Month: August 2015

New single and video from Josh Stevens: “Hill Top”

Josh Stevens is a famed producer/songwriter who was born and raised in LA. He’s worked with the likes of Calvin Harris and LMFAO, among many others! After years of working with other incredible musicians, in 2014 Josh decided to be the man behind his own musical project. Story of Summer, Josh Stevens’ debut EP, is a story of the ups and downs of a fictional relationship with a woman named, Anna. “Hill Top” is the first single off of Story of Summer and it’s an upbeat anthem that blooms and builds from start to finish and features Spencer Ludwig. Check out the video below:

Stay tuned for more from Josh Stevens and check out his Facebook page and official website for more.

Streaming now: Marrow’s new full length, “The Gold Standard”

Marrow nestled its way into my ears via their first single/title track off their upcoming record called “The Gold Standard.” Let me remind you why Marrow was able to successfully nestle its way in between my ears:

Starting yesterday, you can stream The Gold Standard in its entirety via The New York Times until it’s release September 4th.

Click here to do so:

Marrow is a Chicago-based group consisting of founding members Liam Cunningham, Macie Stewart and Lane Beckstrom and drummer, Matt Carrol. The founding members created Marrow after their first previous project, Kids These Days, broke up and only shortly after the creation of Marrow, Matt Carrol was recruited to play drums. They released a 2 song EP in 2013 and are currently working on their debut full length album.

“Fallow”, The Afternoon Edition’s debut record is OUT NOW!

Today, the folk-country band, The Afternoon Edition, released their first record, titled, Fallow. This 60’s and 70’s inspired record showcases the band’s true talent in Americana song-writing. The Afternoon Edition is made up of brothers Connor and Shane Noetzel and their friend, Brian Gallio. According to Connor, they’ve been enchanted by the music of the 60’s and 70’s since before they can even remember.

About Fallow, the band says:

“The most captivating part of this music for us is the influence and history it contributed to in our own backyard, The Hudson Valley. It’s hard not to feel the same influence this area had on our heroes in the Folk/Americana scene years ago. We’ve set out to continue that tradition, and to use the same tools these artists had to create music that comes from the same rivers, hills and valleys that used to inspire them, and in turn now inspires us. It was only natural for us to wrap them in the Americana and Country aesthetic, which have always provided us with the comfort of wearing our hearts on our sleeves.”

You can find this piece of work on Itunes and Spotify. Also, check out the previous posts Music For Lunch as done about The Afternoon Edition’s single releases:

“I Can’t Stay”

“Canyon Lights”

Part I of HÆLOS’ video trilogy: “Earth Not Above”

“Earth Not Above” is a song about grief. The song and video are the sound and visual representation of grieving and the other emotions that come with, followed by the incredible release when one finally lets go. There is a moment in this song that is so beautifully captured in the video  where you can sense that moment of release, without a doubt. The music video was directed by Jesse Jenkins.

“Earth Not Above” is off of HÆLOS’ debut EP that came out on Matador May of this year and follows perfectly with the style that HÆLOS calls their own. This style wavers between darkness and euphoria, leaving a nook for every listener. Enjoy the video below:

Check them out of they’re somewhere near you! They’ll be playing a couple shows with TV on the Radio as well:

Sat. Aug. 29 – Leeds, UK @ Tetley Art Gallery
Sun. Aug. 30 – London, UK @ Roundhouse w/ TV On The Radio
Mon. Aug. 31 – London, UK @ Roundhouse w/ TV On The Radio
Fri. Sep. 4 – Vlieland Island, NE @ Into The Great Wide Open
Sun. Sep. 6 – Portmeirion, UK @ Festival No. 6
Wed. Sep. 23 – Sat. Sep. 26 – Hamburg, DE @ Reeperbahn Festival
Mon. Oct. 26 – Manchester, UK @ Night & Day
Tue. Oct. 27 – London, UK @ The Laundry
Tue. Oct. 29 – Paris, FR @ Pitchfork Festival Paris
Sun. Nov. 8 – Austin, TX @ Fun Fun Fun Fest

Extremely tardy…

Hopefully this isn’t a theme for this academic year! I’m not usually this tardy. I’m more of a 7 minutes late than an hour late person…so that equates to a couple days late on playlists and not a week late. I’ll try not to be so tardy!

Doesn’t matter, though. Music doesn’t spoil. I’m really excited about this week’s playlist. I’m constantly impressed with musicians.

Interview: Amen Dunes’ singer/songwriter, Damon McMahon

Amen Dunes is a pure and creative musical project headed by Philadelphia-born musician, Damon McMahon. Damon’s passion for music started at an early age but was very private. He took his time as a musician, deciding very carefully when it was time to share. After releasing solo work, escaping to China to work for a record label and returning to the US, he was able to reignite his love for making music. I discovered Amen Dunes late in the game, after the release of their most recent release, Love, which came out in 2014. This is the song I heard:

Naturally, I needed more. I bought the entire album. Months later, after I started Music For Lunch, I gathered the courage to ask Damon if I could interview him. Months after that we finally were able to connect and we had a wonderful conversation on the phone. Damon was tight on time because he was heading to a proper beach somewhat near New York City, where he’s living currently. Despite the fact that we were only on the phone for less than 40 minutes, we covered some serious ground. I think I learned just as much about Damon as he learned about me. Listen and read below to get a picture of the honest and insightful conversation we had about music:

MFL: Are you working on anything new?

 Damon McMahon (DM): Yeah, we just finished new demos for a couple songs for our new record and I’m finishing all the songs with in the next four months and we’re going to go into the studio in December. It’s coming up fast.

 MFL: How do you decide it’s time to write something new? Does motivation strike?



MFL: Now you play with a band. How and why did you decide to do this?

 DM: You know, I didn’t need help but I realized that something good can come from collaborating with the right people. And, I don’t play the drums. I mean I can play the drums. I did play drums on the first two Amen Dunes records but I’m not that good of a drummer. I had been playing live is what it was. I put the record for Donkey Jaw out and I had been playing live with a drummer for a year or so. And when it was time to do a new record, we had really become strong musical partners. And you know, I wanted to do a bigger sound now that I think back to it. I wanted to do something a little bigger sonically and more produced and stuff. So I thought it would be good to not try and do it all by myself.

MFL: Are you satisfied with how everything turned with the full band or your music in general?


MFL: How did you start playing music? Was that part of your childhood?

DM: Yeah, I was pretty young. In my family, I wasn’t really considered a musician, I did it kind of privately. I just listened kind of obsessively to music when I was a teenager and took a year of guitar lessons when I was 15 and then just started kind of like singing people’s songs that I really liked.

MFL: What were some of those songs?

DM: In the early days, Tim Buckley, Bob Dylan, The Band and the sort of stuff. I would just cover those songs and imitate them.  And then when I was 17 I wrote my first song on my own. But, it was private. I didn’t play in bands, I didn’t go do shows. I would just order a record or CDs from the local record store. Like really weird, obscure stuff. That was how I kind of started playing music, by just kind of listening and playing music in my bedroom. I’ve never been part of the band scene or anything like that. I never really related to that.

 MFL: So you wrote your first song when you were 17. Is that a song that was on any of your records?

DM: No, no. I never used that one. That was sort of like training wheels, you know? It wasn’t a very good song but it was OK. It was better than most first songs. My brother was also a musician. He’s an amazing musician. He sort of started before I did and I played him that first song and he was like, pissed. He wasn’t pissed but he was like, “Wow, that was pretty good for your first song.”

MFL: He was jealous?

DM: There’s always been jealousy between us over the years. Not so much anymore but in the beginning, I was so new he wasn’t jealous, he was just surprised. And then I just started writing rapidly from there. From 17 to 24 or 25, fucking 6,7 years, I was singing and playing every day and probably writing a song once a week a least, at very least. They weren’t all good songs but I wrote a ton when I was younger. It just kind of poured out of me. I don’t like most of them anymore but some of them I do.

MFL: When did you start recording and releasing your own music? That’s a big step.

 DM: It took a long time. When I was 21, I had been playing with my brother throughout college and when I was 21, I formed a band with my brother and we were in a band in NY for 4 or 5 years. That was the first band that I was ever in. It took me until I was 21 to be in a band. The first 7 years I just played by myself. I had a band when I was a kid with my brother and that kind of fell apart. And then, I did a solo record for about a year and that kind of fell apart. And I quit playing music and I went to China for 2 years.

 MFL: So you released Mansions, the solo record that “fell apart?”

MFL: What was that first you released as Amen Dunes?

DM: It’s called DIA. I actually just listened to it a few days ago for the first time in years and I love it. It’s my favorite Amen Dunes record. You can’t purchase it now because the label folded. Yeah, it’s not on iTunes. You can only find it on Discogs or Ebay? Or maybe YouTube, you know? It’s a red cover. That’s the best Amen Dunes record I think. You can ignore the Pitchfork review. Those guys are sort of confused. That’s my favorite Amen Dunes record. You can listen to it on YouTube probably.

MFL: What was in China?

 DM: I went over there because I got offered a job working at this record label. When I was in college I studied Chinese and it was kind of part of my life. That’s why I went over there. I just wanted to stop making music. I was so burnt out on it. It was fast track to check out. I didn’t stay as long as I thought I would. Just for 2 years.

MFL: What made you come back?

DM: Well, the label wanted to put the first Amen Dunes record out and I realized it was time to be in a band again and do music. I didn’t feel so good, not doing music didn’t feel right.

MFL: Does it feel better now? The second round?

 DM: Oh yeah. It’s never easy. It’s not an easy way to live. But if feels right. It feels like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m lucky to do it.

 MFL: Was the first Amen Dunes record on Sacred Bones then?

 DM: No, it was a label called Locust. They were the last real record label. They were the end of the old era of record labels, where the head of the label wasn’t just throwing some shit up on the internet to get hits. The head of the label was a serious music fan and highly curated his roster. I mean, Sacred Bones highly curates their roster, too but this guy was like…the love and attention he spent with each band was incredible. He’d build stories and like knits around these bands under his label. Everyone was handled with care and he was really incredible. Really amazing. I think this is what small labels use to be like until the internet really took it over. Before it became like a Pitchfork shopping spree. Or a Pitchfork open market. Now it’s like, this stock exchange via Pitchfork. I won’t go on that rant. But, this guy was amazing. He put it out and the label folded only a few years later. And, the second record was an EP called Murder Dull Mind but I call it an LP. It was like a mini LP and that was on Sacred Bones. That was the first Sacred Bones record.

 MFL: Why did Locust fold? Was he out competed?


We talked about streaming and how the music industry has changed. Damon commented on this.

 DM: I can tell you from experience that the listeners of the world are getting short-changed because musicians are being forced to fit themselves into this current state of affairs. They’re forced to quickly make music. They’re forced to not spend time on it. They’re forced to make quantity over quality. What we have in 2015 as music listeners is a bunch of crappy music. Not all of it. There’s obviously a lot of music I love but the quality difference from the old days is pretty high. There were just fewer bands back then and the bands spent more time on their music. I don’t think that’s true for hip hop or electronic music where it’s about what’s new and kind of quickly done off the cuff and I think that works better. But, for rock music and songwriting I think it’s taken a toll.

 The history of my musical culture isn’t immediacy. If I was a rapper or if I made dance hall. Those music genres are all about immediacy. There’s a new seven inch for a new artist every week. Hip hop and stuff those guys are putting out a new mixtape every month so for that music culture, streaming is awesome. But for rock and roll and songwriting it doesn’t make any sense. You can’t make good rock music every week unless you’re bob Dylan. Anyway, not to go down some old man negative rant.

 MFL: Do you have any other passions than music?

 DM: My second and equal passion is writing and reading. I’m more excited about literature and books than I am about music. And music is what I do. It’s my spiritual kind of practice if you will. It’s what I was born to do but writing is what sort of really excites me. So reading and my own writing, which I don’t do enough of, but those are the things that excite me even more than music.

 With that, I let Damon go to the beach as he’d been looking forward to it for…years? Damon’s heard many good things about Montana, Bozeman and Missoula in particular. So, if we’re lucky, when touring kicks in with the release of the record he’s cooking up, Amen Dunes will pay us a visit.


“No One Wants It To Happen To You” – Small Black

This dissonant, dreamy, track is off of Small Black’s upcoming LP, Best Blues, which will be out on October 6th.Their previous single, “Boys Life”, was the perfect snap shot of what Best Blues is about: memories and sentiment, a collection of stories inspired by old, water-warped photographs. According to lead singer Josh Kolenik, “No One Wants It To Happen To You” is about something an older, perhaps wiser friend told you. Something you should remember when times are difficult, that will remind you to push forward. Josh says, ““Simple and plain spoken, it’s about separating yourself from yourself and taking a second to stand and gape at the bottom, knowing that you might be there for awhile, but that it is a place from which you can rise.”

Stay tuned for more from Small Black until their full release.

A tune from Birmingham-based group, Temple Vesta: “Tempestuous”

Temple Vesta is a group of five fellows based out of Birmingham who make what they call “rock n’ roll indie funk alternative.” Jack Newbold is on vocals and writes the lyrics, Malcom Bradd is on lead guitar, Daniel Taylor is on rhythm guitar, Josh Cunningham is on Bass and Charlie Skeggs is on Drums.

First Release Photo

With one excellent single out already, “Juvenile”, and another one on the way, Temple Vesta is off to a powerful start. “Juvenile” is a grungy funk-rock piece that, only 2 minutes in length, begs your attention. You can find it on iTunes now.

October 2nd, Temple Vesta will be releasing their second single, “Tempestuous.” Interestingly, it sounds like it’s by a different band to me. If I were to hear those two tracks one right after the next without knowing anything about the artist, I might think they were different bands. This type of diversity in sound bodes well for everything else Temple Vesta will give to our ears. Check out “Tempestuous”:

Album Review: “All Around Us” – Briana Marela

The record welcomes you with the opening track “Follow It.” It bounces playfully between your ears and beckons you to listen to Briana Marela’s new record, All Around Us. The abrupt ending of “Follow It” leaves you unsatisfied with just one track and before you know it, you’ve listened to the entire album. All Around Us, Briana’s second album, is a collection of pieces crafted by Seattle-native, Briana Marela and produced/recorded by Sigur Rós producer Alex Somers, in Reykjavic, Iceland.

Briana Marela’s musical style has changed drastically since she first picked up an acoustic guitar in high school. Upon leaving Seattle to go to college in Olympia, she turned her musical focus to music technology, audio alterations and more experimental ways of producing interesting sounds that can complement music. Her naturally embedded ability to write music inspired by the misty wilderness of the northwest and the people who live there combined with her education in sound technology and production come together flawlessly in this record. All Around Us is named after a children’s book, each track a picture of her life from the start of her musical career back in 2012 to present.

“Take Care of Me” picks you up gently after the abrupt ending of the opening track, “Follow It.” It is a favorite of mine on this record. The tenderness of this song, appeals to me or anyone who has a delicate heart:

You take care of me like I’m the only one,

You take care of me like I’m someone that matters

“Take Care of Me” is a sweet and honest song about the beauty of true friendships.

“Dani” is the first track on the record to slow the pace. Each song prior to it is upbeat, swinging but “Dani” forces the listener to take a step back. The rich strings are woven through this track, push a level of sadness that is picked back up by the chorus. Despite the melancholy melody of “Dani”, the lyrics are uplifting:

Dani, you’re not the only one lonely, tonight.

You’re strong if you remember to lift what weighs you down and escape.

 At first listen, I thought “Dani” was only a sad song, one that was difficult for me to listen to if I was feeling down. But, after spending more time with it, I understand what it’s about and it is beautiful.

All Around Us is speckled with other sonic gems like “Surrender”, the first track Briana used vocal looping on in her career, and “All Around Us”, a song written about someone who left her life abruptly, before she could say goodbye.

The closing track, “Further”, is a 7 minute journey through the wet and foggy woods of the Northwest. Her airy vocals sound like fresh, cool air, echoing in the cathedral of your mind. “Further” is a masterpiece that brings the record to an epically exquisite close.

All Around Us is out now on Jagjaguwar.

Music from Nicky-P

Nicky-P is Nicholas Picarri, a singer/songwriter based out of Philadelphia, PA. I came across his music in my favorite way, he found me. Nothing brings me more joy than opening my email first thing in the morning and having an email from a new musician in my inbox. So, thank you Nicky-P for reaching out to Music For Lunch!

Nicky-P calls his style easy listening/Americana and he shares his music quite frequently at venues in Philadelphia like Milkboy, North Star Bar & Legendary Dobbs. Additionally, he’s opened for Dispatch. I can hear why. Nicky-P’s music has the same positive sound that forces you to take a deep breath and just sway. Listen to one of my favorites, “Good People” off of his Good Thoughts EP that came out December of 2014:

Looking forward to more from Nicky-P! If you need more RIGHT NOW, check out his website, Facebook page and SoundCloud page.