After devoting my previous two Fresh New Tracks posts to artists and bands from the UK, I’m back in America to shine my spotlight on three great new singles by four acts I’m particularly fond of – The Orphan The Poet, Gooseberry and Brian Lambert & Marc Schuster. So, without further ado…
THE ORPHAN THE POET – “Feelin’ Good (Could Be Better)”
Alternative pop-rock duo The Orphan The Poet are one of the most delightful acts I’ve come across in a while. Based in Columbus, Ohio, they consist of vocalist and guitarist David Eselgroth and bassist Jake Floyd, both lifelong friends. With a winning combination of irrepressible charm, high energy and zany playfulness, they leave a trail of joy and color in their wake. Plus they make some pretty terrific music too! I first featured them on a previous Fresh New Tracks post in February 2021 when I reviewed their electrifying single “The Moxie”. Now they’re back with a new single “Feelin’ Good (Could Be Better)“, and it’s catchy, upbeat and fun, which is what their music is all about.
Written and recorded by David and Jake, with assistance from their producer and long-time collaborator Matthew Bach Squire, and musician Jacob Virgil, the song is about feeling generally okay about your life, but not allowing yourself to settle, instead always striving to do and be better: “Don’t stop, now or never / Call up my fortune teller / On top, but it’s whatever / Feelin’ good, but could be better.” Musically, the song is an exuberant stomper, with bouncy riffs, driving bass and snappy drums, accompanied throughout by a jaunty organ riff that adds some great texture. David’s fervent vocals, backed by his and Jake’s soaring harmonies, dial up the song’s overall energy.
The guys will soon be embarking on a national U.S. tour with Weathers and Moontower, so click here for dates and cities.
GOOSEBERRY – “Broken Dance”
And speaking of irrepressible charm, Brooklyn, New York-based Gooseberry have it in spades. Formed in 2019, and comprised of Asa Daniels (guitar/vocals), Sam Rappaport (keyboards/vocals), Will Hammond (bass) and Evin Rossington (drums), together they blend indie rock, R&B and light jazz to create their own distinctive sound that’s both incredibly pleasing and sophisticated. And having two lead singers is another big plus, as both Asa and Sam have wonderful voices. I first learned about them late last summer when Sam followed me on Instagram, and I quickly became a fan of both him and Gooseberry. Their immense talent, strong charisma and playful sense of humor won me over. Besides, how can you not love these guys after seeing this photo of them with their heads together?
I wrote about Sam last November when I reviewed his terrific solo single “Journeyman’s Ballet”, and am now thrilled to feature Gooseberry’s new single “Broken Dance“. Their fifth single, it follows “Sleep”, which they released only a month ago, and is the title track from their forthcoming debut EP Broken Dance. (“Sleep” recently debuted on my Weekly Top 30, and is assured to have a long run.) It’s beautiful and contemplative, with a languid, jazzy vibe, highlighted by Sam’s lovely, melancholic piano keys and pensive, beguiling vocals, and nicely complemented by Asa’s sparkling guitar notes, Will’s subtle bass and Evin’s perfect drumbeats.
“Broken Dance” touches on ambition, failure and regret. Sam further elaborated to me: “The song is the tale of an idealistic young artist who sets off with a romantic partner to find success on the horizon. What unfolds is not only an account of the failure of those dreams (‘We tried to make it, but somehow time was taken away from me.’), but also an admission that the pursuit of those dreams came at the expense of someone else (“….and I never let you breathe…This dance, let’s break it. The dreams we shared were all mine anyway.”). [It’s basically] a song about the man who sets out to be someone, and the woman who finds herself but a prop on which to lean.” It’s another superb song from this great band on the rise.
Brian Lambert & Marc Schuster – “Kids”
Brian Lambert is an engaging, thoughtful and prolific singer-songwriter and musician based in Denton, Texas. He’s been writing and recording music for many years, and according to his bio, he’s “reinvented himself more times than he can count.” He even tried his hand at country music for a while, but came to the realization that it just wasn’t for him. More recently, he’s been making indie rock music inspired by some of his favorite acts like Spoon, Gang of Youths and the Replacements. He used to play gigs all over the DFW metroplex, but beginning in 2021, he challenged himself to writing, recording and producing a new song every week for a year.
Marc Schuster is an insanely creative and multi-talented renaissance man. Not only is he an educator, author and literary critic, he’s also a prolific songwriter and musician, recording both as a solo artist and as part of multiple music projects and collaborations with other musicians. He’s also a pretty decent visual artist, and if all that wasn’t enough, he’s also incredibly generous, funny and kind. I first got to know him several years ago through blogging (he has a terrific WordPress blog called Abominations), and he’s been among the most consistently loyal supporters of me and my blog. I’ve featured him three times on my blog, most recently last month when I reviewed his wonderful EP There Is No Down.
Supportive of other artists in his own right, Brian was recently inspired to write his latest song “Kids“, after hearing “This Can’t Be It”, a moving song by Oklahoma country singer-songwriter Matt Moran, with spare lyrics addressing the struggles of trying to make it as a musician. “Kids” further explores those struggles, urging us to hold onto our youthful sense of innocence and wonder, expressed by the lyrics “And when everything went wrong, we sang a brand new song. I want y’all to sing along, like we did when we were kids.”
After writing the song, he felt something was missing, so he reached out to Marc, asking for advice and thoughts as to whether his song needed synthesizers or something else. Marc came up with a great synth accompaniment for Brian’s fine guitar work, as well as some backing vocals that enhance Brian’s plaintive vocals, nicely filling out the song and giving it a wonderful anthemic rock vibe. I think it’s one of Brian’s best songs yet.
Marc also created a fantastic poster for the song, which Brian used for its cover art.