Category Archives: folk-pop

Brenda Xu

model: Brenda Xu, MUAH: Kat St. John

Wow, what a treat I have for you on this quiet Sunday afternoon. Meet a very talented singer / songwriter who hails from the Seattle area in the great North West.

We’ll let her fill you in with her mini bio:
Ambient/folk artist, Brenda Xu (pronounced “shoo”) has been building a steady following since her arrival on the Seattle music scene a few years ago. The momentum she created with the release of her last album “For The Winter” in 2014 has led to two successful western U.S. tours and a recent feature in the MTV show “Awkward.” Compared to artists such as Cat Power, Daughter, and Aimee Mann, her sound has been described as “treading the delicate line between washed-out ambient tones and carefully crafted acoustic arrangements.” Her new album “Overflow” builds on the unique sonic landscape that she created on her last album with more complex song structures and musical arrangements. As a DIY artist, she has successfully funded two Kickstarter campaigns to release her albums and music videos. She plans to tour the U.S. and Europe this year to reach a growing audience in new regions.

That said, every song I have heard by her is a mini masterpiece. All great songs by a great singer.

So are you ready for a wander round her song book?

First up what a beautiful understated song this is. I love the simplicity of its opening verses, but the orchestra provides some complexity. And then of course there is the awesome tone of Brenda Xu and her beautiful voice. A pretty cool video too.
Lovely Storm

“Lovely Storm” written & performed by Brenda Xu
from the album “Overflow” (release date 2/24/17)
live performance shots & editing by Rob Edmondson
time-lapse shots by Krists Veide

? Brighton Lacey Photography

I always enjoy these Sofar performances, they always seem to capture the artist perfectly. This one is no exception a beautiful performance by Brenda Xu @ Sofar San Francisco.
Another great song.
Light of the moon

Filmed by: Stef Sequeira
Manuel Garcia
Elizabeth Barelli
Edited by: Elizabeth Barelli
Audio by: Scott McDowell

 

OK, let’s change it up a little bit and hear Brenda on a cover, and of course being from Seattle it has to be Nirvana or Jimi Hendrix. This is a terrific performance at TBASA’s Lo-Fi All Stars #76.
Smells Like Teen Spirit

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a song by American rock band Nirvana. It is the opening track and lead single from the band’s second album, Nevermind (1991), released on DGC Records. Written by Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl (lyrics by Cobain, music by Nirvana) and produced by Butch Vig, the song uses a verse-chorus form where the main four-chord riff is used during the intro and chorus to create an alternating loud and quiet dynamic.
[Wikipedia]

 

This is the final track for today, another wonderful live performance, this time @ NILEShcs. A tremendous song about a trumpet, but in lieu of a trumpet they have a flugelhorn. Don’t worry about it just enjoy it.
Trumpet Song

Trumpet Song * Yun-En Liu on violin and Tyler Nugent on flugelhorn

? Sharon Hannah

OK, so I lied again. Couldn’t leave you thirsty, so check out this great new album from Brenda Xu.

Overflow

released March 7, 2017

vocals, acoustic guitar: Brenda Xu
drums: Ben Kent
bass, electric & acoustic guitar: Timothy Van Buren
violin: Yun-En Liu
viola: Andrew Van Kempen
cello: Colin Isler
trombone: Don Farwell

all songs written by Brenda Xu ©
produced by Don Farwell & Brenda Xu
recorded at Earwig Studio in Seattle, WA
mastered by Levi Seitz at Blackbelt Mastering

cover artwork by Jacquie Gouvea

 

Alessi

Today we have a real treat, a truly talented singer / songwriter from west London. You may know her from her earlier nom de guerre “Alessi’s Ark”, but she is reverting to her first name, Alessi. In addition to having a terrific voice she is also a fine guitar player and an accomplished drummer.

“Named after the Italian design company, Alessi Laurent-Marke grew up in Hammersmith, London where her father, Alan Marke, is a television producer who has worked on TV shows such as Modern Toss, Snuff Box and Shooting Stars and is also the managing director of TV production company Channel X.” [Wikipedia]

Alessi is going to release a new album in the spring, and the first single from it was released in January.

So are you ready for some great music?

“The idea of being someone’s wife inspires me to no end. Recently I’ve come to believe that to be married to oneself, to be committed to nurturing our own spirits, will give us the best chance at growing truly loving relationships with our partners. Who are we if we’re aren’t present and loving to our own divine thread in this web?” Alessi
Apart from all that, this is a beautiful song brilliantly sung by Alessi, oh what a voice it’s just sublime. Great video too, very evocative of the forties. Oh, and this is the new single I mentioned.
Wives

Directed by Luke Barham

Going back a few years, as we wander through her extensive catalog of great songs, we end up at Tramlines TV under the guise of Alessi’s Ark for another terrific song. A live acoustic performance that is a joy for the ages.
Rain

Alessi comes over to Tramlines TV to perform an exclusive acoustic performance.

Still in that era, another simple yet outstanding song from Alessi. This time with a backing guitar player and percussionist, unaccredited. A couple too many for the confined space, but they make do.
Veins Are Blue

Directed by Chris Lucraft

Check out her tender and charming folk-pop song “The Wire”, absolutely nothing to do with the HBO series set in Baltimore. This going back a couple more years when she was just 21. So sweet yet so mature. I’m just loving her catalog. This was captured in a live recording at BTR Live Studio.
The Wire

About Live Studio on BTR:
BTR Live Studio features a mix of breaking and established musicians playing exclusive sets in our studios, then sitting down for a chat with host Maia MacDonald. Maia is a musician and DJ who’s been involved with the music scene for a number of years and has a knack for asking the questions that musicians actually enjoy answering.

We’ll finish today with a cute video for another of her beautifully crafted songs, looks like the video was shot in the states. This one really rolls along, but I could have taken another couple of minutes, it was a tad too short.
On the Plains

Music video by Alessi’s Ark performing On the Plains. Bella Union

Brodka

brodka_1

Brodka is a very talented singer / songwriter from Żywiec , Poland. And trust me you are going to hear a lot more from this young lady.

“Monika Brodka isn’t like many Pop Idol winners. After winning the Polish edition of the singing contest in 2004 (aged just 16 at the time), Brodka rose to become of the country’s biggest and most beloved pop stars, releasing two certified gold albums over the next two years. After a brief hiatus, she re-emerged in 2010 with her third album Granda, her most critically revered and commercially successful full-length to date. Granda was an expansive album that merged alt-rock and electronic composition with traditional Polish instrumentation inspired by her father, a travelling musician. It went double platinum in her home country and illustrated why Brodka was one of Poland’s most unique talents.”

This year Brodka released “Clashes”, her first English language album. Written around her international travels and recorded between Warsaw and New York, the album trips through spiritual rock music, orchestral pop, primal folk, scuzzy punk, and top-notch balladry.

So now we know all that, let’s get to the music.

First up Brodka’s new single release which starts of by briefly vocally reminding me of Kate Bush, but from then on it’s all Brodka. This is a great pop song by all standards. I’m really digging it.
Up In The Hill

Concept by: Brodka
Directed by: Brodka
Director of Photography: Robert Mleczko
Produced by: Jarek Bolinski / Propeller Film
Production Manager: Grzegorz Wyrebiak
Set design: Anna Szczesny

brodka_2

A beautiful song, with a surreal video which appears to be totally unrelated to the song. But that is good because it makes you watch it more to find the link.
Horses

Concept: Bzymek & Brodka
Directed by Zbigniew Bzymek
Director of Photography: Radek Ladczuk
Produced by: Jarek Bolinski / Propeller Film
Production Manager: Grzegorz Wyrebiak

brodka_3

There is a distinct warmth in Brodka’s voice here, a brilliant traveling piece. Walking pop as in walking blues. A very unique piece, and another very strange video. Love it.
Santa Muerte

CAST
Atsushi Takenouchi
Monika Brodka

CREDITS
Concept: Monika Brodka
Directed by Monika Brodka
Director of Photography: Marek Kozakiewicz
Editor: Kuba Tomaszewicz
Produced by: Jarek Bolinski / Propeller Film

brodka_4

And this is just for me, because I am such a fan of the song.
Brodka is in great form here, and I would compare this version with the Grace Jones version and it would hold its own. This is an earlier track, I believe she was only sixteen when she cut this track, just amazing.
Too cool.
Libertango

brodka_5

Wow, keeping the tradition going I’m able to post the opening song again but this time in a live version. I think her voice sounds even better live.
This was from a performance @ 3-Majówka we Wrocławiu which is the first open air festival each year in Poland.
Up In The Hill

brodka_6