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 To Watch: Chased By Giants

The Nashville quartet @chasedbygiants is quite atypical of the brand of music that comes out of Music City, USA. That does not discount the quality of what this band has put out thus far. The group is in the midst of recording their debut record, but have provided the general public a sweet taste of what to expect.

The foursome consists of guitarists/vocalists Joe Darkangelo and Kenny Rutschow, drummer Justin Bird, and bassist Joseph Falconberry. The group made their Facebook debut in May of 2013 and list some of their influences as Yellowcard, Paramore, and Relient K. Honestly, the band’s demo version of “Tonight” (which can be heard in the video above) is reminiscent of Box Car Racer and Sum 41, which is a good thing.

Based on the raw version of “Tonight”, if Chased By Giants stick to recording songs like that track, their debut record should receive rave reviews. This month, they have a couple of live events for music fans to see them in action (Sat. 4/19 and Sat. 4/26 in Mt. Juliet, TN). People in that area are going to be very lucky to have a chance to check out this group on a live stage. Their demo is a strong sign that they are going to rock it on the live stage and their first album, when it drops, should not disappoint.

The Bloody Nerve Have The Bloody Nerve To Break Music City Stereotypes

Nashville-based duo The Bloody Nerve (@thebloodynerve) is not your typical group coming from Music City, U.S.A.. When people think of Nashville, they think of honky tonks, country line dancing, cowboy hats, and yeehaws. Guitarist Stacey Blood and vocalist Laurie Ann Layne shatter the image that outsiders have of their hub. Curious minds can read about the band on their Facebook page and will learn that both members were not even born in Tennessee. They do, however, know that to make a splash, going to the music capital of America was a smart route to go. An even smarter route: not trying to be a typical Country & Western act, which helps them stand out even more. In this current scene, originality is a breath of fresh air.

Speaking of which, on the tune “Find Ya Love” (the featured video), Layne’s haunting vocals match up beautifully with Blood’s guitar playing. The video’s budget is not huge, but it did not need to be. It features Layne’s luscious blood red lips in a near-embrace with the microphone with shots of Blood on guitar and walking around town. The video and song tell a good story without the bells and whistles of other videos, which often distract from the songs.

Is there a touch of country in The Bloody Nerve’s music? Sure, being in Tennessee has its influence on some of the group’s tracks. “Place To Hide” is a track that sees Blood handle the majority of the vocals and it definitely has some state roots, but it is a Blues-influenced track versus Country. “Local Honey” is the group’s most Country-influenced tune, but it a fun-sounding track that is atypical of their brand.

The Bloody Nerve have an EP titled ‘Red’ available that can be downloaded at their Bandcamp page with a free tee shirt for the purchase. Not only will indie music lovers get some great songs to listen to, they will receive an early Christmas present. The EP is a brilliant demonstration of the variety within the band’s music. With the holiday season among us and even in this questionable economy, consumers of the alternative to the mainstream are best served in investing their dollars in this band. There is a curiosity about what this group can pull off next.

Americana For The Soul

Country soul singer Brigitte DeMeyer (Twitter: @BrigitteDeMeyer) has been honing her craft of creating soothing cafe music the last several years. On YouTube, there are an abundance of videos showcasing her smooth vocals with sharp yet laid back harmonies. Americana music lovers should embrace the sounds of DeMeyer, who could have hits on the Country and AC charts with the right marketing to radio stations.

For instance, on the bluesy “When I’m Gone”, this is an ideal song that should be part of the soundtrack to the TV series “Nashville”. It is amazing the beautiful music she can make with a backing band consisting of a classical bassist and a fellow acoustic guitarist. This is the type of song one can enjoy walking down the street, wolfing down a latte at your local coffee house, or hanging out with the family dog in the backyard sipping lemonade. DeMeyer’s music is about substance versus style and less theatrics are more effective in letting the music speak for itself.

“Somebody, Please” is another song that has value in telling a story instead of being a song just to make a buck and get a bunch of empty clicks. There is a place where music like DeMeyer’s can thrive and she will ultimately find her groove and make her way up the mainstream pipeline. “The Tonight Show” doesn’t book hip-hop and pop acts every night.

Regarding live events, Brigitte DeMeyer is back in action on Saturday, November 16 in Naples, FL. She has an abundance of live performances recorded online. That will give fans a taste of what they can expect at upcoming gigs. Fans of Jewel, Norah Jones, and Sara Watkins should add DeMeyer to their playlists for more prestigious well-written and beautifully performed tunes that are relaxing and family-friendly.