Eric Long: “So hold onto the best, and let go of the rest, cause in the morning, them sweet things might be gone” – Live at Sofar Sounds in SF (Aug 12, 2019)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

Grateful to have discovered the massively talented singer/songwriter Eric Long at High Sierra music fest this year, and even more grateful to have caught him at an intimate Sofar Sounds show in SF earlier this month. I found myself instantly memorized by his rich, raspy vocals and his blending of folk, Americana, and blues. He stands out as one of the few SF Bay area musicians playing a finger-style bottleneck slide guitar that draws strong similarities to Keb Mo, Taj Mahal, and Charlie Parr. SUCH A TREAT. Songs like ‘Dance with Me,’ ‘Hey Now Baby,’ ‘Leaving,’ ‘Maraschino Cherries,’ and ‘Pennsylvania on My Mind’ had me hooked hard, and I found myself playing his 2018 album, ‘A Long Way From Home,’ during my entire 10 hr drive back to LA the next day. ‘Pennsylvania on My Mind’ especially hit home, considering that I too moved from Pennsylvania to California over a decade ago and had to endure the mixed emotions of uprooting to a new coast in search of new adventure and new possibilities. ‘Hey Now Baby’ is also a beautiful track for the lovers, with lyrics that certainly melt the heart: “Hey now baby.. while your dreaming gets my heartbeat, you are stealing my breath away.” If I had to choose a favorite, it would probably be ‘Maraschino Cherries,’ for the melody and beautiful violin, as well as the pensive lyrics that I think we can all relate too: “Still don’t know where I’m going, guess it’s time to move along, don’t know where I’m headed there’s just no where to know. It’s so easy to say, little harder to do, sometimes it’s the sweetest things that you can’t hold on to …Take alot of man to know what he’s after, a better man let it walk away.. What’s a good man to do without a women by his side… Sometimes it’s the sweetest things that fade away before too long. So hold onto the best, and let go of the rest, cause in the morning, them sweet things might be gone.” Eric Long’s music a sweet thing that I certainly want to hold on to, and I hope he will be playing for a long, long time. ❤

 

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Rett Madison: “Shame is a river, and I’ve crossed its waters, always sink… Hope’s on the other side, and I’ve got guilt I’ve got bricks to my feet… Love is a sunrise, where’s the light to eclipse my grief?” – Live at The HiHat in LA (March 8, 2019)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

Photo credit: Nikki Neumann (website: Neumann.com  /  Instagram: @nkknmmn)

“Everybody says I’m just like you, is that one of the many things you suffered through… both know sadness too well I lost you too, waking up without you is waking up in hell, I never meet you 48, you won’t cry on my wedding day, you’ll never hear my children say your name, Jaqueline… I’m just pissed off and bitter, I couldn’t save my mother, I’m grappling with what I got left” 

FUCK. Tears just won’t stop flowing. Such a heavy heart listening to Rett Madison sing about the recent loss of her mother Jaqueline at The Hihat last night. It was very hard to hold back the tears, and it breaks me to think about the pain that this incredibly talented, hilarious, down-to-earth, and downright adorable person must be going through. Just last month at The Bootleg, Rett mentioned that her stage banter was a bit off because she “has just lost her mom” and “feels a bit weird.” ‘Jaqueline,’ ‘Death Don’t Make a Bitch An Angel’, ‘Flea Market,’ (see videos below) and ‘Don’t Know Better Till You Do’ (“I admit that pride gets my tongue, but you and I are of the same blood and you played the game better than I could.. when I should have done better by you”), were all songs that hit us a like a brick wall and triggered instant tearshed. Heavy and intense, you could feel the cathartic relief accompanying each lyric as Rett belted them vehemently from her chest. Rett also played ‘Shame is a River,’ (LOVE) ‘Pin Up Daddy,’ ‘Fleas,’ and ‘God is a Woman,’ all tracks (videos below) I had heard before and instantly connected with, wishing they were already available on Spotify. Her album is going to be an absolute masterpiece.

Rest Madison certainly stands out as my top 3 discoveries in 2019, and I will see her every chance I can get. To stay that I was stunned the first time I saw Rett play (which happened to be alongside Emma Cole and Wolf Bay at Madam Siam back in Oct and then later opening for Lauren Ruth Ward at The El Rey) would be an understatement. The minute Rett opened her mouth was the minute MY mouth would remain open, jaw dropped on the floor. Her West Virginia roots have fertilized a southern-raspy vibe that stands out in the LA music scene, carving a niche that not many can touch. She almost always starts her show with a gospel-like vocal intro called ‘One Year‘ (video below) that hooks you hard, stopping you in your tracks like a dear in headlights. Every song in her set is a masterpiece, and it blows me away that she is only in her early 20s. Since the Madame Siam show, I have been obsessively listening to her EP (God Is a Women, Mother’s Girl, Twinty-Five) over and over. I can understand some of the frustrations she mentions in ‘Twenty-Five’ (“My pals are all making plans and playing house… but I ain’t got a damn thing figured out”), but cannot understand her sense of urgency with her self-imposed time line: “Why did I romanticize where I’d be at 25… and I know that I know that I’ve still young but how come I’ve run out of time.” She is still SO YOUNG and is FAR FROM “running out of time.” She has already surpassed many her age, having written incredibly brilliant songs that raise ever hair on my body when I hear them sung out loud. Considering it was INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, it was also PERFECTLY FITTING for Rett to play ‘God Is a Woman’ (“I wish I had known back then that no love is a sin… cause GOD’S A WOMAN, She F*CKS A WOMAN, just as divine… that GOD’S A DIKE, and she made rainbows to give us a sign”) for her encore. I will forever put Rett up on a pedestal & broadcast her gift to the world until her fans are “drawing rainbows 🌈 in the sky to give her a sign.” ❤

Videos:

“If I was given one month to live, I’d carry our dreams in a bucket till we crossed our last wish off our list. If I was given one day, if I was given one day to live, I’d memorize your kiss with my clumsy mouth while you hold my shaky legs still. If I was given one hour, If I was given one hour to live, I would praise your body with every own god sin there is. If I was given one breath, if I was given one hour, if I was given one day, if I was given one month. If I was given one year, if I was given one year to year. I would plant that tree in the garden to keep track of our last seasons. If I was give one year.”

“Let me tell ya it takes more than a stitch to make me obedient… I never learned how to stay cause I was born a stray, yes I was born a stray”

“Shame is a river, and I’ve crossed its waters, always sink… Hope’s on the other side, and I’ve got guilt I’ve got bricks to my feet… I was 15 when I had my first drink, I’m on the sofa across from a shrink, keeping my mouth shut and grinding my teeth.. Got away as far as I could but that didn’t do me any good… love is a sunrise, where’s the light to eclipse my grief… Grace speaks of silence, I’ve been quiet but I only hear my own scream.”

“I’m so pathetic, I begged God to trade my life, with my mom’s, but you didn’t have that, you never asked me, you only wanted me to be happy… So I’m trying my best to be happy”

“Sometimes I think you live you through me, and you’re pissed you’re not directing the movie… If I die would you find a way to make my pain about you… When I go I already know that death don’t make a bitch an angel”

“Mamma never said I was second best, she loved a TomBoy in a Sequin dress…”

“I wish I had known back then that no love is a sin.. cause GOD’S A WOMAN, She FUCKS A WOMAN, just as divine… that GOD’S A DIKE, and she made rainbows to give us a sign”

 

 

Previous reviews (The Bootleg, The Love Song Bar, The El Rey, Madam Siam):

 

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Iceland Airwaves (Nov 3-5, 2017) – Review

Written by Erica Andreozzi

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I’ve worn plenty of wristbands in my day, but this one I wear with MOST PRIDE. Having been accepted to my second Iceland Airwaves Music Festival as a media pass holder is an opportunity that I do NOT take lightly, and I tried my best to capture the highlights of this magical, musical mystery tour.  Not only does this “land of Ice” know know to shatter glass ceilings and defy the odds of artistic potential and possibility, but it does so in a way that is warm (“land of fire”) and welcoming, and so in the least bit pretentious. The sky is definitely the limit for this innovative, ingenious, impressive Island. The music, people, and scenery is uncharacteristic of anywhere else.  ❤ 

Here are some of the bands that left a lasting impression in my mind and made me question the boundaries of human creativity (click on names or links below to see the full reviews): Hatari, Hogni, Hormonar, Kiriyama Family, We Made God, Omotrack, Rythmatik, Captain Syrup, Arstidir, Between Mountains, Axel Flovent, Mani Orrason, One Week Wonder, GDJYB (non-Icelandic), and Mammut (a personal favorite).  Since my review for Mammut was taking a very long to write (I often find it most difficult to write about bands that move me the most), I decided to write a combined review on their 2017 & 2018 Airwaves shows. Other Icelandic bands I have written about in the past are Asgeir, VAR, Vok, Kaleo, For a Minor Reflection, Sin Fang, Agent Fresco, Lay Low, Rokvva, Samaris, etc. See my reviews on Asgeir and Low Roar. See videos below from Airwaves 2017 when Mammut performed ‘Kinder Versions,’ ‘Pray for Air in the Water,’ ‘The Moon Will Never Turn on Me,’ ‘Walls,’ and ‘What’s Your Secret(these absolutely SLAY):

 

Kiriyama Family: “You’re looking for an answer, and try to dig deeper but you can’t always get higher” – Live at Iceland Airwaves (Nov 4, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

Photos courtesy of Peter Males

Photos courtesy of Peter Males
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Meeting the AMAZING ICELANDIC BAND who I hope will ALWAYS FEEL LIKE FAMILY.

Meeting the AMAZING ICELANDIC BAND who I hope will ALWAYS BE FAMILY,  Kiriyama Family. I was hooked HARD ever since I saw them at Secret Solstice Festival in June 2017  and could not WAIT to see them again at Iceland Airwaves Music Festival that same year.  They dropped my jaw to the ground once again at Airwaves and had me flailing my hands in the air like a madwoman. Formed back in 2012 by core members Karl Bjarnarson (vocals, guitar, bass and keys), Guđmudur Jónsson (guitar, bass and keys), Viđir Björnsson (guitar, bass and keys) and Bassi Ólafsson (drums and percussion), keyboarder Bjarni Ævar Árnason and vocalist Hulda Kristín were added in 2014 to complete this phenomenal six-piece family we see today.  All six are fantastic musicians in their own right, but know how to play their instruments and each others (known for several swapping during the set), proving they really do have that THE CHEMISTRY that they sing so proud and loud in their hit track track ‘Chemistry‘: “I’m not imagining this chemistry… so why don’t you just come with me.” We are surely not imagining it either. This chemistry is as real as it gets. You also don’t have to imagine the euphoria that they are feeling up there on stage, the pure joy that they have connecting with one another (they are all very close friends) and connecting with the audience who they welcome so comfortable with their down-to-earth demeanor and effortless, engaging charm.

Combining nostalgic 1980s synth pop with late 1970’s yacht/jazz rock and modern-day atmospheric, progressive rock, the band serves up a tasty experimental genre courtesy of their own “family recipe.” Armed with an array of synthesizers, guitar, and bass, Kiriyama Family combines influences of Steely Dan, Arcade Fire, Tame Impala, and M83, into a sounds that makes them stand out from many other bands I have seen (and I have seen THOUSANDS). They are a band where I am truly at a lost to find any sort of comparison (which is ALWAYS a good thing). Even more impressive are the gorgeous vocal harmonies of Hulda and Karl that will lather you in chills the instant you hear them. These harmonies are especially strong in ‘Innocence,’ one of their stand-out tracks that was #1 on Icelandic Music charts when it was first released. Check out a video below, where you can hear me shout “This one is the shit.” 🙂

Hulda’s powerhouse pipes will make you impulsively WAIL OUT LOUD to the catchy chorus as if no one was watching (at least I did, with carotid’s bulging out of my neck): “You’re looking for an answer, and try to dig deeper But you can’t always get higher lord … oh, my innocence is gold, I’ve got to wake up from this silliness, I’m not right for this. ”  What’s interesting is that this catchy chorus follows a particularly pensive intro (some of my favorite Kiriyama Family lyrics) that really embody the contant self-talk most of us battle: “I was deluded to say that, you could never find your preferable self. Seeing as it’s just a matter of perspective and you are the observer of own point of view. But just remember to relax, nothing is for certain and you will never pass as anything worth mentioning if you never step out of your comfort zone.”  Stepping out of your comfort zone is my main modus operandi, and I often try and remind myself that “you are only as good as your boldest experiment.” I always do appreciate the reminder, especially when sung by such soothing vocals. Other beautiful vocals can be heard in their lovely (#1 on their Spotify) love song ‘About You‘ (video below): “But now i only focus on one thing to help me set the pain aside, just a little something that’s more beautiful then i dear to describe… oh, there’s something about you.. I wanna be the one who sets fire to your heart.” My heart! ❤

Then there’s ‘Weekend,’ a funky, chill track showcasing Bassi’s perky percussion and Karl’s once again thought-provoking lyrics:  “And all of my friends got lost in the sands of time and doubts, as soon as the waves crashed down.” ‘Bassi’s tight rhythmic drumming also kicks off ‘Lightyears Away,’ a track that starts off slow but picks up speed in stride with the urgency of Hulda’ eager impatience for her love: “There is nothing I would rather do than sit here with you… but I’m a million light-years away from you.”  Another favorite is ‘Apart,’ (video below) featuring a happy hypnotic keyboard intro (courtesy of Guðmundur) and deep, funky bass (thank you Viđir) that does in fact “catch you off guard” when you learn the lyrics are not so happy: “All I can say is that we’re meant to be apart… And all I can do is hope that you don’t catch my heart off guard.” A final favorite (though I love them all) from the collection is ‘Anywhere But Here,’ which takes us on a exhilarating journey of groovy twists and turns that pair perfectly with the capricious call-and-response vocals between Karl (“sometimes you feel like all of our dreams are drifting away while we’re blinking, but I won’t let that happen on my watch…”) and Hulda (“don’t say that”). One of the most intriguing parts is when Karl responds to Hulda’s (don’t say that”) with “It’s Oh darling don’t get me started, I’m a changed man.”

It’s true that “We could be anywhere by here,” but do we really want to be? I think not. In fact, there is no where I would rather be than at their Saturday night Iceland Airwaves set. This is the family moment I have been “Waiting for,” and such a perfect name to their upcoming sophomore album to be release this spring.  Mad props to their awesome manager Jeff Rude who keeps me up to speed with this fantastic family. 🙂

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Hogni: “Wonderful dreams that were uncomfortable scenes out of nowhere… Wonderful scenes that were uncomfortable schemes out of nowhere” – Live at Secret Solstice and Iceland Airwaves (June/Nov 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

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“I’m in love I’m in love I’m in love can’t you tell?”… I’M IN LOVE with this song ‘Moon pitcher‘ that Hogni wrote for his fiance in his debut album, Two Trains, released Oct 2017 by Erased Tapes record label.  Hogni quotes: “I feel I tried my best to create an honest and passionate piece of musical work and I hope you will find the time and space to enjoy it as well as finding that connection. As a musician you aspire to create that other world, that sense of hypnosis.”  I def entered that other world, “CAN’T YOU TELL.” 🙂 ❤

Hogni was one of my top new discoveries at Secret Solstice 2017, and I could not wait to see him again at Iceland Airwaves 6 months later. His deep vocals and ethereal, experimental electronic arrangements simply SLAY, and I was so happy to hear the new gems from Two Trains, an album that he describes in the following words:

“The music on Two Trains is a blue-print of a period in my life where I collided with my own self, and at that point I felt the indifference between the personal and the universal, the absolute consciousness of life’s unconsciousness. Perhaps it’s a feeling that cannot be conveyed, like watercolours that just seem to wash off into the sea. But also a flashing mirage that you can enjoy before you arrive at your last destination.”

Hogni also alludes to this album as a personal expression of the tugging dichotomies he faces while living with bipolar disorder: “I’m bipolar. I got very sick and it has affected my life drastically. This album bears witness to it… (In) the last few years, the swings have decreased in size. When I was the most ill a few years ago, I felt terrible, even if you couldn’t see it. There was just so much going on, lots of fun, and even excitement about going to the psych ward for the first time. Like I was going down a new path for myself. But I haven’t seen it as exciting since then.”

Maybe this phenomena is what he was describing in his song (video below) where he sings:  “Wonderful dreams that were uncomfortable scenes out of nowhere… Wonderful scenes that were uncomfortable schemes out of nowhere.”

Previously known as frontman of the well-known indie rock band Hjaltalin and former member of ambient-techno group GusGus), Hogni proves that “Two Trains”, “change and metamorphosis” are his preferred method of transportation in this journey we call life. His “I can do whatever I dream” (lyrics in one of the videos below) is infectious and his tenacity for movement and exploration are an inspiration to us all: “My life is untethered, in many ways,” Högni says. “I try to focus on making good music and seeking inspiration, chasing experiences, travelling and finding adventures.

Aside from fronting two touring bands, Hogni has made time to score numerous theatre pieces, most notably The Heart of Robin Hood (dir. Gísli Gardarsson), staged by The Royal Shakespeare Company in 2011 and Angels of the Universe (dir. Thorleifur Örn Arnarsson), the Icelandic National Theatre’s 2013 adaptation of a well-known and loved novel and film of the same title.mHe has also written music for film and television, including a well-received score for short film Víkingar (dir. Magali Magistry, 2013) which won the Golden Rail award and was nominated for the Discovery award, both at the Cannes Film Festival. There really is no telling where his “Two Trains” will take us next. I don’t know about you , but I am surely ALL ABOARD. ❤

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Hormonar: “Our songs are like a female orgasm; there’s no one big explosion, but many high points” – Live at Secret Solstice and Iceland Airwaves (June/Nov 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

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Photo credit: Ian Young (www.nounpusher.com)

Hórmónar (Whoremoans) definitely roused plenty of hormones at Iceland Airwaves this year, and it is no surprise that their fan base is multiplying rapidly. They were one of my top new discoveries at Secret Solstice 2017, and their liberating (shirts off at the ed), sexually-charged punk rock performance had both men and women in a tizzy. It therefore was no surprise to later find out that these 5 friends (Brynhildur Karlsdóttir-Vocals, Urður Bergsdóttir-Bass/Vocals, Katrín Guðbjartsdóttir-Guitar, Hjalti Torfason-Saxophone, Örn Gauti Jóhannsson-Drums) won the 2016 Icelandic Music Experiment. Brynhildur’s vocals were unpredictable, edgy, and hot, and plenty of men shouted “are you offering?!” in response to her asking the audience, “Are you HORNY?!!” In a previous  interview with the Rekyavik Grapevine, Brynhildur said: “Our songs are like a female orgasm; there’s no one big explosion, but many high points.” Their smoking hot, super-seductive,  “drive-you-wild” energy sparked some serious attention at Iceland Airwaves this year, earning them the “Peoples’ Choice Award” at the Grapevine Music Awards. I am so glad I was able to see them up close without getting burned. 😛 Can’t wait to see my three favorite songs (videos below) from their album ‘Nananana Búbú” once more at Iceland Airwaves 2018. ❤

 

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We Made God: Hail to this Higher Power – Live at Iceland Airwaves (Nov 4, 2017)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

 

I remember nearly suffering a mild stroke the first time I saw Iceland’s own We Made God at Iceland Airwaves Music Festival back in 2014. At one point the lead guitarist Arnór Jónasson jumped off stage and started swinging his guitar back and forth in front of my friend Jensyn Lynn Hallett and I as he furiously strummed the strings, smirking a bit as we began squealing with joy. It was as if We Made God (Arnór – Guitar, Biggi – Drums, Maggi – Vox/ Guitar, Stúni – Bass) were all about making violent, cathartic, adrenaline-ridden performances and that spin you into another orbit. I’m just glad this epic encore didn’t spin me face-first into the table of guys below me! We Made God’s brain-bending live performances of math/progressive rock have been recognized by both domestic and foreign media, and their devout fans orbiting around the world can’t wait for the release of their third album next year. As of late 2018, Arnór decided to leave We Made God to focus more time on his role as lead guitarist in VAR (love their sound, see videos below) as well as supporting Maggi’s solo project, Mighty Bear.  With his talent, creativity, and breadth of experience, I’m pretty stoked to see what new direction Arnór is pointing his compass. 🙂  Be sure to check out We Made God, VAR, and Mighty Bear at this year’s Airwaves 2018!