In this – the age of the Coronavirus – many of us are stuck at home, isolated with only TV screens and the glow of laptops and phones to keep us connected. In other words, there isn’t much to do.
However, one thing that is available to us all is the wide world of recorded music. And now is as good a time as ever to get to know some bands you may not have heard of but ones that you will assuredly enjoy, dear reader.
So, buckle up and get ready for a digital ride around Portland (Oregon), Seattle, Boston, Los Angeles and Amarillo (Texas).
Haley Heynderickx, “No Face,” Portland
In a way, the majestic Haley Heynderickx needs no introduction. She’s played an NPR Tiny Desk concert and has at least several videos on YouTube with hundreds of thousands of views. But the lilting singer also, as far as I could tell, hasn’t appeared in the pages of American Songwriter Magazine and, so, I wanted to change that here and now! The artist’s piercing single, which she released in May of 2018, is memorable both for its simplicity and its nuanced vibrato. It’s a masterpiece in just over two minutes.
ALITA, “Bodies,” Seattle
Part sticky pop anthem, part singer-songwriter exploration, ALITA’s “Bodies” is an experiment by the skilled producer and singer. It could come on at your favorite club as you take your shots of tequila (chased with lime wedges) or it could be the track you put on after a long day of work or before a long night of work (wink, wink). The track is lovely and powerful, like the artist who penned it and put it together.
Izzy Heltai, “Father,” Boston
It’s a slow burn, a nuanced build. Yet, the harmonies create a cascading whisper of beauty. It’s like seeing the rolling hills of some new land unfurl before you. There is a breeze in the blades of grass. There is a murmur from a handful of birds singing in the distance. They sound like guitar strings. Suddenly, you look around and you are in the song, “Father,” by Izzy Heltai.
Wax Owls, “Set It Free,” Los Angeles
I’m a sucker for four-on-the-floor beats and multiple harmonies backed by a tambourine. It’s a truly American sound to me. It propels, inspires. It is the melody of the crescendo crashing into an open heart wanting more. It is the ocean calling for you to come to sea. It is the wind at your back and the car engine revving with at least a half tank of gas at your disposal. It’s the music of Wax Owls and it’s a bit of freedom just for you breathe in.
Natalie Schlabs, “That Early Love,” Amarillo
The Texas-based Natalie Schlabs succeeds here in this lovely song because of the story she tells in just a few lines. So often, musicians can forget how important narrative or story can be in their songs. So often, there is a focus only on the voice or the look or the sound. But telling a story and connecting to an audience through a shared experience can go far. Here, Natalie pulls off melody, rhythm and character economically. It’s a gift to enjoy.