Cody Chesnutt

Cody Chesnutt

Universally hailed as a thrilling new figure in music for his edgy, lo-fi debut, The Headphone Masterpiece, back in 2002, Cody ChesnuTT is a soul troubadour whose frank, socially conscious ruminations on life continue to challenge popular notions of what modern soul music can look and sound like: a raw storyteller for the people wearing a guitar and a toothpick-chewing smirk; a wide-eyed, intense soul brother in a crazy-fly get-up singing about bedraggled love in the land of Lost Angeles - he's all of that, but wiser now while still wearing poetic license on his skin like a battle scar.

A decade earlier, Cody explored the Atlanta's early '90s R&B scene as a singer, and then toiled in his LA-based band, The Crosswalk. His time spent alone exploring raw new sounds in his bedroom finally paid off in 2002 with the release of The Headphone Masterpiece. Industry tastemakers like music writer dream hampton (and The Roots drummer and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon bandleader) Questlove took to the record immediately, hearing in Cody's music the kind of emotional intensity and savvy, irreverent wordplay that was sorely missing in Black music in the early 2000s as the neo-soul movement sputtered to a near halt, losing several of its key players to their own hiatuses. A song from The Headphone Masterpiece was re-tooled as "The Seed 2.0" for the Roots' seminal album Phrenology, exposing Cody's music to a wider mainstream audience.

Landing On A Hundred, Cody's second full-length LP, marks his return to the music game after a period of family-man retreat and reflection that did a world of good for him after his meteoric rise to near fame. The title is a reference to the slang saying, "Keeping It One Hundred," or telling the whole truth, and for lovers of true blue Southern soul this new album is a must-have - he recorded it with a ten-piece band in Memphis-based Royal Studios, the sonic birthplace of some of the deepest works by soul and blues luminaries like Al Green, Buddy Guy and Ike & Tina Turner. "The original tracks were cut on two-inch tape," Cody explains. "My hands were tingling because I got to sing on the actual microphone that Al Green recorded with. Nothing has changed. The downhome acoustic treatments are still in place."

Topics on Landing On A Hundred cover lots of grown-folks business: a man's road to redemption after years of womanizing and crack addiction, the power and labor of slow-burning marital love that eclipses mere material expressions of affection. Keeping it truthful is ultimately what matters most in Cody's songs: how it reveals itself in your darkest thoughts, how it can heal old wounds with a handclap and a foot stomp. Truthfulness emanates from Cody's vocal chords and the strings of his guitar while his, strong, sensitive voice continues to command listeners with its riveting sound, leading them to their own higher ground.

Crushed Out

Crushed Out is an explosive hit of surf-garage momentum and rock & roll from Brooklyn, NY consisting of Frank Hoier on guitar and vocals and Moselle Spiller on drums. After four national tours and a well-received EP, 2010's Show Pony, the couple, formerly known as Boom Chick, are set to release their debut full-length, Want to Give, on Nov. 6, 2012 on their own Cool Clear Water imprint. Want to Give is a pure guitar/drum adrenalin rush - plenty of fuzz, tremolo, riffs, chunky chords, slide and Black Sabbath power chords. The songs are tight and lean; no fat, no studio fairy dust. Recorded both at Brooklyn's Bunker Studio as well as at Crushed Out's own analog studio in a rural New Hampshire barn, the tracks were all self-produced and mixed by John Davis.

The bulk of Want To Give was created during Charles Shaw-fueled jam sessions at the duo's practice space in Red Hook, Brooklyn in 2011. Moselle was working as a freelance graphic artist and Frank taught guitar lessons. At night, they'd jam in their industrial space in Red Hook's Ohm Acoustics speaker factory. Deciding to escape NYC rents, they moved their gear up to Moselle's childhood town in rural Effingham, NH, where they set up their own 16-track recording studio in the old barn on the property. Lacking a home base, they finished the songs on the road, writing lyrics to their many instrumentals and songs that had manifested organically through those late-night Brooklyn jam sessions. Four of their "barn demos" ended up on Want To Give. The other six were recorded over three days at Brooklyn's Bunker Studio.

Along with early features in NYC publications (Village Voice, New York Post), Crushed Out's early supporters included So-Cal skate bible Thrasher Magazine and Element Skateboards, who used several of the band's Show Pony EP songs in their skateboard videos. Their song "Ghost of Bo Diddley" (as Boom Chick) was also featured in ESPN's X series, The Kids.

Want to Give explodes out of the speakers, delivering on the promise of Crushed Out's EP and live shows. It's a testament to Frank and Moselle's ecstatic love for early American rock & roll, surf guitar and country blues -- what Bob Dylan called the "atomic era" of rock & roll."

Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas

Jessica Hernandez is a singer-songwriter — but not THAT kind of singer songwriter.
She has Latin roots, but we're not talking Selena or Shakira here.

She's got soul (Hernandez does come from Motown, after all), but is not cookie-cutter contemporary R&B diva.

She can be as heartfelt and melodic as any pop singer out there, but she doesn't sound like a one of them.

So if you're trying to peg Hernandez — good freakin' luck. Our advice instead is to just sit back and enjoy the kind of rare, genuinely individualistic artist that eschews any conventions and stylistic parameters and instead covers a lot of ground — and all of it well.

"I AM all over the place — everything from my fashion taste to my food taste to my choice of friends and groups of people that I associate myself with," says Hernandez, who in less than three years has vaulted from late-blooming music-maker to a bona fide leading light in her home town of Detroit — and beyond, thanks to buzz-generating performances at South By Southwest and the Bonnaroo Music Festival. "I've never really been very distinct, so I think there's a lot of different influences coming from a lot of different places at all times. I'm just trying to make sense of everything that's going on in my head and then make something cohesive that people can relate to and connect with."

Take a listen to any of the music Hernandez is making with her band, the Deltas — the songs from her debut EP, "Weird Looking Women in Too Many Clothes," or the material she's been recording on for her first full-length album — and you'll hear that mission is being accomplished. In spades. A Hernandez song weaves through gypsy style violin and New Orleans-flavored horns, funky rhythm patterns and strikingly detailed dynamics. Her tunes boast a rich, three-dimensional, cinematic cascade, running from gentle and serene to dramatic, swirling crescendos that convey beauty in their near chaos.

The linchpin for all that is Hernandez's voice, an evocative and flexible instrument saluted by Chicago.com as "pristine and clear" and by the Michigan Daily as "throaty and confident." Real Detroit Weekly dubbed her a "powerhouse chanteuse," and it's that ability to convey a broad range of emotions with equal depth and impact.

"I'm trying to create songs that can make people feel really sad and really happy at the same time," she explains. "I really like a lot of darkness and a lot of Gothic style and things that are very eerie but have a real soulful, beautiful element to them. That's something I think is really intriguing, and that's what I'm trying to explore."

She's only been doing music full-time for a few years, but Hernandez has been steeped in it her entire life. Growing up above her parents' bakery in Detroit's historic Mexicantown district, Hernandez was surrounded by sounds ranging from the indigenous music her grandparents brought with them from Cuba to her father's love of classic rock and her mother's taste from punk and New Wave from the Clash to the B-52′s, the Cure and A Flock of Seagulls. "I just had all these things coming from all different places and really loved and appreciated all of them," says Hernandez, who embraced heavy metal and hardcore as a high school student and also gravitated towards Kate Bush, Tom Waits and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds as well as the gypsy hybrid approaches of Gogol Bordello and Man Man.

Hernandez never learned to play an instrument but kept her voice busy in musicals such as "Pippin" and "Brave New World" and in a professional youth choir she joined during middle school. She also attended Michigan's Blue Lake fine arts camp and honed her theatrical chops in forensics tournaments. "I've always been passionate about music," she says, "but somehow along the road I convinced myself it was an unrealistic career choice, and I talked myself out of pursuing that as a living."

Instead she attended Columbia College in Chicago to study fashion design but ultimately fell in with the musical crowd. One classmate studying producing and engineering recruited her to sing on one of his projects and pointedly asked, "Why aren't you going to school for music?" She was part of a talent contest-winning trio, and during her sophomore year Hernandez moved in with a folk musician who began teaching her to play instruments. Eventually she undeclared her major and began studying "a little bit of everything — music theory class, theater class, business class, testing waters a little bit to see if anything grabbed me before I stopped going to school." Ultimately Hernandez decided the best education would be found out of the classroom, so she dropped out after her sophomore year.

Her subsequent travels took Hernandez to Kansas City to work with one of her Columbia associates, back home to Detroit, to Chicago again and then a return to Detroit, where she found the burgeoning independent music scene to have more nurturing potential than anywhere else she'd lived. She'd worked up a solo act by then, but a September 2009 booking at Detroit's popular Dally In The Alley festival inspired her to put together a band, and the show was so successful that the Deltas was born.

"It was almost like a happy accident., Since then we've kind of just kept going full speed ahead," says Hernandez, who's also rooted herself in the Detroit music community by establishing a new venue, the Bakery Loft, as well as the Whole Detroit Soup meal program that raises money to help artists finance their projects.

Hernandez feels that "Weird Looking Women in Too Many Clothes" and its five songs — produced by Eric Hoegemeyer and Ben West in the Detroit area's Rustbelt Studios — offers merely a sampling of her musical range. "It reflects a lot of who I was and who I am and all of the different sides of my personality — the weird, poppy, bubblegummy kind of stuff and then the really sad stuff and the weird gypsy stuff," she says. "I think it was really important for me to release something like that and get all that energy out there and say, 'This is everything that's been inside me.' Now that I've done that, I feel like I can keep moving ahead."

Hernandez already has some four dozen songs written for her first album and hopes to add another dozen before beginning the process of winnowing down. And, fortunately, there's been no shortage of inspiration.

BEAR MOUNTAIN

Bear Mountain is an electronic dance band from Vancouver, B.C. Stirring and soulful, they blend syncopated bass lines and arpeggiated synth chords with live instrumentation and soaring vocals to create a sound that is both deeply moving, and sweetly captivating. With old heartbreak on the mountain style vocals, Bear Mountain sings with powerful release and vulnerable honesty.

Bear Mountain began as the bedroom project of Ian Bevis. After releasing early demos and remixes online, Ian caught the ear of long-time friend and collaborator Kyle Statham. Together, the two friends brought the sounds to the stage by blending live instrumentation with dance style electronics. Their sound has been described as a mixture between Cut Copy and Passion Pit, infusing lead singer Ian Bevis' vulnerable and emotive vocals.

Says Ian Bevis, "We were trying to capture a feeling. When we wrote these songs we were just completely honest with ourselves, and I think that comes across in the music."

The debut album from Bear Mountain is titled "XO", a collection of songs that is unmistakably fresh and powerfully captivating. From lush synth sounds and chopped vocal samples, to tropical drum beats and house drenched kicks, the album manages to capture the feeling of the infinite and the impossible, all rolled into one.

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Doug Fir Lounge

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Cody Chesnutt with Crushed Out, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, BEAR MOUNTAIN

Friday, September 6 · Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM at Doug Fir Lounge