Review: Libby DeCamp’s Cross Sections

Multi-instrumentalist folk singer Libby DeCamp (@LibbyDecamp) lays all her cards on the table with her 2016 debut solo EP Cross Sections. Not only displaying talent, DeCamp expressed full creative control in that she wrote all six songs herself. In an industry big on hip-hop, country, and Top 40 pop rock right now, DeCamp’s contribution stands out as it is a dialed back, slower paced record for a country drive or relaxation after a stressful day. Listeners will learn quickly DeCamp poured her heart and soul into the EP as well as notice the craftsmanship and authenticity.

The lead-off track ‘Elroy’ starts off with some amazing bluesy guitar work along with DeCamp’s seductive vocals. It is noticeable right away the Detroit singer-songwriter is inspired by Norah Jones and perhaps Jewel. Although the song sounds peaceful, as evidenced from the lyrics the tune is violent in nature as DeCamp sings, I spit out my teeth, now the blood in the sink is boiling back at me.

On ‘Black Suit Man’, DeCamp provides a song which fits right in with the 1920 and 1930s. It is arranged and performed in such a manner that if one closes their eyes, it will be like being transported back in time to that era hearing this on an old school radio or live at Radio City Music Hall.

Cross Sections’ third song ‘Old Witch’ is the record’s most modern sounding track, worthy of radio play on Alternative and Hot AC stations and will have people hitting the repeat button for sure. It is also tied with ‘Charlie’ for the shortest tune on the album. Speaking of which, ‘Charlie’ is a sad song about a man grieving over the loss of a loved one. The organ and accordion work brilliantly as listeners empathize with the man and try to picture the tragic scene.

‘Put the Kettle On’ slows the pace down a couple of notches and is notable for its drum work and, of course, DeCamp’s sultry voice. It would be right a home on the Soundtrack from George Clooney’s hit film ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’. It could work on modern Country stations as a single with some Patsy Cline influence heard within in. The fifth tune ‘Seattle’ is the EP’s longest and would fit a modern-day romantic drama’s soundtrack like a glove. DeCamp has written and performed songs that cross genres, but Cross Sections does not veer all over the place as she elected to travel in just a couple of lanes on the album.

DeCamp got the chance to perform in Ohio recently with Jack and The Bear and has a couple of shows in her native Michigan coming up this month in Detroit on January 12 and Ann Arbor exactly two weeks later. Starting this past November, physical copies of Cross Sections’ proceeds go toward Sacred Stone Camp which fights against the DAPL. Thus, the EP’s buyers can support two causes: clean drinking water for citizens and pure, unadulterated independent music. DeCamp has created a CD gung-ho folk aficionados will want to add to their collection.

Artist Showcase: Motherfolk (presented by DX Entertainment)

Motherfolk (@Motherfolkmusic) is an American folk rock quintet currently based out of Cincinnati, OH. Originally formed in Maysville, KY, the band first consisted of Nathan Dickerson and Bobby Paver. The duo eventually became a five-piece with Rich Miller, Aaron Wilson, and Jacob Bremer joining the band. They are a very hard working group who has done some extensive touring throughout the midwestern and southern United States just this year, traveling as far as Texas and also gracing the stage at the Hard Rock Cafe in Chicago. This demonstrates that Motherfolk is serious about building their brand through live events and word of mouth. Gracing stages is one of the best ways a musical act can prove they are the real deal. It will be an honor for them to open DX Entertainment’s second ever show on Friday, October 24. Pseudoname, no stranger to the Cincinnati area, headlines the event and former Bonneville drummer Nick Frye will be fronting of his own band that night.

Motherfolk has a self-titled record out now on iTunes and Bandcamp that should also be available at their gigs. This 10-song gem’s most notable tracks are the mainstream-friendly “Tired”, the jam “Hiccups” which is sure to get people on their feet and dancing, and the rocking “Goldie Hawn” which based on the title alone should generate some attention from record labels. All three of those tunes are a fit on Alternative or Top 40 Pop radio stations. Slower tempo songs are another part of Motherfolk’s arsenal and encourage the listener to pay attention to the lyrics. “Salt Lake City” is a tune that starts off and finishes quite gentle, but in the middle it gives listeners a good kick in the butt. “I know”, “Defining Me”, and “Tune For Me” are classic folk tracks that are to be a staple at their live events as they make for good sing-alongs, especially the latter. This album is a must listen for those who want to be taken on a journey of love, joy, hope, and faith.

From the lyrics of many of their tunes, it is foreseeable these songs are about worship, but it is important for listeners not to dismiss or pigeonhole Motherfolk as a “Christian band”. While there is nothing wrong with that term per se, less than informed listeners may be quick to write off the merits of their music. It would be their loss if they ever did that as no matter what religion Motherfolk’s members practice, the music is extremely phenomenal. There is significance in a group writing and performing songs that have some depth and substance to them in addition to style. Given today’s mainstream music landscape, Motherfolk is a breath of fresh air and after listening to their record, listeners will have solace in knowing pure music is alive and well.

In four days, listeners of this record will get a chance to see Motherfolk play these songs live and in living color. They will take the stage at King Avenue 5 in Columbus, OH on Friday, October 24 and then six days later in Newport, KY for a pre-Halloween bash. Other tour dates occurring later this year include November 14 in their homebase of Cincinnati, December 9 in Cleveland, and December 18 in St. Louis.  For those who live in those areas, it is in their best interest to see what this band has to offer in person as they are sure to be satisfied.

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Artist To Watch: The Last City

@thelastcityband  is an American pop duo who now call Hiroshima, Japan home. Musical and life partners Adam and Lizbet Palmer began their pairings in Columbia, South Carolina, USA. Columbia is also the origin of legendary quartet Hootie & The Blowfish. The Palmers are fluent with multiple instruments and take pride in the DIY-approach to their music videos and their original tunes. If they continue to crank out quality sounds, The Last City will not be without some kind of record deal for too much longer.

The group formed two years ago and consider their brand of music to be a fusion of pop, jazz, and rock. The uplifting and catchy “Erasing the Ending” (included above) is an example of this brilliance. Although not radio friendly in length (clocking in at 5:30), The Last City are the type of band to do their own thing and not worry about the haters. If people like what they hear from them, then that is great for their brand. If it is not someone’s cup of tea, that is not going to deter the duo from writing, composing, and performing songs on their terms.

The Last City shows just how talented they are with the wide range of tunes they perform. They have their own thing going strong, however, they have quite the array of covers available at their official YouTube page. Some tracks given a new flair by the pair include “Love Runs Out”, a OneRepublic hit, and Marc Cohn’s smash “Walking In Memphis”. From the videos, it is easy to tell the Adam and Lizbet are having a great time breathing new life into these songs.

The Last City’s main goal is to drop a proper EP in the near future. Once that occurs, the sky is the limit for the band. They already have marketable music and can clearly put their own tremendous spin on established hit tracks. It’s only a matter of time before The Last City have a hit on their own, either through movie/commercial licensing or radio airplay once that well-deserved recording contract comes.

Artist on the Rise: Collette Andrea

Collette Andrea (@ColletteAndrea) is a Canadian singer-songwriter who should make a huge impact in 2014. Per ReverbNation, she is #6 artist of the Singer-Songwriter genre in her native land. Collette has several videos available via social media with thousands of viewers and no haters. Not only is Andrea a talented performer, she is an educated one. Once her musical career has wound down, she will have a career in social work to fall back on. Collette hopes to have a degree from Ryerson Univesity when it is all said and done. In the meantime, given her soothing voice and on-point guitar skills, the music thing should pan out for years and years to come.

Andrea got the itch to play instruments at the ripe age of 12 and started writing songs two years later dabbling with several genres. Collette lists some of her influences as Etta James, Cat Power, Jimi Hendrix, Feist, among others. After spending time in bands, she pulled a Peter Searcy and elected to fly solo. This led to a record deal with independent outfit HannahKin Studio. Will she have the same career that her famous influences had? Given how the industry works these days, who knows. These days, there are more opportunities for musicians to get noticed. It is up to the artists to take full advantage and push themselves to the moon. Collette Andrea is more than good enough to warrant success on the Adult Top 40 charts and millions of views online.

Luna is the latest EP from Collette Andrea and includes brilliant folk songs like “Hey Jack”, which is featured in the video above. This track is Collette at her finest showcasing her chops on the guitar along with her voice of gold. Luna is short and sweet, with five tracks of various lengths that are easy on the ears and overall the effort works for those of the new generation (short attention spans). “The Night You Packed Your Bags” is another recommended tune that demonstrates Andrea’s exploitation of the acoustic guitar with sheer brilliance. It is advised that cafe music admirers check these tunes out at various online retailers as a placeholder for the full-length record due out soon. This small town-raised performer might just have a very big career ahead of her.

Can-Am Connection 2.0 Should Have A Giant Year

Big Little Lions (@BigLittleLions) are a duo made up of a native Canadian and an Ohioan and expectations are high in 2014. Helen Austin and Paul Otten have displayed a mere taste of what is to come in the next several months and it is pure radio gold. If record companies and Music Directors know what is good for them, they will strongly consider giving this tandem the spotlight they have earned.

For instance, the song “This Road With You” demonstrates the group’s ability to pull off a Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros vibe with significantly less personnel. This twosome’s folksy pop tune would fit right in with other Adult Top 40 acts such as Boy, Walk Off The Earth, Rusted Root, among others. One ought to really take notice of the song featured in the above video as “The Way Home” is a brilliant track that, with the right kind of promotion, has the legs to breakthrough as a Hot AC smash.

Big Little Lions are off to a great start with over 16,000 Twitter followers and a #1 ranking in Canada on ReverbNation. Look for their record Paper Cage featuring both masterpieces and then some. This team of Otten and Austin is bound for some huge things and listeners will be grateful for being part of the ride.

Artist on the Rise: Andrew Ferris

Photo courtesy of the artist's Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of the artist’s Facebook page.

Austria resident Andrew Ferris (@iamandrewferris), not to be confused with Australian Andrew Farriss of INXS, is a musician who takes pride in doing things the right way: his way. Disenchanted with what major labels have been churning out, Ferris’ uplifting-yet-grounded style of indie pop is a sigh of relief from overproduced fare clogging up the airwaves. He is making a name for himself for his covers, but Ferris’ original work is pretty superb and stands on its own legs.

For instance, off of his full-length debut release Yellow Lorry, the opening track “Smile” demonstrates its worth as an Adult Top 40 radio hit. Other standout tracks include the very upbeat “Little Bird” and the folksy tune “The Fall of Man”. Ferris shows a wonderful range on the record with a little bit of cafe folk, country, and pop rolled into nine neat and easy-listening songs.

Andrew Ferris has created brilliant soundtrack-esque music on Yellow Lorry. Who knows what excellence his next full-length record will bring.  Merely describing the mastery of the CD does not do it justice.  It is encouraged to check out the music for oneself and find out exactly how great this up-and-coming singer-songwriter is and will be for years to come.

Review of OneFortyThree, They’re Coming They’re Coming, and Jesse Wilkes at Scarlet & Grey Cafe (1/11)

This past Saturday night OneFortyThree (@OHonefortythree), They’re Coming, They’re Coming (@TCTCMusic), and acoustic soloist Jesse Wilkes put on a solid night of musical action. These artists could have easily phoned in their performances, given the fact that a fourth set from another band never materialized. It was quite pleasing everyone involved made an effort to put on their best shows to make up for the other group’s absence.

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As for ChilIicothe native Jesse Wilkes, he played as an acoustic soloist.  No beatbox, no computers, no synthesizers. It was just a man with a guitar and his natural voice.  Wilkes was the opener, designed to warm up the crowd for other acts, but he did more than just keep the stage warm.  After the performance Wilkes provided at S&G, one looks forward to what he has to offer in recorded material. He definitely earned his keep for the evening and people should keep a look out for his work in the future.  Wilkes is the #1 Folk artist in his region according to ReverbNation. Fans of singer-songwriters are best served looking up Wilkes to find out what he is all about. He is expected to have a big 2014.

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They’re Coming, They’re Coming is a four-piece Columbus outfit consisting of James Anderson, Louis Liphart, Griffin Brink, and Brad Guggenbiller. From beginning to end, these guys had the female-heavy crowd hanging onto every note. A stuffed ALF doll was present for the set as well and it could be considered an unofficial fifth member of the band. The doll did its job as a good luck charm for the group and the band even received a chant for “one more song”. They’re Coming, They’re Coming did a nice job with the BLACKStreet hit “No Diggity” and performed an alt-country song as their encore. The band has a small presence on the Internet and are ranked #22 at ReverbNation, where would-be Alternative Top 40 hit “The Tree” is available to hear. Here is hoping 2014 is a breakout year for this quartet.

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The third performance of the night was conducted by the #14-ranked alternative rockers in Columbus, OneFortyThree. This quintet was on point and is in the midst of working on a live album, which this past Saturday’s gig was part of.  Newcomer Kristian Wilson more than held her own with the charter members of the band. Boy, does keyboardist Randall Chafins know how to bring the energy or what? Everyone was on point and brought their A-game for one of their biggest performances.  This group should go places in the new year, especially after orchestrating the crowd’s participation in their live recording.  That is when a band knows they are on their way to new heights.  It was announced a new EP is in the works, so be on the lookout for it at online retailers.  OneFortyThree’s current material is available at their Bandcamp page and is downloadable to those who want to add it to their personal music players. Local music fans are best served going out and seeing this group before while they can.  It might not be too long before they are out on the road all over the place spreading their brand.

The music of the evening was all on the up and up and each artist brought something different to the stage, making for a diverse and fun night.  2014 is in its infancy and it will be a shock to no one if all three end up having a better year than 2013.  Music lovers are advised to do their research and learn more about these artists. Get to know them before they explode. Defeatists want to underestimate the central Ohio music scene, but it is not in their best interest to do that any longer.

With Some Backing, New York Artist Will Have Multiple Adult Top 40 Hits

Soloist Caitlin Mahoney (@cmahoneymusic) has created a beautiful work of art with her latest EP West for a While. The singer’s performances should remind music lovers of another respected singer-songwriter, Norah Jones. Jones scored several Top 40 hits across multiple charts with her brand of Adult Contemporary tunes. With her latest effort, Mahoney has proven she has the songwriting and performing skills to follow suit.

Although from Florida, Mahoney’s music hub is in New York City. This is a town that it is difficult to be discovered in, however, given her effort as heard on tracks from the EP Mahoney is up for the challenge. The title track is a catchy little gem that is ready for the airwaves, clocking in at under three minutes. Additional tracks, “Wrong” and “Your Are a Safe Place” do not disappoint and are worthy of airplay. As a matter of fact, Mahoney has some spins under her belt at college radio stations. It is only a matter of time before major labels take notice leading to play on other stations.

Regarding live events, Caitlin Mahoney has one more 2013 gig left. She will grace the stage of The Path Cafe in New York City on December 27. After that, she extends her brand with a tour of Germany after the first of the year. If she is playing in your town, Mahoney is worth the curiosity to see what she brings live. The album West for a While is recommended listening and can be found at her Facebook page, Bandcamp site, among other outlets. Above is a video for a track that is not featured on the record, but is worth checking out as it features vocals from fellow musicians Jo Kroger and Kat Quinn. Spreading her wings internationally, Caitlin Mahoney’s career is bound to soar in 2014.

Review of OneFortyThree, Ted Stevens & The Third Rail, and Dave Buker & The Historians at The Tree Bar – Columbus, OH 11/15/13

On a brisk Friday night, bands brought their unique and distinct sounds to the venue formerly owned by the late CD 102.5 FM Director Andy Davis. Each one delivered heat showing that high quality music is alive and well at local venues. The future of the independent music scene is looking very bright after seeing and hearing these artists in action. Music aficionados should follow suit and these are acts that deserve the credit for a job well done.

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Opener OneFortyThree (@OHonefortythree) sounds every bit as great live as their digital tracks advertise. Lead vocalist/guitarist Matthew Berger was spot on with the stage presence and had the lively crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. Their female backup vocalist made her live debut with the group and did an exceptional job. Here is hoping the momentum continues and she delivers for years to come. In addition to performing with a new member, OneFortyThree introduced a track performed for the first time, which along with breaking in a new bandmate is not always the easiest thing to do. The entire band delivered music-wise and even provided some comedy, albeit at the expense of the always-in-trouble Chris Brown.

Similar artists: Kajagoogoo, Ben Lee, Ben Kweller

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Louisville-based Ted Stevens & The Third Rail (@tedstevensmusic) was like stepping into a time warp to the 1970s and that is a good thing. The Classic Rock trio is unlike anything Yours Truly has heard live since forever. Stevens pulled off the ultimate rock star outfit with a white polka dot shirt and leopard print sneakers. After the show, Stevens was clad in an awesome leather jacket oozing with uber charisma. Only in rock ‘n roll, people. Drummer Tony Gantt was solid behind the kit in a controlled frenzy and Kirk Kiefer was on point handling bass duties. The band’s catalog would be perfect for airplay on Columbus’ rock station Q-FM 96.3. “Hometown, Hometown” and “Live Forever” are two of the group’s best tracks performed and are available to listen to at their ReverbNation and Facebook pages. Here is hoping Ted Stevens & The Third Rail go on to have more success out of Lousiville than the now-defunct Parlour Boys and local legend Peter Searcy, artists who did not see the chips fall in their favor long-term.

Similar artists: Taxxi, The Black Crowes

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Lastly,  the buzz-generating sextet Dave Buker & The Historians (@DaveBukermusic) performed. The group was recently featured on the local PBS affiliate’s series ‘Broad & High’ and also was highlighted on the city’s premier independent radio station CD102.5. The band’s folksy sound mellowed out the crowd from the high brought on by Ted Stevens & The Third Rail, and it worked to perfection. The musicianship was superb from all six members and even with a crowd that had long filled out, no one mailed it in. This confirms the professionalism of the band, which should lead to landing shows with larger fanfare.

The group recently released What Can You Bring Back To Me?, an LP that took a year to record between two different studios over 100 miles apart. Tracks like “Molecules” and “A Ride Home” are ideal tunes to take one’s mind off of a bad day or to calm a fussy baby. Dave Buker & The Historians have a future in music for the easy listening, family-friendly music lovers and art house film soundtracks. Not everything has to be at turbo tempo to be good music, and these six musicians get that.

Similar artists: Annalibera, So Hard

It is in indie music lovers’ best interest to be on the lookout for these three groups for years to come as their futures seem very bright after brilliant performances. If these artists were so good at a small-sized venue with minimal sound and a tree stump in the middle of the audience, just imagine the possibilities if they receive the privilege to perform at more spacious settings such as Skully’s, the LC Pavilion, and The Newport. The music industry is littered with whitewash and what was heard and witnessed last night is so refreshing one can not wish nothing but the best for all three.

*Band photos courtesy of each group’s respective Facebook pages.

Song By Midwestern Duo Could Be The Soundtrack To One’s Life

Clemency (@ClemencyMusic on Twitter) is an American two-piece outfit consisting of the brothers Watkins, Paul and Jason. The track “My Heart Is the Eastern Horizon” is easily a brilliant piece of art (musically and vocally) that could be heard on AC and Adult Rock stations. Per the band’s Facebook page, the Watkins’ faith is very important to them. Could some airplay on non-profit entity Radio U be in the cards?

“My Heart Is the Eastern Horizon” could easily be in the background of heartwarming TV show or movie scenes (think of a couple’s breakup on “Grey’s Anatomy”). Coincidentally, a YouTube user wants to use the band’s music for a film. Hopefully, the band will give their consent and be handsomely rewarded for it in the end. This is one of many tunes from Clemency due to be exposed to the buying public.

This band is ready for prime time, with their music available on national online retailers Amazon and iTunes. They currently call Nashville home, but starting on Wednesday, October 16, Clemency will embark on a U.S. tour with highly regarded indie rockers Abandon Kansas and (for select dates) Seabird. Please check the group’s social media platforms for details. If they are half as good live as they are recorded, the music world should be hearing from Clemency for years to come.

Similar artists: Jars Of Clay, Turin Brakes