Artist Spotlight: Pete Mako

Pete Mako (@PeteTheShark) is an Australian-born singer-songwriter who has primarily focused on performing science-fiction themed acoustic alternative music. Currently based in Columbus, OH, the 10-year industry veteran’s creativity, fascination with peculiar subjects, hard work ethic, and high-energy concerts make him one of the more sought after and standout artists in the local scene. His two full-length efforts are chock full of 19 different audio comic books between them that paint a vivid picture in listeners’ minds.

Mako’s first LP, 2015’s Relationships with Monsters, contains the would-be radio hits “So Far Away” and “Apparition of Love”.  These tracks demonstrate his ability to write mainstream songs in addition to those with a supernatural tone. Other notable tracks on Mako’s debut record are the high-octane “Full Moon’s Glow”, the ballad “Not Just Another Day”, and “Solomon Grundy”. Slickly engineered by Trevor Boggs, Mako went the DIY route on the record playing all parts himself. This is a perfect demonstration of his versatility that would serve him well later in his career.

One year later, Mako dropped The Undead Life, a Ka-Tet Records release that continues his previous album’s sci-fi theme. Much like Relationships with Monsters, Trevor Boggs was involved in this record’s creation. The 10-song album fuses unique songwriting, alpha male vocals, and spot-on acoustic guitar play into an alternative masterpiece. The fourth track, which shares a title with The X Files’ tagline “The Truth is Out There”, name drops David Duchovny’s character and is a nice ode to the recently revived TV series. Mako collaborates from time to time and on the record’s fifth tune “Haunted Trans Am”, Two Years Later mastermind Jamie Rogers contributed backing vocals. Days of the New and Peter Searcy fans will enjoy Mako’s vigor in delivering another quality album that includes songs about vampire romance (“Bite Me”), prostitution (“The Witch of West Hollywood”), and a cowardly dog (“Courage”).

For a time, Mako had his own backing band The Boogie Men who did live shows, but he eventually returned to his roots of going it alone. As of late, however, he has played bass in the supergroup Roxy Mae where he has joined vocalist/guitarist and charter member Matt Starr and Two Years Later co-founder and drummer Zak Toth. Whether it is with his new band or his unplugged solo work, 2018 is bound to be a huge year for Mako. With the sky being the limit for the self-proclaimed ‘Rock N’ Roll Devil’, he and his fans are on their way to experiencing the ride of their lives.

Advertisements

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

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 To Watch: Caleb Hawley

Caleb Hawley (@iamcalebhawley) is an American singer-songwriter currently calling Harlem, NY home. He is college educated with a degree in Jazz Composition, but his musical skills go well beyond the average person’s perception of jazz. He is a hybrid musician crossing barriers and winning audiences over with his arrangements of popular covers and his brilliant blend of genres in his original tracks. He definitely has the credentials to back up his works, having won two songwriting awards in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Hawley plays the music game well in that he is active in social media and the Internet in general. On YouTube, several lyric videos are posted as well as raw live performances. One of those gigs is posted above for one’s listening and viewing pleasure. Several of his tunes are available to check out via ReverbNation and NoiseTrade. Some of his stronger tracks include “Bada Boom Bada Bling”, “Little Miss Sunshine”, and “Would You Even Try”. All three of these tunes could easily light up the Hot AC and Top 40 charts with the proper backing. This shall come in due time as Hawley deserves a chance to be heard by the masses. From what has been displayed thus far, he has something of substance to contribute to the current music scene.

For those who like what they have heard in digital format, Caleb Hawley is listed as having a live performance on Friday, May 30 with Julia Haltigan at the Rockwood Music Hall in New York City. Hawley fans who can not make that show should not fret because if they continue to support this prolific performer, his fan base and resources will increase leading to more touring opportunities. Hawley is the real deal and has more than proven himself as a rising star in 2014 and years to come.

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.

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Image

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.

Southern Solo Artist Is Set To Break The Mold

Dallas pop artist Boy Epic (@BoyEpic) ranks #1 on ReverbNation and has his take on Top 40-music available at iTunes. Not much is known about the personal side of the man behind Boy Epic, and quite frankly it is a genius marketing strategy. It adds to the mystique and intrigue of the artist. Furthermore, it places the emphasis on the music itself.

Boy Epic has covers of established chart-topping tracks posted on social media in addition to his original tunes. “Unfaithful” is a song that, if there is justice, will take its rightful place on “American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest”. It is a track that holds its own with other pop stars’ hits, some of which are remade by Boy Epic.

The only way to really know what Boy Epic’s music is all about is to listen for oneself. On the other hand, if there is additional coaxing involved, think Katy Perry-esque tunes combined with the vocals of Kill Hannah’s Mat Devine. That would be the best way to describe the unique style of this star on the rise.

Enjoy the music video above for a Boy Epic original, which is up to over 17,000 views on YouTube and, if all goes well, should go viral. He may be unsigned, but more than likely a deal will be inked. That is, if the labels know what is best for business.

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.