Borne from the darkness of 2020, “Hail Mary” provides hope

While the pandemic largely shut down the music industry in 2020, Kieran Lancini remained hard at work. His first single of 2021, “Hail Mary,” was co-written with Phil Barton during the dark days of lockdown.

“I, like everyone else, was feeling quite low during the pandemic with the daily deaths rising, feeling completely helpless. I found myself trying to make sense of it all—searching really quite deep in myself to remain positive and see that light at the end of the tunnel. This is what this song is about: hope, and finding that inner strength which I call a ‘miracle’ to make it through, and not being afraid to shout out to the universe that you need a bit of help.”

And when Lancini was feeling low, he reached out to Phil Barton; the two wrote “Hail Mary” over Zoom in under an hour. Barton, who previously wrote the No. 1 US hit “A Woman Like You” (Lee Brice), was introduced to Lancini 20 years ago after Lancini won Australian Star Maker. The two immediately hit it off and proved to have a prolific working relationship, writing an average of ten songs a week. After three years of collaboration, Lancini moved to London and put his music career on hold until last year, when he released two singles: “The Reason,” which reached #2 in the UK and #15 on the Australian iTunes Country Chart, and “I Need You,” which reached #7 on the UK iTunes Chart and #9 on Australia Country Radio. For both songs, Lancini worked with Barton.

“We know each other so well that the writing process with him is very easy and laid back. The man is a songwriting genius!”

Barton and Lancini certainly make a strong songwriting team, as evidenced by “Hail Mary,” available now for pre-order with an April 8 release date. The two managed to capture the atmosphere of 2020 and produce a song that acknowledges the spectrum of emotions brought on by the tumultuous year, from desperation and resignation to hope. As we attempt to get back to “normal” in fits and starts, this feels like a song that can give us the strength we need to make it through to the end.

Connect with Kieran on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram.

Rising stars in the UK: Princes to Kings

The UK-based band Princes to Kings is made up of three brothers from Hertfordshire, just outside London, who started the band to raise awareness for epilepsy, as their eldest brother Luke suffers from a severe condition and lives in care. Princes to Kings regularly puts on shows to raise money for epilepsy research and support. What’s more, their logo is purple, inspired by the national epilepsy awareness day, “Purple Day.” The brothers are just as committed to raising awareness as they are to making music. These boys are solid role models with talent, drive, and a penchant for doing good for the community. Read more about them in the new issue of Alke Magazine and follow P2K to keep up with these incredible brothers! A portion of proceeds from sales of Issue 1 of Alke Magazine will benefit Epilepsy Society, the UK’s leading charity for epilepsy research and support.

One year since the release of Charlotte Young’s “Whiplash” comes the acoustic version

She may have spent the last several months in lockdown, but Charlotte Young, the critically acclaimed, chart-topping country singer-songwriter from Birmingham, UK, certainly kept busy. To celebrate one year since the release of her song “Whiplash,” which tells the tale of an indecisive love, Charlotte is releasing an incredible, special acoustic version of the track recorded entirely in lockdown. You already know that we’re big fans of Charlotte’s music–and this is more proof as to why. Pre-Order and pre-save from Monday, March 22. Release: Monday, April 5. Connect with Charlotte on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube.

New fashion and culture magazine seeks to help artists of all kinds find strength from darkness – portion of proceeds to benefit MusiCares®, the leading music charity, founded by The Recording Academy

Alke Magazine is a new, international fashion, music, and entertainment magazine from New York-based publishing house Bent Frame Publishing. It was initially conceived as a way to help those in the arts find a purpose during quarantine, and the inaugural issue of Alke Magazine showcases the work of individuals across the entire spectrum of the arts.

The first issue is deemed “Strength,” which is a trait foundational to any artistic endeavor. It features exclusive interviews and profiles of global powerhouses such as musician and fashion scion Edo Ferragamo; Staatsballett Berlin Prima Ballerina Iana Salenko; Infected Mushroom album cover artist and digital artist Anton Semenov (Army of Mushrooms); rising UK-based group Princes to Kings; acclaimed actress, musician, and model Kaitlin Puccio; and LA-based fashion designer Anthony Hamdan Djendeli, who initially contributed his talents to Givenchy, Balmain, Chloé, Sonia Rykiel, and Saint Laurent before launching his own luxury fashion line amidst the pandemic.

A portion of proceeds from sales will be donated to MusiCares®, a charity that helps the humans behind music because music gives so much to the world. Offering preventive, emergency, and recovery programs, MusiCares is a safety net supporting the health and welfare of the music community. Alke Magazine is available now for purchase on Follow Alke @alkemagazine on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Country duo Adele & Andy take storytelling to another level

You’re ten seconds in, and you’ve been completely transported.

This is what “Misty Eyes,” the new single from award-winning country duo Adele & Andy, will do. It sets out to tell a story, and winds up doing much more.

At its core, “Misty Eyes” is about a young girl trading her ideas about fairy-tale romances for acceptance after a string of bad relationships. As the lyrics written by this duo are generally based on personal experience, we’re not surprised by the high-emotion performances captured on this track.

When listening to “Misty Eyes,” you might feel as though you’ve been absorbed into a fully formed world, complete with its own time and atmosphere. Andy’s skillful guitar playing sets the scene from the outset, even before Adele’s strong yet dulcet vocals take the stage. The composition itself is impressive enough, but the performances of Andy and Adele take the song to the next level.

It is a departure from their previous releases “Say It Out Loud” and “Took His Love Away” (which we reviewed here) in that “Misty Eyes” blends the traditional ballad style with a country-rock sound. The synergy between the lyrics, melody, and vocals renders this new sound one that we can’t get enough of.

We’re big fans of Adele & Andy, and have been listening to their tracks on repeat. This duo truly stands out. Keep an eye on them—they’re set to shape the next wave of country-rock.

“Misty Eyes” is out January 22. Pre-order via the iTunes Store and pre-save on Spotify, and connect with Adele & Andy on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Hicktown Breakout found their sound with “Lost Myself”

UK-based country-rock band Hicktown Breakout is no stranger to success. The band was nominated for UK Country Group of the Year 2020, and their self-titled debut EP reached #36 in the all-genre UK Album Chart. Their single, “Get Your Boots On” (which we loved and reviewed here), has already gained 10,000 streams on Spotify. These guys know how to deliver good music.

We had an opportunity to listen to the rest of their upcoming EP, and were far from disappointed.

The title track of their EP, “Lost Myself,” is about a man re-evaluating his life after a major breakup. If you just read the lyrics, you might expect a soft, slow ballad—and the song might get lost in a sea of other sad breakup ballads. But Hicktown Breakout takes a different approach, and it proves why they are worthy of their early success.

The instrumentals are fun and upbeat, which makes this particular breakup song more than just “a good song”—it shines a light on the positive side of moving on from a bad relationship. “We want to show the band’s ‘fun and serious’ side with this EP, bringing together a mix of beer-fueled floor fillers and thought-provoking ballads.”

Amazingly, “Lost Myself” achieves that goal in a single, four-minute track. This is the kind of deliberate songwriting that takes bands to the next level. The song establishes what it is from the very beginning, and expertly carries the listener to the end after cresting in instrumental, beer-hall danceability roughly halfway through. We can’t wait to hear what these guys sound like live.

This is the right way to start 2021, and we’re psyched to hear more from this talented five-piece band.

Hicktown Breakout’s new EP is out January 15, and is available for pre-order now. Follow them on FacebookInstagram, and visit their website for confirmed gigs.

We need a party song in 2020, and Hicktown Breakout is the one to give it to us

We’ve all had the experience—you’re out somewhere and music starts playing. Almost instantly, after just a few bars (and maybe a few beers), the room goes wild. Everyone knows what song is about to play, and it’s everyone’s “jam.”

It would be unsurprising if this turned out to be the fate of Hicktown Breakout’s upcoming release, “Get Your Boots On.” After just a few seconds, we’re hooked, and the next time we hear the song’s intro we’ll be jumping up to turn our living rooms into dance floors.

Hicktown Breakout is a Bristol-based, five-piece band that has been nominated as UK Country Group of the Year 2020. The band’s self-titled debut EP reached #36 in the all-genre UK Album Chart, leading Hicktown Breakout to appear on BBC Radio and BBC Live Lounge, as well as on radio stations across Australia, Europe, and the USA. And it’s no wonder—people everywhere are still struggling with everything that 2020 has delivered, and we all need something a little more upbeat to close out the year.

“It’s been a very challenging year for everyone across the globe. We wanted people to listen to Get Your Boots On and try and forget about the negativity out there and give listeners a sense of fun and positive feeling that the good times are ahead.”

Indeed, “fun” is exactly what this song embodies. There is no way that you can listen to “Get Your Boots On” and not have a good time. What makes this anthem particularly engaging is the seamless blend of country and rock, and the boundary-pushing, exciting sound may be a result of the musical background of the individual bandmembers.

“We’ve got a real mix of talent in the band. Some members have had some formal training and others completely self-taught. This is what makes Hicktown Breakout a great place to create music, we have absolutely no rules to adhere to…”

“Get Your Boots On” will be available on December 7—and this masterful jam is just an appetizer for what’s to come on the band’s January 2021 EP.

Be sure to keep an eye out for Hicktown Breakout’s 2021 UK tour as well. We can only imagine how good Hicktown Breakout would be playing “Get Your Boots On” live. It’s a song meant for a party, and it seems like this band can really deliver. “[W]e can create a very big live sound. Our lead singer knows how to control the stage and get the audience engaged…all the band members are driven by live gigging and the elation of seeing fans jumping, dancing, and singing your songs back to you—there’s nothing else like it!”

Follow Hicktown Breakout on Facebook, Instagram, and visit their website for confirmed gigs.

Unsigned artists collaborate to raise money for MIND mental health charity

2020 has been a tough year for everyone. Some individuals have suffered even more deeply than is even fathomable. This is why Scarlet River and Country Chat with Dom have partnered with eight unsigned artists from across the world to record a collaborative single, “I Won’t Forget to Miss You.” All money from fundraising and pre-orders starting Friday, November 13 will go directly to MIND mental health charity. With the holidays coming up and the pandemic still wreaking havoc, this is certainly a worthy cause.

Songwriter Tyler Spicer explains, “’I Won’t Forget to Miss You’ encapsulates the global and universal sentiments that we’ve all felt during this pandemic: those of missing family, those of separation from loved ones, and those of trying to find a sense of normality in the face of mass change. I hope this single can bring together our collective experience for both positive, active change, and to heal and unify us all, wherever we are, no matter how far apart…”

The incredible individuals who have devoted time and energy to this project are: Emma Moore, Kyle Elliott, Brittany McLamb, Emilia Quinn, Charlotte Young, Georgia Nevada, Daniel Borge, Bob Fitzgerald, Tyler Spicer, Dom Crooke & Rachel Sellick.

PRE-SAVE to support.

Britta Pejic delivers a psychedelic wonder of a track

Britta Pejic’s music is a paradox. Her sound is completely unique and familiar at the same time, and we can’t get enough.

Pejic’s newly released track, “Sebago Lumbago,” is a throwback to the psychedelic 60s, but with a modern spin. While Pejic has had no formal music training, music is in her blood. Her grandfather was a jazz musician and an engineer, and her mother was a dancer. Growing up, Pejic explored the myriad exotic instruments that she found in her grandfather’s basement, which no doubt informed the development of her intriguing musical sound. She describes her new song as “sweet yet unsettling,” and we completely agree; indeed, that’s precisely what makes the song impossible to turn off. Pejic presents an auditory mystery with “Sebago Lumbago,” and it’s thoroughly magnetic.

The instrumentals give the track a dreamlike quality with unapologetic vocals. The song is urgent, energetic, and even a bit spooky, to a degree. It’s certainly not a song to listen to just once—you’ll feel like something was ripped away prematurely when it ends, and will keep playing it on repeat to try to figure out the enigmatic message hidden behind its juxtapositions.

“I think conflicting combinations intrigue listeners because they can’t be ignored. And they resurface at the end and escort the listener out. I’ve always loved songs that I never wanted to end. Very bittersweet. It’s that feeling of not wanting to be left behind, but sadly the song has to leave.”

We definitely feel like we’re chasing after the track when it ends. It’s a musical whirlwind, and we want to be smack in the center of it.

Check out Britta Pejic on Instagram and Facebook, and listen to “Sebago Lumbago” on Spotify.

Charlotte Young has already hit #1, but she won’t stop there

Charlotte Young has already had a #1 single and a #1 EP. Her debut single “Whiplash” reached #1 in the UK Country iTunes Chart and the Euro Academy of Country Music Chart. Her accompanying debut EP “Blown Away” debuted at #1 in the UK Country iTunes Album Chart. But she’s not ready to sit back on her success just yet. Her new single, ‘Praying for Rain,’ is out November 20, and it’s powerful.

You might think that “Praying for Rain” is a melancholy track. Someone who prays for rain might be holding onto sadness, and wish for their surroundings to match their feelings. But Young takes a different approach: “Praying for rain” is a metaphor for things washing away and all your worries dissolving.” Indeed, the track is hopeful, and Young somehow created a world where listeners can actually hear that hope against a backdrop of difficult times. It’s easy to picture a scenario that would have inspired the song. This is the power of skillful songwriting.

The chorus is certainly the highlight of the track, painting an extraordinarily detailed picture of an entire relationship in just a few measures. The yearning to have worries and difficulties wash away is infinitely relatable, and it’s delivered in the most impressive of ways. With crisp, emotional guitar riffs and confident, smoky vocals, we wouldn’t be surprised to discover that “Praying for Rain” is another #1 track for Young. It is, through and through, a beautiful song.

Connect with Charlotte on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube, and count the seconds until the song’s release on November 20. You don’t want to miss it.