Ryan’s Prime Slices of the Week (5/10-5/15): Seawolf, Matt Costa

Sea Wolf- Forever Nevermore [single] – Rock

Los Angeles  indie rock band Sea Wolf is bringing a modern blend of rock and indie folk to their newest single “Forever Nevermore”. This song spins a story of an entangled love story seeking reconciliation and searching for a solution. Lead vocalist Alex Church brings his trademarked mellow vocals and extremely laid back delivery to this track and it adds that little oomph to the relaxed backing track. A reverb soaked guitar plays second fiddle to Alex’s vocals and cuts through the mix of acoustic guitar and dead thumping drums. “Forever Nevermore” is such a nice relaxing song to fit our complicated times and help sooth your soul, even just for a little bit. Give Sea Wolf a listen below!

Matt Costa – Avenal [single] – indie rock

Once again Matt Costa brings us the chill vibes we need to help us get through this world. Matts buttery smooth vocals that has the slightest rasp just drag the song along like a lazy river cruise. The gentle strumming of acoustic guitars and simple bass line lead the focus on his voice and a Mac Demarco-esque chorus guitar line and would fit in perfectly in any lofi song coming out today! This Californian named Matt Costa truly nows how to make a song and I personally have never been disappointed by any of the work he’s released thus-far. Check out his latest masterpiece “Avenal” below!

Saya’s Album of the Week: En Garde by Ethan Gruska

3 years after the release of his debut record Slowmotionary, Ethan Gruska is finally back with season 2 of cinematic chord changes and sentimental lyrics–but this time he’s introduced a couple of new characters. If you’re not familiar, Gruska is a multi talented producer and songwriter who happens to be the grandson of legendary film composer John Williams. But once you listen to Gruska’s timeless compositions, you’ll soon realize he doesn’t even need the name tie for anyone to be amazed. 

Right from the start, En Garde defines itself as an album of brutal honesty. “Maybe I’ll go nowhere,” Gruska confesses under a muted fingerpicking pattern in the opening track. In “Dialing Drunk”, he struggles to move on from an ex-lover, expressing his pain poetically. It’s stripped down to just vocals and soft piano, contrasting the rest of the album’s abstract production style–but still speaks volumes that no extra bass can bring. Gruska’s advanced piano abilities also allow for him to write some pretty breathtaking arrangements and chord changes–which you can hear in the more minimalist nature of his former record. Songs like “Nervous System” and “Event Horizon” delve more into eccentric territory, while “On The Outside” and “Enough For Now” are more accessible indie rock tunes. The album ends on a nostalgic note with “Teenage Drug”, where he admits he still thinks about his first love.  

You’ll hear some familiar and unexpected voices on a few En Garde tracks–indie rockstar Phoebe Bridgers (whom he also produces for), neo soul icon Lianne La Havas, and singer-songwriter Moses Sumney. But the collaboration that especially stands out is with Lianne La Havas, titled “Haiku4U”. La Havas’ soulful voice paired with Gruska’s cinematic piano and lofi-esque production is completely mesmerizing and will easily put you in a trance. Although the two talented artists come from two slightly different worlds, they have incredible chemistry as writers and musicians, adding their own unique flavors to create a truly unforgettable sound. 

The most significant development Gruska makes from his debut album to En Garde can be described in one word: production. Moses Sumney and Gruska’s voices are encapsulated by a vocoder in “Blood in Rain”, and “Enough for Now” features an instrumental of spooky reversed voices and a highly compressed flute-like synth. Many of the songs include very intricate electronic percussion, another element that was absent from Slowmotionary. The great diversity of styles and sounds in En Garde shows how much Gruska was willing to experiment, even if it meant leaving his comfort zone for a bit. And no matter how offbeat his production gets, it’s never distracting–only enhancing what he had already written beautifully. 

“En Garde” is French for the position you stand in before fencing–in simpler terms, being ready to fight. It’s an ironic title for an album that expresses lots of vulnerability, but it just goes to show that being vulnerable can often be a strength, not a weakness. Ethan Gruska expresses his emotions in the bravest way on En Garde, and listening to it might encourage you to open up too.

Check it out:

Ryans’s Prime Slices of the Week (3/1-3/6): Orion Sun, Dirty Projectors

Orion Sun – Coffee For Dinner [single] – bedroom pop


This mellow track coming out of this Philadelphia artist Orion Sun, shows exactly where the music is scene is starting to go.  “Coffee For Dinner” is a mellow hip-hop infused bedroom pop track that just floats along and takes you for a ride. This track utilizes a mixture of lofi-guitar and a mix of real and synthetic drums that just completely slice through the mix. Underlying the song are ambient sounds and synth patches that create an entire dark and dirty sonic environment, and when her vocals finally come in, it just rounds out the entire piece , making this track warm and full. Orion Sun’s vocals can only be described as smooth and melodic and and have the uncanny ability to just make you feel relaxed. This song is soft, and somber and is overall just feels good. This single came off the soon to be released album Hold Space For Me, which is coming out later this month! Give “Coffee for Dinner” by Orion Sun a listen below!



Dirty Projectors – Overlord [single]- indie pop



After a 2 year hiatus the Dirty Projectors have once again released a brand new single primarily featuring vocalist and guitarist Maia Freedman. This is a soft, unplugged arrangement and strays from their usual production quality and bringing it down to the bare minimum for this new release. Though with the large instrumental arrangements to the side, Maia maintains that Dirty Projectors vocal harmony that we all know and love. Keeping with the similarities, the ambiguous rhymes and quirkiness of the lyrics is something we’ve deeply missed from the group while they’ve been absent and can’t wait for the larger album release they’ve been teasing for some time now. “Overlord” is a tune that really could slip under the rug and blend into the background, its soft and gentle and really has the potential to be commercially successful and feels a bit more mainstream then their past releases. We’re all excited to see what the Dirty Projectors do next! Check out “Overlord” below!




Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (2/10-2/15): Soccer Mommy, Westerman

Soccer Mommy – “Circle the Drain” [single] – indie

Nashville native Soccer Mommy‘s latest single, “Circle the Drain”, is full of meaningful lyrics and roaming melodies. The song focuses on the challenges Soccer Mommy faces in her life as she struggles with depression. She handles the difficult topic with grace, saying in a verse, “I’m trying to seem strong for my love”. Through such simple language, Soccer Mommy opens up to listeners and creates scenes that several may find relatable. Complete with acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and a steady bass line, “Circle the Drain” offers fans great music and a well-told story. Don’t miss out – check out Soccer Mommy below!

Continue reading “Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (2/10-2/15): Soccer Mommy, Westerman”

Listen to Night Sessions with Brooke Annibale and Haylee Sabella Tonight on BIRN1

Don’t forget to tune in to BIRN 1 tonight at 8:00 p.m. for a special in-studio performance and interview with two amazing songwriters, Brooke Annibale and Hayley Sabella. Click here to listen to the show on Birn1.

Pittsburgh native Brooke Annibale found her passion for songwriting and musicianship at a young age, growing up in a family who owned a music store. Learning guitar from her grandfather, her music has evolved from a folkier sound to a sound that is more unique to her. With her magnetic voice and expressive songwriting capabilities, she offers a fusion of textured electronic and traditional instrumentation while remaining true to her acoustic beginnings. Annibale’s latest full-length album titled Hold to the Light continues to push sonic boundaries with songs that portray memories of pain and joy with a perspective suspended in the past, making her messages even more effective.

As an indie-folk artist, Hayley Sabella combines gripping melodies with intimate lyrics to create a sonic landscape that feel the way her native New England coastline makes you feel described by Rolling Stone Country as, “sometimes cold and deadly, other times refreshing and full of life.” Her distinct style has led her to several opportunities supporting legendary artists such as Emmylou Harris, Ry Cooder and Ryley Walker. In 2018, Hayley released her second full-length album, Forgive the Birds, which received acclaim from Billboard, Rolling Stone Country, and The Bluegrass Situation. Forgive the Birds was inspired by the dramatic landscape of Cape Cod with its vast seasonal changes with songs that touch on themes of death and rebirth, vulnerability, strength, pain, and love. Sabella’s upcoming EP, Flew the Nest, is a continuation of this story serving as an EP of transition sonically and thematically, stirring feelings of nostalgia that generally come in a period of transition.

Singer-Songwriter Ryan McMullan Visiting Berklee Tomorrow!

Don’t miss Irish singer-songwriter Ryan McMullan‘s live performance and interview on BIRN Alive tomorrow at 4PM on BIRN1! Also, he will be playing a show at Cafe 939 with special guest Ken Yates. Get your tickets here: https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/7915048

One of Ireland’s brightest upcoming talents, Ryan McMullan is a singer-songwriter blending folk and pop. Recognized for his captivating voice, described by Ed Sheeran as a “rare jewel to find” and “the voice of an angel” by Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol, McMullan is one to keep an eye on in the contemporary folk world. Within the last year, he has achieved many successes including playing the Glastonbury stage, joining Gary Lightbody on his headlining tour, and the release of his highly praised single “Rebellion”.

Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (11/18-11/23): Ásgeir, Låpsley

Ásgeir – “Youth” [single] – singer-songwriter

Ásgeir‘s single “Youth” could not have come at a better time. With mellow fingerpicking and relaxed vocals, it’s the perfect soundtrack for Fall. Ásgeir creates a beautiful aesthetic in “Youth”, using brass, snare, and harmonies to do so. The track features simple lyrics and melodies that work to highlight Ásgeir‘s calming vocals. As “Youth” progresses, the tracks layer and build on one another to create a symphony of various timbres and feels, all while maintaining one inviting and cohesive sound. It’s truly an amazing and unique experience for listeners. Don’t miss out on Ásgeir – check out “Youth” below!

Continue reading “Kelsey’s Prime Slices of the Week (11/18-11/23): Ásgeir, Låpsley”

Featured Article: Who is Nick Hakim?

Get to know singer-songwriter Nick Hakim in advance of his solo performance at birnCORE Live, Friday, April 19 at the Red Room at Cafe 939.

Nick Hakim has made it, or at least he is on his way to making it. The 26-year-old musician and songwriter has had a unique path to get to where he is now. The Berklee graduate has reached millions of SoundCloud and Spotify users and is now signed to ATO records, which is home to the Alabama Shakes, Emily King and David Grey, to name a few. Nick’s success, however, is not by just luck. His upbringing and the struggles he faced as a teen directly lead to his raw talent and a strong drive to succeed.

Hakim’s parents emigrated from Lima, Peru, to New York City in the early ’80s after his father received a Fulbright scholarship to study economics at the New School in Manhattan. His family moved to Washington D.C. shortly after, where Hakim was born and raised. “He was surrounded by a diverse array of sounds at home,” said an interviewer from Pitchfork. “There was the Nueva cancion—political folk music—of his mother’s native Chile; ’60s and ’70s touchstones like the Beatles and Al Green; D.C. hardcore bands like Fugazi that were beloved by Hakim’s older brother—though Nick preferred the reggae-infused Bad Brains, especially since one of his teachers performed regularly with the band’s vocalist, HR; and Latino rappers like Big Pun and Fat Joe”(Moreland, assistant editor of Pitchfork).

Nick Hakim and Danielle Ponder play birnCORE Live at the Red Room on Friday, April 19!

We are very excited to announce an amazing lineup for birnCORE Live’s spring 2019 edition, at the Red Room at Cafe 939 on Friday, April 19 at 8:00 p.m. ATO recording artist Nick Hakim will headline the show, performing a solo set, with vocalist and songwriter Danielle Ponder as the support artist.

Tickets are now on sale here. Admission is $20 with student discounts available. Get your tickets before this show sells out!!

There is still time to enter our ticket giveaway for this show. Send your name and phone number to NickHakimLive@thebirn.com by April 1 to be eligible to win tickets to this must see event!

Good luck!!