Posts tagged Sam Smith
[Night Out] Wrabel @ Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 2) 9/10/2014

Personal update: I'm trying to get back into the groove of going to at least two shows a week. I'm also I really exhausted from all the emails we get about bands I've never heard of and will most likely will never hear of because they're just "okay". To combat this, I've mostly been ignoring the majority of the emails that I get and just digging around the internet to find things on my own. Back in the day, I used to wander around record stores looking at album artwork and taking chances on art that I felt the most connected to and either give them a listen if they were at the listening bar or just straight up buy the album and take a chance. I found a lot of great music this way (VHS or Beta, Josh Rouse, Junior Jack, etc.). 

I started doing this again fairly recently on Rdio and Spotify for every New Music Tuesday. I just scroll around and look for things that are interesting and give them a try. It's less sexy than the thrill of buying an album and being like, "God I hope this is good," but whatever. This is how I stumbled across Wrabel (pronounnced RAY-bell, at first I thought it was rabble, lol) about a month ago. Purely judging a book by its cover, his EP, Sideways, felt familiar. I think it's because he looks like an American version of Mr. Hudson to me. Familiarity has continued to be an ongoing theme for me with Wrabel. His voice, subject matter, etc. all sounds and feels very familiar. Kind of like I've always known him. Obviously since you are reading this post he clearly was able to tick all the boxes I require to decide to keep tabs on him. 

After adding him to my extensive Twitter list to keep an eye on him, I noticed he was playing a show at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2. We should get one thing clear: I love Bowery Ballroom more than anything in this world, but there's something about Rockwood Music Hall (both original and stage 2) that holds a special place in my heart. A chance to experience any artist at Rockwood is a thing you should always do, so I decided to venture solo to see how an intimate performance from this newcomer would pan out. 

First things first, this guy's voice is nothing short of solid. Dude has a very strong set of pipes that probably need little to no pitch correction in the studio or anything like that, so much respect in that sense. I soaked in every last second of him pounding away on the piano and serenading a disappointly semi-empty room sipping some white wine, a true "This Is Why I Love Rockwood" kind of moment. It must have been a weird juxtaposition for him though considering he casually mentioned at one point between songs that the night prior he performed "10 Feet Tall" alongside Afrojack at Fashion Rocks over at the Barclays Center, but he never made it feel that way in terms of his performance. Between songs he was very friendly and laid back. At one point he even joked, "My mom keeps telling me to write happy songs and I was like, 'I wrote one!'" It's refreshing for me to know that although he was fairly recently signed to Island that it hasn't gone to his head. It's a shame that that's an exception and not the standard. 

Wrabel performing at Fashion Rocks at Barclays Center, September 8, 2014. Source: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images North America 

As I headed home last night, I put on Sideways to refresh myself on the recorded version of what I had just heard. I started feeling the parallel with him and Mr. Hudson again like the day that I first stumbled across him. Remember before his Kayne moment with Straight No Chaser when he was Mr. Hudson and The Library and had a sound of his own that he could really dig into (a la A Tale Of Two Cities)? I worry that the direction in terms of sound that they're nudging him into is going to get him lost into the Flavor of the Week pile. It's both a blessing and a curse that his voice has moments of Chris Martin, Sam Smith, and Landon Pigg, with hints of Mat Kearney peppered throughout. It's my hope for him that Island didn't just go, "Oh crap, we need a Sam Smith! Ooo! This guy seems nice. *SIGNS*" I don't mind the synthy bits in "Sideways". I get that bassy EDM + pretty vocals on top = Ca$h Money Hoe$ right now. I guess my hope is that as he assumingly starts working on his debut full length that he doesn't allow himself to get overwhelmed by people trying to tell him to be trendy for the sake of moving units this moment. Or that if he does that he knows exactly what he's doing and plans to be in the spotlight for 4 seconds and then when he has a pile of money he just runs off and does whatever the heck he wants. 

Fact of the matter is, Wrabel is a voice your ears need to hear and I think if he plays his cards right that he will be staying around with us for awhile. 

Wrabel is on the internet in various places like Facebook, Twitter, and Soundcloud. Follow/like/add as you will. His debut EPSideways is available for purchase on iTunes if you're into that as well. 

[News] Bestival Announces Line-Up Additions; Beck & Foals join Outkast as headliners

Bestival has just announced its initial line-up and it's going to be hard to beat in terms of ending your summer on a high in 2014. Beck and Foals will top the bill at the event, joining the returning duo of Outkast, as announced last week. The rest of the acts announced are Disclosure, Major Lazer, Sam Smith, CHVRCHES, London Grammar, Wild Beasts, Caribou, Clean Bandit and Laura Mvula.

As is tradition with the festival, it will have a theme and this year it's 'Desert Island Disco'. I think opens up a few more options compared to 2013's nautical 'HMS Bestival' theme so get your thinking caps on if you're planning on grabbing a ticket.

Bestival takes place from September 4th-7th on the Isle of Wight and tickets are on sale now.

For more information, head over to Bestival.net

[News] BBC Sound of 2014 Winner Announced

Each year, the BBC rounds up a list of who they think are going to be the big names in the year. They do this by asking a vast range of 170 UK tastemakers including DJs, critics and bloggers to choose just three acts they believe will leave a big mark on the year to come. Previous winners include Adele, Haim, Ellie Goulding, Little Boots and 50 Cent. This year I was kindly asked to take part, and the list put forward by myself and the other pundits was an eclectic mix of genres and artists across the board. The longlist can be seen over here, but today, the winner was announced as the 21-year-old singer, Sam Smith. He made his mark on 2013, when in May, he appeared on Naughty Boy's huge number 1 single "La La La" along with Disclosure on their track, "Latch". I've got to say I've been excited by him since I first heard his voice. It's damn unique and oh so soulful. 

He's set to release his debut album, In The Lonely Hour later in the year but for now, props to him and let's see if his year is as big as expected. You can pick up his EP Nirvana on iTunes now.

The full top five:

1.      Sam Smith

2.      Ella Eyre

3.      BANKS

4.      Sampha

5.      George Ezra

In the coming weeks, myself and Kibbe will be picking our personal top picks of who to look out for in 2014 and why we're pretty damn excited for the year ahead in music. Watch this space.

[Listen] Stream Sam Smith's Acoustic Version of Disclosure's "Latch"

British duo Disclosure have an incredible knack for pairing their electronic beats with incredible vocal talents. They did it earlier this year with "White Noise." They did it again with "You & Me." The list goes on and on, but last year's "Latch" is perhaps their best. Bringing in British singer Sam Smith, they unleashed one hell of a single.

Amongst all the synthesizers and bass kicks it can be difficult to realize just how beautiful and intimate Smith's lyrics are. That will all change when you hear Smith's amazing acoustic version of "Latch." Stripping away all the synthesized sounds, his vocals take center stage surrounded by chilling string and piano sections. Stream or watch it below.