Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Twin Danger's Self-titled Debut, Due June 30th, Features Vanessa Bley and Stuart Matthewman, Noir / Jazz is Only the Beginning

Twin Danger

Twin Danger is an exciting new group who has a self-titled full length debut album set for release on June 30th. They are a duo consisting of Vanessa Bley and Stuart Matthewman.

Bley describes the name Twin Danger as "alter-ego, split personality." She elaborates, “It refers to the alter ego, the part of you that can be wild or irrational or even destructive – but it’s still a part of you and not accepting that is what makes it dangerous. We’re making music to get lost in. It’s warm and beautiful but there are dark undercurrents revealing fundamental issues of the self. That’s what makes it Twin Danger.”

Bley is the jazz singing, piano playing half of Twin Danger. Bley grew up in an atmosphere of artistic creativity and jazz. "Her mother is the painter and video artist Carol Goss. Her father is the renowned jazz pianist Paul Bley, who worked with Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, and Ornette Coleman in addition to several dozen albums – many issued on the Improvising Artists label, which Goss and Bley co–founded in 1974."

As Twin Danger, they play and sing a late night smokey and sultry blend of blues and jazz. Bley and Matthewman co-produced and co-wrote the album, which consists of all original songs save one, an unexpected jazz cover of the hard rock “No One Knows” by Queens of the Stone Age. Watch the video.

Matthewman plays guitar and keyboard but he is best known for the familiar sound of his sax, instantly recognizable by anyone who has heard Sade. He played sax in her band over the course of seven albums and years of touring with live albums and DVDs. "Stuart and Sade co–wrote many of the best–loved songs on the band’s multi–platinum albums including 'No Ordinary Love', 'By Your Side', and 'Your Love is King'."

Bley and Matthewman each found their way to New York's East Village where they eventually connected and began to collaborate. As Matthewman tells it, “I was messing around on guitar with these strange chords that I didn’t really think could add up to anything. I mentioned it to Vanessa and she said, oh, send it over. About an hour later she came back with this beautiful song, ‘Just Because'. The demo is pretty much what you hear now on the album...and we went on from there.”

Twin Danger's website calls their music "noir jazz", I call it a welcome addition to my music obsession. I'd been listening to Matthewman for years and not knowing it, both with Sade and with Sweetback (an excellent mostly instrumental band made up of members of Sade).

On vocals, Bley's appealing tone and nuanced delivery places her somewhere between Norah Jones and Nellie McKay. Something about her phrasing, or maybe it's an occasional turn of melody, reminds me of McKay. There is vast potential for these songs, so routed in jazz, to have a strong pop identity as well. Bley sounds sweet and happy on "I Love (Loving You)" while the bass and drums remind us that we're still in that late night lounge; I find the combination powerfully delightful. Watch this medley of "Coldest Kind of Heart" and "I Love (Loving You)".

Twin Danger continually draws you into their vibe. The thought that keeps bubbling up as I listen to Twin Danger is that I could seriously listen to it all day. I must say, that by the end of track twelve, I am experiencing a slight sense of loss because it's over. I'll have to give it another spin.

Watch the EPK for a good introduction to Twin Danger, and see them talk about their music.

Photos and quotations courtesy of Twin Danger.

Watch this short movie/music video for "Sailor (Extended Version)"

Watch Twin Danger perform live in Austin at SXSW 2015.

Photo by Mark Reinertson

Twin Danger's Website.
Twin Danger's Facebook.
Twin Danger's Twitter.
Twin Danger's Instagram.
Twin Danger's Tumblr.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Cariad Harmon, Steel City Coffee House, Phoenixville, 5/09/2015, Watch Some Great Live Video

On Saturday night, May 9th, Cariad Harmon played the Steel City Coffee House in Phoenixville, opening for Suzie Brown and Scott Sax at this Philadelphia area stop on their tour of the Northeast. The place was packed and it's no exaggeration to say that the audience was loving it as Cariad's warm personality filled the room. The songs were so good that this was a set you just didn't want to end.

Cariad drew most of the set from her latest album, her second, simply and aptly titled Cariad Harmon. The beautiful "I Want You" comes from that record.

Listen to "I Want You"

Cariad Harmon, the album, is one that I couldn't stop playing last fall when it was released; read the review. Here are videos of two more songs from the album, "Old and Grey", watch the video and "I Wanna Be Famous", watch the video. She also played a new song, one that she has not yet released, "The Lucky One", watch the video.

Here is one last video. "Wicked Town" is about New York City and is one of my favorite tracks from the latest album.

Cariad Harmon - Cariad Harmon

Cariad Harmon - Four Letters

Cariad Harmon's Website
Cariad Harmon's Facebook
Cariad Harmon's Twitter