Jack Symes

Meet singer-songwriter, Jack Symes. A young, promising artist with a sound and writing style inspired by and reminiscent of the foregoing and forthcoming generations of American Folk. A songwriter with a scope for all things relatable, Symes has engulfed his listeners with fables and life experiences all too familiar. From sadness to a thoughtful levity, his performance will have you in tears one moment, laughter in the another and climactically, reflective in thought the next.

Born and raised in Pasadena, Jack spent his adolescence in Southern California prior to moving to Berkley in 2012. As a college student, Jack dove heavy into the Bay Area music scene where he’s established a dedicated following. In December 2016, he released his debut EP, Gargoyles EP, in anticipation of his first tour. It was on the road that he wrote and released his first single, Roll Me Away in March of 2017. Shortly after, Jack graduated from UC-Berkeley and made his way back home to Los Angeles.

Between the time he left for Berkeley and his return, Jack had written upwards of 50 songs, 12 of which have come together on his debut studio album, Songs for Moms, set for release in early 2019. Recorded at Spartan Recording, a 30 x 10-foot airstream turned recording studio in Carpinteria, Songs for Moms is a periodical account of personal growth and all that is entangled within the process of growing up and becoming an individual. The vast collection of Jack’s personal development is complete with the quintessential aspects of maturity. From love, loss and heartbreak, to personal identity and spiritual and political premise, Jack answers all questions of where he has been over the course of the last four of five years. With time-full cleverness and lyrical intelligence, Jack accepts a tight grasp on the art of emotion behind a true storyteller.

Swimming In Circles

Swimming in Circles is a San Diego-based indie alt band formed by Eliza Rose Vera and Jack Robie Williams. The two met in 2016 when they were assigned as partners to work on a song for a movie. They’ve been working together since and found some seriously talented bandmates: Nate Vigil on bass, Becky Free on drums, and Nalu Polancic on keys. S.i.C. will take you on a waterslide ride of emotions - a fun time with some feels.

Gregory Ackerman

Gregory Ackerman has made an album that sounds as inviting as its title indicates. And Friends, the Los Angeles area-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s debut full-length arrives May 25th, 2018 via V2/Munich. The album was produced by Rilo Kiley bassist, Pierre de Reeder.

And Friends immediately showcases Ackerman’s warmth, opening with his own immersive double-tracked vocals, guitar and piano playing, along with the sincere contributions of Ackerman’s actual friends.

Swarthy drumming comes courtesy of high school friend, Keenan McDaniel, plaintive slide guitars from Tom Relling, a friend since middle school, and beautiful vocal touches are provided by singer, Malarie Howard, who Ackerman met in college. The song “Careening,” and dusty harmonica throughout the album, are by Ackerman’s brother Eric, who also performs in Gregory’s live band, and has likely been a friend of his brother’s since birth.

Everything else that we hear on And Friends (and what we see – Ackerman created the cover art collage) comes from Ackerman himself. The album represents a singular point of view that is uncommon on a debut. Where some might be finding their footing, Ackerman is firmly planted, having soaked up the sun and song of the Laurel Canyon air since childhood.

“I started playing guitar when I was nine, and I’d try to play every song I heard,” Ackerman says. “I took lessons for a few months, and then decided to go it alone and teach myself. I became very good at imitating different artist’s styles, and I started gaining confidence in my ability to play guitar like the people I admired.”

It wasn’t long before Ackerman began determining his own style and connecting it with songwriting.

“In my senior year of high school, I joined a band with my brother, but for my personal writings, music became an escape. I began writing lyrics and songs about worlds that didn’t necessarily exist.”

How unfortunately ironic then that much of And Friends is about one of those worlds that we thought didn’t, or at least wouldn’t exist.

“I find it absolutely fascinating how art reflects the socio-economic and political state of the place and time it was conceived,” Ackerman explains. And Friends is a direct result of feeling absolutely baffled with humanity after the Presidential election. It almost became a concept album in that regard. The title is meant to combat the division taking place in our country.”

As such, And Friends represents not only the beloved style of California in the 1960’s and 70’s, but as artists naturally react to the current political state of our country, the substance and resistance of those times, as well. But, somehow Ackerman takes unsavory subjects and turns them sweet.

For instance, how does the song “Mindless Age” come off so sensitive and pretty when it’s about the following?:

“I wrote this song in the summer of 2016 about my fears of the not-so-distant future,” Ackerman explains, alluding to the impending vote. “It’s about a dystopian future where we basically have no human rights and freedoms only exist in dreams or a past life.”

The lyrics of the song reference “memories wiped away,” “misery commonplace,” and “sentences programmed,” ideas that are closer to having dots to connect back to our current reality than at any other time in our lives.

We need to hear this, and think about it.

Ackerman’s method of administering medicine is to put these words to a closely plucked acoustic, light piano, his by-now-familiar (the track comes late in the record) harmonizing with himself and Howard, and some slide guitar playing that is all-California.

“I am very partial to live recorded instruments, and when the time and emotion put into perfecting a track on tape can be heard throughout the song,” Ackerman says. “I feel a stronger connection to older music because I think the music and lyrics meant more during that time.”

Ackerman’s songs mean something in this time, too.

And Friends by Gregory Ackerman is scheduled for release on May 25th via V2/Munich.

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