In this line of work I meet a lot of artists. Most of them seem like they happily stumbled into a licensing deal and my presence. Not so with Peter Verdell, who is one of the most professional, savvy, driven and hardest-working musicians I’ve ever encountered…in addition to being a brilliant songwriter and talented performer with his band, Act As If. He is someone I both enjoy being around and cannot wait to do business with.
Since the right opportunity for a film or TV project has yet to arise, asking him to perform at my house for the very first installment of a new showcase series would have to do. It was a huge honor to host Peter, Sarah and Derek for the inaugural Sessions At The Steps, where they played stripped down versions of tunes from their latest album, Steady, for an intimate and appreciative group of music industry professionals.
What is this sparse, synth-driven R&B trend officially being called? Neo-R&B? Electro-R&B? Whatever it is called, it is quite rare that this type of music really grabs me; while I can confidently say I am sent a great deal of this, it is a challenge to come up with a list of bands. Sure there are some winners in every catalog, but more often than not it all just sounds the same to me. The bands traversing in this area are a blur of beats and soulful moans.
Not so with the LA-based Dead Times, or at least the majority (majority!) of the tracks I’ve heard from them thus far.
They sent me their mixtape a year and a half ago. It took me months to set up the interview them, and (after briefly thinking the audio was lost with my stolen computer) finished transcribing it this past fall. And now at long last it is now here for you to see/hear/read. Thankfully, the songs are timeless and the theme is rather timely with the new year, making changes, etc.
I am not exaggerating when I say that this is one of my favorite mixes I’ve ever received. I mean, all of them have a special place in my heart, both because they were created for me, and I always appreciate how no matter what my musical horizons are challenged or expanded (often both). The tracks included in “Farmers’ Almanac,” however, are probably the closest to my personal taste. And not just a genre I’m partial to, but a genre that has a tendency to elicit strong emotions from deep inside my being. At least three of the artists on here have moved me to tears with their songs.
It does make sense though, as the music COYOL themselves make is not unlike what you will hear on this mix. Perhaps with a dash of the American Southwest, to spice things up. A write-up in Black Book Magazine this past fall praises “the fantastic arrangement that seems just a little yet perfectly off and the oddly beautiful lyrics that stick with you long after each track.”
I find it pretty difficult to get into the holiday spirit here in Los Angeles. I’m assuming this is because I was born and raised on the east coast, where the scenery at this time of year is not unlike what one would find on a postcard. To be fair though I’ve never actually asked a native what defines Thanksgiving or Christmas to them.
Is Thanksgiving just a very large and specific meal, without the connotation of fall colors and a chill in the air?
Being in the music industry, and in the position of a “buyer” I see (and am invited to) a lot of live music. Admittedly, I’m not out as much as many people I know, some in the music industry and some not, but still a great deal. I’ve been to most of the local venues, large and small. Showcases at restaurants, cafes, courtyards and offices. And hands down the most consistently rewarding viewing experience is the Los Angeles incarnation of Songs from a Room.
For those unfamiliar, Songs from a Room (or “Sofar”) is a music movement that started in London and is now in cities all over the world – São Paulo, Melbourne, Nashville, Paris, Berlin, Mexico City, Sydney, Dallas and many more. A selection of four or five artists play intimate sets in private living rooms; the sets are recorded and (often) livestreamed. The audience doesn’t know who the artists are until they arrive and, the Los Angeles events at least, are all BYOB.