Skirts-Always

Skirts-Always was written out of heartache.Despite the tension, it leaves the listener with a soothing and gentle calm

photo by Charles Knowles

Alex Montenegro is behind the band, Skirts. She is a young talented songwriter from Dallas, Texas, and even though she has been releasing music since 2017, her latest album Great Big Wild Oak has garnished some serious attention. Her first release from the album was “Always”, a low fi, soft, hazy, dreamer of a song. The melting guitar adds texture and depth to the bittersweetness of the tune. There is a soothing quality to every intonation and a calming feel to the music. Skirts has a real vibe that I am loving right now…a must listen.

Skirts-Always

“You wanted to mention
That I left a lasting impression
But I watched you walk away
Step into a house that isn’t mine

Take a breather, step to the side
I look for you in every eye
I turn left when the light is red
I hope it’s you who slams on the brake

Can’t always be the right one for them”

Barrie-Happy To Be Here

Barrie Happy To Be Here
Reposting an album review I wrote for Soundblab in 2019 from an album that stands today

Barrie’s debut album, Happy To Be Here, is ambient dream pop which bubbles over with pleasurable energy. It arrived in my life at the perfect moment to remind me how music can impact our lives. The album provided me with a much-needed escape.

It has been one hell of a week. A swath of storms blew through Atlanta last Friday and my basement became a reeking cement pond in a matter of a few minutes. I never expected this kind of a mess. My home flooded due to a power outage, sump pump failure, and six and a half inches of rain in only a few hours. The measurement is inconsequential, all I know is my basement and all of our stored belongings were drenched, saturated, dripping, and beginning to create a stench that would eventually permeate the strongest, thickest floorboards. Any more detail isn’t necessary, but know my spirit was temporarily broken.

After several days of draining mucky water, clearing out a path to walk, and moving belongings at breakneck speed, I found a tiny inkling of order and relief. I was finally able to set aside the time to listen to Barrie’s debut album. Little did I know, their dream pop, sparkly tunes were the perfect antidote for my discouraged mood. Closing my eyes to the chaos with headphones on, I listened as their jangly tunes transported me to crisp sunny skies and the youthful freedom of summer. My mind was diverted by way of their joyous eclectic sound, enhanced by Barrie Lindsay’s soft, pure, and airy vocals.

Barrie is an emerging dream pop band, and they are set to drop their debut album, Happy To Be Here on May 3rd, via Winspear. A Brooklyn five-piece, they are made up of Barrie Lindsay, Dominic Apa, Spurge Carter, Sabine Holler, and Noah Prebish, all coming from different backgrounds around the world. With this strong debut, the band proves that differences can meld well and create a cohesive sound while emulating true inclusion and acceptance. Barrie Lindsay says,

“The scaffolding of this album is moving to New York and finding these people that make up the band. We’re very different, but we cover each other’s gaps personally and creatively, and are eager to learn from each other.”

Lindsay can write songs, play guitar, piano, synth, and bass but she truly commands the vocals on the album. She sings with soft whispers giving the impression of a dreamy vulnerability. With all of her talent, this could be her project alone, but listening carefully, I hear a multitude of influences making it a full band record. Happy To Be Here was co-produced by Barrie and Jake Aron who worked with the recent breakout act, Snail Mail and also Solange and Grizzly Bear.

The first song on the album, “Darjeeling”, begins with attention-getting rapid claps, then settles softly into ambient beats, lush vocals, and sway-worthy melodies. Interesting changes in tempo keeps the listener connected and curious. “Darjeeling” cleverly sets the mood of the album with a soothing groove and the other songs follow without being controversial, jarring, love lost, political, or weepy. While the lyrics are astutely observant, they are light and nestled in a swirling wall of sound hinting a welcome throwback to the 80’s. The album is packed with melodic sweetness and is a nice diversion from all that may darken your thinking.

“Clovers” is a song which has caught the attention of alternative radio stations and shared streaming playlists. It is a hit song due to its catchy chorus and hearty piano tempo. Barrie’s song “Saturated” is a bit sparser, but it connects with its whisper like confessions of infatuation and crush. The song is relatable and alive with its wonky synth sounds and breathy vocals, and the guitars don’t arrive until later. “Teenager” surprises with interspersed static and reverb, weaving in more sonic texture, edginess, and experimentation while still maintaining their signature structure. “Geology” is infectious and pleasing from start to finish. The jazzy guitar ditties define the song throughout, but especially before and after the sparkly chorus. The album ends with the song “Hutch” and the promising possibility to be, “better, I can do better than before…love, I can keep loving some more”. Could it be hinting this album is only the beginning of many more to come?

Throughout Happy To Be Here, there is a consistency with the songs that is impressive for a young band. I struggle to make any comparisons, recognizing the charming unique style they present. The power of most music can help bubble up emotions, calm uneasy nerves, ignite impactful memories, or create joy. It doesn’t take a catastrophic event to recognize the gift Barrie holds in creating warm and inviting pop songs. Their sound is shiny, luminous, and can instantly transport me to my youth on a sunny summer day. Barrie’s new debut helped me escape from my traumatic flood event with a new perspective that joy can present itself when we least expect it. Perhaps, Happy To Be Here is the welcome diversion we all need in these uncertain times.

-originally posted on SoundBlab on April 29, 2019

Top 20 Halloween Songs 2021

Happy Halloween weekend…Let’s Go! Giving you my top 20 Halloween songs and a party playlist.

Halloween parties need the perfect music to set the tone. So, I put together my favorite 20 Halloween songs. Now you can have your very own updated playlist! Here are the songs with a playlist at the end.

Highway to Hell-ACDC

Black Magic Woman-Santana

Abracadabra-Steve Miller Band

A Nightmare on My Street-DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

Disturbia-Rhianna

Ghost Town-Adam Lambert

Spirit in the Sky-Norman Greenbaum

The Devil Went Down to Georgia-Charlie Daniels Band

Rocky Horro

Superstition-Stevie Wonder

Time Warp-Rocky Horror Picture Show

Halloween Theme Song-John Carpenter

Don’t Fear the Reaper-Blue Oyster Cult

Werewolves of London-Warren Zevon

Somebody’s Watching Me-Rockwell

Witchy Woman-Eagles

Love Potion No. 9-The Searchers

Ghostbusters-Ray Parker Jr

Monster Mash-Bobby “Boris”Pickett, The Crypt-Kickers

Demons -Imagine Dragons

Thriller- Michael Jackson

Here’s the Spotify playlist created just for you. Hope you have a great Halloween Weekend!

Ducks Ltd-18 Cigarettes

Ducks Ltd is jangle pop at its best. Their new release, Modern Fiction, is a worthy listen. Click and learn why.

My favorite Ducks Ltd’s song, “18 Cigarettes” is jangle pop at its best. The fun beat is meant for an ear bud supported workout, a cross country road trip with the windows down, or even getting ready for a sparkly night out. The beat will give your ticker a much needed reinvigoration. The beat and tempo are powerfully enhanced with frenzied guitar throughout which keeps the tune interesting.

Their album, Modern Fiction, is a must listen if you appreciate good songwriting and music with dueling guitar influence. Thankfully, this duo carves out their own specific style. Ducks Ltd. are masters at balancing uptempo tunes with a bit of lyrical melancholy, crushing the mold.

Photo by Chritiane Johnson & Laura Hermiston

“I wanted things to stay

how they would not stay

I’d ask you to explain

but its not your problem

Oh I’ve been in a state

and you don’t relate

I wish that I could say

where it got me

but its not me”

Slaughter Beach Dog-Safe and Also No Fear

When you simply love the songwriting and connect deeply to the music, you can’t help but write a glowing album review. Slaughter Beach Dog
From July29,2019

From July 29, 2019 (Soundblab Review)

When I began listening to Slaughter Beach Dog’s latest album, Safe And Also No Fear, I instantly connected to Jake Ewald’s songwriting ramblings and lyrical journaling. Each song provides a window to his world, through his unique perspective. His lyrical storytelling is compelling, introspective, and a masterpiece of his everyday moments. 

“I live upstairs
I wash my hair
I take my meals alone inside the parlor room
I win the war
I feed the poor
I get anxious and I curl up on the floor”
-”One Down”

Then it hits you, the power of the punch. A struggle unfolds in his seemingly disjointed phrase choices. Each song grapples with his past and his future and his coming-of-age. He recognizes something is different but is not sure how to handle it. It is meaningful and something we all have to face. His struggle is my struggle, our struggle.

Safe And Also No Fear, the third album of Slaughter Beach, Dog will be released via Lame-O Records on August 2nd. At the heart of it are delicate, radiant folk melodies. There is a simplicity in it’s language, but collectively the words translate a bittersweet understanding. He is struggling with his fading youth and grappling with his inevitable adulthood. Ewald examines his existence and humanity in such a cunning, casual way. The conflict almost slips by unnoticed as it’s carefully hidden in upbeat sparkly tunes. Then with reflection, the wisdom of his everyday ramblings hits brilliantly.

Jake Ewald, formerly of Philly emo-punk group, Modern Baseball, went off on his own after the band’s breakup due to exhaustion and mental health issues. His albums with Slaughter Beach, Dog, Welcome and Birdie garnished a loyal following with Ewald’s breakout songs based on fictional characters. His latest project is further enhanced by the addition of more members, with bassist Ian Farmer (Modern Baseball), guitarist Nick Harris (All Dogs), and drummer Zack Robbins (Superheaven). Their creative input and dynamic helps Slaughter Beach, Dog to be more cohesive and complete by adding depth to the simple folk tunes, creating a collective mosaic of sound. Welcomewas raw and experimental. Birdie was a healing departure, by Ewald writing about something other than himself. But the third album, Safe And Also No Fear, hits harder and is clearly a creative, deeply diving personal gamble.

On Safe And Also No Fear, Ewald’s warm, vulnerable vocals unleash simple storytelling masterpieces. His songwriting is more developed, mature, and keenly observant. As his buttery vocals are softly offered in each song, the acoustic guitar and changing musical arrangements balance the foundations by filling each song with an expansive complexity.

The first track on the album,“One Down,” is clearly autobiographical. It is a testimony to Ewald critically viewing his life in an open, honest way. He begins with his folksy, acoustic roots, while confessionally listing his everyday actions. As the song progresses, it shifts from being a solo singer and acoustic guitar to a gradual introduction of other instruments. The music builds into something more complex, but continues to stay vulnerable and tender. “One Down” immediately alerts the listeners the album is going to have a broader, more expansive shift, and move in a compelling new direction.

“Good Ones” is chock full of clever lyrics, heavy bass, and pounding beats which add the perfect tinge of punk defiance. His artistically creative, poetic lyrics tumble out rapid-fire which contrast the slowing tempo, shaping the puzzling verse.

“Into the void, a plea to make it through the night 
My kind of man, always right,
Dead on deployment sea, your dog went toward the fight
Licking his wounds, with stars in his eyes”

Each song on the album needs to be sifted, sorted, and listened to on repeat to discern the beauty and the hidden hefty meanings. “Black Oak” because of its risky seven minute length requires that breakdown. Beginning with a simple strum of guitar and a repetitive thumping of a drum, it’s entirely spoken and unveils a murky, curious story. This peculiar dark story tells of ingesting everyday objects like a tea towel, refrigerator magnets, and a watch on a dare, only to get sick in the street. When spit out, the magnets perfectly spell out his lover’s name. He then goes searching for her. The narration finishes with a shocking twist, and for the second half of the song, the instruments beautifully blossom among soothing hushed choruses. The fictional story reflects his ability to create characters outside of himself, compared to other, more realistic songs on the album. This proves to be a well-done, thematic outlier on the album.

An odd addition for its rawness and lack of sleek production is “Petersburg.” The fuzzy humming background, which sounds as if it was recorded in a space separate from the rest of the album, provides a needed diversion from the rest of the album and reflects Ewald’s past songwriting, an ode to his roots.

Many of the tunes on the album embrace a happy catchy beat, but after further examination prove to be darker in subject, including the songs, “Good Ones,” “Tangerine,” and “Heart Attack.” As one of the poppiest songs on the album, “Heart Attack,” expresses the exaggerated result of leaving a message and waiting for some kind, any kind of response. Ewald’s ability to make light of the torturous waiting allows him to express his deepest fears of rejection in the context of humor.

“One Day” expresses the internal urgency to be better, do better, and behave better despite our basic humanity and inescapable flaws. Supporting the theme throughout the album, Ewald delicately balances his youthful behavior and lifestyle with the person he wishes to be one day. A steady drum beat and expansive shiny guitars emphasize his analytical lyrics. 

“One day you’ll be good
You won’t know why it scared you
You’ll act just like you should
You’ll fix that awful hairdo
Anyday now, Anyday now”

“Map Of The Stars,” a favorite of mine, sentimentally reflects on his life, bandmates, and friends. It openly exposes his fragility and shortcomings while simultaneously making a concerted effort to mature. 

“Begging for brains in your prayers
Falling asleep on the stairs
Waking up angry and scared
Coughing up sand everywhere”

He inspects his vulnerability again in the final tune, “Anything.” Through the mundane responsibilities like picking up groceries and not being recognized by friends, he implies a transition between his boyish youthful self and his gradual attempts to become an adult. Although “Anything” is upbeat, it’s lyrically quite touching and meaningful. Beginning acoustically, it builds gradually to a full band. A haunting humming synth sound evokes emotions and grounds the album, as a final bow to his youth.

“I tried to tell about difference in the nighttime
But I could not tell it then
If I needed you to swim 
Would you swim back?
Would you come to me again?
Anything you want to know, you could find out
Any place you want to see
I can promise I will be a friend to you 
If you will be a friend to me”

Jake Ewald delicately exposes his weaknesses and deepest desires through his everyday thoughts and vivid, charismatic songwriting. Safe And Also No Fear uses simple but powerful lyrics to uncover complex, thoughtful ideas on life, growth, and change. A creative risk because it appears to be deeply personal, the album proves Ewald is a musical force. The addition of a full band and their close collaboration is the instrumental emphasis to the album’s coming-of-age theme. Clearly putting aside any anxiety or fear, Slaughter Beach, Dog is something worthwhile, unbearingly honest, relatable, and truly brilliant. 

New Music-Hovvdy Junior Day League

Good vibes, a hint of nostalgia and sincerity in the latest from Hovvdy

Credit: Adam Alonso

Hovvdy’s latest album release, True Love, delivers good vibes and positivity. The album has their signature note of nostalgia and comes across truly heartfelt. I love it because it seems personal and invokes a sunny, breezy afternoon texture. A favorite song of mine is “Junior Day League.” Give it a listen.

Hovvdy-Junior Day League

“Low country, high speed
Flag on a mailer, cross on a trailer
Junior day league
Billboard reads, “Have a dream”
Still driving upstate

Cracked like a window, told you how I feel
Sharpen my teeth
Lights on a string, you and meAnd if I wasn’t so uptight
You’d probably be by my side
Don’t think I’ll make it in time
I’m always changing my mindFind myself in a reverie
How you move so patiently
Feel your light fade into me
Turn into a memoryReal again, outlook open
I’m proud of it, the way it’s been
Ego broken or starting to bend

Okay, I meant I’m invested in you
And how we do the things we do
This next line is up to youFind myself in a reverie
How you move so patiently
Feel your light fade into me
Turn into a memory
Find myself in a reverie
How you move so patiently
Feel your light fade into me
Turn into a memory”

I have been following Hovvdy since 2016, when they were just beginning to find listeners on the indie scene. I posted “Meg” one of their first releases. To learn a little more about the duo, here’s my 2016 blog post.

Since then, both have married, released multiple albums, and now have sold out shows. They have a show at Atlanta’s Center Stage on October 12th.

Will you be there?

Here are a few of their upcoming shows via Songkick, but also check out their website, Hovvdy

  1. Oct6 Nashville, TN, US Brooklyn Bowl Nashville

New Music-Remember Sports, Lunar Vacation, Evan Wright and UV-TV

It has been awhile, but I am back sharing incredible songs you should hear

Sofra by Ece Günaçar,

So Much Time Has Passed

I hope you are vaccinated from the danger of Covid and safe. I don’t even know when I last posted . Not knowing without looking back is actually horrific. There was a time in my life where this blog put air into my lungs….like a beautiful bubble, the air expanded in such joyous happy ways, until it didn’t.

I am not really sure where I stand at this very moment, just a little wobbly and unsure of myself and the longer I don’t post, the more pressure I feel to speak my mind. But after a weird wonky year of uncertainty, unrest, and political upheaval, I am unapologetically speechless. Maybe it is time to open up.

The sadness and loss of live music truly put a veil of darkness over me. I can’t even begin to express the emotional amputation I felt. I wondered what was the point of sharing new music, if I couldn’t see it live on a stage. Yep, that is ridiculous and utterly absurd, but it still existed in my brain.

Then, I felt the pressure to release my blog silence with a genius song meant to be on everyone’s sayonara to 2020 list. I recognize the demand was entirely self made and off base, but it was still in my head. I am only just beginning to make sense of it.

Today, I hope to share what I hear.

Black Lives Still Matter. Love is Love. Biden was the best choice in an election with a liar and an autocrat. I am still fighting for human rights and voting rights. I am not sure when I will rest from the chaos left after our incredibly tough year.

My 2021 Heart Project

But in the meantime, when I am not listening to music, I am quietly building a garden of flowers to be shared. It is slow and tough going, but isn’t that how most things worth doing begin? I am hoping each day the freshly seeded patches of earth survive chipmunk raids, robin runs, and the dry heat of the summer with sporadic torrential rains. Will I personally grow beside my tiny seeds? I hope so.

There is so much to be said for the life lessons we can take from nurturing a tiny seed. I completely get it, now more than ever before. But isn’t music built that way too?

A funky chord mix, a phrase worth saving, and a creative imagination that can replicate an emotion, a feeling, or a powerful statement in song. I remain in awe of songwriting creativity. The talent is vast and wide and has mostly remained quiet, like me, during this abnormal era. But now as the world opens again, music brims with promise, excitement and fortitude.

I believe we may be entering a new roaring 20’s of the 2000’s. The introspection of the past year and the need to develop close interpersonal ties with those nearest and dearest, naturally developed art, music, survival, and life.

How will I step out of the quiet hollow of 2020? What songs should I share in this moment.

Honestly, it isn’t as important as the importance of just doing it. Forgive me if you aren’t impressed. I am simply sharing what impresses me. Somehow the new music that is releasing right here and now, is something I will cherish because it germinated in a similar creative struggle from a year that no one wants to relive. The thread of expressiveness lives on, despite all we have been through.

So I hope this brings you a moment of simple joy, knowing the emotions of time and the complicated human experience are forever knotted into something worth listening to.

I hope you are okay. I hope you feel the light beginning to shine on you, as I do. Please check in dear ones. I want to know how you are.

Here is the music that I am listening and loving right now….

Remember Sports-Out Loud

“I won’t stop, never give up

Trying to get everything out

Of your head into your mouth

We can make this last if you say it out loud”

If you love them, check out other posts, click here Remember Sports

Lunar Vacation-Shrug

More… click .Lunar Vacation

Evan Wright-Turn The Other Way

UV-TV Distant Lullaby

Waxahatchee-Light of a Clear Blue Morning

Need an uplifting song that is a reinvented blast from the past? This song is a reminder you are worthy, you are strong, and you can face the future head on!

Sometimes a remake of a classic song can spark a new generation to listen and appreciate its worthiness in the world. This is truly the case of a 1977 Dolly Parton original that has been replayed and reinvented for the latest Waxahatchee album, Saint Cloud +3, “Light of a Clear Blue Morning.”

Today, as I face the results of a tragic surgery for a basal cell cancer on my cheek, I needed this reminder that my worthiness and my power rests within me…. not in my appearance or any superficial friends that don’t accept me for me. I am still the crazy girl of my youth, the party thinker-upper, concert front row dancer, and the gal that can also sit in a corner having deep conversations with strangers that express an openness to thought and some mind bending ideas.

I am just a week or so post-op, but I am encouraged by my closest buddies that I have full freedom to stretch my truth and create a new story for my wild facial scar. I am planning a reveal which will morph, depending on my situation or my need to push the boundaries. Forgive me if I fib a bit. Yeah, you should see the other guy!

So on occasion, as I fretted over my new face in the mirror, this beautiful gem of a song popped into my inbox and I am a falling to my knees fan. It was a spiritual message I needed to hear. This lovely rendition is a song that empowers me to stretch beyond the darkness of fear and worry to find hope and internal reconciliation.

Waxahatchee is perfection and Katie Crutchfield’s soulful voice takes center stage to showcase the strength of a well written song which transcends time and place. Dolly Parton wrote this gem when she parted ways with the Porter Wagoner Show. It was a moment of female empowerment and she shares that hope in her poignant yet simple lyrics. Katie Crutchfield just brings it home and into a new era.

I hope you might also listen to find the strength for your own personal story and celebrate this moment, this hour, this day.

“Everything is going to be alright, it’s going to be okay.”

Everyone You Know, Joy Anonymous- Just For The Times

“This one is for the daydream believers
Parents turned teachers
And believers 5am preachers
For the ravers divas and dealers
To the late night lovers boxset watchers in duvet covers
Round the clock mothers and part time clubbers
Remember
We’re all going through thе same thing”

I wasn’t prepared for how hard this song was going to hit me. I had so many feels, sadness, reflection, appreciation, and a bit of hope. Music moves all of us and the duo out of the UK, Everyone You Know with Joy Anonymous, nailed it.

As we continue to wade through the sludge of our times, this song provides a beautiful reminder….we’re all going through the same thing. Stay Strong!

Crank up the volume and enjoy!

Just For The Times-Lyrics

“My favorite song’s playing
Everyone’s laughing, everyone’s smiling


This one’s for the daydream believers
Parents turned teachers
And believers, 5 AM preachers
For the ravers, divas, and dealers
To the late night lovers, boxset watchers in duvet covers
‘Round the clock mothers and part time clubbers, remember
We’re all going through the samе thing
And I’m sure it will all end soon
Laughing and dancing under onе roof
And that first time raving
Hands in the air to our favorite tunes
Hugs for your best friends, “Mate, I missed ya”
Another night of smiling and pictures
That’s gonna be night of our lives
So this one here is just for the times


So this one here is for the sunrise spectators
And the dance floor fiends
This one’s for the careless
The single parents and the troublesome teens
I mean this one’s for the DJ’s playlist
When we get back to them crowded places
Making best friends with strangers
We’re all going through the same thing
Can’t wait for them Friday nights
Wishful thinking, drinking inside
Whiskeys, wine, queuing for pints
They’re all on lines, but ain’t online
Hugs for your best friends, “Mate, I missed ya”
Another night of smiling and pictures
That’s gonna be night of our lives
So this one here is just for the times


And it don’t matter where you are
It don’t matter what you’re doing
What really matters is who you’re with
‘Cause none of this means anything if we ain’t together, you know?
That’s what it’s all about, it’s about being together
Together with the ones we love
With your best friends and your family
Your favourite song’s playing
Everyone’s laughing, everyone’s smiling
And that might seem like miles away right now
But I promise you we’ll get there
We’re all going through the same thing


This ain’t forever, this ain’t forever
Sing it together, please keep your head up”

Everyone You Know is Rhys Kirkby-Cox and Harvey Kirkby. They are brothers from London. Check out all of their dance/electronic music by clicking here, Everyone You Know.