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February 2015
The Harmaleighs
""Pretty Picture, Dirty Brush"
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College pals  Haley Grant and  Kaylee Jasperson bonded over shared musical tastes as students at Belmont University, . They were both also familiar with the hardships possessing the voices of angels; it was inevitable that a musical project would come of the union. The Harmaleighs formed in 2013, and the two proceeded to develop their sound, learning how to filter their shared experiences through an Americana sieve, until every heartbreak and setback sounded as though it occurred decades ago somewhere in the Appalachians.

 

The Harmaleigh's debut album, "Pretty Picture, Dirty Brush" will be released February 3rd. It covers the gauntlet of relationships that a young adult can encounter: partners, friends, hometowns. It also showcases the pair as the crackerjack musicians that they are. The same razor-sharp tightness that makes bluegrass so satisfying to hear is present in the entire album. Everything rings out as clear as a bell, and nothing is overdone or unnecessary. The girls have a healthy respect for the traditional, and can whip out a down-home rhythm as easily as a teenaged missive on heartbreak.  

 

Speaking of teenaged missives, a delicate balance is at work here. There are moments that the pair hit Watson Twin-levels of harmonies (like the ghostly intro of opening track "Hesitate") and there are times they turn right around with something more juvenille like "Got fired for dropping a glass of wine/ screw it I'm running out of time," in their recent single, "I Keep Ticking On." There's alot that can go wrong: their music acoustic guitar driven, with some lap steel and banjo thrown in, and they have a propensity to break into foot-stomping jags that recall the receding arena-folk wave. But it doesn’t matter. They’re so good, by grace of their conviction and clarity, that I’d probably be sucking this album down and singing along even if I were a 50-year-old truck driver.

 

That's the appeal of "Pretty Picture..." The album concentrates being young and new into something potent and delivers it with a little bit of sass; that's a combination capable of crossing quite a few boundaries. It's the emotional equivalent of four seasons of summer camp, thirty friendship bracelets, or ten viewings of "Milo and Otis." This album is bound to strike a chord within the most jaded of bastards. Keep up with The Harmaleighs at their website www.theharmaleighs.com

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Review of Gabrahm Vitek's, "Soular Flares"

Review of Gabrahm Vitek's, "Soular Flares"

It seems Gabrahm Vitek was hardly resistant to the band of gypsies that captured him in his sleep. Feeding him nothing but soul, Mr. Vitek has been munchin’ on some funky jazz with some jivy cats. Marginally different from anything I remember hearing at Christopher’s Pizza in 2007, I can assure you that soul-tapped and face-lifted, Mr. Vitek has seen the light.

His latest full length album, Soular Flares, flows as smooth as the lively licks it encases. Gabe has put some serious concentration into making an album that transitions flawlessly. Intentionally starting things out on a train ride to the heart of the record, he breaks things up with three instrumental interludes, showcasing his dive into compositional experimentation as he swims around sounds like Radiohead’s MK1 and Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors.

Sandwiching these Radiohead-esque interludes are effortlessly catchy songs like “Your Turn”, “It’s On”, “You Got Fire” and “No Look Dancing”. (Check out the music video for "No Look Dancing" here). Up-beat and full of soul, you can expect to hear some vibrant horn solos, powerhouse backup vocals, and classic Gabrahm Vitek piano riffs. A delightfully interesting match-up, Gabe’s poppy vocals (at times Ben Folds, at times Jamie Cullum, at times straight Vitek) have a way of jumping around on a bed of jazzy instrumentation, yielding some very fresh originality.

Gabe dresses up his thoughts on love, women, and coming of age through his contagiously danceable beats - however, he doesn’t forget to slow things down with intimate and personal tracks like “Needle + Thread”. Despite this healthy combination, it’s obvious that “No Look Dancing” is the core of the album – allowing listeners to kick off their shoes and let go of the reins.

Soular Flares feels like one of those records where one lightbulb led one artist deep into a cave of invention – remaining reclusive until the music baby was ready to be born. Lucky for us, Gabrahm Vitek will be releasing this gem, polished and perfected, October 22nd at The Basement. Not to mention he has roped in a solid A-team of Nashville’s finest rhythm and groove players. I’ll see you there.--Mackenzie Grosser

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