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LP Giobbi and Kaleena Zanders' Summery House Masterpiece

 With lyrics about climbing mountains, overcoming obstacles, and coming together, Carry Us is an anthemic celebration of togetherness and pride, dropped during the second week of Pride Month. The song is LP Giobbi’s fourth single of 2021 and her latest push beyond the confines of traditional house music. 

Repetitive house piano chords underscore Carry Us while Giobbi’s multidisciplinary production skills buoy the instrumental and push it toward a revelatory explosion. Giobbi’s background as a trained jazz pianist guides her timing, giving the arrangement a defined structure but not anchoring it in rigidity. Djembe drums scatter around a pulsing house beat to rejoice and convey gratitude, while hi-hats and claps enhance the feeling of comradery that the artists wanted to commit to. 

The true star in the production is Kaleena Zanders, a towering vocalist whose projection carries the song to higher and higher heights. Her intonation when she chants the song title is church-choir-captivating, almost as if her soul escapes her body for a brief moment. She’s also able to hold a note for an eternity, coming off like an intentional callback to Martha Wash’s

house classic, Carry On. But in Carry Us, Giobbi and Zanders find unity in their will to persevere. 

The song was born of a deep respect between the two artists. Giobbi says it took time to come to fruition while she worked more emotion out of the instrumental to match Zanders. “Our bond inspired me to write lyrics about friendship...Ultimately, this song is intended to invoke the feeling of being supported through thick and thin,” Zanders says of her creative process. “We went in with no boundaries and a pure love for soul music.” 

That elemental love for soul music ensures that joy is at the forefront of both artists’ work. LP Giobbi constantly reinforces her preference for showcasing women-identifying artists through her platform, and Zanders is an excellent addition to the fold. The spiritual exhalation that Zanders brings to Giobbi’s production truly sets “Carry Us” apart from run-of-the-mill EDM. 

 

 

Carry Us is out on all platforms now from Thrive Music.

 

-- Mike Floeck

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Anastasia Hera Combines Innovation with Accessibility on her new “Big Tuna”

 If you are new to hip hop artist/R&B vocalist Anastasia Hera’s music, you will certainly be pleasantly surprised by the first 30 seconds of her new single/video Big Tuna. How she manages to open a song that has such a humorous title with art-nouveau soul vibes and a pensively sung “I’ll never comprehend,” followed by the sophisticated piano and then —- “I can never comprehend little ponds that I can swim/I’m infatuated with the lights/I belong in the pond where the whales get it on/Down deep on the floor waiting for my turn.”


A song that I felt certain from its title was going to be a tell-off to a conceited man she’s attracted to with the man in question being the “big tuna” turns out to be sea life as metaphor for her dreams of stardom. The big tuna is petite and sweet Ms. Hera, as she shares her confident pep talk to herself about her singing fame worthiness with the listener.

 

Although she may be a girl on fire, the video which is directed superbly by Ty On Da Track chose to avoid the special effects included in numerous well-known modern videos such as Girl on Fire and Carly Rae Jepson’s Now That I Found You. The Big Tuna video is all the better for this choice. Following Ms. Hera through a typical day pursuing her dreams, from cooking breakfast at home to working out to recording to auditioning, everything is credible and real without fantasy interruptions, underscoring that she is taking real life steps to achieve her musical goal. This realism balances out the humor of the song’s lyrical metaphors very well.

 

It is a fine testament to Anastasia Hera’s Hollywood charisma that she will likely keep the rapt attention of anyone who watches Big Tuna go through the grind of her unglamorous day. Think Ciara’s 2019 music video for I’ve Been Thinking About You in which Ciara prepares for a date. Ms. Hera is as beautiful as Ciara and as in possession of a comic streak, whether it’s Ms. Hera’s on-screen antics or her deliberately amusing vocal nuances on the occasional rapped lyrics. 

 

Able to flow from her sweet singing to rap to back again with a natural ease, she also has excellent songwriting chops, an ability to conceptualize harmonies, and the fluency in soul music history.  Big Tuna is one of six tunes on her new debut album, This Is Anastasia. It was recorded in Austin at Trak Majors Studios with Tim “T-Mo' Moore and at Pleasantville with RJ Maine. Throughout the album are unexpected touches such as the creatively employed vocal reference (not a sample)  to Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely in the indie pop flavored Clarity which speaks of a girl in the third position in a way that shows a definite Fleetwood Mac Rhiannon  touch. Or the first track, Ceiling with its counterpoint harmonies and confectionary soul which might make “Ceiling” this year’s Boo’d Up.

 

On July 28, Geraldine’s will host the official record release party for the This Is Anastasia EP

(605 Davis St, Austin. Tickets available through OpenTable).


 

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Molly Burch, Austin's Pop Queen, Drops New Music

 Austin-based dreampop siren Molly Burch spins shoegaze-inflected rhythms that call back to her favorite musical influences. She returns with Heart of Gold, a song that uses her skillful deployment of emotion to paint heartache as a silver lining. The song is the third single released from her upcoming record Romantic Images, an album that’s shaping up to be a dance party in the name of crying the pain away.


Heart of Gold employs some of Burch’s most notable strengths to her advantage. She cites Nina Simone and Billie Holiday as vocal inspirations in her career, and flits off vocal inflections derived from an appreciation for jazz and motown sensibilities. Her quick stutters are sneaky, only revealing themselves when you take a moment to listen back. They chip away at the self-serious bubble this kind of heartbreak anthem is familiar with.


Further building the song’s sense of humor, Burch laments her encounters with love beyond her own relationship experiences. “I give you advice for love but I hate it / Never wanna know what comes of it,” sounds like a confession from a burnt-out bar hound. She’s been around the block, but now, she’s tired of traveling in circles.


Burch’s voice lifts to a breathy lilt in the chorus as she pleads with her lover to make things right. “All I ever wanted was your love / I treat it like my job,” escapes her lips in a delicate cry that pleads for more attention. Her heart of gold beams with affection but clearly hasn’t received what it needs in return.


A doe-eyed, gentle demeanor on full display in the song’s music video compounds the dreamlike daze. In the clip, Burch walks aimlessly through the Hill Country with a couple of goat kids as she pines over a man who’s having a blast chopping wood. It’s a fun take on the idea that her romantic interest never notices her affections—the guy is enjoying himself so much that it seems he might never break away from his work. That space is where Burch’s music lives most comfortably: when all that seems lost presents itself as a joke right before your eyes. Her whit and her sharp tongue ensure that coming back for more is worth it, again and again.


Romantic Images is out July 23 via Captured Tracks.

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Dallas Burrow Delivers Blast from the Past with New Single

 Those who love old-school sounding country will be thrilled about its resurgence into the world of contemporary music. Texas native Dallas Burrow proves once again that he belongs on the list of artists who are bringing this kind of music back into the forefront. His latest single, Born Down in Texas, doesn’t shy away at all from the roots and tradition that have helped him obtain the success he’s had thus far. This tune consists of a western, Americana vibe, and Burrow’s superb songwriting is complemented by a team of musicians who unquestionably understand the importance of the tradition that Burrow is grounded in. 

The twangy electric guitar intro immediately paints imagery of being on the open road, driving through barren Texas land. Then Burrow’s smooth vocal delivery contrasts perfectly with the gritty and haunting instrumentation. The first artist that comes to mind when hearing this track is the legendary Townes Van Zandt. Burrow draws similarities to the Texas country icon with his use of rich, poetic lyrics that speak about struggle and life on the road. Additionally, Burrow manages to capture the eerie sort of feeling that Townes displayed on songs like Waiting Around to Die and Lungs. And though Burrow has surrounded himself with excellent musicians who add substantial value to his sound, none of the players interfere with the story being told. In fact, Burrow’s band even further magnifies the poeticism of his lyrics. 

The lyrics seem to be about the unyielding decision to always call Texas home, despite the temptations that come along with constant travel and the inevitably of being pulled into new experiences elsewhere. This is emphasized with the lyrics, “Lobbin down in Louisiana, chasing that voodoo thing/Take me back to Texas, lord so I can hear the angels sing,” as well as “I was born down in Texas, that’s where they’ll bury me/Give my love to that woman up in Memphis, Tennessee.” Throughout his journeys, Burrow has been lured away by love, curiosity, and opportunity. But no matter what, Texas will always be home. 

Many musicians of today often feel pressured to sound modern or “with the times” in order to be associated with the most popular forms of music. Dallas Burrow unrelentingly steers away from the overly polished, pop-country sound coming out of Nashville. Instead, he stays true to the western, outlaw country that contributed mightily to his upbringing. Born Down in Texas is an organic powerhouse and another perfect example of why trusting your intuition as an artist should always come first.

Check out Dallas' new self-titled album, out July 23rd.

 

-- Quinn Donoghue


 

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A Conversation With Kendra Sells

I sat down for a Zoom meeting with artist Kendra Sells to discuss her (at-the-time-forthcoming) solo album All In Your Head. This was our conversation.


TR: This album is a departure from your group BluMoon. What made you decide to do All In Your Head as a solo album?

 

KS: Really, it was just the pandemic. It was really scary at first, you know. I was just like, “Oh my gosh, if I am 10 feet away from anyone, who knows? It's gonna happen.” I'm diabetic, so at the very beginning of the pandemic, I was taking everything so seriously, really not meeting up with anyone. And, you know, it's just a hard time, especially being a musician. I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I don't know, anything” you know, “I don't know what's going to happen.” And so I was just writing the music, and I guess putting the songs together for myself, just to do it, because I like to make music and it makes me feel better. “I'm just gonna make some music”. And so I normally just write on my guitar, but I got Ableton and a little mini-keyboard. I was just able to kind of build a song head to toe, which I've never been able to do before. I guess that's mostly why, because I was just like, “Oh, this is my first time ever trying this, I just want to see what I can do”.

 

TR: Is it nerve-wracking going from being in a band to releasing your own solo material? Pursuing that kind of art, but without people around to kind of give you feedback?

 

KS: Not necessarily, because I guess that's where I started, for myself, as a kid. I would use like, what is it? Audacity? Yeah, recording my keyboard through the mic. So that lets you know where I kind of started, and I guess I left that for a moment. But I’m still with the band… But I've just done tons of solo shows and all of that stuff, so I guess I have been used to being by myself. If anything, sometimes being in the band makes me feel more like “ah, is this okay? Is that okay? Do you like this? Are you okay with that?” And I don't have to worry about that. It's just me.

 

TR: Was it jarring to stop doing shows during the pandemic?

 

KS: Yeah, for sure. We had a whole tour lined up and some really sick shows here in Austin. I felt the lack of shows in me physically. I feel really good when I'm on stage, when I'm singing, when I'm with the band. And when I'm performing, that makes me feel so great. And I haven't had that feeling in a while.

 

TR: Does it take the wind out of you creatively to not have the excitement of performing?

 

KS: That's not something that I have known that inspires me creatively. I haven't suffered in that way.

 

TR: What does your songwriting process look like?

 

KS: It really varies. I feel like my favorite thing is, some days, I’ll just walk into work in the morning, you know, I have my little caffeine mellow, and I'm just walking down the street and it's sunny and I'm just mellow. Just thinking whatever it is I'm feeling and sometimes I like it, and I'll record. I have so many freakin’ voice memos. I feel like I've written some of my favorite things that way. And other times, I'll just sit with a guitar hung around. Or I'll hear something in another song and kind of dissect it and rearrange it. It'll inspire me in that way. And I'm like, “I really like this, but I hear other things with it”.  And that will inspire me. Yeah, just kind of varies.

 

TR: What is some of the music that inspired the album, like if you had to pick like three recordings that were just like, yeah, without these, there would be no all in your head.

 

KS: Hmm. Well, that's an important question. Maybe like anything by Kimya Dawson. I feel like her, just the DIY approach, like, you can do that in your bedroom, you can do that, with whatever you have. You don't have to have this or that. That really, like for sure just gave me that type of courage to even approach this in the way that I'm approaching it. Because, at first, I was just gonna put this on SoundCloud, and be like, “Look”. But then I met with Quiet Year, and they were like, “hey, let's release this together”. But anyway, yeah, Kimya Dawson. I feel like anything she's done has really inspired me in that way, like sonically. It's kind of hard to say because I really do pull a lot of influences. 

 

Tirzah, her project Devotion, that kind of inspired me. of Montreal inspired me, Kevin Barnes. He's kind of the same way...

 

TR: What is the worst music you've ever heard?

 

KS: Okay, that's so funny you're asking me that. Because, literally, if I'm drunk, I will love anything, I will dance. But something that I don't like… and I know there's something...

 

Okay, no offense. But this guy- I'm not gonna name where I work or anything- but he'll come to my place of work, and just post up outside of it and perform because “yeah, you're at my show”. You know, that's what he's decided. And I call his genre “2008”. I don't even hate the songs, but I hate the songs in this way. And a lot of people do. But, um, you know, like that song “You’re Beautiful?”

 

TR: I'm kind of imagining James Blunt or John Mayer.

 

KS: Yeah! And nothing against those artists, but something against white men doing those artists in this specific way. That and in the year 2021. It's just the audacity for you to come to where I have to be, like they asked you to be here and make this your show? Yeah, that's the only thing I can think of right now.

 

TR: I feel like the song Wondering//Bad Doctorzz would resonate with anyone who's ever been to a medical professional. Was the track inspired by personal experience?

 

KS: I really should look, because I remember when I wrote it, I feel like I wrote it in the middle of the night. But I need to see when I wrote it because I know it did come from a specific moment. Butas of now, it's just been every experience where I've gone to the doctor. I can barely see, I need glasses, and I've gone to the doctor, like, three or four times to get glasses, and they just won't give me glasses. It's weird. It's a combination of so many things like that, being gaslit, being told there's nothing wrong, being all of this, especially being diabetic. I just realized everyone's like, “Oh, yeah, our healthcare system sucks” in the same way that they'll say, “Oh, the justice system is corrupt”, but there's not the same amount of scrutiny. Why isn’t pressure put on the healthcare system in the way that it is on the justice system? 

 

It's frustrating thinking how you're supposed to go to the doctor to feel good and so many people... it brings them so much anxiety to go to the doctor. I shouldn't feel so many negative things about going to someone that's supposed to be helping me, in the same way that police are supposed to be there to serve and protect.., So, I guess just the fact that it fucking sucks is what inspired that.

 

TR: Something that really struck me about the release is not only that you were releasing on cassette, but you were also doing a physical booklet. What made you choose the cassette format, rather than anything else, or why even release a physical copy in the first place?

KS: I just love having physical copies, and whenever my friends release them, I'm like, I want one. I also have this weird paranoia that one day, the internet is gonna stop working or music streaming is going to just... cease, and there's gonna be so much music that I won't be able to hear anymore. That's why I went to do something physical. And then with the cassette, Quiet Year just said “we could do a cassette” and I was like, “Okay, well.”

 

TR: Do you have any nostalgia for cassettes? Did you have them around as a kid?

 

KS: Yeah,I had some nursery rhyme ones. And me and my siblings would record the radio. We'd be  like “Oh, my favorite song is on!” and you'd record it. 

 

TR: What is the significance for you of having the zine as an accompaniment to the cassette?

 

KS: I feel like music is always up for whatever interpretation, but I just wanted to dig deeper into what I was going for with the EP...my willingness to embark on this thing that I've never done before. The zine itself is a really important process that I feel that I could have easily tricked myself out of, or let someone convince me to not do. I feel like that's something that so many people do for themselves. I really wanted to be more open and transparent about the process and how I feel in the process. [the zine] has lyrics and little journaling type things, like open ended questions or whatever, you know, just to really kind of get people just thinking more about themselves in those ways. I just feel like so many people sleep on their own potential, and I feel like that's just the saddest thing. And I just feel like for so long, I was kind of doing that with myself. And so I just wanted to be transparent about that journey. It's not just an overnight type of deal.

 

TR: How do you feel about physical releases and physical accompaniment for music dwindling as streaming becomes more and more omnipresent?

 

KS: I'm honestly not worried about it. Because it's like, if it sells, it sells, and if someone wants it, they're gonna buy it. And people do buy it, I buy it. Other people buy it, and if they're going to stream, then they're going to stream it. If you’re into the physical, the physical is there for you. It's not, in my eyes, a waste to have that option.  It does more for the artists to sell the physical copies then to have it streamed. I think it hurts to stream, but I think that it does you a favor to have physical copies because that's going to make more money from people that care.

 

TR:  Do you feel like your listeners are missing out on anything by not engaging with the physical version and only engaging with the streamed version?

 

KS: Yeah, I think so. I think of any album that I've ever bought, I know all the songs, I love that album, I listen to it from top to finish, you know, multiple times. Not that you can't do that with streaming, I do the same thing on streaming, but it's just the fact that you open it up, put it in, press play, it’s literally drawing you into the whole experience of listening to it.

 

TR: With your zine, and with your videos, too, it seems like a lot of your artwork is present. Do you feel like there's overlap in what you hope to achieve creatively with your music and your visual work?

 

KS: I have a lot of work as far as accepting myself as an artist. With music, I've been down this road. I am a musician, goddammit! It feels like it's only been two years... and with art, it's gonna take me a bit longer. But I have done album covers and t-shirts and  other stuff here and there. 

 

Art is more something that I enjoy doing for myself. And I don't love to do it for not myself. Music I don't only do for myself.

 

TR: How early into the pandemic did you decide that this was something that you wanted to do?

 

KS: I guess I started the songs in May, but I think maybe it was July when I was like, “Oh, I should, you know, release this”. I anticipated it coming out much quicker. But I just wouldn't finish the songs....I just kept going at it, like, “Oh, I need to do this, and I need to do that.” And I didn't come to a stopping point until about November.

 

TR: What has been the process since November?

 

KS: Well the songs on my end were all recorded and tweaked and all of that, and then I sent them over to my friend Jerry to mix and master. It took like four months for that.

 

I really didn't know what I was doing on Ableton. So I just kind of asked him I was just like, “hey, if I did something that was like really stupid or it just didn't make sense like, Can you help me now?” And he was like, “Well, you know, like a lot of your sounds are kind of just like stock and I have a lot of cool ones”, and so he just fluffed it up, you know, just made it sound better for sure. Not, that sounded bad, but he gave it the final finishing touches, he did like some live drums on Wondering//Bad Doctorzz and on Call Me When Ur Dead. He plays for a band called Glasshealer.

 

 

TR: What do you think is after this? Do you have any thoughts on what the next step is going to be for your solo work?

 

Unknown Speaker  24:33  

I want to do some b-sides if I finish them within a time that I feel comfortable putting them out, because I don't want it to be next year. I'm just looking to gig more with the band. We're all vaccinated and places have their procedures and stuff for outdoors. We have a song that we're working on. We're trying to record. I think we might be just looking at doing some singles for a minute. 

 

TR: Do you think it's going to be hard to get back in the rhythm of performing with people again? 

 

KS: During the pandemic we did a livestream thing, it was fine. The production of it was kind of funny. Our key player that we were gigging with before the pandemic moved to Florida, so we've had someone else sit in, but he's dope and does a great job. I just missed performing without the fear of COVID. I'm ready to be in a situation where it's energy and people are there and it's hot, you know, it's just, that's what I love.

 

 

-- Tín Rodriguez


 

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