Critique: Kerchief’s Machine’s and Animals

Kerchief (@KerchiefMusic) is the moniker of ex-Vanity Theft guitarist/vocalist Brittany Hill. Given the blood, sweat, and tears put into her sophomore solo effort Machines and Animals, it is a safe bet Hill is going to be just fine on her own. Released earlier this summer and available at online retailers and live events, the 10-track album includes something for everyone who is a fan of the alternative music genre. Although it might be Hill’s second record and first full-length under this identity, given the output of this album it is clear she is no novice and will have a future in the music scene for years to come.

Machines and Animals from start to finish is a breath of fresh air and a throwback to an alternative scene longed for by fans of Luscious Jackson, Ani DiFranco, and Peter Searcy. The vast majority of tunes are radio-friendly in terms of their length, arrangements and catchy hooks. ‘Milk & Honey’ is the first single and gives off a Brandi Carlisle-ish vibe upon repeated listening of it. It is a song about the hustle to become successful, which is something that any working class member can relate to. The track has a video for it, which has nearly 13,000 views on YouTube alone. There are plans to shoot a video for the equally impressive ‘Jack London’, a track that will surely satisfy Vanity Theft fans.

Signed to non-major label 825 Records, Kerchief managed to show how talented she is without a huge budget behind her. She penned every single tune on the album and outside of minimal input from Matty Amendola (who co-directed the ‘Milk & Honey’ video), Hill played all of the instruments heard on Machines and Animals. This effort is fairly close to D.I.Y. as one can get keeping the costs low, but maintaining high quality. Unlike some one-person acts like The Saturday Giant and Happy Chichester, on tour Kerchief is a stripped down trio which again keeps expenses at a minimum but still allows Hill to rock out at live events.

Machines and Animals is a solid ride from top to bottom with the kind of variety that will keep listeners debating their personal favorites among each other. This could very well lead to word of mouth regarding the record, which is another way indie artists are being discovered every day. Some may embrace the storytelling behind the personal song ‘Weekend’ while others might prefer the perfect-for-radio ‘Out of Focus’.  For an independent musician, the more listeners the merrier and the more one listens to this LP, the more one will admire and respect what Kerchief has to offer the music consumer.

*Photo courtesy of Kerchief’s Facebook Page

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Artist Showcase: Nick Frye (presented by DX Entertainment)

Nick Frye is an American musician who calls Columbus, OH home. This past March, Frye released a four-song EP that is pure genius. The tunes are sharp from top to bottom and after a listen, indie music lovers are going to want more from Frye. He was a drummer for now-defunct Ohio band Bonneville, but has the aptitude to make a serious go of it as a soloist.

The record kicks off with “ZUCKER!”, a tune that gives off the funky image of Adam Ant as frontman of Neon Trees. It’s definitely a track that’s ready for massive radio play. Perhaps that will come one day. “Miles” is the second tune and the song featured in the video above. This track is the epitome of modern electronica with elements of 80s music thrown in. It’s another gem that is worthy of hitting the airwaves.

The longest track is “Phony” and it has more of an 80s sound than the previous tunes on the EP. That alone makes it a standout on its own. It would have been a smash hit back in the day. The final song “You’re So Tired” is the shortest one and is more of a throwback than the prior efforts on the album. This EP leaves listeners wanting more and here is hoping Frye has a successful run to create another record and cash in on his talent.

Listeners will have a chance to see and hear Nick Frye up close and personal as he opens an amazing night of indie rock at King Avenue 5 in Columbus, OH on Friday, October 24. Also performing that night are Motherfolk and the headliner Pseudoname. Admission costs $5.00 at the door and the venue is only two miles southwest of The Ohio State University. It will be well worth it to hear Frye bring his ready for radio tunes to an intimate venue live and in living color.

This record is available now at Bandcamp.

This record is available now at Bandcamp.

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.

Artist on the Rise: Sunroof

Sunroof (@SunroofMusic) is an American musician who is self-described as playing electro-acoustic pop-rock. Montana resident Jeff Simpson started the dream in 2012 playing live shows within that year. Fast forward to 2013 and Sunroof made tracks available for sale at iTunes and other online retailers. Given the quality of what he has released so far, it is crystal clear this artist is on his way to having a very successful career.

“Brave”, the song featured in this video, is not a cover of the Sara Bareilles hit, but a track with Sunroof’s own unique acoustic poppy spin. It is a track that with label support, would have a chance to crack the Adult Top 40 and Hot AC charts. On his official Facebook, page he lists Ed Sheeran, Secondhand Serenade, and Owl City as influences. The Owl City-esque single “The Treehouse” is an inspiring, uplifting song for the upcoming season that the entire family can enjoy. “Atlantic Dreams” has legs as a dance club smash and mainstream pop hit with an Ellie Goulding vibe attached to it.

Although Sunroof’s 2014 touring plans have not been revealed as of yet, but he has the look, the sound, and the drive to be a success this year. He may be without a record deal now, but if the right people get an earshot of what he has offered thus far, it will not be too long before Sunroof has inked a contract. Remember the name and remember the tunes as there is a feeling Sunroof will make an impact in the music scene for years to come.

Artist on the Rise: Leila Licks

Swiss musician Leila Licks (@LeilaLicks) is the second-ranked artist in her region per her ReverbNation page. Obviously, this rocker is doing something right. She performs in the same vein as Melissa Auf der Maur and Amanda Palmer, however, Licks still manages to make herself seem distinct from those artists. She is someone that rock fans need to pay attention to over the next 10 months and beyond. Her haunting vocal delivery will leave listeners in a spine-tingling delight.

Leila Licks keeps her bio very short and to the point. She deems herself to be a singer, songwriter, artist, storyteller, producer, artist, and humanist. Furthermore, she goes on to state she loves music, art, life, and people. One can only hope that her love of the people will be reciprocated by music lovers checking out her music. Licks’ records can be purchased at online retailers such as CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon. Standout tracks aficionados should pay attention to are “No Truth”, “Sick of It All”, and the song featured in the video above.

Leila Licks is making a name for herself on social media with quips and words of wisdom featured online at Twitter and Facebook. It could do one some good not only to hear some tremendous tracks from this musical poet, but to obtain some thought-provoking and provocative statements on life itself. No matter whether it is in her native land, The States, or other parts of the universe Leila Licks is here and given what she has to offer the music scene, she is not going away anytime soon. Rock fans might as well relax, take a listen, and enjoy the ride.

Talented Pop Singer From Down Under Brings The Vocal Thunder

Bred in Sydney, Australia, Emmaline (@iamEmmaline) is a singer and songwriter who will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. She began writing music at 16 years of age with old school influences Etta James and Nat King Cole on her mind. Fast forward to now, her experience and inspirations have led to her latest effort “Love & Understanding”, with over 11,000 hits on YouTube and counting as well as accessibility on iTunes.

The single, if it obtains North American distribution, has potential to climb the Top 40 Pop and R&B Charts. There is a hint of the Erykah Badu and Gwen Stefani influences Emmaline touts on her official Facebook profile. It’s only a matter of time before she takes the world by storm. Do not expect any meat dresses or twerking to garner attention, though. Emmaline looks to be in the music game for the long haul.

Ed Sheeran May Get The Attention, But This Bloke Could Give Him A Run For His Money

Englishman Tom Odell is slowly making a name for himself in the States, something that “The A-Team” singer Ed Sheeran has done in the last couple of years. The song featured in this video ranks at #46 on the Adult Rock Chart this week. The downside is that it is down from last week, when it was ranked at #39. Hopefully, this lad with the Alex Band looks and the haunting, brooding voice will continue to make an impact. The video is up to over nine million views on YouTube.

Perhaps RCA Records will market Odell to the Hot AC and Alternative markets. They have fumbled in the past with acts like Damone and Longwave, but it would really be a shame if they let Odell fall through the cracks. Come see and hear what nine million viewers have discovered.