Tag Archives | pop

Album Review: Daphne Willis | FREAKS LIKE ME

Daphne Willis; Dopamine; Pop Artist; Nashville; Songwriter; NAMI; Mental Health; PTSD; Somebody’s Someone

Daphne Willis is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with in the pop space with her album, Freaks Like Me. Throughout the album, Daphne takes us on a trip of different stories that motivate listeners to climb out of dark areas in their life, remember that  they are cared about, and to keep going no matter how bad the ups and downs are in life. As a whole, Daphne describes this project as the most exhilarating & vulnerable work that she has ever created. Musically speaking, Daphne mixes numerous different sounds and instruments that make the music appealing to a wide range of people.

From the big band and symphonic elements to the guitar strums, you never know what sound you’ll get on the next track. A few stand outs include, “Out of the Black”, “Keep on Keepin’ On” and her viral single “Somebody’s Someone”.

“Out of the Black” is a prideful hit about overcoming the shadows of depression and enjoying all that life has to offer–without medication. It’s a great anthem for anyone that has had struggles with mental illness.

“Keep on Keepin’ On” is an upbeat, energetic tune infused with some great brass instrumentals that are complemented by Daphne’s thoughtful, poetic lyrics. It’s a celebratory song about persevering through difficult times and the strength drawn from the people around you.

“Somebody’s Someone” is a slower, heartfelt melody encouraging listeners to know that they’re loved and valued–it’s probably the one that has resonated the most with her listeners.

Overall, Freaks Like Me is a unique journey through the last few years of Daphne’s life, that anyone can connect with. It’s incredibly honest and raw, with Daphne pouring her heart out in the lyrics and melodies. Daphne shows incredible promise and proves why she is certainly one to watch in the pop music genre.

Listen to the album here.

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Powerhouse Vocalist, Lara Johnston, Performs At AURORA Nashville

Lara Johnston performing at AURORA Nashville.
Photo credit: Patrice Majors

California native and powerhouse vocalist, Lara Johnston, recently performed a full band show on April 26th at the beautiful AURORA Nashville hosted by Caroline Hobby from Nashville Insider and “The Amazing Race”.

With her soulful pop sound and a voice reminiscent of today’s music greats like Kelly Clarkson or Pink, Johnston entertained a packed audience inside the AURORA Nashville studio while streaming live to an audience around the country through the AURORA site.

Johnston, just recently off the road after a world tour as backing vocalist for the iconic Don Henley, is confident, entertaining and takes full command of the stage.

Photo credit: Patrice Majors

Her songs are full of soul with her own pop mixture added and inspired by her musical influences of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and many more Motown musical greats.

This is an artist to watch and one to see live as she delivers her original tunes with such an incredibly-strong voice that very few can muster.  Certainly a standout and a cut above many young artists today as she basically delivers what can only be described as a masterclass of voice & overall performance as she takes the stage.

She is a seasoned and polished performer who should be a household name already.  Think only time will tell for this star in the making who is making a buzz in Nashville.

Watch for her new album to be released very soon.

Lara Johnston and band pose with Caroline Hobby and staff member of AURORA Nashville following performance.
Photo credit: Patrice Majors


About AURORA Nashville

AURORA Nashville, a division of renowned audio and technology company THIEL Audio, is an entertainment solutions provider that combines award-winning production with today’s digital world for the ultimate fan experience.  AURORA Nashville owns and operates a state-of-the-art 4K Ultra HD production studio in downtown Nashville that provides a truly customizable experience.  From premiere live stream concerts to sit-down interviews, record release parties and industry events, the studio is the perfect venue for artists to connect with their fans with high-quality content.  It is also home to their own weekly live-stream concert series AURORA Live, which has featured artists such as Kane Brown, Lauren Alaina, Muddy Magnolias, Rhonda Vincent, Jerrod Niemann and many more.

About Lara Johnston

Lara Johnston is emerging as one of pop music’s most dynamic voices.

She is friendly, optimistic and driven to succeed, whether she’s performing her captivating music, touring the world as a singer in Don Henley’s band, or collaborating with Nashville’s songwriting community.

On her new EP recorded in Nashville and Los Angeles, Lara taps into her own personal and professional experiences while drawing on the R&B influences that shaped her musical aspirations.

“When I’m writing, it always reflects what I’m going through at that time,” she says. “This has definitely been a time of change for me. I’ve written and experimented with a lot of different sounds. All of them are extensions of what I love, and now I have music that I’m excited to share.”

Lara plans to release new music in the summer of 2017.

Get to know this dynamic, new artist in this video: https://youtu.be/qNKm3UI3QeQ



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A Closer Look @ Sister Hazel As They Discuss Their 13th Studio Album, Live Performance DVD

We sat down recently with the platinum-selling band, Sister Hazel, as they discuss their newest release and 13th studio album in the video interview below.

Here’s a little throwback and my personal favorite pop hit of theirs when they first came on the music scene.



In their second showing on the country music charts this year, platinum-selling band, Sister Hazel, makes another strong debut with the stunning 14-track live performance DVD, “Unplugged From Daryl’s House Club,” which features their classic hits and new offerings for a one-of-a-kind intimate live experience. The album debuted at #75 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart.

In February, Sister Hazel debuted “Lighter In The Dark” at #4 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, #6 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart, #30 on Billboard’s Top Current Albums chart and #79 on the Billboard 200 album chart. First week sales of the new CD were 8,352 units.

Commenting on this year’s success of two Billboard charting albums, Ken Block, Sister Hazel’s lead singer said, “It’s crazy exciting to us that we’ve had TWO new CD’s on the Billboard charts is less than a year! Huge thanks to all the Hazelnuts – And especially to all the new fans out there who are just now discovering Sister Hazel’s music, live shows, and our signature events. We’re having a Blast!”

For more information on Sister Hazel visit http://www.sisterhazel.com. Follow Sister Hazel @SisterHazelBand, Instagram/sisterhazelband and Facebook.com/SisterHazel. **Suggested Tweet: @SisterHazelBand Debuts on Billboard Country Albums Chart at #75 with #Unplugged @DarylsHouseClub and at #4 with “Lighter in the Dark”


Originating from Gainesville, FL, Sister Hazel is comprised of five gifted, seasoned musicians whose well-spring of natural talent has been called “one of the Top 100 Most Influential Independent Performers of the last 15 years” by Performing Songwriter Magazine. Song “All for You” topped the adult alternative charts during the summer of 1997 and the success propelled their album to platinum status. Sister Hazel has been equally attentive to connecting with their audience through social media. In their first showing on the country music charts they made a strong debut with “Lighter In The Dark” at #4 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, #6 on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart, #30 on Billboard’s Top Current Albums chart and #79 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Living up to their fan-centered reputation, the band hosts annual events like “Hazelnut Hang,” that focuses on fan involvement and are co-founders of the “Rockboat,” a cruise featuring nonstop opportunities for fan/artist interaction. In addition to the events and touring, the band also gives back with “Lyrics For Life.” Founded by singer Ken Block, the charity unites musicians and celebrities for concerts and auctions to benefit cancer research and patient-care charities.

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Album Review: Nobody Is Ok By This Is She

Well, this is a little change of pace from the music we primarily focus on at FOCUS on the 615, which is usually country.  However, good music is just good music and if it’s coming out of Nashville, we will let you know about it if it catches our ears!

This Is She is a rock/pop/electronic/dance band based out of Los Angeles, California with a Nashville connection in lead singer, Alana Grace.  I’ve written about Alana as a solo artist, then when she was part of the group: TOY, now part of This Is She that is made up of 3 of the 4 members from TOY.  Ok, confused already? Don’t be! Just a name change, but same type music if you enjoyed TOY.

This Is She was introduced to a large Nashville audience most recently during the 4th of July celebration at Riverfront Park last month where they were met with rave reviews.  Their music can best be described as a mix of darkly-influenced melodies & lyrics blended with pop, rock, electronic, and dance influences.  You’ll even hear a little dubstep in the mix from time to time.  Led by Alana Grace whose vocals are most reminiscent of Amy Lee from Evanescence.  She is joined by lead guitarist, Christian Paul Meadows, and Ryan Folden on drums, who were both formerly of the band, After Midnight Project.

Check out their video below that was recently featured on the MTV Buzzworthy site:

With their debut EP release entitled Nobody Is Ok, you’ll find a mix of hauntingly-beautiful clear vocals mixed with the darkly-rooted melodies & lyrical themes intertwined with the pulsating constant rhythms, electronic additions/textures, and ambitious guitar licks.  This is not your bubblegum pop, but something that is more refined and geared towards an audience that wants a little more than just a simply good dance beat and simple lyrics that seem to dominate so much of the pop charts lately.  For example, they would not appeal to the same audience that enjoys “Call Me Maybe”.  I would say that a college crowd would be more attuned and appreciative of their music.

My favorite off the album is “Disobey”.  It’s dark, edgy, uptempo with a constant driving rhythm. This one has me hitting the repeat button often.

Check This Is She out at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thisisshemusic and you can buy their music on iTunes.

Rated 5 out of 5 stars

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A Closer Look @ TOY: Episode 3

TOYHere’s the 3rd episode in the continuing interview series about pop/rock band, TOY, entitled “A Closer Look @ TOY”.  Featuring live performance clips along with the video interview.

Find out more about TOY at: www.toymusicbox.com.

See these other related articles about TOY:



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10 Questions With Yellowire

YellowireI had the pleasure of hearing for the first time, Yellowire, at BMI’s “Jingle Ball” showcase on Monday, December 5th. Yellowire is an incredibly talented indy rock band that came all the way from England. All that I know is there was just something magical when they took the stage that made me want to learn more about them! I think if I had to describe their music, I would say a cross between U2, Beck, and Robbie Williams.  Definitely worth a listen!

Yellowire is comprised of Ol Beach (vocals, piano, guitar), Jim Board (guitar), Billy Brimblecom/Adrian Meehan (drums), Greg Lafollette/Simone Butler (bass).

Want to learn more about Yellowire??? Sure you do! Be sure to check out their video and interview below.  Also, find them at their website: www.yellowire.co.uk

Interview With Lead Singer, Ol Beach:

1) Where is your band based out of?

“The band is based mainly out of London.
We all come from different parts of the UK and London is the meeting point now.”

2) How did you come up with the name of your band?

“I was on tour in South Africa supporting Robbie Williams. I met a masseuse with spiritual connections. She told me that was my bands name. I didn’t want to argue.”


Ol Beach of Yellowire

3) When was your band formed and how did you get together?

We’ve been playing together for a few years now. It’s a very organic process and such a small world of musicians here the line up has been constantly evolving. Everything keeps growing and moving forward. The last dates we had in the US were with a drummer and bass player from Nashville who we met through people. We had one rehearsal and it felt like we’d been playing together for years. I’d be very excited to work with those guys again.”

4) How would you describe your music?

“Indy rock.”

5) Musical influences?

“Influences that go all the way back. The great early players had so much going on. They are very inspiring. We’re just listening and learning all the time. I saw Rachael Yamagata play the other day, she taught me some beautiful lessons.”

6) Do you write your own music?


7) Any plans for touring?

“Hopefully we’re going to be touring again in the US around March 2012. But we’re looking at some recording in Nashville before then so we might try and have one or two gigs during that time as well. In a perfect world.”

8) New music in the works? When being released and where can people buy?

“We are releasing our album in the US next year. You can pre download it from our website and also i-tunes in the US.”

9) Anything exciting in the works for you coming up in the near future?

“We had a great time doing these dates [Jingle Ball] and hopefully after talking with everybody there will be more to come.”

10) Message to your fans?

“Spread the word and have a great Christmas!”


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A Closer Look @ TOY: Episode 2

TOYWell, I’m on a roll lately and pumping out these articles. Let’s continue with the video series “A Closer Look @ TOY”! I think you’ll like this pop/rock band.  You’ll have to forgive my camerawork during the interview part.  I couldn’t seem to keep it steady! lol

Anyway, check out TOY in the video below.  Also, find their website  at: www.toymusicbox.com and interact with them on their Facebook page, too: www.facebook.com/officialtoymusic

Related articles:



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Album Review: TOY’s Self-Titled Debut Release

Hands down across all genres, my absolute favorite album of the year is this debut release from newly-formed pop/rock band,  TOY.  It has literally NOT left my car cd player since I got it Monday night until now when I have to look at it to make sure that I’ve got everything right from it for this review.

Rarely does an album come along that grabs you and takes hold of you like this one! How do I begin to describe it and do it the justice that it deserves? If you take the best parts of Evanescence, Lady Gaga, and Florence & The Machine, then created something new and original from those musical influences, you would then have TOY.  At least, what I think best describes them! They are high energy, dance, rock, pop, electronic with a dark, edgy sound.

TOY is comprised of 4 members: Alana Grace (lead vocals, guitar, keys), Spencer Bastian (guitar, bass, vocals), Christian Meadows (lead guitar), and Ryan Folden (drums).   For more in-depth information on TOY, please see this article: http://focusonthe615.com/2011/12/10/a-closer-look-toy-episode-1-and-welcome-matt-williams-to-the-site/

All songs on the album are original and written by TOY.

Full Track List:

1) “Uh Oh”:  This one put me most in mind of Lady Gaga, but they aren’t trying to imitate.  Uptempo, dancy, edgy.

2) “Ghost”:  Dark, uptempo, and my favorite lyrically.  One of my favorites overall.  I can listen to this one over and over without tiring.

3) “Give It To Me”: Again, uptempo, high energy…another that I don’t tire of hearing.  Best listened to in the car where you can crank if WAY up and not disturb the neighbors!

4) “Music Box”:  Dark, melodic, and hard rock edginess at it’s best.

5) “Traffic Signs”:  This one starts with a lot of electronic adds and build-up to the actual song. Very dark and edgy.  Almost a tribal sound.  Enthralling–lyrically and musically.

6) “Flying High”:  My absolute favorite off this album! Uptempo, electronic, dance, rock…builds up to a frenzy.  Even better live! Watch the video of this below and listen to the crowd being built into a frenzy midway through as they scream with excitement.

7) “Night Hunters”:  This one makes me want to get up and dance.  Seriously, there’s not a weak one on the album.  Not one!

The only downside for me was I wanted MORE than 7 songs on this album.  It’s just that good! It left me wanting much more and I want to see them live again soon.  They are riveting, charismatic, high energy, and a breath of fresh air.  If you like pure and powerful vocals mixed with excellent musicianship, deep & thought-provoking writing, then TOY is for you! THIS is a band that is better experienced live.  The album is GREAT, the live show will blow you away! It is like a tidal wave of energy flowing over the room when they take the stage.  Your attention will be captured and held until they leave the stage, which you don’t want to happen.  This band is going places!

Anyway, my point is GET THE ALBUM! Request it from their site and if they come to a town near you, GO! You won’t be disappointed! Enough said.

For more information and to connect with TOY, please go to their website at: www.toymusicbox.comYou can also find them on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/officialtoymusic

Rated 5 out of 5 stars.  An absolute must-have!

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