquist said he has repaired his relationship to music and is excited to get back on the road.
“Goodbye 2022 — you were one of the most challenging years of my life,” he wrote on Instagram at the end of December. “I’ve made it out the other side and am grateful to still be here with you guys.”
MorMor is set to peform at The Axis Club on Thursday, Jan. 26.

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Clark announces new album executive produced by Thom Yorke – Complete Music Update


Clark – aka Chris Clark – has announced that he will release new album ‘Sus Dog’ in May. The record was “mentored and executive produced” by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.
“Chris wrote me to say he’d started singing, looking for feedback/advice or whatever, cos it was kind of new shark-infested waters for him”, says Yorke. “I’ve been into what he does for years and I ended up being a kind of backseat driver as he pieced all the oddness of it together, which was fascinating”.
“I wasn’t surprised to discover he came at singing and words through another door completely, which to me was the most interesting and exciting part”, he goes on. “The first thing he sent me was him singing about being stuck between two floors and I was already sold”.
“To me, the way he approached it all wasn’t the usual singer songwriter guff thank God; it mirrored the way he approached all his composition and recording, but this time it had a human face. His face”.
Yorke also sings and plays bass on album track ‘Medicine’, with Clark saying that the lyrics on that song are about “a perfect day in nature with my wife, but also chancers, dread of time, humans as animals, addiction, the inner judge and how it’s always other people’s narcissism, right?”
The album is out on 26 May and Clark will play EartH in London on 2 Jun. Listen to new single ‘Town Crank’ here:
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Sam Richardson of Feel It Records May Be Curating Cincinnati’s Next Big Thing – Cincinnati CityBeat

By Jason Gargano on Wed, Jan 25, 2023 at 5:13 am
The idea of a music label as a community-building endeavor with a signature aesthetic is alive and well in Feel It Records. Founder and lone proprietor Sam Richardson started the label as a university student in Richmond, Va. in 2010. Nearly 13 years and a recent relocation to Cincinnati last summer, Feel It has become a respected go-to source for those interested in the punk genre and its multifarious offshoots — post punk, indie, dark wave, trash pop, garage rock and more.
Feel It Records’ well-curated catalog features dozens of in-print LPs, 7-inch singles and even the occasional vintage reissue. Check out Cincinnati’s own purveyors of icy industrialized atmospherics Crime of Passing, whose haunting 2022 self-titled record lodges itself into one’s subconscious whether one wants it there or not.

Then there’s Kansas-based Sweeping Promises, whose stellar 2020 full-length debut Hunger for a Way Out recalls The Go-Go’s by way of The Slits, as unconventional hooks surface amid rudimentary beats and zig-zagging guitar and synth lines, all anchored by the fizzy vocals of frontwoman Lira Mondal. The trio’s equally ear-wormy latest single “Pain Without a Touch” dropped in November as a collaboration between Feel It, which is handling the domestic release, and Sub Pop Records, which is overseeing the rest of the world. A new Sweeping Promises full-length is set for release in the near future, and there’s sure to be more from elsewhere within Feel It’s ever-expanding roster universe.
“I didn’t have this kind of expectation for it,” Richardson tells CityBeat about the label’s relative success. “It was definitely more of a hobby label [at the beginning]. I had some friends I was lucky to have right down the street from my dorm room who had a record store called Vinyl Conflict. The original owners had a label called No Way Records that did a lot of hardcore and punk stuff that I was into. They were a good source of information on how to get something off the ground and bounce questions off of.”
There’s a rich history of DIY ingenuity in the punk scene, and that tradition is a big part of Feel It’s approach to music. It’s also one Richardson has seen as a member in his own various bands over the years.
“Through touring I met a lot of new people in bands,” he says. “I think the idea of making it a larger thing than just a regional hobby label kind of came to mind through that. Feel It started putting out five records a year, then 10 records a year. Then last year it was 15. And I have a crazy year lined up now [for 2023].”
Among the new releases are efforts from Cincinnati-based bands like The Drin, Corker and Beef, in which Richardson plays guitar. The quality of the current crop of local outfits — including The Serfs, which specialize in a jagged, art-damaged version of electro-dance music, as well as scene mainstays Vacation and others — was enough to convince Richardson to move his operation to the Queen City from Richmond. Ready for a new creative environment, he bought a house last spring that doubles as Feel It’s current headquarters on the West Side of Cincinnati.
“I love it here,” Richardson says. “I really like the community. I’m from a smaller town to begin with, so I was thinking, ‘Where would I go with the label?’ It just feels right here. I met a lot of cool new friends. The music scene is really happening right now.”
Dakota Carlyle is a central figure in the scene. As a member of The Serfs, The Drin and Crime of Passing, he’s seen things build over the last several years. Carlyle was a fan of the stuff Feel It was putting out and in 2021 decided to email Richardson out of the blue to see if he would be interested in releasing the Crime of Passing record.
“We started making it in December of 2019,” Carlyle says. “And then with the pandemic, everything just got really delayed for a long time because of the virus itself and the mental state that put me in. I cold-emailed Sam. I never met him or knew who he was at all. It was a bit of a crapshoot. He emailed me back and loved it. And then we talked on the phone a bit and planned everything out with the record.”
“When The Serfs were touring a few months later, we went to Richmond where he was at. That was the first time that I actually met him,” Carlyle continues. “He moved here a couple months after he stayed at my place. It happened really fast.”
Richardson says it was a no-brainer to release the Crime of Passing record.
“I just really love what they did with it,” he says. “There’s so much texture. They’re able to cross between so many little sub-facets of the genre. I would say that it’s the most popular thing I put out in 2022.”
There’s a desolate, almost spooky vibe to Crime of Passing’s music that is at once hypnotic and alienating. That approach is also apparent in what Carlyle does with The Serfs, which recently announced their first European tour.
“Desperation is very clear in a lot of the music that we make,” Carlyle says of the influence his surroundings have on his art. “Until recently, it’s always sort of fallen on deaf ears. Flyover country is a bit of a joke to coastal cities. I think that was always motivating in its own way. I think just the industrial living in Cincinnati has had a large impact on the music we make. I mean, I work in a warehouse. I live in a warehouse. There’s a lot of freight elevators. Those sounds have definitely found their way into the music.”
Richardson agrees that the area has its own unique take on underground music. That, coupled with the lower cost of living and real estate, was a big reason he decided to move to Cincinnati.
“There’s a reflection of how gray it can be out here in a lot of the music,” he says. “The Midwestern ethic is a little more down to earth. I don’t think there’s as much of people necessarily trying to fit into a genre. You’ll look at some bands from New York that are just doing nothing to rewrite or be original with their music.”
I feel like there’s a lot of great musicianship here,” Richardson adds. “People have time to go about their art, whereas in other places you have to work three or four jobs just to pay your rent. That’s kind of reflected in a lot of these projects where people have more time to think about their art and rehearse and get it out there.”
Richardson says a move to a stand-alone space with a warehouse and maybe even a few paid employees is in Feel It’s future, as is his continued commitment to release music he believes should get more attention in the wider world.
“The first basically 10 years of the label, I was a pizza delivery driver on the side and just did the label when I could,” Richardson says. “I toured in a bunch of bands, too.”
All that came to a grinding halt during COVID. But there was a silver lining to the shutdown — it gave him the ability to work on the label full time, which led to multiple fruitful collaborations.
“That Sweeping Promises LP really helped the profile of what I’m doing,” Richardson says. “It sold really well, and it also led to some cool submissions to come my way. I get exceptional submissions. I don’t know if you can say that about every label out there. I really feel like there are people making music that are seeing what I do and are impressed and want to send it my way. That keeps me inspired to keep doing it, for sure.”
Feel It Records, feelitrecordshop.com.
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Nyokabi Kariũki Announces Debut Album 'FEELING BODY, Unveils … – Our Culture Mag

Nyokabi Kariũki has announced her debut full-length, FEELING BODY, which is due for release on March 3 via New York’s cmntx records. Today, the Kenyan composer and sound artist has previewed the LP with the new single ‘Nazama’. Check it out below and scroll down for FEELING BODY‘s cover artwork (by Serena Seshadr) and tracklist.
Following her 2022 debut EP peace places: kenyan memories, the new album draws from Kariũki’s experience of living with long-COVID for a significant part of 2021. “There’s a trauma of illness that remains within you, both in the physical places that it existed; and in the mind,” she said in a statement. ‘Nazama’, which means “to sink” in Swahili, concludes the record by confirming Kariũki’s recovery.
“There is a lot to say about being sick, about being sick during a pandemic; about how the world treats you if you are sick for longer than ‘just a cold’,” she added. “But, I am ever in awe of our bodies, and how they keep going, despite and in spite of all the pain we go through in life. In a way, this album is an expression of love, and gratitude, to my own.”
Check out our Artist Spotlight interview with Nyokabi Kariũki.

FEELING BODY Cover Artwork:

1. Subira
2. feeling body
3. fire head
4. quiet face
5. folds
6. Nazama
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