Tag Archives: Janey Street

Best indie albums of 2017

Here’s our list of the best indie albums of 2017.  Some of them were nominated and/or won LA Music Critic Awards during the first half of 2017, and most of the rest will be included when the nominations for the second half of 2017 are announced on January 17.  Consider this your “sneak peak” of those nominations.  Every album on this list has been reviewed in the “Get it or Forget it” column of our Blog.  How many of them do you have?

Honorable Mention:  Even though we have selected 25 albums for our list, there were a few that didn’t make the list, but deserve mention, including Ride by Marc Berger, Find the Silver Lining by Kelly Fitzgerald, Little Folks Like You and Me by Mike Younger, Small World by Monica Chapman and Honestly by Jay Asher.  Definitely check out these albums.

25.  The East Pointers, What we Leave Behind – This award-winning Canadian band has what they need to break into the American music scene.

24.  Becca Richardson, We are Gathered Here – Check her out at the Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles on January 20.

23.  Harper Grae, Break Your Crowns – Definitely check out this rising star from Nashville.

22.  Rusty Young, Waitin’ for the Sun – Young was the former lead singer for Poco, and the band has reunited to support his solo artist.  This is his first solo effort for Blue Élan Records.

21.  The Show Ponies, How it all Goes Down – The band recently announced they would be disbanding and this album was their final one.  They were an LA Music Critic Award winner during the first half of 2017.

20.  Elizabeth and the Catapult, Keepsake – Check her out when she performs at Sundance this year.

19.  Great Willow, Find Yourself in Los Angeles – This band is becoming a player on the Americana circuit.  Check them out live if you live near there.

18.  Bryan Stephens, Village of Dreams – Another great Blue Élan Records artist.

17.  Jeffrey Halford & the Healers, Lo-Fi Dreams – Another LA Music Critic Award multiple nominee from the first half of 2017.

16.  Ray Goren, Me – This past LA Music Critic Award winner has a great future ahead.

15.  Marina V, Born to the Stars – This Russian-born singer-songwriter is one of a kind.  Welcome back to the charts.  More than 65,000 worldwide fans can’t be wrong.

14.  Chris Daniels and the Kings, Blues with Horns – This indie artist has had a storied career and his latest is one of his best.

13.  Chelsea Williams, Boomerang – Another premier act from Blue Élan Records, she will also be performing at Sundance.

12.  Jangling Sparrows, 140 Nickels – Watch for these guys near the top of the Americana music scene.

11.  Andrea Harsell and Luna Roya, Something for the Pain – This band is a Missoula, Montana staple that is definitely going places.

10.  Halladay Quist, self-titled – Another Montana artist with a family legacy of musical excellence.

9.  Gina Sicilia, Tug of War – Another Blue Élan Records artist who is at the top of her game.  Multiple LA Music Critic Award winner.  Watch for her 8th album coming soon.

8.  Amilia K. Spicer, Wow and Flutter – Another past LA Music Critic winner, this is one of the best Americana albums released in quite a while.

7.  Seasonal BeastMuscle Memory – One of our best “finds” this year, watch for great things from this New York duo.

6.  Breaking Grass, Warning Signs – Another multiple LA Music Critic Award winner, this band is redefining bluegrass music.

5.  Wendy Sweetlove, Dirty Sunday – She was nominated for several LA Music Critic awards right out of the gate,  She is definitely an artist worth checking out.

4.  Janey Street, In my Own Skin – Reigning LA Music Critic Icon Award winner, she is another of the special breed of artists signed to Blue Élan Records.

3.  Rod Melancon, Southern Gothic – Multiple LA Music Critic Award winner, he is the last of these artists signed to Blue Élan Records.  He is currently touring Sweden.

2.  Katie Costello, Twice the Love – This artist has consistently produced award winning albums.  She also had one of the Best EPs of 2017.

1.  FreeWorld, What it is – The pride of Memphis, this band is redefining American Blues.  Check them out the next time you’re in Memphis.

Monday mashup 2017: Vol. 46

It’s our final Monday Mashup of 2017, since next Monday is Christmas day.  We wanted to thank you for checking us out this year, and are looking forward to sharing much more indie music news in 2018.  Make sure you drop us a line and let us know when you win an award, have a CD release show or other important event, so that we can share it with the world.


As we posted on December 5, Blue Élan Records released an album of Christmas songs by its artists, and donated the proceeds to the Alliance for Children’s Rights.  On December 11, those artists gathered in the studio to make a music video of a song written by Gina Sicilia.  We hope you have a wonderful Christmas season and applaud Blue Élan Records and its artists for giving us this special treat.


The first annual California Country Awards were handed out on December 16, and many of this blog’s favorites took home trophies.  LA Music Critic Award winner Alice Wallace took the award for Female Vocalist of the Year, and LA Music Critic Award winner Honey County took home awards for Band of the Year, Song of the Year for “Love Someone” and Video of the Year for “Love Someone,” while their producer John Spiker also took home Producer of the Year.  Other winners included Gethen Jenkins for Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year for Where the Honkytonk Belongs,  Joe Devenney for Musician of the Year, Scotty Mac for Entertainer of the Year, Cowboy Country for Venue of the Year, and Brad Johnson for CCM ExcellenceShawn Parr, former KZLA and Go Country 105 DJ and creator of “Nash Nights Live” was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award.


Mikey Wax has been a huge supporter of indie music in Los Angeles.  He is also quite the creative powerhouse.  Check out his latest single, “Spaceman” with Stash Konig.  We think you’ll love it as much as we do.

Here’s “Your Love,” the latest from Hannah Lucia.  Loving the groove of the tune and her vocals.  This one is a keeper.

Our final single this week is from Featurette, and it lives up to its name.  “Upside Down” will turn your musical tastes around as this electronica duo show us how it’s done.  Let us know what you think.


First up today is the annual Christmas video from Redhead Express.  It is a cover of the Sara Bareilles song, “Love is Christmas.”  Enjoy our little gift to you.

Next is the music video for a song we introduced you to back on November 13, co-written by David Garfield and Smokey Robinson and featuring J. Paris.  We love this beautiful interpretation of the song, and are thrilled to feature “I Lied.”

LA Music Awards Icon winner Janey Street has created an amazing DIY music video for her song “Undone,” from her latest album “In my own Skin.”  Check out this amazing song.

Last but not least, here’s the latest from Dree Mon, with a truly stimulating video for her hit song, “Rebel Soul.”  If this one doesn’t get you pumped up, nothing will.  Thanks Dree!


HFF17 – see it or skip it (day 5) part 1

After two days of clearing out our storage unit, we hosted the LA Music Critic Awards winners showcase on the Second Stage at the world-famous Hotel Café on Tuesday night.  During that amazing night of indie music, we were treated to performances by Wendy Sweetlove, Elyse Haren, Jon Mullane, Janey Street, Jerad Finck, Lovers & Poets, Katie Costello, The Spider Accomplice and Papermoon Gypsys.   In addition, Janey Street was awarded the 2017 Icon Award.  Kudos to her team at Blue Élan Records, who showed up in force, led by label owner Kirk Pasich, label-mate Cindy Alexander and their publicist, Melissa Dragich-Cordero of MAD Ink PR.  Other notables in attendance included Alexis Keagan, Aleksey Zharinov of Sika, Kris Angelis, Alisha Zalkin and Dan Kalisher of Sleep Machine, Jennifer Lyneis of Ue3 Promotions and Patrick O’Hefferan of LA Musica Radio.  Thanks to everyone who attended.

Moving on to Wednesday, it was time to get fringing again, and we took in three plays which are reviewed below, and topped it off with the Cherry Poppins production of Shakeslesque, which we will review in part 2.

TITLE OF SHOWMagic 8 Ball (My Life with Asperger’s)

VENUE:  Sacred Fools Black Box

REVIEW:  We first learned about this show when he submitted for our Larry Cornwall Award, and we are so thankful he reached out.  This show has got to be one of the hidden gems of HFF 17.  Wonderfully directed by first time directorial team Penni and Crystal Wilson, the show was written and performed by George Steeves, who is also a singer-songwriter with songs available on iTunes.  Needless to say, this was one of the best shows we have seen at Fringe this year.  It is a very personal story of triumph over adversity that was also educational in understanding the struggles of people living on the autism spectrum.

RECOMMENDATION:  If you only have time for a few shows at Fringe, this is a MUST SEE!  We are proud to give Magic 8 Ball one of our highest recommendations.  He still has shows available on June 24 at 4:30 p.m. and June 25 at 2:30 p.m.

TITLE OF SHOW“Lovesick” The Misadventures of a Love-Crazed Maniac

VENUE:  Sacred Fools Black Box

REVIEW:  Lovesick is another show wonderfully directed and developed by Jessica Lynn Johnson, and amazingly written and performed by Gabriella DeMarco.  Told through a host of characters, including cats, the story was funny, uplifting and all too universal.    What made it all the more special was that DeMarco has had some personal losses while preparing for Fringe that would have driven most people into a deep state of inactivity and depression.  The fact that she was performing during this turmoil goes to the true professionalism she displayed in her acting, and in sharing her story with the Fringe.

RECOMMENDATION:  This was her final show, but hopefully Combined Artform will pick her up for an extension.  If they do, we highly recommend that you See her show.


VENUE:  Sacred Fools Black Box

REVIEW:  Our final drama and one-person show of the day turned out to be Diana Varco‘s amazing production of Shattered, which was also wonderfully directed by Jessica Lynn Johnson.  Not since 2010, when Kimleigh Smith rocked the Fringe with her dramatic tale in T-O-T-A-L-L-Y, has such a powerful piece about sexual abuse and its aftermath rocked my Fringe world.   Told through 35 characters, which included many of the emotions that haunt most of us, this show made its mark and earned the distinction of being among our favorite shows of HFF 17.  It was funny, sad, heart-wrenching and hopeful, and left us with a true sense of purpose to becoming the person we were meant to be.  Kudos to Ms. Varco for a true Fringe work of art.

RECOMMENDATION:  We strongly advise you to See the final performance of this show on June 24 at 9:30 p.m.





Get it or forget it: Janey Street, Meresha, Fallow Land, Shannon Hurley

Here it is, the last four reviews of the nearly 100 submissions we have received for the LA Music Critic Awards for the first half of 2017.  When we return from Los Angeles, we will be sorting through those reviews to select the nominees for the awards, which will be announced in early July.  Two of the artists reviewed today will be performing at the winner’s showcase on June 20th.  We hope to see you there.

Artist Name Janey Street

Album NameIn my own Skin

Label:  Blue Élan Records

Genre:  Singer-songwriter/R&B/Pop/Blues

Track Listing: 1.  Wrap my Mind Around You; 2.  When you are Loved; 3.  In my own Skin; 4.  Guilty Pleasures; 5.  Undone; 6.  Sex is Easy Love is Hard; 7.  I Wanna Love you Deep; 8.  Mixed Up; 9.  Wreckage; 10.  Waiting in the Wings; 11.  Dignity; 12.  Under the Clock 

Publicist:  MAD Ink PR

Review:  Janey Street, once a protégé of the legendary Clive Davis, continues to shine with the release of her latest project, In my own Skin, on Blue Élan Records on June 23.   The combination of Street’s songwriting and her confident soaring voice make this album a musical treat.  It has a retro sound with equal parts pop and R&B/soul, and brings back memories of the days when radio stations just played songs, not genres.   Street has penned some of the best songs this reviewer has heard in quite a while, and we believe that any song on this album could be a monster hit on radio and deserves placement in television and film.  It is definitely the type of album you put on repeat and listen to from start to finish.  While every song is amazing, we particularly like the sounds of “Wrap my Mind Around You,” the title track, “Guilty Pleasures,” “Sex is Easy Love is Hard,” “I Wanna Love you Deep,” and “Wreckage.”

Recommendation:  Janey Street is an American icon and deserves the attention of every music lover.  We highly recommend that you preorder this album now so that you will be sure to Get it as soon as it is available.

Artist NameMeresha

Album NameEnter the Dreamland

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Dance

Track Listing: 1.  Enter the Dreamland; 2.  Stardust; 3.  Jungle Potion; 4.  Violet Night; 5.  Lights Out 

Publicist:  None

Review:  Meresha is a young up and coming artist with a firm grip on what makes great dance music, despite her young age.  Her sound is tight, with a great beat for dance, but with a groove that makes it perfect for radio as well.  She couples that with well made music videos that capture the spirit of the song as well as give you a visual treasure.  All five songs on this too short EP are wonderful, and you can throw this one on repeat and dance, dance, dance.  This young artist has captured our heart and imagination and we can’t wait to see how her career progresses.  She is a modern-day combination of Selena and Shakira, and ready to conquer the music world.

Recommendation:  We think this one is a true keeper, regardless of what genre is your favorite.  Her music transcends those boundaries.  We think you should definitely Get it.

Artist NameFallow Land

Album Name Pinscher

Label:  Self-released

Genre:  Indie Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Yang; 2.  The Softboi Wields Guilt like a Floral Knife; 3.  Faux; 4.  410 S. Morgan 

Publicist:  Noisy Ghost PR

Review:  A creative project of Ann Arbor born musician Whit Fineberg, Fallow Land is the result of his coping with several major changes in his life – moving to Chicago, losing a friend, the end of his band and the closing of a relationship.  He brought in Evan Veasey to play guitar, added Chris Bathgate to do the producing and recorded his EP at High Bias Studios with Chris Koltay as audio engineer, Matt Bayles as mixer and mastering done by Ed Brooks (Death Cab for Cutie).  The resulting EP is a beacon of hope in the sometimes depressing world of indie music.  This band has the potential to take off and is already head and shoulders above its peers.  We think the future looks pretty good for Fallow Land.

Recommendation:  We think you should definitely get this EP when it is released on June 30.  Make a mental note to follow Fallow Land.  We think they will be around for a while.

Artist NameShannon Hurley

Album NameNew Day

Label:  For Lenore Records

Genre:  Positive Pop

Track Listing: 1,  Make a Move; 2.  Number One; 3.  New Day; 4.  Who do you Think you Are?; 5.  Someday; 6.  Solitude (feat. Bissen); 7.  Soul; 8.  Stronger Still; 9.  Here I Am; 10.  Fairytale of New York (feat. Brandon Schott) 

Publicist:  None

Review:  Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should know that Shannon Hurley is the voice of the DIY indie artist.  Besides her solo work, she has collaborated with her husband Ben Eisen to form Lovers & Poets, as well as with countless DJs on numerous remixes of her earlier work.  On this her fifth studio album, Hurley is just approaching her potential, creating positive pop music that stands out from her peers.  The positiveness flows through all 10 songs on the album, and provides the perfect soundtrack for reflection and introspection.  She also makes amazing music videos that bring her creative vision to light.  We love all of these songs, but were particularly attracted to “Number One,” the title track, “Solitude,” “Stronger Still,” and her amazing duet with Brandon Schott on her stirring cover of The Pogues feat. Kristy MacColl classic, “Fairytale of New York,” which was requested by her fans.  With the release of New Day on June 30, we believe that her fan base is about to grow larger still.

Recommendation:  This one is a definite no-brainer.  Preorder this CD now so you can Get it as soon as it is released.


Monday mashup 2017: Vol 21

Back home in Montana after a wonderful week spending time with my dad and sister-in-law in Oklahoma.  I drove 3100 miles through Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma, and enjoyed the trip.  Also got to stop in Denver and catch a performance of one of my best friends, Nina Storey, at The Soiled Dove Underground.

Speaking of the show, her opening act, Ian Mahan, was amazing.  The night was sheer perfection.  Loved the entire vibe of new songs, old songs, Beatles songs and the wit and wisdom of her brilliant on stage banter.  We have been friends for many years (won’t tell you how many but it’s more than 10), and this was the best show I have ever witnessed.  Be on the lookout for new material, as well as a new project that she shared with us.  If you loved her before, you will love her even more now.  If you haven’t discovered the magic that is Nina Storey, then now is the perfect time to come onboard.


The Eighth annual Hollywood Fringe Festival opens for previews on Thursday, followed by the Opening Party on June 7.  We will be arriving on June 15, and will provide daily coverage through the awards show on June 25.  We are so excited to present our first award this year, the Larry Cornwall Award for Musical Excellence, in honor of our fallen friend, Larry Cornwall aka Alice in Cooperland.  Stay tuned for our list of the 10 most anticipated shows, which will be published later this week.


The LA Music Critic Awards are celebrating five years of recognizing the indie music community with a showcase at the famed Hotel Café on June 20.  We will be honoring a special songwriter with the 2017 Icon Award, and will have performances by Wendy Sweetlove, Elyse Haren, Jon Mullane, Janey Street, Jerad Finck, Katie Costello, Lovers & Poets, The Spider Accomplice and Papermoon Gypsys.  Advance tickets are available on the Hotel Café website and are only $10 in advance and $12 at the door.  Come help us celebrate and support live indie music.


Emily Clibourn has been a force in indie music for several years.  We are proud to announce the screening of her new rock-umentary, As the Wind Blows, the story of her recent cross-country tour.  The screening of the five part documentary will be on Saturday, June 3 from 7:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. at 1340 E 6th Street, Suite 402, Los Angeles.  Doors open at 7:30 p.m., with live music playing from 8:30 until 10 p.m.  The screening will follow.  Afterwards, attendees are invited to the Villains Tavern for the after party.  The event is BYOB, and it is recommended that you also bring a pillow for your own seating.

Please click here to RSVP and here for more details.


Speaking of Jerad Finck, he has recently released his new single, on the heels of the success of “Criminal.”  His tune is called “New Kids,” and we think you’ll love it.  Check it out.


Check out this interesting video from Brooklyn based Onesie of their tune, “This Minstrel.”  Please let us know your thoughts.

We haven’t forgotten about you hip-hop fans.  Check out the recent music video from Australian band 27 seconds of their song, “Forever Learning.”

Last  but not least this week is the debut video of an amazing new band fronted by our friend, Justin Foutz.  Check out “American Sweetheart” by the Rye Brothers.




Get it or Forget it: Janey Street, Mitch Hayes, Kari Kimmel

Happy Election Day!  Hope that you are exercising your rights as an American, and have or intend to vote today.  It is so important that we all participate in this process.

Since it’s my day off, I decided to check back through my emails to see what submissions I had not yet reviewed.  Imagine my surprise to find several amazing CDs that I had missed.  My apologies to these artists for not recognizing your talent in my initial perusal of emails from your respective publicists.

Sit back, take your mind off all the political backbiting, and learn about some amazing artists that you simply must check out.


Artist NameJaney Street

Album NameThis Side of Paradise

Label:  Blue Élan Records

Genre:  Singer-Songwriter/Indie Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Among the Missing; 2.  Good Side; 3.  Bring it On; 4.  House of Mirrors; 5.  Situation; 6.  Tears Taste the Same; 7.  I’m not the Girl I Used to Know; 8.  End; 9.  Grand Delusion; 10.  My Side of Paradise; 11.  Radar; 13.  Scat Like Ella; 14.  End of the Day 

Publicist:  Mad Ink PR

Review:  OMG!  I can’t believe I missed this CD.  Janey Street is part Anne Murray, part Ann Wilson and part Patti Griffin, all rolled up into one awesome package.  Her songs are sometimes laid back, like the title track, and sometimes in your face, but the overall vibe is just great music.  Every song is powerfully written, with lyrics that are meaty and memorable, and a beat that drives the message home.  “House of Mirrors” is the perfect anthem for this election day, as is “End.”  It’s hard to pick my favorite, so I choose them all, although “Scat Like Ella” is a great song that reminds me of Maroon Five’s “Moves Like Jaeger.”  This is definitely one of the best releases of 2016.  I can’t believe this amazing artist, whose previous biggest hits were in the 1980’s, had not published any music in more than a decade.  Welcome back Janey!

Recommendation:  Whatever you have to do, definitely get off your backside, rush to your favorite retailer/online music source and GET THIS CD!


Artist NameMitch Hayes

Album NameHeroes


Genre:  Singer-Songwriter/Folk/Americana

Track Listing:  1.  Look at You; 2.  The Hardest Thing; 3.  All my Heroes; 4.  Hand of the Devil; 5.  All Fall Down; 6.  Home Again; 7.  Helping Hand; 8.  Ashes & Dust (Erin’s song); 9.  A Peaceful Revolution; 10.  Life Goes On; 11.  Something Deep Within; 12.  Home Again (reprise) 

Publicist:  Doug Deutsch Publicity Services

Review:  Mitch Hayes is a man of many talents and a cancer survivor, which has added an edge to his amazing voice that can still deliver a powerful message in song.  His lyrics are so well written that they instantly connect to the listener, in part because the musical accompaniment is perfectly suited to each song.  These songs make you think and reflect, especially “All my Heroes.”  This is the perfect album for your relaxation and meditation time, as it gives you perfect food for thought.  So glad you survived your cancer scare, Mitch.  The world needs more artists like you.  Best tracks include “Look at You,” “All My Heroes,” “Home Again,” and “A Peaceful Revolution.”

Recommendation:  If you’re a Tom Waits and/or Americana fan, then you should definitely Get it.  It’s truly worth the listen.


Artist NameKari Kimmel

Album NamePoppyfields

Label:  Rykim Records

Genre:  Pop/Rock

Track Listing:  1.  Keep Shinin On; 2.  Nothing you Could Do; 3.  One Foot out the Door; 4.  For Anyone; 5.  Just the way I Like; 6.  Feel Alive; 7.  Over It; 8.  Every Second; 9.  Undercover; 10.  One in a Million; 11.  Everybody has to Fall 

Publicist:  none

Review:  Kari Kimmel may not be as well known as other pop icons like Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson or Pink, but her songs are no less powerful.  In addition, this DIY master has had her music placed in more than 600 movies and televisions shows, and has consistently been ranked among the Top 50 artists on VH-1.  Her latest effort, Poppyfields (named after her daughter) is by far her best to date.  From the first note of “Keep Shinin,” a serious power ballad, it explodes with a sound that is so much better than most of the music you hear on today’s Top 40 stations.  “One Foot out the Door” is so sassy and fun, I bet Pink is jealous that she didn’t record it.   Although this album is perfect from start to finish, our favorites are “Keep Shinin,” “One Foot Out the Door,” “For Anyone,” “Just the Way I Like,” and “Every Second.”

Recommendation:  If you love an artist that consistently puts out amazing music and has achieved a similar level of success to many label-driven pop artists, all while doing it by herself, then you would be a fool not to rush out and Get It.  We are sure you will be putting this one on repeat.