Before the apocalypse overtook our lives, Belle-Skinner would split her time between performing here and in New York City.
The latter is where we find Belle-Skinner performing in her latest video for “Big City Blues” set in what she called “the underbelly and rooftops” of Gotham “pre-coronavirus.” The track is off of her debut album “Violets,” and she said she wrote the song while she was feeling “trapped in the city.”
“I wrote this when I was feeling trapped in the city, and was dreaming of a better life somewhere else,” she said. “With time I realized that it wasn’t the place or the situation I was in, but my own attitude and perspective that were the problem.”
Directed by Shlomo Franklin, the video captures Belle-Skinner in black and white predominantly as she walks about an underground subway station in Lower Manhattan. She said the song is meant to capture the spirit of the city, where everyone is focused on obtaining a better life for themselves.
“With time, the meaning of the song changed for me; and became something beyond the literal scope of a city or location or situation – it became a metaphor for life itself,” she said. “We all have that ‘window with a view,’ that dream of ‘someday’ — for some it means that peaceful release from life to the one beyond. Right now for most of us it’s the dream of a future where we can feel freedom and see our friends and loved ones again without fear.”
“Big City Blues” was engineered by Jason Brown Starling Studios. The song features Eric Margan playing cello, bass and flute. Margan also mixed and co-produced the music. The song also features Jon Freeman on violin. Music was mastered by Grammy award-winning engineer Alan Douches at West West Side Music.
“Violets” drops on Tuesday, May 26. You can purchase the album by visiting Bandcamp.
Michael Daugherty, Dogs of Desire
Naxos Records recently released “This Land Sings: Inspired by the Life and Times of Woody Guthrie,” the world-premiere recording of multi-Grammy Award-winning composer Michael Daugherty’s musical tribute to the singer-songwriter and political activist Woody Guthrie.
The album features performances by the Albany Symphony’s new music ensemble Dogs of Desire led by Grammy Award-winning conductor David Alan Miller, with vocal soloists, soprano Annika Socolofsky and baritone John Daugherty. For this release, Daugherty collaborated with Grammy Award-winning producer Silas Brown, to create a recording which re-creates a vintage Capital Records 1950s soundscape.
“Traveling America from coast to coast with his acoustic guitar and harmonica, Woody Guthrie performed folk songs of love, wandering and social justice, including his famous anthem ‘This Land Is Your Land,’ at Workers Union gatherings, on radio stations and street corners, and in farm fields and concert halls during the Great Depression and the Second World War,” Daugherty wrote in his introduction to the album.
To prepare for his musical tribute to this “Dust Bowl troubadour,” Daugherty drove for several weeks along the dusty backroads of Oklahoma and Texas where Guthrie once roamed, while listening to just about everything the singer-songwriter recorded. The composer also spent time at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, researching his life and wide-ranging artistic output.
After returning to his studio in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Daugherty began to compose original songs and instrumental interludes inspired both by Guthrie and his recent travels through Oklahoma and Texas. He eventually structured the work into seventeen vocal and instrumental numbers.
The music I composed gives [a] haunting expression, ironic wit and contemporary relevance to the political, social and environmental themes from Woody Guthrie’s era,” Daugherty said.
To purchase the album, visit naxos.com.
Haunted Cat is a four-piece, electro-glam proto-punk band out of the Capital District — and that’s a genre worthy of a listen.
The quartet just dropped its second album, “Third Degree Moonburns.” It’s a project they’ve been working on since the summer of 2018, and It’s a fun ride. There are some recognizable influences from both the glam and punk rock movements of the 70s. For example, you can hear a touch of Brian May as a guitar opens for the third song, “Cartoon Queen.” But, I think the band’s own description is telling of the kind of atmosphere you can expect as you sit down to listen.
“The album is an ambitious maelstrom of seemingly contradictory extremes, a pendulum that swings from brutal vengeance to most-likely sincere messages of positive living; punishing portraits of comeuppance to fantasies of great and horrifying wealth. Packed with triumphant horn sections, ominous ragtime piano, spaghetti western disco morality tales, screaming guitars, soaring power ballads for the karaokephiles, and other bloody nose fun house horrors, the sprawling saga also finds time to make peace with Tchaikovsky and war with Dale Carnegie.”
To purchase the album, visit Bandcamp.
The Erotics has been keeping it dirty with its stylings of “straightforward” rock and roll since 1997. That was when the Albany quartet dropped “Born to Destroy,” and they haven’t looked back since.
With their sleazy antics of straightforward rock & roll, The Erotics bring forth their lyrical dealings of drinking, drugs, and all other arrays of political incorrectness. The Dead Boys, Johnny Thunders and Alice Cooper are the primary inspirations of this band.
“Head of the Low Class” is the band’s latest single off of a new album set to release in July. It’s a live recording, which is only evident at the sound of applause from a pleased crowd at the end of the song. Musically, it remains true to the hard-rocking troupes who influenced them from the start.
More than 20 years removed for its debut album, The Erotics don’t show any sign of slowing down. The new album is a follow-up “The Songs Remain Deranged,” another full-length album released just last year.
Visit the band’s bio on ReverNation to hear more.
Comment on this Story
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.