At 22 years old, Lauren Ruth Ward had a career in hairstyling that was going quite well. She was ambitious, successful, and doing work she loved, yet something was missing. “I saw the music then, but I was behind a chair six days a week,” says Ward about coming to terms with pursuing another career. In 2015, Ward packed up her life and took a road trip to her new home: Los Angeles. After a challenging, perfectionistic pursuit, Ward formed a band with Liv Slingerland on bass, India Pascucci on drums, and fellow songwriter Eduardo Rivera on guitar.
Together, they created Ward’s debut album, Well, Hell, a nine-track sampler of what she calls the band’s “four modes.” The band’s chameleonic moods are punctuated by Ward’s playfulness with her bandmates on stage, her willingness to dance with the audience, and her signature white-dotted eyes. Ward’s music has gained her a dedicated international fanbase—in fact, three fans flew from France to be at the Well, Hell record release show in Los Angeles.
SLUGS is an indie rock band based in Los Angeles.
Grace Givertz is an indie folk singer-songwriter based out of Boston, MA.
Renowned for his eloquent Americana style, engaging live shows, and off-the-cuff clever observations, John Craigie carries on the legacy of classic singer-songwriters while blazing a trail of his own. Recently, that trail twisted and turned into new territory for the Portland, Oregon–based performer, whom the Seattle, Washington, newspaper, The Stranger, appropriately dubbed, “the lovechild of John Prine and Mitch Hedberg.”
His music speaks loudly to audiences and fellow artists. Todd Snider notably hand-delivered Craigie a gift on stage, and Chuck Norris has sent him fan mail. His fifth full-length album, No Rain, No Rose, boasts two collaborations with Gregory Alan Isakov, “Highway Blood” and “I Am California.”
Chris Capaldi is a songwriter, guitarist, and composer based out of Rhode Island. Chris studied Jazz Composition at Berklee and currently serves on the performing arts faculty at the Wheeler School in Providence, Rhode Island. His latest release, Painted Skyline, features original songs and heartfelt melodies colored by string arrangements and fingerstyle guitar.
Clay Cook has made his living through many avenues in the music industry. An accomplished songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, he has recorded and toured with John Mayer, Sugarland, the Marshall Tucker Band, and Shawn Mullins. In 2009, he became a member of the multi-platinum, Grammy award-winning Zac Brown Band, but he still finds time to tour his brand of acoustic singer-songwriter music. His new album, Unobstructed View, was released late last year.
At two years old, Manu Delago began what would become a very musically inclined life as he sat behind his first drum kit. Four years later, he started playing the piano and at the age of ten, he began taking accordion lessons. As a teenager, Delago mainly played football and drummed for his rock band HotchPotch, which won the Austrian Band Contest in 2003. After graduating from high school in his hometown of Innsbruck, where he studied classical percussion, he moved to London, where he studied jazz drums and composition.
When Manu Delago discovered the Hang - an enchanting musical instrument that is manufactured by PanArt in Switzerland - he simultaneously discovered his passion for writing music. His Hang solo piece "Mono Desire" has become the most popular Hang video on the internet and was featured in the top 30 music videos on YouTube.
With his bands, Living Room and Manu Delago Handmade, Delago has released several albums and performed in prestigious venues all over the world. The Austrian musician also frequently collaborates with high class artists such as Björk, Anoushka Shankar, the Cinematic Orchestra, Joss Stone, Andreya Triana, Shpongle, Bugge Wesseltoft, Aurora Orchestra, and the London Symphony Orchestra.
“Awase”, a term from martial arts, means “moving together” in the sense of matching energies, a fitting metaphor for the dynamic precision, tessellated grooves, and balletic minimalism of Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin. Six years have passed since the last release from the Swiss group. In the interim, trimmed from quintet to quartet size and with new bassist Thomy Jordi fully integrated, Ronin has become a subtly different band. Bärtsch speaks of a new-found freedom and flexibility in the approach to the material, with “greater transparency, more interaction, more joy in every performance”. The freedom here extends to revisiting early Bärtsch modules alongside new compositions including, for the first time on a Ronin record, a piece by Reedman Sha. Awase was recorded at Studios La Buissonne in the south of France in October 2017 and was produced by Manfred Eicher.
The ohm is a unit of electrical resistance between two points of a conductor; OHMME lives in that resistance, creating electric chaos between the two points of Chicago’s Sima Cunningham and Macie Stewart. The energy from their musical upbringings enabled the two to create a vocal project that combines flawless harmonies with a gnarled guitar backbone. They veer towards experimentation while keeping tune in mind, choosing to push each other when they clash and to follow the sound rather than holding themselves to a rigid set of standards on how chords should be performed and arranged. The resulting sound is at once familiar yet beautifully unconventional.
An acoustic band born in the land of tech innovation, Front Country was unlikely to be accepted as an authentic American roots band out of the gate. Cutting their teeth in progressive bluegrass jams in San Francisco’s Mission District and rehearsing across the bay in Oakland, they fashioned their own take on roots music and indie folk. In a wood-paneled country dive bar in the shadow of the San Francisco skyline, Front Country forged a sound hell bent on merging the musical past with the future. The result lies somewhere between indie folk and Americana, in a nether region they've come to embrace as their own.
This West Coast outfit was just a group of friends playing a monthly gig until 2012 and 2013 when Front Country gathered around a single microphone at the RockyGrass and Telluride festivals, and won first prize in those prestigious band contests that once launched the careers of the Dixie Chicks, Greensky Bluegrass, and the Steep Canyon Rangers. The contest wins bolstered their confidence in their unique mix of original songwriting, vocal harmonies, and instrumental virtuosity, steeling their resolve to take a leap of faith and become a full time touring band.
Scott Helman is a Canadian singer-songwriter who is influenced by artists such as Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, the Cure, Bon Iver, and Paul Simon. His debut full-length album, Hôtel de Ville, was recorded in Toronto at Revolution Recording and was produced by Tawgs Salter (Lights, Walk Off the Earth, USS). The album's first single is the irresistible alternative pop track "Kinda Complicated," which applies breezy, catchy songwriting and clever lyricism to either a failed relationship or his own daily struggle with ADHD. "The more that I write music, the more that I feel that I'm curing myself," Scott explains. "How am I gonna be a better person and how am I gonna be a better lover? I have to figure out all those things that are knocking around in my head."
In 2014, Scott Helman released the song "Bungalow" as the first single from his debut EP Augusta. The track was certified platinum and led to tours across Canada where he played with the likes of Tegan and Sara, Shawn Mendes, and Matthew Good. Opening for Walk Off the Earth on extensive tours of the U.S. and Europe, Helman stood alone on stage and, night after night, won over skeptical audiences and began building an international fan base. In January 2016, he topped the Teen Vogue list of voices to look out for that year over the likes of Melanie Martinez and Elle King. By the time Helman went back into the studio to begin work on Hôtel de Ville, he had been nominated for multiple MuchMusicVideo Awards in 2015 and Juno Awards in 2016, performing to massive national TV audiences on both award shows. Helman rang in 2017 with a raucous tribute to Leonard Cohen, performing "Bird On A Wire" in Cohen's hometown of Montreal in front of 50,000 people, along with countless others who watched the live broadcast on CBC TV.
David Keenan is an Irish songwriter with an expressive, narrative songwriting style. His live shows have been described as visceral, spiritual, and communal events. Having been asked to play alongside the likes of Mick Flannery, Hothouse Flowers, Damien Dempsey, and Glen Hansard, Keenan is quickly becoming one of Ireland's most talked about young artists.