Aussie guitar phenom Oranthi, former axe wielder for Michael Jackson and Alice Cooper, is out with a brand new full length album, titled simply “O”.
Taking pages from the likes of Dorothy, the Pretty Reckless, and Halestorm, all personal favorites of mine, Oranthi runs the from bluesy hard rockers like to ballads like Crawling out of the Dark. Touches of Janet Jackson 80’s rock funk are woven throughout the tracks, giving them a little extra flavor.
You won’t find any Steve Vai level shredding on O, just solid guitar rock tracks that straddle genres and eras.
I feel like I hastily passed this over at one time on Bandcamp, only to have it start showing up repeatedly in my Spotify mix playlists until I had heard enough to realize what a stoner rock gem this album is. If I’d heard it sooner it would have easily made my favorite albums of 2019 list!
Cincinnati’s Valley of the Sun shows off a range of styles beyond the typical fuzz rock outing on Old Gods, their third full length album. At times sounding like QUOTSA, and at others like a Tool-influenced King Buffalo, this album ranges from heavy fuzz rock to light, wistful instrumentals that could have been outtakes from Alice in Chains’ Jar of Flies.
If you’re a fan of Lowrider, King Buffalo, ASG and the like, you should stop what you’re doing right now and check out Old Gods.
Standout Tracks: Old Gods, Dim Vision, Gaia Creates
Stevie Caldwell is a mom, a software developer, and an amazing singer/songwriter who fronts her own solo music project called And Then There Was One. She started this project in 2014 after breaking into the Boston music scene with bands October Arrest and Six Times Seven. Seeking a more personal outlet for her soulful, sometimes heartbreaking lyrics, she decided to try it her way and hasn’t looked back.
Her influences range from Fleetwood Mac to System of a Down, and her talents as a lyricist and singer shine through in her well-crafted melodic and sometimes angsty 90s flavored alternative rock.
I know Stevie from social media, where she joins me regularly in my weekly DIY Music Chat to discuss songwriting, guitar pedals, and fitting music into an already full life. I was very pleased when she recently agreed to answer some interview questions.
Her new EP entitled “You. Me. Us.” comes out at the end of February 2018.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started with music.
One of my favorite memories that I like to share is from when I was about 5 years old. I had one of those long-handled push toys with the balls in the hopper, and my mom had just bought me this fake Mickey Mouse guitar. I was standing in my room, the push toy propped up on a chair so that the handle stuck out like a microphone, strumming this guitar, and singing along to “Rosanna” by Toto. So, that’s been me from the beginning. I didn’t get around to getting an actual guitar until I was 16, but before then I had notebooks full of fleshed out songs that I would sing out loud to myself, imaging the accompaniment.
What is the inspiration for the name of your project?
I was in a 3-piece band that wasn’t doing much in the way of gigging and I really, really wanted to do that more. I decided to start my solo project to scratch that itch, and also to have an outlet for the many songs I was writing that didn’t really fit the style of our band. “And Then There Was One” was kind’ve separating out from the other band members and starting my own thing.
What guides your creative process from song to song?
My song ideas usually come from a snippet of a melody that I’ll get. I have an app called TapeMachine on my phone that I use to sing my ideas into so that I don’t forget them, although I really like the advice I heard from another musician friend about how if you can’t remember a melody a few days later, it probably wasn’t that good. Then I sit down at my computer and hash it out. Other times, if I’m trying to practice the art of not waiting for inspiration, I’ll sit down and literally scroll through drum samples for inspiration. Sometimes I start with guitar, sometimes bass. It all just depends, but I guess I don’t have a set method.
Tell us about your recording process and how that’s evolved.
I’ve gone back and forth a lot on how I record. I mean, I started out in my bedroom with a 4-track recorder! When I first started with And Then There Was One I thought I had to record in a studio. It was a great process, created two awesome, well-produced tracks…but it was not a sustainable model due to cost. I moved into bedroom recording, direct in for my guitar and bass, drum loops, and using my room to record vocals. The results were okay but not great. Discovering that you could hire drummers to play on your stuff remotely was a game-changer for me, as we finding a studio willing to let me bring in my own equipment and just use their space for vocals. No more being afraid to belt it out in case the neighbors overheard or anything.
How often do you play live?
Roughly about once a month.
What type of gear do you use when you play live, and is it different now than when you started?
I have a pedalboard, like a big girl! But seriously, yeah, very different. When I started gigging I was using a modeling amp, but I found it prohibitive when I wanted to do quick switches between effects (like going from clean to dirty) because it would cut out for like a millisecond, but it was enough to be noticeable. I even reworked a song to allow for a pause while I changed presets it was so bad. I eventually moved to using pedals because it was just a smoother transition. I have the same modeling amp though, and I mainly use it for the amp presets and not any of the effects or mods.
How do you balance music, work, and family life?
Family first! This is one of the reasons (just one, mind you, because there are plenty of others) that I won’t ever be a real touring musician. There’s a part of me that thinks it would be fun to experience road-tripping like that, but then I think about how much I would miss my wife and kid while I was gone. So for me, short stints a couple of hours away is probably as far as I’d ever go, if anyone wanted me there! I try to keep work 9-5. I’m both lucky because my 9-5 is also something I dig (working with tech) so it’s not like my days are awful, but because of the industry I’m in there can be a lot of bleed-over into my personal life, what with being on-call and stuff like that. I go through phases with music where, if I’m feeling really inspired I’ll spend every night after work working on something in the studio.
What are you working on now?
Been trying to push this EP out the door for freaking ever!
What are your long term goals for your music?
I mean, I would be super happy to just be a known entity in the local music scene. Here in Boston there are bands/performers that everyone knows, that get really good crowds at their shows, that are always nominated for the Boston Music Awards and getting write-ups in Vanyaland and stuff like that. I think I would be pretty stoked if I got to that level.
What is next for And Then There Was One?
More music, hope to make a music video in the near future, and definitely I’ll be working on another EP once this one is done. Until then, just continuing to release singles every few months as well. And then next: Venus!
Thanks for your time!
Her new EP entitled “You. Me. Us.” will be out at the end of February 2018.