Lightning 100 brings you our critically acclaimed weekly concert series featuring national, regional and local artists. The show broadcasts live from 3rd & Lindsley on Sundays from 8-10 PM.
Nashville 8-piece ELEL had a big summer. Their debut track ” 40 Watt”, an effervescent blast of feel good indie pop, drew comparisons to the likes of Vampire Weekend and MGMT, winning over a slew of blogs, radio stations (Alt Nation, WFUV, KCRW) and affording them the opportunity to perform at Bonnaroo Festival, SXSW and Treefort Music Festivlal. The band are set to release their debut EP on Mom + Pop Music this March.
ELEL, consisting of two horns, two drums, three keys ,guitar, bass and whole lot of vocals, was born from front man Ben Elkins meeting a girl named Elisa. Ben’s now wife softened his edges while introducing him to the likes of Beach House and Toro Y Moi. Speaking on ELEL, Ben says “ It’s the outcome of me producing music that risks leaving space and communicates emotion easily and softly.” This band represents a new start for its members, for a variety of reasons. Tied together by the bustling Nashville music scene but from an array of locations, ELEL includes Ben (Arkansas), Zach (Kentucky), Tim (Mississippi), Jo Jo (Queens, NY), Alex (Pennsylvania), and life-long Nashvillians (so far) Frederick, Jerry and Stefan. According to Ben, “40 Watt is a big loud dance song about dancing with one other person in a little bitty house.’ We have more exciting news very soon.
Twenty-seven years. Four bandmates. Two brothers. One album. Let It Lie, the debut release from Canadian roots-rockers the Bros. Landreth, is proof that there’s strength in numbers.
Anchored by the bluesy wail of electric guitars, the swell of B3 organ, and the harmonized swoon of two voices that were born to mesh. At first listen, you might call it Americana. Dig deeper, though, and you’ll hear the nuances that separate The Bros. Landreth — whose members didn’t grow up in the American south, but rather the isolated prairie city of Winnipeg, Manitoba — from their folksy friends in the Lower 48. Where does the sound come from? Maybe it’s in their blood. After all, long before they made music together, siblings David and Joey Landreth attended their father’s bar gigs as babies.
“Mom would take us in the basinet and stick us under the bar tables, and we’d fall asleep,” says David. “Dad was a working musician who backed up people like Amos Garrett, but his love was always songwriting. He’d play three or four sets at those bars, so we’d be at the gigs all night.”
“We were always around music,” adds Joey, the group’s frontman and chief songwriter. “We had no choice! We were baptized into it.”
As the boys got older, they began paying attention to the records their parents would play in the small, WWII-era shack that doubled as the family’s home. Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder and Little Feat all received plenty of airtime, with John Hiatt’s Bring the Family and Lyle Lovett’s Pontiac standing out as family favorites. The siblings absorbed those records, which spun tales of love, life and lust in the Bible Belt. Years later — after Joey and David had given up their gigs as sidemen to form their own group, with drummer Ryan Voth — the Bros. Landreth began drawing on that familiar sound, mixing the rootsy swirl of Americana with the bandmates’ own experiences up north.
Let It Lie was recorded in a straw bale house in southern Manitoba, during one of the coldest winters in recent memory. Working with producer Murray Pulver, the Bros. Landreth found warmth in the songs that Joey and David had written at home, brewing up an earthy, earnest sound that has since drawn comparisons to the Eagles, the Allman Brothers and Jackson Browne. Eager to tip their hat to the man who gave the Landreth siblings their very first instruments, the band also recorded a version of “I am the Fool,” a song originally written by the boys’ father, renowned Winnipeg musician Wally Landreth. Wally even stopped by the studio to sing a verse on “Runaway Train,” a scuzzy, fuzzy rock song that mixes boogie-woogie guitars with two generations of bluesy, booming Landreth vocals.
Album highlights like “Our Love,” “Firecracker” and Nothing” were all inspired by a string of rocky relationships, but Lie It Lie is more than a breakup album. Filled with mid-tempo rockers, butter-smooth ballads and cowboy lullabies, it’s the sort of album that finds inspiration not only in the landscape of the human heart, but also the windswept prairies that stretch for hours on every side of Winnipeg’s city limits. The music is steeped in the history and heritage of the band’s hometown, and if it sounds wintry at times, that doesn’t mean it’s not downright lovely.
That hometown was quick to embrace the Bros. Landreth, with the Winnipeg Free Press applauding the band’s “blues rock [songs] resplendent with soulful harmonies as golden and warm as the late evening sun.” Meanwhile, the band began hitting the road in 2013, traveling the heartlands and highways that helped inspire their songs in the first place. They didn’t limit their focus to Canada, either. During the summer of 2014, the Bros. Landreth signed a deal with Slate Creek Records, an American label whose roster includes singer/songwriter Brandy Clark and Pistol Annies member Angaleena Presley.
Firmly a phenomenon in their home country of Iceland, the four-piece band Kaleo is set to descend upon foreign shores in 2015, bringing their gorgeous blend of folk, blues, country, and rock to a wider mainstream audience in America. Their isolated heritage inspires a unique take on familiar sonic elements, resulting in diversity and freedom on each and every breathtaking track.
Best friends since attending elementary school in the small town of Mosfellsbaer outside of Reykjavik, bandleader JJ Juliusson, drummer David Antonsson Crivello, and bassist Danny Jones began playing together at the age of 17. Honing their skills, they played countless shows around the nation’s capital for a few years before adding guitarist Rubin Pollock to the mix in 2012. They named the band Kaleo, which means “the sound” in Hawaiian, and started their career in earnest with a handful of well-received shows at the 2012 Iceland Airwaves music festival.
They recorded their first pair of original songs in early 2013, the fiery “Rock N Roller” and laid-back, bluesy “Pour Sugar On Me,” which earned Kaleo some radio airplay and press in Iceland. Then, that spring, their cover of the traditional Icelandic ballad “Vor í vaglaskógi” during a live radio show was videotaped and posted to YouTube, where it quickly went viral. The band recorded a studio version of the song in June, which went straight to Number One in virtually every radio station in the country. “It’s a different kind of cover, more dramatic and the tempo is taken down,” says JJ. The buzz for Kaleo had begun.
The band signed to Iceland’s largest record label, Sena, in the fall of 2013 and recorded their full-length debut, Kaleo, in just six short weeks. Five singles would reach Number One and the album would go Gold, receiving high praise and sending the band to shows and festivals in Europe over the next year, including an appearance on the biggest stage in their home country, Culture Night, where they played to 100,000 people and reached 90 percent of Iceland’s population in broadcast. Then, in the spring of 2014, Kaleo recorded the lush, introspective song “All the Pretty Girls” and in one night their destiny to outgrow their small, island nation was cemented.
Twenty-two years ago, in the rolling plains of northern Ohio, a strange and fortuitous gathering occurred. Ed Helms, Ian Riggs, and Jacob Tilove, then students at Oberlin College, were drawn together by a mutual love of fine whiskey and bluegrass. In short order, music was happening. With Riggs on bass, Helms on guitar, Tilove on mandolin and all three melodically shouting, a distinctive musical voice took shape. Soon other friends joined up on all manner of banjos and fiddles and a loose-knit ensemble called Weedkiller was born. They played back porches, front yards, and basement keg parties all over Oberlin for a few great years, but when college ended, so did Weedkiller. As the universe would have it, Ed, Jake, and Ian all landed in New York City to pursue their individual hare-brained passions of comedy, architectural history, and jazz bass studies respectively. City life was exciting and chaotic, but their friendship and musical bond endured, and their regular, informal jam sessions kept everyone’s feet on the ground. Over time those informal sessions became songwriting sessions and even a casual recording session or two. Soon invitations rolled in to play at a friend’s party or a cousin’s wedding and before they knew it, The Lonesome Trio was a fixture on the NYC bluegrass scene, playing regular shows at the Parkside Lounge, Rockwood Music Hall, and other depraved haunts of the old-time crowd. Despite active careers in various fields, The Lonesome Trio soldiered on, a constant in the topsy-turvy lives of its dedicated members. The particular sound and voice of The Lonesome Trio might be described as rootsy, bluegrass-ish, Americana, or even a little bit cowboy. But a more accurate description might be the peculiar mind meld of three old friends who’ve been through 22 years of life, love, loss, and laughter together, working it all out through raw and honest acoustic music.