TRACK REVIEW: Rosie Carney “Awake Me”

“My whole life just seemed like a cloud of fog,” Rosie Carney states frankly on her website, sharing explicit details about the pain she’s experienced: bullying, sexual assaults, an eating disorder, being dropped from a major label at the age of seventeen. Now twenty, it’s no wonder  Carney, who hails from Ireland, has such a haunting voice. But on her single “Awake Me,” lyrics like “I’ve been a fool for more than half of my life, I’ve tried to hide/ Awake me,” seem to show that she is confronting and overcoming her past. Not that she needs to claim any great sorrow to be taken seriously as a singer – she’s able to express multitudes even when her voice hovers close to a whisper, and create mountains of tension just by lingering on a pause. All that accompanies her voice are simple, repetitive guitar arpeggios, but as her voice ascends higher and higher in spirals toward the end of the song, it’s easy to imagine her leaving behind the fog, the bullies, the stigma of mental illness – everything.

Find some release and resolve in the gorgeous track below:

TRACK OF THE WEEK: Heat Thunder “Wind Whips the Veil”


Singer/songwriter Joe Montone, under the moniker Heat Thunder, is serving up tasty folk tracks, the latest of which comes in the form of “Wind Whips the Veil.”

An accompaniment of strings alongside acoustic guitar and Montone’s crooning vocals leads to a track you’ll want to either sway or cuddle to (or both). It’s passionate and fiery yet subdued and vulnerable, the perfect accompaniment to a chilly fall afternoon spent indoors sipping tea. Listening to “Wind Whips the Veil” brings you to a musical place that you might not have known existed before, a quality you can find in much of Montone’s music.

Heat Thunder recently opened for Anthony Green of Circa Survive on his Pixie Queen Tour and also released his latest EP, Phoenix. With so much going on lately, it seems that Heat Thunder might be a good artist to keep a tab on.

LIVE REVIEW: Bill Callahan @ Baby’s All Right

Bill Callahan

This is the closest we will ever get to Bill Callahan’s living room, or…porch. The stage at Baby’s All Right has been set with a sturdy wooden chair and four handsome plants, two flanking each side to make up some kind of homey throne. A long-haired gentleman places ashtrays smoking with incense behind the stage monitors. “I want to be the incense roadie,” chirps a nearby voice, just before Callahan takes his seat in a blue button-up and well-worn boots. He does so without a word, easing into a simplified rendition of “Feather By Feather,” a song from his Smog days.

You could say that all of the evening’s songs were simplified, seeing as they were born of only six strings, a foot tambourine, and occasional harmonica. But one thing to learn from stripping a song to bare-bones is: how well does it hold up that naked? We were given the substructure of Callahan’s melodies throughout the set, and found they can still support the heft of his baritone beautifully; maybe this is no surprise. By force of habit, my ears still cued in the synth strings on “Jim Cain” and the distortion on “Dress Sexy At My Funeral,” but I didn’t want for any of it. The truth at the core of Bill’s sparse delivery is that his songs are bulletproof. They’d be as memorable tinkling out of a hurdy gurdy as they would set to a 30-piece orchestra.

Callahan has said in many interviews, perhaps weary of the ever-present question regarding his retreat from “the Smog moniker,” that he sees Smog and Bill Callahan as one and the same, merely on different points of a continuum. True to that philosophy, he doled out generous helpings of his catalogue old and new, playing everything from “Prince Alone In The Studio,” to “Too Many Birds” and his cover of Kath Bloom’s “The Breeze.” Upon strumming the first chord of “Riding For The Feeling” the crowd nearly fainted with excitement.

“You recognize that song from the first chord?” he said, looking bemused. “That’s the coolest thing. I never thought I’d get there.”

The audience continues to go wild with anticipation.

“I hope it’s the song you think it is.”

There is an austerity about Bill Callahan that I haven’t seen in too many performers…a kind of steely fortitude that makes me wonder if he’s not a man, but maybe a mountain, or a barquentine. He was there to do one thing, and it sure as hell wasn’t chitchat. Callahan doesn’t pander, just delivers. And yet despite the weight of his music, despite this being a rare moment to be earnest, and split open, and to feel something…there will always be a drunken idiot shouting safely from the back of the room.

“I fucking hate you Bill!” barks a fool who has been yelling quite the opposite up until now.

Callahan, who seems as though he could win any argument with the sting of his silence, looks up at the ceiling, a smirk slowly spreading across his lips. “I’m used to it,” he quips.

Anyone who has read a handful of interviews with Bill will pick up on his bone-dry sense of humor, but on the page you won’t get a sense of his comedic timing – the deadly delay he administers between minimal remarks. It’s a joy to see a few soft-spoken words slay a drunken monologue. Perhaps that speaks to the power in Callahan’s lyrics as well: nothing superfluous, everything purposeful, quality over quantity.

It would have been easy for Callahan to call it an early night, but he played a real stew of a set, clocking in at around an hour and a half, and giving us the chance to choose his last song.

“Well, that’s about all I got time for, goodnight,” he says after closing with “Say Valley Maker.”

The drunken fans persist: “To Be Of Use!” they scream.

“Goodnight.  Sleep Well.  And dream…”

“To Be Of Use!”

“…Dream of…’To Be Of Use.’”

“Show us how, Bill!”

“…Well, first, you lay-first you leave, and then you lay your head on your pillow, and dream. It’s better than the real thing, I promise.”

I doubt that it is better. But I’ll give it a shot anyway.


ALBUM REVIEW: Porcelain Raft “Half Awake EP”



Mauro Remiddi has had quite a life. The Italian born singer/songwriter once joined a Berlin circus at age 21, playing percussion, accordion, and violin to accompany the acts. He’s visited North Korea as an Italian musical ambassador and shaken hands with Kim Jong-un. Recently, a new adventure brought him to Brooklyn, where he recorded the EP Half Awake under the name Porcelain Raft. Not content to settle down for long, he soon moved to Los Angeles to mix the tracks and start his own label, Volcanic Field.

Remiddi has the weary voice of an artist who’s seen a lot, but managed to hold onto some hope and gentleness. The songs on Half Awake, true to the release’s name, are mellow and dreamy with an infusion of energy just below the surface. On the opening track “Leave Yourself Alone,” that energy comes from fuzzy synths under sparse guitars. On “All In My Head,” a less subtle dance beat works perfectly under an organ intro and Remiddi’s smooth vocals. He proves his versatility by ending the EP with the folkier track “Something Is After Me,” a song are heavy on piano and soulfulness. 

All of these elements are put into play on the title track. It starts with Remiddi humming a soulful intro, then a bass beat kicks in under his singing: “Should I come over? It seems that I’m half awake.” More drums and the plucking of a guitar are added as he makes up his mind: “I’m coming over/ I need to see you again.”

Half Awake is available now via Volcanic Field, and Porcelain Raft will be playing an album release show on Friday, June 26 at Baby’s All Right! Check out “Half Awake” below.






When  DMA’s signed to Australian indie  label I OH YOU this February, the Newtown trio was so freshly minted that they hadn’t even played a show yet. That isn’t to say they were totally green–all three members (Tommy O’, Matt Mason, and Johnny Took) had gigged extensively with previous bands–and under their new moniker, DMA’s nonchalantly released a debut single called “Delete” and a self-tited EP a month after signing to the label. At first glance, they seem like tough guys, wearing flipped-up ball caps, slouchy sweatpants, and matching thousand-yard disenchanted gazes. But DMA’s doesn’t make spacey alt-hip hop. On the contrary! Channeling the lighter side of 90s garage rock, the group grounds its sound in nostalgic, bleeding vocals that can’t help but cull feeling out of a song.

The latest single, “So We Know,” hits new highs of gravelly, emotional vocal prowess. A mostly unadorned guitar swirls absentmindedly in the background, highlighted lightly by strings. It’s a successful experiment in the emotive power of a simple ballad, carried out by a band that–though they’ve been around for less than a year–trusts their melody enough to lay it bare. No frills needed.

Listen to the poignant new track “So We Know,” which will be included on a forthcoming 7″ from DMA’s, below:



Karen Dalton’s mystique, largely a product of her personal misfortunate, makes her an easy candidate for legend: it’s fun to imagine her, half Irish, half Cherokee, in a wooly, bohemian large-pocketed coat, Dalton had thick dark bangs and two missing bottom teeth knocked out when she got between two fighting boyfriends, and spent the sixties wandering Greenwich Village, palling around with Bob Dylan and enchanting tiny apartments full of literati with her banjo and her incomparable voice.

Most often liked to a folksy Billy Holday, Dalton’s voice is bluesy and husky, perfectly timed, but especially haunting for the sadness behind it. Dalton was criminally overlooked during her lifetime, and barely recorded, both because of her inconsistencies with the kind of pop music that got signed at the time and because of her own stubbornness and famous refusal to perform. The story of how her debut album, It’s So Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best, was made has become a legend unto itself:a friend tricked her into playing the songs, and secretly recorded the performance. Dalton released that album and one other, In My Own Time, and then disappeared off the scene. She struggled with drug use until her death from AIDS in 1993.

In My Own Time, released initially in 1971 and then again in 2006, epitomizes something of the intimacy and romance that had haunted her voice on It’s So Hard. The record was undoubtedly more comfortable, and Dalton’s experiments into the bluesier aspects of her voice (“When A Man Loves A Woman”), which even switches some of the lyrics of that song around to fit a female protagonist, feel natural alongside the beautifully archaic banjo-based tune “Katie Cruel.” Then there’s “Take Me,” a simple, heart-shattering song built around fermatas and soul, that hits a new peak of earnestness in Dalton’s career. However, the most memorable track on this album, for me, is the first one, “Something On Your Mind.”

The mythologizing of Karen Dalton, as much as it skews the life it imagines, lets you take the music for your own, and so it is with this song. “Something On Your Mind,” honest and comforting, utilizes a set of lyrics just vague enough to apply to anything—Yesterday, anyway you made it was just fine/So you turned your days into nighttime/Didn’t you know you can’t make it without ever even trying? And something’s on your mind, isn’t it—and cutting enough to feel like a conversation. More than thirty years after the song was recorded, “Something On Your Mind” is balm for the wounds of the lonely two thirty AM subway rider, the recently dumped or the recently unemployed, the weary traveler, or the woolen-jacketed wanderer through a snowy Greenwich village. Her voice, an acute blend of lonely weariness and deep strength, sounds like nothing to come out before or since.

Take a listen to “Something On Your Mind,” off In My Own Time, below: