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.
Videos by American Songwriter
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 the world with stops in Tacoma (Washington), Los Angeles, Liverpool, Seattle and Brooklyn.
Stephanie Anne Johnson, “2am,” Tacoma, Essential link
It’s true that Stephanie Anne Johnson was a contestant years ago on NBC’s popular television show, The Voice. But taking that stage is not the high point of Johnson’s musical career. Because every time the singer opens her mouth to let the melody out via her gifted voice, she achieves a thing no one else can. Johnson has one of those voices that, if you didn’t even know the language she was singing, you’d be able to understand her story.
Charlotte Martin, “Rapture,” Los Angeles, Essential link
I first saw Charlotte Martin in New York City over a decade ago. I vaguely remember standing in the merch line to ask her about some lyric on some song she’d sung. I think she was opening for the Spin Doctors. She was stunning. Today, years later, Martin’s voice is still as rich, full and bombastic. It’s one of those voices that seems dubbed onto a person. Its power is beyond expectation, like that character in the Nintendo boxing video game who can knock out the giant final boss.
King Hannah, “CRÈME BRÛLÉE,” Liverpool, Essential link
Let me tell you what this song is like. Picture a 79-degree day. Your friend has a pool. You walk to the very edge of the pool and you turn around. Your bare feet can feel the rough concrete, the pool’s edge. Suddenly, with your mind, you slow the very fabric of time. One second is now seven seconds. And you lean back and let yourself fall into the time-stretched-somehow-now-viscous-wave-of-pool-water. That’s this song by the mesmerizing King Hannah.
Whitney Mongé, “Born Without Wings,” Seattle, Essential link
It seems like a super power to be able to carry around an old acoustic to any city, sit on a stoop, stool or sidewalk and start singing like divinity simply pours from your lips. Whitney Mongé has that super power. Her voice rattles like the wooden hull of a ship and soars like the wind in its sails. Mongé, a versatile singer capable of singing about the lonesomeness of loss or the light-hearted lift of a lit joint, came to the Emerald City from Spokane and has made a home in the area, cushioned by her prolific voice.
Jason Myles Goss, “For You,” Brooklyn, Essential link
I first encountered Jason Myles Goss through a friend in Cleveland, Ohio. Jason was on a solo acoustic tour playing in a place called, The Spider Bar, or something. Regardless, his work – and this song, in particular – has stuck with me since. I can’t count the number of times I played this track while working on some writing project or another. And while the artist has plenty of new material, including a handful of LPs to his credit, this is the tune I’ll always remember.