Gestures & Sound – Concert Review

The Mint showcased a variety of talent on its June 21 bill from pop-influenced singer-songwriters to hard rocking folk quartets. There was something for everyone on a busy night. The venue itself is very intimate with an up close and personal stage where patrons could enjoy a variety of food and drinks mere feet away from live performances.

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Emily James. Photo by Isiah Reyes

Singer-songwriter Emily James, originally from New York, opened the night by playing songs from her latest EP as well as some to be featured on an upcoming release. As she started singing her first song, it was apparent early on that her voice is the driving force behind her music. Along with bold lyrics and stellar performances on both guitar and keys, she used all her talents as she shared stories stemming from personal places in her life including the tale of “A Boy in Memphis” (which may or may not be based on a true story). Emily is a well-rounded musician and her voice alone is enough to get hooked on with striking similarities to the likes of Adele. She put on a good set that was well received by a full bar by the time she was finished. We look forward to seeing her again on stage and in the meantime, we have the recently released and tender “Emily James – EP” to listen to, which she collaborated with Grammy award winning producer Jacquire King and producer Ian Fitchuk.

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James Taugher. Photo by Isiah Reyes

Following up was the Bay area-native James Taugher, a Motown, funk extraordinaire who brought a full band to stage to rock out. The five-piece was a solid group that excelled with soaring guitar solos, groovy keys, eclectic drums and sure-fire basslines. James is very comfortable on stage as he was dancing and showing off his Hip-Hop inspired vocals that are tinged with soul. At one point, he split the venue down the middle and got one half of the packed venue to sing the first part of the catchy chorus and the other half to finish it off. His way with crowds could only have been refined through years of performances, and on this last date of his band’s tour, everyone was in for a treat. James’ energy was contagious as it flowed from himself to his bandmates and ultimately to the audience. It was a high-octane set that went far above all lofty expectations.

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Gestures & Sounds. Photo by Isiah Reyes

Folk indie rock band Gestures & Sounds took stage with the anthemic “Coach” that showed everyone what they were capable of. The mostly-Wisconsin band had moments of introspection followed immediately after by moments of rocking out, a combination not often seen by bands not sporting an electric guitar. With an acoustic guitar, melodic keys, and an intense rhythm section (not to mention the occasional harmonica), Gestures & Sounds managed to be louder and larger than the sum of their parts. Especially impressive was the drumming performance, as it took songs that would perhaps be considered tame in nature to the next level. The atmosphere at The Mint was lively and welcomed Gestures & Sounds, who returned the appreciation by putting on a solid set that shows what a group of guys who love for music can do.

Overall, the night was a fun time to be had by all. Attendees who stayed longer had the opportunity to enjoy Cult of Positivity and Nicholas Braun, establishing once again that The Mint is the go-to place for experiencing young, upcoming talent.

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Scott Ruth – New Single Release

Scott Ruth has released his latest single “Are You There,” a track produced by acclaimed indie folk musician Noah Gundersen. Check out the alternative rocker here:

Ruth is an L.A.-based singer-songwriter who finds himself for the first time not self-producing a project. He worked with Gundersen and engineer Andy Parks, allowing Ruth to have more creative freedom and a new perspective. The song was recorded at X Studios in Seattle, and follows the American songwriting style of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen while lyrically focusing on the void left behind in a past relationship.

“The song is about that feeling you get when someone who was once a huge part of your life, suddenly isn’t there anymore and all the things that go through your head,” Ruth said. “Wondering what they’re doing, if they’re feeling what you’re feeling.”

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Photo via Scott Ruth

Ruth was formerly a part of the L.A. indie rock band The Futures League where he provided bass. He has since furthered his craft as a multi-instrumentalist and producer. Last year, he released his solo debut “The Weight of It All” and toured extensively for it supporting Noah Gundersen as well as headlining his own shows.

“I’m now in a different chapter of my life, and I couldn’t be more excited to get the rest of these songs out in the open,” Ruth said.

To stay up to date with Scott Ruth be sure to check him out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Soundcloud and his own official website.

Easy Star All-Stars Concert Review

The Echoplex welcomed reggae bands The Elovators, The Late Ones, and Easy Star All-Stars on Memorial Day 2017 as the three bands embark on their West Coast Tour.

Opening the show was The Elovators from Boston, Massachusetts, who brought the beach sounds from the east coast to this side of the country on their first ever performance in California. They performed songs from their recently released album “The Cornerstone,” setting up for what would be a very funky night. Throughout their set, the band was friendly, even asking everyone to step in closer to the stage to create a more intimate setting. From clean vocals to the groovy trombone, The Elovators successfully brought their authentic sound to the Echoplex and showed what their hometown was all about. Overall, they were a great opening band and enjoyed themselves on stage just as much as the crowd enjoyed watching them perform.

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The Elovators. Photo via Isiah Reyes

The Late Ones came out onto the stage next with a different approach. They brought a lot more energy and instantly got everyone hyped. Based out of Laie, Hawaii, brothers Tui Avei (lead vocals), and Tau Avei (vocals), along with cousin Josh Brunson (vocals) brought their rapid-fire rhymes and rap-infused style to give everyone a chance to let loose and truly enjoy the night out. Some of their songs were full of high-octane ferocity, while others were slower jams. Either way, The Late Ones managed to get their new fans swaying to their hypnotic rhythms in no time. The youthful band is taking hold of the reggae torch and infusing its flame with dashes of Jazz and R&B in new and exciting ways. They got everyone pumped up for the final act and the headliners for the night’s show.

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The Late Ones. Photo via Isiah Reyes

Before the Easy Star All-Stars took the stage, there was an undeniable energy in the air. I believe those in attendance had an idea of what to expect, but no one was prepared for just how hard they would rock out. A thunderous applause followed as each member finally stepped out. The opening song started as a long instrumental that allowed for everyone to get accustomed to the band’s versatility. Soon after, the collective force of all eight members on stage playing off each other began to shine and they started playing their reggae cover hits by legendary acts Pink Floyd, Radiohead, The Beatles, and Michael Jackson. The highlight of the night was when they performed Pink Floyd’s “Money” leading into “Billie Jean” and just when you thought it was over, they went back into “Money,” with a flourishing end that had everyone head-banging to the dynamic rhythm section and outstanding vocal harmonies from the multitude of vocalists on stage. This performance proved the Easy Star All-Stars are indeed one of the top reggae performing acts in the world right now. As someone who doesn’t listen to reggae regularly, the entire show for me was a gateway into a new sound that I’ll be keeping an ear out for.

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Easy Star All-Stars. Photo via Isiah Reyes

If you’re ready to experience The Elovators, The Late Ones, and Easy Star All-Stars, three reggae bands that know how to put on a good show, be sure to check out their tour dates to know when they’ll be coming into your town so you can enjoy it all for yourself too.

The Human Experience – New Album Release

The Human Experience released the album “Broken Open” which reached #2 on Bandcamp’s best-selling chart, remaining at the top for two weeks. Check out the title track’s chill vibes here:

David Block is the mastermind behind The Human Experience, his principal project where he serves as the electronic composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer. His music is known for mixing layers of psychedelic melodies and harmonies over relaxing and moving beats.  He has released nine albums since his debut “Inaudible Sounds” back in 2010.

Along the way, David has collaborated with artists all over the world including Ignacio Perez (Buena Vista Social Club), William Close (The Earth Harp), Random Rab Govinda, Amae Love, Rising Appalachia, and many others. In the last three years he has toured in UK, Europe, Russia, Israel, Central America, Canada, and all over the United States at a variety of events including festivals like Burning Man, Boom, Coachella, Electric Forest, Wakarusa, Lightning in a Bottle, Sonic Bloom, Symbiosis, and Envision.

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David Block – The Human Experience. Photo provided by Planetary Group

David is currently on tour with upcoming dates listed here:

May 18: Brick & Mortar Music Hall – San Francisco, CA
May 19: Haven Underground – Nevada City, NV
May 20: The BlueBird – Reno, NV
August 17: Oregon Eclipse – Antelope, OR

To stay up to date with all things The Human Experience, be sure to check it out at YouTube, Soundcloud, Instagram, Facebook, and the official website.

TeamMate – Band Interview

Los Angeles-native indie-pop duo TeamMate has recently released its self-titled debut album. TeamMate spoke with ETV about their musical inspirations, the making of their new album, and advice for other two-member groups out there. Check out the anthemic single “Damage” here:

The new synth-pop album showcases the overall sound of Scott Simons (keyboards, vocals) and Dani Buncher (drums, vocals) working together in a musical partnership long in the making. The album is filled with larger than life choruses and pure pop sensibilities emerging from the member’s varied musical influences they’ve had growing up. Dani, who grew up listening to Top 40 radio and MTV, cited early musical influences that included George Michael, Madonna, Peter Gabriel, Tears For Fears, Neneh Cherry, and Cathy Dennis.

“When my brother and I were little, and were in the car with my mom, we always listed to the local oldies station,” Dani said. “The Supremes, The Shirelles, and The Temptations were in heavy rotation and have played just as big of a role in my musical taste.”

Scott grew up with music handed down from his parents, such as The Beatles, Billy Joel, Simon & Garfunkel and musical theatre soundtracks.

“I went through a late 80s rap phase where I was obsessed with Young MC,” Scott said. “When I got into college, the first Ben Folds 5 album changed my life. I also got heavily into some great songwriters like Elvis Costello and Aimee Mann and rediscovered a lot of music from my childhood like The Cars, The Police, Blondie, and early U2.”

With an assortment of musical knowledge to take inspiration from, Scott and Dani keep in mind how the instruments will shape the overall sound they make when they write songs. The opening track “Nothing’s Ever Over” was important in helping them find this album’s direction and tone, allowing them to realize that even though they operate as a duo, there is only one “voice” as TeamMate.

“I think we were trying to grow our sound from where it was,” Scott said. “We started out writing a little more one sided from my perspective on our relationship but ‘Nothing’s Ever Over’ was very much about and from both of us. Once we committed to singing that song in unison together, rather than have a lead singer, that helped us find a sound we liked for the rest of the record. Also, the ‘size’ of the synth sounds and drums really helped us make a bit of a template moving forward.”

The grand-pop synth sound can definitely be found in the lead single “Damage.” Scott said the song was written about the time they realized if they could put past relationship issues behind them and focus on being friends and bandmates, they would be able to move onto something special. One of special things coming from their musical relation was the completion of the LP and they are both proud of being able to share it to the world.

“Releasing music is the hardest and scariest part because you open yourself up to feedback and criticism,” Scott said. “But we feel so confident that we made an album we’re proud of full of songs we love and that alone is a success to me.”

“I agree with Scott,” Dani said. “Finishing an album that you are 100 percent proud of and excited about can sometimes be the hardest part. Sometimes when we play the new songs live, it takes me right back to the studio when we were first working out our ideas together. It’s a great feeling to be on stage, playing those songs, and recognizing the progress process of songwriting and recording.”

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“TeamMate” album cover art

Now with their first studio album complete, TeamMate is looking to hopefully go out on tour and do some shows, an experience they find fun. The journey they have been through – as a romantic relationship leading into a musical one – may have been mostly personal, but the journey they went through could help others out there. They offered advice for up-and-coming two-member bands for getting along.

“Treat it like any other relationship,” Dani said. “Communicate, respect each other, and learn how to predict each other’s mood swings.”

“Or just date for ten years and break up,” Scott said. “If you can survive that then you’re ready for the music industry.”

To stay up to date with all things TeamMate, check them on TwitteriTunesFacebook, YouTube, Instagram, Soundcloud, and their official site.