LISTEN UP: Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges in concert

When I first heard “Coming Home” by Leon Bridges, I assumed he was a 50’s singer. His smooth, Sam Cooke-esque vocals mixed with some killer guitar riffs, doo-wopping backup singers and sprinkled-in saxophone solos make his debut album sound like something straight out of a 1950’s diner jukebox. (Photo on the left by: digboston)

26-year-old soul singer Leon Bridges burst onto the music scene after signing with Columbia Records in December of last year. Before that point, he worked as a dishwasher in Fort Worth, Texas, while occasionally performing at small, open-mic gigs around his city. Things have only gotten crazier for Leon since being discovered last year. After signing with Columbia, Leon played gigs all over Texas, supported singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten in NYC, received the award for Top 10 Most Viral Track on Spotify for his debut single, “Coming Home” (which is amazing, by the way), and he is planning to continue playing numerous shows around the world over the next few months.

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Photo by Julio Enriquez

It’s so refreshing to see artists like Leon succeeding in the music industry today. With a truly retro voice and style, Leon sings straight from the heart. I love that he’s reviving a nostalgic genre of music in a way that’s captivated a young audience–teenagers (as well as adults) all around the world are swooning over Leon’s silky-smooth harmonies, vintage-inspired Instagram posts, and dance-worthy choruses.

Leon’s beautiful song “Lisa Sawyer,” which he wrote about his mother and her life story, was key in jumpstarting his music career. After its release on SoundCloud last year, the song hit 800,000 views and sparked the interest of more than 40 record labels.

With influences like Arthur Alexander, Sam Cooke, & Otis Redding inspiring him everyday, Leon’s songwriting centers around personal experience. I love this quote from  from his recent chat with interviewmagazine.com: “In the beginning, I was so inspired by the music. I had the option to make something modern with classic undertones, but I wanted to make something that was exactly like that old sound. Of course, it’s going to come out in my own way because I have R&B influences, but it’s cool how my songwriting works out; a lot of the time, I’m not writing just classic-sounding songs, but songs that come from experience. Look at “Brown Skin Girl,” a song I wrote about my ex-girlfriend, or “Twistin’ & Groovin,'” which is about my grandparents. I love the pioneers like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, but when I write music, it comes out in my own way. ”

(Make sure to check out the full interview here!leon-album-cover)

My favorite tracks on Coming Home are “River” (the guitar intro & chorus are so lovely), “Coming Home” (Leon nails the perfect retro music video with this one) & “Better Man.”

Find Leon Bridges below, and make sure to get yourself a copy of his debut album, “Coming Home.”

 

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LISTEN UP: Amber Run

Amber Run

19039153581_8401391d47_oI was stalking people on Instagram a few weeks ago (oh, please–you do it too, haha) when I stumbled across a few videos of a new-ish band called Amber Run, who formed in Nottingham, UK, back in 2012. After getting lost in their EPs on Spotify, I soon discovered that this is the kind of band that you can easily listen to on repeat for hours. (Photo by Paul Hudson.)

If you listen to Bastille, you’ll adore Amber Run…because they sound pretty similar. Like Bastille, each of Amber Run’s songs seems to tell a story. And whether the song is about falling in love, partying in the middle of the day, or wondering what the meaning of life is, each song drew me in as the band members’ amazing harmonies (seriously, they’re incredible) and killer guitar solos filled my headphones. (Photos below by MangakaMaiden Photography.)

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Amber Run is made up of Felix, Will, Joe, Tom & Henry, who, while all studying at University of Nottingham, decided to form a band. (Good choice, boys.) Since then, they’ve toured with some big names in music like Kodaline and Lewis Watson, released 3 EPs (Spark, Pilot & Noah), toured the U.K. a bit, and finished recording their debut album, which will be available on April 27th of this year. (Photo below by Paul Hudson.)

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Something I really love about this band: their diverse song style. Amber Run can go from singing a slow, sleepy and mysterious lullaby, to an upbeat, energetic, makes-you-want-to-sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs tune. My favorites they’ve released are Heaven, Thank You, Just My Soul Responding (the most Bastille-esque one) & I Found. I’ll admit it: I’ve definitely blasted a few of these in my kitchen when I was home alone, and sang every word at the top of my lungs.

Check out my all time favorite song of theirs below: Heaven. Something about the ending of this song gives me chills. Their harmonies are perfect, and it’s as if they are singing straight into your ears.

I’d love to see Amber Run live one day. (If you’re reading this guys, do a huge tour in America!) I’ve been browsing through some videos of their live performances on YouTube, and their energy on stage is awesome.

If you live in the U.K., Amber Run may be coming to an area near you. Check out their tour schedule below, and go for me! (And make sure you tweet me the entire experience start to finish.)

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Amber Run’s social media:

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LISTEN UP: Hozier

Hozier

Hozier

Hozier’s voice is like hot tea on a rainy day in November. Warm, comforting, and just a little bit addictive. Lately, I’ve been listening to Hozier on repeat–I just can’t get enough. (Photo by Brendan Lynch)

Andrew (Hozier)-Byrne has had a crazy successful year so far. His self-titled album Hozier (released September of this year) is growing in popularity around the world. He’s gaining the attention of Indie-rock music fans all around the globe, building himself a loyal fanbase. So far, my favorite songs from his album are: “Cherry Wine”, “From Eden”, “Angel Of Small Death & The Codeine Scene”, “Like Real People Do”, & “It Will Come Back.” His songs are mysterious; they always leave you thinking about what the true meaning behind each one is.

You’ve probably heard his most popular song, “Take Me To Church” playing on numerous alternative music radio stations. According to Wikipedia, the song reached number one on the Irish iTunes singles chart and number two in the official chart last year. He also performed the song on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago. Click here to watch his amazing performance!

hozier outsideHozier, who’s originally from Bray, County Wicklow in Ireland, is currently on a massive tour around America & the UK. (Click here to find out if he’s coming to a city near you!) Most of his shows are sold out, but I managed to catch one of his performances about two weeks ago in a small, acoustic venue. When I heard him sing, I literally got goosebumps. His voice is infectious; it filled the entire room, vibrating through the walls and leaving everyone in awe. Check out my favorite performance he did that day, “Angel Of Small Death & The Codeine Scene,” here.

After the show, my friend and I waited outside the venue to see if he’d come out to take pictures & chat. He did! I met him very briefly, but he was so sweet. He was so friendly, and willing to sign everything the fans were handing him, even when the security guards were pushing him to finish up and hop into the car to leave. When artists have such an appreciative attitude towards their fans like Hozier did, I love them so much more. (Photo of Hozier greeting fans on the left.)

imageMy friend & I meeting Hozier!

If you listen to Jake Bugg, Foy Vance, or Snow Patrol, I would highly recommend you listen to Hozier. Click here to listen to his full (flawless) album!

Browse his website here.

Check out his YouTube here.

Tweet him here.

LISTEN UP: James Bay

James Bay

(My “Listen Up” posts cover my favorite artists, as well as new bands and singers.)

img_4428My photo of James from summer 2013

He wears awesome hats, and has an incredible singing voice. What else do you need in life? This 23-year-old singer-songwriter from Hitchin, UK is James Bay, a musician whose voice is guaranteed to give you chills. His raw talent, mixed with his humble attitude toward his success makes him one of my favorite artists.

James Bay at the House Of Blues AnaheimIn July of last year, James released his debut EP “The Dark Of The Morning,” which you can get here. What’s so unique about this album is that the whole thing is acoustic. I love the style of James’ voice, and you will too. His gravely, authentic tone leaves audiences captivated with his music. Check out my favorite song by James, “When We Were On Fire,” here. (Honestly, it’s really hard to pick a favorite song of James’ from this album. I also adore Move Together, and Need The Sun To Break.) (Photo on the left by Justin Higuchi.)

I first saw James in Oregon when he toured with singer ZZ Ward as one of her opening acts (I talked about him in one of my previous posts.) He performed a few of the songs off his debut album, and I instantly loved every one. After that, he was giving out his EP for free, so my friend grabbed one for each of us. He even signed it, which was so cool!  Since then, I’ve played this album over and over again on my iPod.

img_4430James Bay recently released his second EP, “Let It Go.” It has a hint of country to it, and is a little more upbeat compared to his last EP, but it still possesses the unique style and talent that defines James. Check out “If You Ever Want To Be In Love,” from his new EP!

If you listen to artists like Foy Vance, Passenger, and Ed Sheeran, you’ll love James. Check out his social media/music/info below!

Tweet James here.

Check out his YouTube here.

Browse his website here.

Like him on Facebook here.

LISTEN UP: Nina Nesbitt

Nina Nesbitt

 (My “Listen Up” posts cover my favorite artists, as well as new bands and singers to check out.)

Nina drunk vidYou may recognize this bleached-blonde, Scottish beauty from Ed Sheeran’s music video, DrunkAnd although Nina does a great job playing Ed’s ex-girlfriend in the video (fun fact: Ed and Nina did date for a bit), she is actually a 20-year-old singer/songwriter/guitar player from Edinburgh. Not only am I obsessed with her Scottish accent, but I’m obsessed with her music. Keep reading to find out why!

Ed Sheeran discovered Nina when she was only 16, and invited her to support him on a tour around Europe. After that, she burst onto the music scene with her debut EP, The Apple Tree which you can listen to here. Since then, she’s released several other EPs, including Live Take, Boy, Stay Out, Way In The World, and a self-titled EP, Nina Nesbitt. (Which is available on American iTunes, yahoo!) Recently, she’s released her debut album Peroxide.

CD2(Photo from Nina’s Instagram)

Peroxide is an incredible album. It features a variety of songs–stories about breakups, nights out with friends, and even a fun tune about taking selfies. Nina’s voice is so unique–I absolutely love it. Her distinctive, soulful tone is one that I never get tired of listening to. She did an amazing cover of Mumford & Son’s “Little Lion Man,” which you can listen to here.

Nina Nesbitt at Bootleg Bar(Photo by Justin Higuchi)

If you listen to artists such as Lily Allen, Lenka, Ellie Goulding, or Ingrid Michaelson, you’ll love Nina Nesbitt. Although I have yet to see Nina in concert (I’m hoping she will come do a show in my city soon–she tweeted me recently that she might come to my city this year!), I’ve seen videos of her performing live and she’s amazing. See for yourself by clicking here!

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 Nina performing in Manchester on her Peroxide tour. (Photos by Georgina)

Click below!

Nina’s YouTube

Nina’s Website

Nina’s Twitter

Get to know Nina Nesbitt! Watch a cute interview with her by clicking here.

LISTEN UP: Lawson

 My “Listen Up” posts will cover my favorite artists, as well as new bands and singers to check out!

Lawson

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Lawson (Photo from Lawson’s Instagram

When a band sounds even more incredible live than they do on their albums, you know they are something special. And that’s exactly what this four-piece, British, pop-rock band based in London, are. Let me tell you a little bit about Lawson, and why they are one of my favorite bands. (Photo by Emma)

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Lawson, made up of Andy Brown, Joel Peat, Adam Pitts, and Ryan Fletcher came together in 2009. Since then, they have toured around the UK, Ireland, and America. They’ve also been opening acts for huge artists such as Jessie J., The Wanted, and Avril Lavigne. They released their debut album, Chapman Square, in 2012, which you can listen to here. (It’s amazing!) Currently, they are working on their second album, which I am really looking forward to hearing. I am obsessed with Chapman Square, but unfortunately, it’s unavailable in America, and you can only purchase it in the UK. Part of the reason I decided to focus on Lawson for this post is because I want more people to know about this incredible band. They have raw talent, play their own instruments on stage, and their sound is so amazing–they deserve more fame, especially here in America. If you like bands like The Vamps, The Wanted, or Maroon 5, you’ll love Lawson. My favorite song off Chapman Square is “Standing in the Dark.” Check out their awesome acoustic version of it here!

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Andy working on the second album (Photo from Lawson’s Instagram)

So, if you’re in need of some new tunes this summer, check out Lawson. Their catchy, heart-felt songs will be stuck in your head all day–and you won’t mind!

Click below!

Lawson’s YouTube

Lawson’s Website

Lawson’s Twitter

 Get to know Lawson. Watch a few of their funniest moments here!

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            Lawson performing in Chesterfield, UK. (Photos by Emma)

FUN FACT: Lawson were originally named The Groves. They changed their band name to Lawson after Dr. David Lawson performed life-saving brain surgery on Andy Brown (lead singer).