Tag Archives: New York

‘M’ is for Mahoney & the Moment

18 Sep

In what is a first for our ever growing list of wonderful Alphabet Bands, we indulge in a little alliteration with our latest entry. We have come to know them colloquially within the office as M&M, though they resemble neither chocolate treats nor a bleach blonde rapper, Mahoney & the Moment are actually a melodic folk duo hailing from both New York and London.

Emily Moment (New York) met Steve Mahoney (London) in the Big Apple back in 2011 when she entered a folk and bluegrass competition he had organised. ”I won the competition”, Emily explained to us. ”we had a discussion, he was almost finishing his album ‘When You Least Expect’ and he said ‘you know I really need a girl’s voice on a certain song, I think I wanna try something’”. That impromptu recording session led to some live performances together, working together on each other’s solo stuff, and eventually, organically, the band came together.

The result is some of the most charming folk-pop we’ve ever heard. It radiates a warmth and compassion like a mother’s hug, sweeping you up into its arms. Emily is blessed with a voice that could light up a room and Steve’s isn’t too shabby either. On their eponymous album, lead vocals are alternated between the two, an approach born out of their song writing style so far.

Having worked as solo artists before joining forces, the pair both brought quite a bit of material with them which the other has been able to help refine. Old tracks have been dusted off and given new life, Emily adding piano and harmony to a song Steve wrote five years previously for example. With the wealth of material they had to work from, their initial process has effectively been to compliment and flesh out what they each had. It’s an approach that both feel has worked so far and helped keep them moving forward. Emily confesses that working as a solo artist can be boring while Steve enjoys the diversity the pairing has brought to each other’s sound. ”My songs are quite poppy and folky”, he tell us, ”and Emily’s are a bit more stylish, a bit more cool”.

There is no sense of a disconnection within the album though, the coming together of two differing musical styles hasn’t proved difficult for the listener, and if anything it has resulted in an extremely cohesive sound. The tracks flow smoothly from one to another, like lovers finishing one another’s sentences. Moving forward, they say, the writing is also becoming a little more collective, Emily giving lyrical input to compositions, Steve finessing structure, the pair trading verses as new material comes together.

The sound too could well be getting a little bigger, when we meet in the shadow of the giant TV screens in Hyde Park just as the Olympic hullaballoo was about to explode across the nation, they are due to meet with some potential new band members in the afternoon. Indeed since we spoke, a new drummer and bassist have been recruited and a handful of shows have been played as a full band. It’s something they had in New York and were keen to recreate now they are based in London, especially as they plan to take the Mahoney & The Moment show on the road soon and show Emily what the north of England looks like. She’s excited and so are we as we know just how good the two of them are on their own. Tomorrow you can see the first of two tracks the pair very kindly performed in session for us, amongst the rain and the students in Hyde Park.

Mahoney & The Moment, the band’s album, is available now from their Bandcamp page either digitally or on CD in the excitedly named, Party Bag Edition.

Stalk Mahoney & The Moment
Facebook / SoundCloud / ReverbNation / YouTube

‘B’ is for Rebecca Brandt

17 Jul

So far, across the various artists we have featured as Alphabet Bands, we have covered a number of different musical styles. There exists a common thread that runs through each one though, regardless of genre or aural predilection. That thread is one of undeniable talent and ability to make music that is really quite special. It runs through our latest member of the fabled Alphabet as well, as does our eclectic love of multiple genres.

We must confess, when New York-based composer Rebecca Brandt emailed a few months back to draw our attention to her debut album, Numbers & Shapes, her correspondence very nearly drowned in the swell of submissions we receive. The mail found its way back to the surface somehow, clinging to flotsam and jetsam until we retrieved it, dried it off and sat down to hear its tale. Since then her album of 14 original instrumental compositions has made itself at home on our stereo, delighting us time and again with soaring cinematic soundscapes, delicate piano melodies and percussion that will get under your skin.

That it seems cinematic in places is no accident. Brandt also writes and scores for film and multimedia projects from across the globe and there are a number of tracks that feel as though they should accompany a narrative. Be it at the ballet, theatre or cinema, her work has an unquestionable visual quality, regardless of the genre she has chosen to work in. For, while the pieces on offer have been orchestrated for over 30 instruments and Rebecca herself is a classically trained pianist, they do not exist exclusively within the realm of traditional classical music. Her influences are varied and wide-ranging and each track draws on different aspects. Jazz, electronica, rock, ambient, each feature to varying degrees and all play their part in the careful craftsmanship of a series of tracks, each one with a unique identity yet they feel as one with the other 13.

The individuality of the tracks could cause the album to take on the mannerisms of a rollercoaster ride, pitching and hurling the listener from style to style, purposefully dropping and swinging, making stomachs churn and head’s swim. Not so, the styles and sounds may vary to a degree but the turns are not violent, the drops are not dramatic and the listener is caressed, not hurled along.

It is easy to get lost in hyperbole when discussing an album such as this, and we are not exactly shy when it comes to hyperbole at the best of times, but it is also easy to get lost in the strings, in the intricate piano melodies, in the soft woodwind, in the vibrant rhythms and in the collective dreaminess that is Numbers & Shapes.

Stalk Rebecca Brandt
Bandcamp / Website / Facebook / Twitter