Indie-pop-rock band lead by songwriter and guitarist Amy Allen. Opened for Guster, Kacey Musgraves, Vance Joy, Rachel Platten and more. Debut EP Tandem Mania praised by Consequence of Sound, Huffington Post.
Stream: Amy & The Engine’s debut TandeMania EP – Consequence of Sound
Garage rockers and pop stars can coexist. Amy & The Engine are proof of this. Though the Boston scene lately has been filled with mangled guitar distortion and screaming vocals, the group of Berklee School of Music alumni have built a strong following in their hometown. Fronted by former The Voice contestant Amy Allen, the group’s love of big hooks and danceable beats has earned them recognition from VH1’s Save The Music Foundation, NYC’s CMJ Music Marathon, and the New England Music Awards.
So far they’ve accomplished all of this off of the hype of a series of singles and their thrilling live performances. Now, the group is bringing their poptimism to the masses with their debut EP, TandeMania, out today. You can stream it in its entirety below.
The six-track EP runs the gamut of pop vitality. Opener “Arrows” flourishes with jangling guitar hooks and electronic drum snaps. Chugging rhythms thrust forward the sweet and serene “Love Me” before slowing down with the acoustic driven “Patience”. The band excels just as well at their excitable anthems as they do with their sweeping ballads. It’s an ode to the potential of Top 40, reveling in every bright vocal melody and catchy chorus.
It's not every day your favorite band of all time asks you to open for them while they're on tour in your city. But when it does happen, it's pretty magical. For 13 lucky bands across the country, Guster has given them that chance. It makes a lot of sense that they give back to emerging artists, considering the Massachusetts alt rockers got their very own start inside a college dorm. Fast forward 24 years and that very same band has toured across the globe, released their seventh studio album, and are helping to make young musicians' dreams a reality.
Meet all 13 bands below and find out just why they can't wait to share the stage with Guster. Then, see why the band's drummer Brian Rosenworcel can't wait to share the stage with these 13 bands.
AMY & THE ENGINE
What is one quality that sets this band apart? Guster says...
It was Amy's voice and the way she could treat a melody. Stood out right away. All those players that make up the Engine are great too but it's going to be hard to pay them all. Best to transform the band into a cult and hope for their endless loyalty Amy.
First Time You Ever Saw Guster Live?
Maine State Theatre. My mom let my older sisters take me in 2003. I had never been to the State Theatre before and I remember leaving the concert, knowing I wanted to play there someday.
Dream Guster song to cover live?
For me, it's always been "Homecoming King" or "Careful." The first time I heard those two songs, the only thing I wanted to do was listen to them on repeat in my bedroom and play along to them with my guitar - so that's what I did :)
What's your dream piece of Guster merch?
Guster puff jacket for winter. I would love that, so so much.
Premiering New Video, Amy and the Engine Want You to Join the 'A' Team – The Huffington Post
Give Amy Allen a capital "A" for effort while the singer-songwriter also makes an upper case for herself in the Ambition Department.
Backed by the group she started forming in February 2014, Allen is revving up for a promising music career with Amy & the Engine.
That's a bold statement to make about an indie pop-rock group based in Boston that has yet to release a full-length album. But there are six simple reasons to get behind a 23-year-old go-getter with a rhythm guitar, an athlete's DIY determination and the ability to morph her sweet sister act as a teen into a swinging sextet with a world of influences.
And if that's hard to fathom, meet Amy and prepare to jump on what she calls her "bandwagon," which now includes Australians Sophia Christopher (keyboard, backing vocals) and Marton Bisits (electric guitar), Brazil's Vinny da Silva (guitar), Brooklyn's Shareef Addo (bass) and Peru's Manuel Ruiz (drums).
Citing demanding but reachable goals (making relatable music "that I think is gonna be good for years to come"), Allen is preparing for the Sept. 22 release of Tandem Mania, her first EP with the Engine. The six tunes she wrote are filled with groovy girl-group melodies, catchy hooks, peppy pop, classic rock muscle and meaningful lyrics as she takes you on her angst-filled roller-coaster ride over the past year.
amyallen-Tandem Mania cover"I think it kind of comes from a shared thread in a lot of people," Allen said over the phone on Aug. 24 from Boston as she was moving from one empty apartment to another. "There's just this underlying thing in human nature where we all kind of find the need to be with someone and to have shared experiences with someone whether it's just temporarily or searching for someone to be with for life. Even just to work with as a work partner. And for me it's been something I've been conscious of since I was really young. Just this need to want to work with someone, to have something flourish as a duo or as part of something bigger."
The youngest of the three Allen girls started playing guitar at age 9, writing songs at 10 and performing at age 13 with her middle sister billed as Ashley and Amy, who opened in their hometown of Portland, Maine, for a bluegrass band called Jerks of Grass. But good songs, she humbly contends, didn't emerge until "maybe a year" ago, when the kid sister was completing her education at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.
While going to school, the former leader of the Amy Allen Band that included fellow students Adam Kronowski and David Colicchio was enlisting members of her future group by attending shows or through Facebook posts, a process she admits was a bit like "blind dating."
The EP was recorded, produced and mixed by Griffin Emerson and Andrew Seltzer, two of Allen's Berklee besties, in Seltzer's apartment in Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood, where she commuted every other weekend from early March through late May.
The best track on Tandem Mania might be "Patience," and the lyric video of the heartfelt song premieres today (Sept. 1) at The Huffington Post. With a little help from her friend Tom Freeman, Allen said she spent two sick days from school making the video, which is a compilation of clips of Amy and her sisters, 15 cousins plus numerous second cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents "and other extended relatives and friends" taken by her mother Melissa.
Check out the video here, then read more about what inspired it and Allen's career.
The impetus for "Patience" came from listening to her mom and grandmother around the time Allen's oldest sister Amanda, got married. (The Allen sisters, from left: Ashley, 25; Amanda, 27; and Amy, 23.) "We're all A's," noted Amy of the Allen girls, adding that the wedding was "kind of like a reality check to me that, 'Holy shit, we're all growing up, and time is flying by.' "
Especially for Allen, whose maddening pace is captured in Amy & the Engine's "Love Me" video.
In launching her career, "I've noticed ... I just feel like I'm living kind of in fast-forward," she revealed. "And my mom all the time is telling me like, 'Amy, slow down, you feel like you're in a million places. Take a deep breath, just be present. Like chill out.' ... It is great advice, and I should take it. And I've been trying to. I feel like the last year, I feel I've been a lot better about it.
"But 'Patience' is kind of just this whole perspective I've gained on life, in my 23 years, which isn't long. So it's not any great nugget of gold probably for most people, but for me, it's just about seeing everything I've done so far and the people that I love and the people that I've journeyed with so far and trying to be present and slow down. And not live in fast-forward and not take anything for granted and just take every day as it comes and be happy and grateful for it. So I'm thankful for my grandmother for always giving me words of wisdom and making me see that. And I'm grateful for my mom for always calling me out on living like a crazy woman and running like a chicken with my head cut off."
What do you expect from a Waynflete School overachiever? Allen not only made her first EP (Honey) during high school but also was getting recruited to follow in the footsteps of two college lacrosse-playing sisters (Amanda at Bowdoin in Maine, Ashley at Hamilton College in New York) who still run marathons.
While years of figure skating and a chance to take lacrosse to the next level at Boston College kept those athletic dreams alive, Allen had discovered a deeper yearning during hourlong drives with her dad to and from their Windham home to competitions and ballet recitals.
She said her father James Allen, a classic rock fan, would blast music by bands such as AC/DC, the Who and Guess Who on the car radio "and I just soaked it all up. We just sat there and ate Good & Plenty and listened to music every single night. Ever since I can remember, from probably when I was 6 to 18, we did that together. It was cool and he loved going to shows, so he took me everywhere, to every show he went to really."
Her most memorable concert was the Rolling Stones and the Pretenders on Sept. 3, 2002, at FleetCenter (now TD Garden). There with her sisters, Allen was 9 at the time and estimates she and her dad attended 13 Stones concerts together, but this "life-changing show" stood out for another reason besides the music.
"I kind of caught one of the Rolling Stones' guitar picks, but then I got clawed down by this huge man" who wrestled away the souvenir, Allen recalled. Still, she never let go of her passion for music.
When dreams of playing lacrosse faded and the biochemistry major at BC fell two years short of a degree and pursuing the nursing profession, Allen appeared on Season 2 of NBC's The Voice in 2012, making it through the preliminary rounds before getting cut. If failing to advance hurt, Allen can take comfort in the fact that her career path was finally paved.
"I probably had the most conversations with CeeLo (Green)," she said of one of stars calling the shots from the big red revolving chairs. "I don't even know if he's still a judge anymore. ... (The Voice is) kind of a strange thing. At least you can name the winners of American Idol but no one can really name the winners of The Voice. So I don't know, maybe now that American Idol's over (after 2016), The Voice might have a little bit more of a following."
Overall, though, Allen chalked it up to "a good learning experience. I got home knowing that I wanted to do that," then "begged my parents to let me transfer to a music school" and went to Berklee for three years, graduating in May as a songwriting major.
Many of her musical friendships were made there, and the Amy Allen Band opened for acts like Salt-N-Pepa and Emili Sande. After Kronowski and Colicchio graduated, she basically had to start from scratch again and decided, "It's really time for me to just fully kick into gear and get my pop-rock band going that I've wanted to forever."
Amy & the Engine made their professional debut opening for Vance Joy at the Old Port Festival in Maine in June 2014, then subsequently shared stages with Rachel Platten, the Veronicas and Kacey Musgraves.
Unlike Musgraves, Allen never thought of herself as a country act, laughing about when The Voice tried to typecast her in that role even though Portland, Maine, is light years away from the music that made Nashville famous.
It's classic rock that's been in her blood ever since "my mind was kind of just blown up" when Allen saw Chrissie Hynde's great Pretenders. Other influences she reeled off included favorite movies such as That Thing You Do! and "anything with Robin Williams," along with artists like Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians, the Dixie Cups, the Supremes and, more recently, Jenny Lewis.
Though she aspires to develop her own dynamic and style with the Engine, Allen appreciates comparisons made to the former Rilo Kiley songstress who is one of today's leading indie pop-rock voices.
"Patience" best captures the spirit of Lewis' sound and fury but this child of the '90s also was motivated by '80s synth pop and, though she didn't mention it, possibly that era's reigning dancing queen.
Allen wasn't even born when host Dick Clark set up a future musical icon by asking "What are your dreams? What's left?" on American Bandstand in 1984.
"To rule the world," a self-assured high-school dropout named Madonna pronounced with a smile.
Obviously an energetic self-starter who likes to take charge in plotting the band's eventual move to New York, Allen isn't so presumptuous to consider global domination decades after the Material Girl made it happen.
Celebrating accomplishments like landing a song on The Biggest Loser ("Hey Kid" was cowritten with Berklee buddy Adam Friedman), she's hopeful of signing a publishing deal and getting more music into movies and commercials because it would be "great for the band."
Allen may have a one-track mind but that doesn't mean she's on this mission single-handedly. After all, her name for the group "is kind of this metaphor for working together as this one unit even though we could be six separate units not really functioning quite as well as we do when we're all together."
WALLmE*While still needing an occasional confidence boost, the youngest daughter of loving parents has learned what family values -- along with a lot of hard work -- can do. Splendid musical tastes, blonde ambition, a gift of gab and a charming personality are valuable qualities, but this driving force realizes the road to a successful career in today's music industry is fraught with detours.
"We are unsigned, obviously, we're not with a label, we're not with anything," Allen offered, "so we'll see where everything falls in the years to come but right now just to be in front of audiences and connect with those audiences and share our music is what I want to do with this band."
Asked about Madonna's quote, Allen laughed and said, "Well, everybody wants to rule the world. I would love to have this thing blow up and see the world with these guys. Because we're best friends and we love what we do and it would be fantastic to be a raging success and play arenas and do all that. But I've always been kind of a modest person, so I think right now my sights are set a bit lower. ... "
With "Patience" and a little more motherly advice, Amy & the Engine just might capitalize on their delectable debut.
The 215 Top Songs of 2015 – Boston Herald
Was it hard to track down 215 gems from 2015? Actually, the trick thing was finding stuff to cut (my original list had nearly 250).
Between the embedded Bandcamp link and the playlist, you can hear everything. Enjoy!
13. “Arrows,” Amy & the Engine -- Delicious pop tempered by a tough indie rock undercurrent (listen to that big, fun guitar solo). Sates a hunger you didn’t know had for something between Carly Rae Jepsen and Neko Case.
A Look Back at Maine Music in 2015 – Maine Today
Meanwhile, Mainer turned Bostonian Amy Allen of Amy & The Engine has been dropping tunes all year long and, well, they’re all sensational pop gold offerings. She’s gonna break on a national level, mark my words. “Tandemania” is the official debut EP, and “Patience” is another song on my unofficial “best of 2015” list. “Silence, why can’t you find me? ‘Cause I want you badly with me under the sheets,” Allen sings with a lilt in her voice that is pure magic.
Spitting in the eye of that age old, yawn-inducing adage about Boston being a rock and roll town, Amy & The Engine have crafted pitch perfect modern pop that sounds like little else either here in town - or on Top 40 radio. This year's TandeMania EP should help Amy Allen's crew break out nationally in 2016, but in the meantime, the record is filled with hook-mad gems like "Love Me," a Cardigans-esque indie-pop track that is too good to soundtrack a RomCom -- it actually deserves to have its own film written for it.
Amy & The Engine has only existed for about a year, but Amy Allen's upbeat pop-rock ensemble has already opened for the likes of Vance Joy, Rachel Platten and Kacey Musgraves.
The winner of Guster's student band contest, Amy & The Engine will open for the band at The Calvin Theater in Northampton on Nov. 6. In advance of the show, we spoke to Allen about her stint on "The Voice," her love of Guster and the band's upcoming EP.
Q: You were on "The Voice" during season two. How has that impacted your life?
Allen: I went to Boston College and I was studying for two years. As part of my sophomore year, one of the radio stations gave me an audition to go try out for "The Voice." My sister forced me to go and I didn't expect anything to come of it. I went and got a lot further than I though I was going to be. By the time I came home, I knew that I wanted to transfer schools and have music be my full-time career. I transferred to Berklee and started a band.
Q: How does Amy & The Engine differ from your previous work?
Allen: I never had a band that was playing my music and everyone being excited to play. I've done a bunch of solo things before but I've never really toured. Being in a band is amazing. It's prompted me to write better songs and learn more about songwriting and how to arrange for bands. It's totally transformed my musicality .
Q: How did you hear about the Guster contest?
Allen: I've always been a huge Guster fan. I saw them in Portland, ME, when I was really young. My goal was to play at the same theater after I saw them play there. They were one of the first bands that really made me want to play live music. I saw they were having a contest to have local bands open for their tour. We were chosen and we feel so honored to be able to play the Northampton show. I think that our sounds go hand in hand.
Q: Have you performed in Northampton before?
Allen: We played the concert series there a few months ago in August. It was beautiful and the community was so awesome. There were a bunch of people hula hooping and it felt like home.
Q: "Tandem Mania," the new EP, drops on October 30. What should fans expect?
Allen: This EP is the band's first EP. It's the first EP I've ever put out that I incorporate Pretenders, Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, 50's and 60's girl groups and, of course, pop. It's kind of my childhood and where I am today. The songs are all about my relationships I've had in the past couple years and how I've learned to let them go. It's a lot of pretty harmonies and singable melodies and guitar solos. I think it's different and I'm really proud of it. We're putting out our music video of "Arrows" this Friday, along with the rest of the EP. The show with Guster will be our EP release show.
MUSIC SCENE: Amy & the Engine on the road to success – The Patriot Ledger
Fast becoming one of the more ubiquitous new musical acts on the Boston scene, Amy & the Engine are seemingly poised for imminent pop success with their infectious, hooky songs and talented frontwoman.
This can be viewed as inevitable, as Portland, Maine, native Amy Allen has been playing guitar since she was 9 years old and began writing her own songs a year or so later. But it can also be seen as a most unlikely development, since as recently as 2012 Allen was a biochemistry major at Boston College, pursuing a career in nursing.
The connecting thread in this story is Allen’s appearance on TV’s “The Voice,” where she advanced through preliminary rounds in 2012, and was eventually eliminated. But that experience provided an epiphany for the young songwriter, and convinced her she needed to follow her musical heart.
Amy and the Engine will be opening for Air Traffic Controller and Jared and the Mill, at Brighton Music Hall on Monday night. On Dec. 6 the sextet has an even bigger venue to play, as they’ll be rocking out at Gillette Stadium before the Patriots plays the Philadelphia Eagles. Just last weekend, the band performed at the Hard Rock Cafe’s stage at Boston’s holiday tree-lighting ceremonies.
Nov. 6 marked the release of Amy and the Engine’s debut record, a six-song EP that has already won them plaudits beyond Boston. The sextet has opened shows for country star Kacey Musgraves, popster Vance Joy, and hip-hoppers Salt ’N’ Pepa. Compelling videos of tunes like “Patience” and “Love Me” have expanded their audience exponentially through YouTube.
It has been a head-spinning time for Allen, 23, who graduated in May from Berklee College of Music with a degree in songwriting. The other members of her band are all people she met at Berklee, but their origins practically span the globe. Sophia Christopher on keyboards and Martin Bisits on guitar are both from Australia. Drummer Manuel Ruiz hails from Peru and guitarist Vinny da Silva comes from Brazil, while bassist Shareef Addo is a son of Brooklyn.
So, how did a girl from a lacrosse family where athletics were a focal point, who’d more or less decided to relegate her music to hobby status, transform into the smart songwriter fronting this polyglot band of talented young musicians?
“I was the first of three girls in my family not to go to college on a lacrosse scholarship,” Allen said from her Boston digs, “both of my older sisters did. My oldest sister is now a professional marathoner and my whole family is very athletic, so triathlons, bike races and so on have just been a natural part of my life growing up. I was on that same track, until just before I went away to college. I consciously strayed from the pack, but I didn’t even know music even existed as an option for your career. I was focused on going to a big academic school, a big football school. I had decided on going into nursing because my grandmother was a nurse, my mom is a schoolteacher, and I wanted to do something where I could be helping people.”
Allen and one of her sisters actually had some solid regional success as a singing duo while she was in high school. And her father was a serious classic rock fan, who’d constantly exposed her to all sorts of rock ’n’ roll, and enabled her to be able to say she’s seen the Rolling Stones in concert 13 times. But it wasn’t until she tried out for “The Voice” that Allen had to re-assess her career path.
“I had never been surrounded by musicians, like you are on the show,” Allen pointed out. “There aren’t that many musicians in Maine. I had been fairly well known in high school for my singing, around my high school and immediate area and even had songs on the radio up there. But spending those few months on “The Voice” showed me music could be a real career. I began to see that music needed to be in the forefront of my ambitions. I knew, after I was cut from the show, that I could make it a profession and treat it like a business. I knew by then you had to be ready for rejection at times and you will have ebbs and flows, but this is what I wanted to do.”
Music loving parents are one thing, but parents who’d rejoice when their daughter, halfway through college for nursing, decides to start over as a music student, must be rare.
“It was hard, definitely not an easy sell when I told my parents,” Allen said. “I had not seen where music could have fit into my life and had felt maybe it was a selfish thing, a self-centered pursuit. The nursing route was where my priorities lay. But the more I got into the songwriting aspect, the more I saw how music could be a way to connect people and even therapeutic in many ways, a tool to ease your mind. My mom knew how passionate I was about songwriting.
“But my parents told me, ‘You’re in Boston and you’ve got one shot, in Boston,” Allen recalled. “They told me to go ahead and apply to music schools and if I got in, OK, but if not, I would promise to stick it out and get my degree at B.C. The only application I sent in was to Berklee and they accepted me and my folks have been supportive ever since. But it was a paradigm shift in my life.”
Allen might have been described as a grassroots kind of songwriter when she entered Berklee, which is to say she was skilled at crafting songs with her limited musical knowledge, but not especially well versed at the techniques and theory of composition.
“Getting my feet wet at Berklee was something else, like getting to a school where everybody speaks a different language – they all speak music,” said Allen. “I didn’t know any music theory, so I was kind of back on my heels for a while. Eventually I began playing with two friends I’d met there and that helped me build a little confidence in my ability.”
Allen’s work with her original two Berklee pals ended when they both graduated a year ahead of her. But by then, numerous gigs with that trio had convinced her she could be even better with a full band. Gradually the Engine was formed and the very diversity of its members guarantees the band’s music will be constantly evolving. But basically it is grounded in classic rock, a delectable updating of some of those sounds Allen first learned to love on long drives with her father ferrying her to games or family outings and providing the soundtrack.
“Writing songs with a six-piece rock band totally changed my way of writing,” Allen added. “When I got to Berklee it was just me and my acoustic guitar and that’s how I wrote. Now I’m much more into the arrangements and the layers and dynamics and where the drums come in and so on. To see where your music can actually go and to hear great musicians playing it, can be pretty humbling. But all my band members and I are here to play music and feel we have something to say. We’re very comfortable with each other. I love the diverse backgrounds because my aim was to create a three-dimensional band, where you can bring in a whole host of influences and genres.”
Allen said she’s getting more comfortable performing.
“The other day at the tree-lighting, we had thousands of people in front of us. The gig before that, we probably had 30 people, but it is all fun for me. The Patriots game will be a different situation for sure. Brighton Music Hall is more in our comfort zone and the bonus for Monday’s show is that we are all huge fans of Air Traffic Controller.”
With the new EP and the band’s third video also hitting the airwaves and Internet, it’s an exciting time for Amy and the Engine.
“It feels good, it really does,” she said. “The band wanted something out there that is us. I never thought of myself as very crazy about visuals, so videos were something unexpected. I realize it is a way to help us reach a broader audience. I’m getting more used to it. We try to make them as much fun as we can. On one I have the boys all trying these old time dance moves and they resisted, but finally got into it. I had fun with the roller skating segment on another one too. ‘Patience’ is a different one, which I put together while I was laid up for three days with the flu and I had my mother send me all these videos of our family history. I’m still a little uncomfortable with our videos – none of us are movie stars.”
Things are happening fast for the band, but Allen is already working on a second CD.
Let's get this out of the way: Guster played a phenomenal and varied show at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton Friday night. But the opening act, Amy and the Engine, did an equally superb set of soulful and catchy tunes.
It's not often that a support act can grab as much attention as Amy and the Engine, one of the standouts of the 2015 Northampton Summer Concert Series. But more on them later.
For its part, Guster showed why it's been able to sustain a career for more than 20 years.
The band took the stage to a recording of "Souvenir" by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, then glided seamlessly into the ethereal but solid groove of "Long Night" from the their latest release, "Evermotion." They followed this with the catchy pop of "Careful" from 2003's "Keep It Together."
Showing their longevity is earned, they then played "Demons" from the 1998 album, "Goldfly," with Adam Gardner taking lead lead vocals from Ryan Miller, who sang the first two songs. Gardner also took the next song, "Center of Attention," from 1998.
The band has certainly evolved over the years from its acoustic trio roots. Now a full-fledged live quintet, the band's sound was near-perfect throughout the night, especially on newer songs such as "Doin' it by Myself," which featured an R&B groove and soulful harmonies.
Of course "Homecoming King" drew a huge response, as Miller noted they had one song that mentioned Massachusetts in it.
An abbreviated rendition of the theme from "Chariots of Fire" made Miller comment that there are a billion videos uploaded to YouTube every minute "and that will probably be one of them."
Other highlights included the persistent ache of 2006's "Satellite," "Kid Dreams" -- where Miller moved to keyboards and Gardner took bass duties -- and the jaunty falsetto chorus of "Do You Love Me."
But the most touching moment of the concert was probably when the band brought up a 60-year-old super fan Bev Brown to sing "Two Points for Honesty," due to an email they received from her son.
Miller also punctuated the night with a story about having to relieve himself while wandering around town after dinner, only to miraculously find a Porta Potty in a suburban neighborhood. The band turned this into a jam where Miller sang. "If you need to go, Northampton knows that you need to go."
The show ended with "This Could All Be Yours," after which the band returned for an encore featuring such songs as "Gangway" and "Happier." Amy Allen joined the band for an unmiked "Jesus on the Radio" to end the night.
And to get back to Allen and her band: The group is clearly one of the best new bands on the circuit. Showcasing powerful the vocals of Amy Allen, buttressed by harmonies from keyboardist Sophia Christopher, the band motored through a brisk and energetic set of infectious indie pop. If you have a chance to catch this act, do so.
December Spotify Playlist of the Month – Maimed and Tamed
It’s December which means this is our final monthly playlist of 2015, which also means the iconic Christmas pigs have returned. In order to go out with a bang we’ve got the best of the best of new music for all of you lovely readers. This month’s playlist features freshies from M&T mainstays such as Dr. Dog, Weezer, and Hey Marseilles along with some Boston favorites like Animal Flag and Amy & The Engine.
Check out all those artists and more on the full playlist below and remember to subscribe for new tunes every month in 2016!
It’s full speed ahead for Amy Allen and band – Boston Herald
Singer/songwriter Amy Allen’s story has a familiar arc to it. The Portland, Maine, native labored in obscurity, broke through, plateaued, questioned her art and regrouped for a rebound.
Allen’s twist? She is 23 years old.
Her first duo, with her sister Ashley, landed local gigs before Allen graduated from middle school. Allen recorded her debut EP “Honey” in 2010 as a senior project and scored radio airplay in her hometown and won Portland Phoenix’s best new act and best female...
When Amy Allen picked up a guitar at nine years old and joined her older sister's all-girl band, she had no idea what was in store for her. That band, No U Turn, eventually broke up due to what she calls "teenage artistic differences"—you know, boys and sports—but that was just the beginning. She's since released two solo EPs, made it onto season two of The Voice, and enrolled at the Berklee College of Music, where she met the bandmates for Amy & the Engine.
The South Portland, Maine native is releasing her six-track EP later this year, but the band's first single "Last Forever" is due out on Valentine's Day. You don't have to wait that long to hear it, though, because we happen to have the unreleased track right here for your exclusive listening pleasure.
"'Last Forever' was inspired by two different events," Amy tells us. "I was experiencing deep-seated feelings for a boyfriend at the time, and dealing with the natural fear of expressing my feelings to him and those feelings prompted me to write the song. The second event occurred while playing a gig. Mid-set, this elderly man scooted to the front of the stage. The next thing I knew, this little, adorable old man was getting down. Like, really getting down...to the ground. Now for me, the song symbolizes the beauty in growing old and keeping a youthful spirit through the ups and downs of life."
Want to hear the track (and possibly get down to the ground) yourself? Click that play button below.
Watch Amy & The Engine's playful video for 'Last Forever' – Entertainment Weekly
The Notebook meets outtakes from That Thing You Do in Amy & The Engine’s new video for “Last Forever.” The group takes over a senior citizens’ facility prom and little time is wasted before couples are falling in love—with each other just as much as the synthy-folk-pop the band is laying down—and acting like teenagers again.
Amy & The Engine—who met at Berklee College of Music after Amy’s stint on The Voice—are set to debut a six-track LP later this year and have recently spent time on tour, opening for acts like Vance Joy, Lily & The Parlour Tricks, and The Streets of Laredo.
The Baroque Pop Beauty Of Amy And The Engine – Baeble Music
I never got into Jenny Lewis in those periods where you're supposed to get into Jenny Lewis. Rilo Kiley's discography is one of the great blind spots of my musical education, and I've only recently started hearing her solo output (mostly cause I fell in love with the music of her former band member, Natalie Prass). But as much as the newest, highly Jenny Lewis-esque single "Patience" from Amy & the Engine has woken me up on this Monday morning, I'm starting to think I could use a little more "Silver Lining" in my life.
With a sound that feels equal parts Jenny Lewis and early the Weepies, "Patience" is a folk-tinged pop stunner. Frontwoman Amy Allen has a voice with hints of twee but enough of a grown-up, vulnerable edge to appeal past that demographic. And the lush, elegant production of the track segues in and out of folk understatement and full-fledged Feist-esque baroque pop string-driven bombast. "Patience" is simultaneously gorgeous and catchy enough to spend the rest of the stuck in your head.
Check out the new video for Amy & The Engine’s “Love Me” and see why everyone is swooning for the new acoustic pop It Girl.
Amy & The Engine is the perfect harbinger of today’s acoustic pop, playing songs that genuinely seem to emerge from a young girl’s mind as she plays guitar in her bedroom, pondering the joys and hardships of the outside world. Basically, she’s all the things we used to love about T. Swift, but more. Her rhythmic cooing and mature vocal delivery glide joyfully over carefully orchestrated instrumentation, culminating in a solid song perfect for the summer.
Today, we’re excited to premiere Amy’s video for “Love Me” — featuring all the balloons, flower paintings, stuffed animals, and firecrackers that a kid could hope for. And of course, the video features Amy herself, who is cuter than Tay anyway. About the song, Amy tells us:
“Love Me” is all about the hype and the let down of love. It’s like envisioning the quintessential prom night where you enter in slow-mo, the room is beautifully lit, everyone’s floating across the dance floor, and you’re arm in arm with the most perfect date…but in reality, you roll up hopelessly overdressed, everyone’s “too cool” to dance, there’s an awkward student DJ, and your date just never showed. “Love Me” is the mash-up of these two worlds — the music is the dream and the lyrics are the frustrated reality.
You can learn more about the new favorite here.
2015 CMJ Music Marathon Must-Sees: Don't Miss These 8 Showcases and Panels This Week! cmj, festivals, Opportunities, Musician Success Guide Oct 12, 2015 06:00 AM Sam Friedman – Sonicbids
Well, folks, it's that time of year again! Get your earplugs, tickets, and Instagram filters ready for New York City's best week of independent music, CMJ Music Marathon.
By now you've probably already recieved a few billion Facebook invites to events across the city, and you may be wondering, "Where do I start?" Don't worry, we've got you. While there's no limit on good music to fall in love with and informative panels to learn from, we've managed to narrow down our top picks for this year's CMJ. Feel free to leave a comment below with your CMJ must-sees, and you just might see some of the Sonicbids team there!
3. AMY & THE ENGINE
Hailing from South Portland, ME, Amy Allen discovered her passion for music when she picked up the guitar at nine years old, and has since released three solo EPs, appeared on The Voice, and studied songwriting at Berklee College of Music, where she met the "engine" that keeps Amy & The Engine chugging along. With exclusive features on Entertainment Weekly, the Huffington Post, and Teen Vogue, as well as winning the SESAC Young Artist Award, Amy & The Engine is a musical force to be reckoned with – so we reckon you better catch her at this year’s CMJ!
ZERO CANDLES: WATCH AMY & THE ENGINE ENDURE A LONELY BIRTHDAY PARTY IN THEIR ‘LOVE ME’ VIDEO – Vanyland
Birthday parties rarely live up to their promise (and as someone born on Christmas Day, they rarely exist at all). For Amy & the Engine, the Boston-based indie-pop project that’s been adding a bit of vintage sensuality and tenderness to the city’s rock and roll scene, a poorly attended birthday party can serve as a metaphor for the hype and letdown of love and relationships.
Yesterday, Amy & the Engine released their new video for “Love Me,” a prom-season track that falls somewhere between the Cardigans and those early indie-pop-tinged Class Actress songs, with a bit of ’50s and ’60s girl-group vocal acumen mixed in, and it shows songwriter and vocalist Amy Allen going through the usual ups and downs of expectation versus reality. Of course, it’s nothing that can’t be fixed by a carefree hang session with friends near the Charles with a bunch of sparklers and smiles.
Watch the “Love Me” video below.
Also featured on yesterday’s Keep Safe Boston compilation to raise awareness for domestic violence, “Love Me” is the band’s third single and serves as a preview of their upcoming six-track EP and a summer tour across New England. This Sunday, Amy & the Engine play Maine’s Old Port Festival alongside the Veronicas, Rachel Platten, Ryn Weaver and others.
And that’s a party that should be well attended.
Behind the Song: Amy & The Engine, "Last Forever" – Highlight Magazine
Indie-rock outfit Amy & The Engine bring depth to singer/songwriter tracks with upbeat synth-pop with a folk-rock stylings. Frontwoman Amy Allen opened up over the groups new single, ‘”Last Forever” and what it means to her.
For me, Last Forever tells numerous stories. It’s the unexpected outcome of a crazy year I went through; it’s a twisted love story forever stuck in my head; a mixed-up friendship that went south; the unending fear that you’re alone in love. But mostly, it’s the hope I have that true love (be it friendship or romance), when found and fought for, could actually last forever.
When I initially wrote the song with my friend Tyler (from Berklee College of Music), I was writing from a place of excitement and nervousness. I was just starting at Berklee, freshly single, meeting new people and loving every second of it. Being in such a transitional period of my life, “Last Forever” took form mostly due to a crush I’d developed for this guy that sat behind me in a songwriting class. But as I got deeper into the song, I realized that it was coming from a place not only of romance, but also of clinging onto a dear friendship that I was subconsciously afraid I was losing. One second my mind was fixated on wanting to be with this new guy I was slowly getting to know, and the next second my thoughts were revolving around this other boy I loved as a friend, but felt I was growing apart from. I think “Last Forever” is the unanticipated lovechild of these two conflicting emotions: the excitement and uncertainty that comes with a new love, and the nervousness and anxiety that comes with losing a love you currently have.
Fast forward four months to a free outdoor music festival that Amy & The Engine played in Harvard Square (Cambridge, MA). We were only on the second song of our set, when this little old man scooted his way to the front of the stage. Immediately the crowd formed a circle around him and at first, I couldn’t tell why. But moments later, when I put down my guitar to pick up my tambourine, I realized that the crowd was cheering for this little, white-haired, adorable senior citizen, as he continued to bust out move after move. As the band took notice, we were all instantly grinning ear to ear and couldn’t help but join in with the dancing on stage. This old man danced through our entire set, waving his hands in the air, hip thrusting, dropping low, you name it – he most likely did it, and by the time “Last Forever” rolled around, I had one of those “movie moments” where for some reason you feel like you’re in a movie and the music around you is the background music, and your eyes are the camera lens. You know, one of those weird, cinematic moments.
It was amazing to see how I had written “Last Forever” from such a personal and somewhat tormented place, but how it was beautifully transformed into this man’s story of loving and enjoying life to it’s fullest. Of course we all know our time won’t “Last Forever,” as nothing ever really does, but maybe that’s just the beauty of it. We only have so long, so best not be afraid to love, to dance or make fools out of ourselves. And as you can imagine, this “movie moment” of mine served as the jumpstart inspiration for the music video we soon after created. :)
ALEX AND ANI Summer Concert Series: Amy And The Engine – ALEX AND ANI
As the ALEX AND ANI Summer Concert Series continues at Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard, we’re thrilled to see more and more people visit! It’s a truly wonderful way to spend a Thursday evening with family and friends.
On June 25, 2015, Boston based indie-pop-rock band, Amy and the Engine, brought their signature sound to the vineyard. Check out footage of their acoustic performance in the vines, their performance on the main stage and an exclusive interview!
Rising Star | Amy Allen "One of the Guys" – Cliche Magazine
Amy Allen began her music career at 9 years old...
PREVIEW: AMY & THE ENGINE @ THE RED ROOM – Allston Pudding
Amy & The Engine sounds like a hug: warm, comforting, and exactly what you fail to realize is necessary from time-to-time. If we could fit a genre to that description, we would. But, for now, we’ll give the Berklee-born six-piece “indie-pop,” which you can check out TOMORROW at The Red Room @ Cafe 939.
And like a loving embrace, this show’s FREE.
The group formed about a year ago but takes root in the childhood of frontwoman Amy Allen. Before the machine, Amy (just Amy) picked up a guitar at the age of nine. Soon enough, her love affair with songwriting led to three acoustic EPs and her enrollment at music school in Boston. That’s where the engine comes in, nominating Allen’s project as 2014’s “Best New Act in New England.”
After giving songs like the breakout hit “Last Forever” a listen, the title seems fit. Amy and her machine pull off 50s inspiration without trapping the song in a high school gymnasium. Twangy guitar builds and stops, making the whole thing easy to sway to, and Allen’s voice upkeeps everything that’s undeniably pleasant. In any track, her musical background is as obvious as her soul. This one just particularly makes everything seem huggable.
Amy & The Engine’s debut EP Tandem Mania drops September 15th. Check out the new track “Patience” below alongside some Squishy Sandwich Art. Then, hit up The Red Room tomorrow night at 8 p.m. It’s free, but you’re worth it.
That…came out wrong. *offers internet hug*
A BERKLEE BUFFET: HEAVY ROTATION RECORDS’ ALBUM RELEASE SHOW – Sound of Boston
Amy & The Engine: Amy revs the engine and coos, “Ooh la la, ooh!” Love me, love me, you sing, but I already do.
As we gear up for another SXSW party in March with our peoples at Berklee College of Music, the Boston music school has its own mini-festival going down next month. Heavy Rotation Records, Berklee’s student-run label, released its 10th Dorm Sessions compilation today, and will celebrate accordingly with a Vans-sponsored release party February 18 at the Berklee Performance Center.
The new comp features two Vanyaland faves in guitar-rock band the Rare Occasions (which played our SXSW party last year) and future pop stars Amy & the Engine (spotlighted at our CMJ party with Berklee this past October). Beyond that, the comp showcases a few other bands we’re excited about, including post rock outfit I/O, experimental pop group Oh, Malô, and jangly indie-pop quartet Fever Charm, rounded out by selections from Grey Season, Kyle Thornton & The Company, Cocoa Jackson Lane, Cordelia & The Buffalo, YEAH Dubz, and 3 Sudacas.
All will perform live at the BPC release party, and there’s some cool shit at stake. From the presser: “Based on the performances at the concert, artists from Dorm Sessions 10 will be chosen to represent HRR at three major music festivals: SXSW in Austin, Lollapalooza in Chicago, and Osheaga in Montreal. The artists performing at Lollapalooza and Osheaga will play club dates to and from the festivals, accompanied by HRR staff members who will handle tour management.”
Everybody loves incentive. Listen to Dorm Sessions 10 below, and stay tuned for more announcements in the coming weeks regarding our 2015 SXSW party with Berklee…
MP3 AT 3PM: AMY & THE ENGINE – Magnet Magazine
Amy Allen graduated from the role of the little sister in her big sister’s band to having her own pop group with her own backing musicians. Now Amy & The Engine plans to release its debut six-song EP later this year and offers first single “Last Forever” for free download. The track is beautifully composed, with an upbeat feel and heartfelt lyrics that, when put together, form a masterpiece. Download “Last Forever” below.
Here’s a Valentine’s Day treat for you from the South Portland, Maine, the indie pop band Amy & The Engine, fronted by irresistibly charming Amy Allen. With two EP’s and an appearance on The Voice on her resume, Allen the her bandmates in the Engine at Berklee College of Music.
Allen has a perky, lovable vocal style. Her new song “Last Forever,” out today is a feisty, catchy pop tune, fueled by twangy guitars and big beats. It’s not a country song, but I could hear it being belted out on country radio. About the song Allen said:
“‘Last Forever’ was inspired by two different events,” Amy tells us. “I was experiencing deep-seated feelings for a boyfriend at the time, and dealing with the natural fear of expressing my feelings to him and those feelings prompted me to write the song. The second event occurred while playing a gig. Mid-set, this elderly man scooted to the front of the stage. The next thing I knew, this little, adorable old man was getting down. Like, really getting down…to the ground. Now for me, the song symbolizes the beauty in growing old and keeping a youthful spirit through the ups and downs of life.”
Below, download “Last Forever,” and check out the must watch video set in a high school auditorium setting for the song.
If you’ve listened to the “Rent” soundtrack, then you already know that there’s “no day but today.” But I’m sick of shoveling and freezing, so I’m going to look ahead at groovy musical things and take my mind off of the incessant windshield scraping, lower back pain, vision-blocking snowbanks and all around cranky pants.
I’ll start on Congress Street. One of my favorite little music joints is becoming a medium-sized one. Starting on Sunday, Blue, at 650A Congress St. in Portland, will be closed for three weeks to renovate. It’s doubling in size just in time for the club’s 10-year anniversary.
Meanwhile, back at my desk, a nifty new single from Amy & The Engine arrived. It’s called “Last Forever,” and the official release date is Valentine’s Day. Mainer-turned-Bostonian Amy Allen offers up oh-so-fine vocals, and the song will brighten the darkest, stormiest night, with backing vocals that resonate with retro ’60s sound. The track is just under four minutes of pure sunshine, as Allen and the band prance through the song with unfettered joy and certainly well-crafted musicianship. It’s pop gold, and I love it. Allen’s online headquarters is amyandtheengine.com.
There are only a few short hours left in 2014, but coming in just under the wire before the New Year is the list of nominees in the 2014 New England Music Awards.
And much like the Boston Music Awards a few weeks ago, singer/guitarist Will Dailey is leading the charge. Dailey is up for three NEMAs, including Album of the Year (National Throat), Song of the Year (“Sunken Ship”), and Male Performer of the Year. Scan the full list of nominees below.
The fourth annual awards show goes down Saturday April 18 at Showcase Live at Patriot Place in Foxborough, Mass., relocating from its home earlier this year in Lowell. The night is hosted by Boston Comedy Festival winner Dave Russo, and features live performances by Pat & The Hats, Marina Evans, Willie J. Laws Band, Ben Knight, Amy & The Engine, Sarah Barrios, and We Were Astronauts.
According to the NEMA website, the nominees are compiled by a “NEMA nominating committee consist[ing] of journalists from music publications, radio personalities, talent buyers, and record label execs collectively representing all six New England states.” Public voting to determine the winners in the 2014 NEMAs should be open in early 2015 is now open.
Advance tickets to the party are now on sale.
Here’s the full list of nominees…
New Act of the Year
West End Blend
Amy & The Engine
Feature Friday: Amy & The Engine – Music Creates Us
Our next Feature Friday band is quickly rising to stardom, having performed for VH1’s Save the Music Foundation and sets at CMJ 2014 already. They’ve shared the stage with the insanely infectious Vance Joy and are led by a voice that had already captured the hearts and ears of viewers at The Voice. With such credentials, we can expect that the debut six-track EP from Amy & The Engine will be a major hit.
The story for Ms. Amy Allen goes way back to when she was just a child and playing with her older sister’s band. Swapping the electric for a bass guitar, Amy revealed an innate talent for music right off that bat. Traveling from her hometown in Portland, Maine to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, Allen honed her abilities here and gathered a crew of students to play with from around the world. She is backed up by six other band members, making their stage performances look like a bit of a family gathering.
Amy & The Engine will soon release the sweet and catchy single, “Last Forever,” on Valentine’s Day. The track, with a 50’s flair, couldn’t be more flirty and appropriate for the release date. Commenting on the song, Allen explains how she sought to create a sound that represented the all-too-familiar mix between happiness and nervousness that comes with new love. I highly recommend streaming this track which is linked through Allen’s interview with Teen Vogue.
Fitting under the broad alternative-pop umbrella, Amy & The Engine will be hitting Boston and Lewiston later this month. Check out the band on their official site for more info on tour dates!
Tuesday Tunes: Valentine’s Day – Music Creates Us
It’s never too early to start thinking of your sweetheart, and especially with these cold winter days we thought we’d share some of our favorite love songs to warm things up a bit. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so get in the mood with some of our favorite romantic tunes. What will you listen to to help spread the love?
Share your songs & subscribe to this playlist here on Spotify.
18 – One Direction
Like I’m Gonna Lose You – Meghan Trainor ft. John Legend
Risk It All – The Vamps
The Words – Christina Perri
Rather Be – Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne
Boom Clap (cover) – Lennon & Maisy
Crazy in Love (Fifty Shades of Grey remix) – Beyonce
Adore You – Miley Cyrus
Still Into You – Paramore
Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
Last Forever – Amy & The Engine
Oblivion – Bastille
XO – Beyonce
Come Under The Covers – Walk The Moon
I’ve Told You Now – Sam Smith
Amy + the Engine – ‘Last Forever’ [MUSIC VIDEO] – 92 The Moose FM
Amy Allen is a a singer/songwriter originally from South Portland, who currently attends Berklee College of Music in Boston. She joined the Moose Morning Show this week talking about her upcoming release with the band Amy & the Engine.
Amy is also currently being featured on Teen Vogue’s website and in Entertainment Weekly on-line.
The music video for their new song and video, ‘Last Forever,’ has just been released. All the extras in the video are locals from Windham/Portland.
WEEKLY WRAP-UP: 2/15/2015 – Sound of Boston
Valentine’s Day has come and gone again, and there’s nothing quite like filling the gaping hole in your chest with some half-priced chocolate hearts and our Weekly Wrap-Up.
Old-Timers Put on their Dancing Shoes for Amy & The Engine’s “Last Forever” Video
You’d be hard-pressed to find many indie pop bands out there that could rock a senior citizen prom quite like Amy & The Engine. The band’s video for “Last Forever,” which recently premiered on Entertainment Weekly, follows a room full of old folks grooving like teenagers, rubbing dentures, and partying like they just snagged a timeshare in Punta Gorda.
Amy & The Engine, The TVD First Date – The Vinyl District
“The first records I remember holding in my hands were Canned Wheat by The Guess Who and Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica by The Ronettes. Growing up, I was constantly exposed to classic rock and girl groups of the ’50s and ’60s, thanks to my dad’s eclectic record collection. With Motown melodies and classic rock guitar riffs filling my brain, I knew from an early age what I loved about music and what I wanted to carry over into my own songs.”
“I’ve always admired the straight forward love songs of the ’50s and ’60s, and the melodies and harmonies used to tell the stories. I think our first single, “Last Forever,” is my take on blending my classic rock roots with my love for the sugary melodies and sentiments of ’50s and ’60s pop.
Diana Ross and The Supremes’ Let The Sunshine In… I’ll admit, I was first drawn in by the cover art (I’m a sucker for pretty packaging and labels), but once the needle touched down, I was hooked. I still have that record in a box under my bed today.
I feel like vinyl has a certain personality to it. It feels authentic and genuine when you listen to it, and it requires you to physically participate. Vinyl has an intimate quality that makes you feel like you’re in the room and experiencing the record being made. It’s not squeaky clean or auto-tuned—it’s just real, and people love real people. That’s why I started and haven’t stopped listening to vinyl since my childhood.
My favorite record is the Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica. I think partially because it was the first record my dad ever played for me, so I attach great sentimental value to it, and also partially because like I mentioned before, I have an obsession with the girl groups of the ’50s and ’60s.
My favorite record store is Weirdo Records in Cambridge, MA. It’s small, humble and beautiful and I love it. I could lose myself in there for hours, browsing from the most classic to the most obscure records of all time. It’s also crazy to think about how many hands they’ve passed through over the years and where each record has been…”
MCU Mondays: Amy & The Engine – Music Creates Us
Last month, we did a feature on Amy & The Engine and their new single, “Last Forever.” This time, Amy curated an MCU Mondays playlist for us, giving us some insight on the music she’s been listening to lately. Here’s what Amy had to say about the songs she’s chosen, and you subscribe to this playlist here on Spotify.
“These are some of my favorite songs. Some have inspired my songs, some have kept me going at the gym (fighting my urges to just lay down in fetal position on the treadmill…), and some are my earliest memories of music that I look back on constantly. It’s a pretty eclectic bunch, but I guess that’s my musical experience in a nutshell.” – AA
Be My Baby- The Ronettes
My Silver Lining- First Aid Kit
Maps- Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Is This How You Feel- The Preatures
I’m Gonna Get You Yet- The Dixie Cups
Laughing- The Guess Who
I Love You Always Forever- Donna Lewis
Cigarette Daydreams- Cage The Elephant
Let Her Go- Mac Demarco
Electric Love- BORNS
I Was A Fool- Tegan and Sara
Got My Mind Set On You- George Harrison
The Way We Touch- WE ARE TWIN
Who Loves You- Franki Valli and the Four Seasons
Gimme Something Good- Ryan Adams
Amy and the Engine “Last Forever” – 989.9 WCLZ
A very sweet video from Amy Allen and her group the Engine, recorded using local seniors. - See more at: http://989wclz.com/randi-kirshbaum/amy-and-the-engine-last-forever/#sthash.dnJrorbQ.dpuf
Feel the Love With VH1 Save The Music and Sonicbids' Valentine's Day Playlist [Listen Here!] – Sonicbids
What do Valentine's Day and music have in common? Well, the obvious answer is that they both rely heavily on love and passion. Coincidentally, so does the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. Since 1997, it's provided $49.5 million worth of new musical instruments to more than 1,850 public schools, which has impacted over 2.1 million public school students. In the spirit of the season, these Sonicbids artists have come together along with VH1 Save The Music to celebrate the longest-lasting love of all: the love of music.
Find out more about the artists on the playlist by checking out their Sonicbids profiles below!
Freedom Fry, "The Wilder Mile"
Sweet Alibi, "I'll Wait"
Tiz McNamara, "April Fool"
The Well Pennies, "The Drive"
Quiet Company, "The Confessor (You Could Exist Without It)"
Amy & the Engine, "Last Forever"
The Rare Occasions, "Halfheartedly"
Two Cheers, "Love You More"
Sye Elaine Spence, "Bloom"
Q&A WITH AMY ALLEN (OF AMY & THE ENGINE) – Tastemakers Magazine
Amy Allen is the Twiggy of bluegrass. Originally from South Portland, Maine, Allen grew up playing guitar and bass with her older sister’s band “No U Turn” when she was just 9 years old. After appearing as a contestant on The Voice, Allen migrated to Boston, eventually dropping her Boston College nursing degree to study songwriting at Berklee College of Music. After releasing two solo EPs, she debuted as the vocalist and primary songwriter for Amy & The Engine. With a new single entitled “Last Forever” set to drop on Valentine’s Day with an accompanying music video, as well as an EP release slated for spring 2015, this band is poised to make waves. Amy & The Engine’s ’50s-inspired folk-rock ditties will have you dancing and smiling from ear-to-ear. Tastemakers Magazine caught up with Allen to discuss her band and her love for pop.
Tastemakers Magazine (TMM): When you’re writing, do you prefer writing melodies before lyrics or lyrics before melodies?
Amy Allen (AA): When I’m doing my own songs I just do it all at once. If I have an idea, I’ll just start playing guitar and I’ll find chords and go from that so I can get into the vibe of what the song feels like before I actually start putting words to it. The guys in the band are from like four different continents and all very great influences themselves.
TMM: So do they help you with songwriting, too?
AA: None of them really help with songwriting, but when we go to arrange the songs and figure out everyone’s parts they all have a style of their own. That helps a lot. Mano, he’s from Peru, always brings a Peruvian flare to his drum parts. The rhythms and the beats he comes up with are so different than anything I would think to do of myself.
TMM: Your songwriting reminds me a lot of Brandi Carlile.
AA: She’s my favorite artist of all time. Brandi Carlile has been one of my biggest inspirations. I’m one of three sisters, so every girl pop artist that’s been around I have loved. I think it’s really cool, learning from other female rock/pop artists. Sheryl Crow, she has had a really prolific writing career. Even the Indigo Girls. Everyone brings something different. I’ve always preferred female artists over male artists because I’m always trying to learn from them and their vocal technique. I’m a pop-head. I love pop.
TMM: I really love the addition of the strings on your cover of Estelle’s “American Boy.” Do you do covers often?
AA: The cover that we’ve been kind of playing is “Dreams” by The Cranberries. I’ve played a lot of motown-y covers and I’ve always been a fan of girl bands from the ’50s and ’60s – they’re probably my biggest influence. I also love girls’ ’90s pop. We started practicing “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis.
TMM: There’s a mandolin player in your band and you took lessons when you were younger from a bluegrass banjo player. Do you draw a lot of inspiration from bluegrass?
AA: I think that’s why I was so drawn at first to our mandolin player, Ben. He was actually the first person I interviewed to be in the band. He said that he played guitar and his primary instrument was jazz mandolin. It was kind of was a match made in heaven because I was used to playing with mandolin players, banjo players, upright bass players.
TMM: The ’50s inspired teaser for your “Last Forever” video is awesome – I’m a huge sucker for ’50s cars.
AA: All of the elderly people dancing in the video are students of my uncle who teaches exercise classes to the elderly in Portland. So my grandmother’s in it and all of her best friends are in it. The man who built the first house I ever lived in is in it with his wife.
TMM: You wore “pink high-tops and a trucker hat” when you were in No U-Turn. Do you have a certain aesthetic that you try to bring to your shows? Do you try to pick certain outfits beforehand?
AA: I love dressing in vintage clothes. Twiggy is my fashion icon. I love that era of clothing. The mod pastels.
TMM: Do you have any particular stories, from tour of from the Voice?
AA: We were playing “Last Forever” at Oktoberfest in Harvard Square this fall, and all of a sudden the crowd kind of cleared and there was this little old man – so adorable – breakdancing in the middle. Like, getting down to our song. The cutest thing I’ve ever seen. It made me reevaluate “Last Forever.” I had written it with a friend about being in a relationship with somebody, feeling a certain way and not knowing if they feel the same way back. But when I saw this old guy dancing it recolored how I saw the whole song. I immediately drew this new connection that “Last Forever” is more like wanting your youthful spirit to last forever.
TMM: What are you listening to right now?
AA: “Electric Love” by BØRNS. I’ve also been listening The Preatures. They have that ’80s pop I really like that Haim is [also] doing.
TMM: If you were stranded on an island and could only have three albums, which would you pick?
AA: Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, and Stay Gold by First Aid Kit.
WKND Playlist – CosmoGIRL!
Woehoeee, het is weekend!
Heb jij allemaal leuke plannen? Kom dan alvast helemaal in de mood met CG!'s WKND playlist! :-)
VH1 Save The Music Showcase: Meet the Bands! – Sonicbids
Sonicbids and the VH1 Save The Music Foundation have partnered up for a very special benefit showcase on November 6 at Pianos in NYC to support music education programs for children. Meet the artists selected to perform below, and find out how music discovery at a young age inspired their artistic development and current sound.
Artist: Amy & The Engine
Hometown: Boston, MA
Sound: Fleetwood Mac meets the Beatles meets Blondie
First concert: I was seven, and my dad took my sisters and me to see the Rolling Stones. It blew my mind. Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders have since been a huge inspiration to me songwriting- and performance-wise, along with Fleetwood Mac and Carly Simon.
What or who influenced you to pursue music? My main inspirations in music have always been Fleetwood Mac, the Beatles, and pretty much every girl band of the '60s. Our band comes from all over – from Maine to Peru, Australia to Brazil. We pretty much all grew up listening to different genres, so we have all bases covered in terms of musical influences, and I think that's starting to shine through in our sound.
NEW YORK MINUTES: LISTEN TO A HIGHLIGHT REEL RECAP OF OUR CMJ PARTY WITH BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC – Vanyaland
We’re not entirely sure what ended first, CMJ Music Marathon week or our lingering hangover from Friday night’s blowout party with Berklee College of Music at one of New York City’s finest establishments, Carroll Place.
In between screwdrivers and vodka tonics, we broadcasted each of the seven live performances and weaved in interviews with the likes of Los Angeles duo Smoke Season, Red Room @ Café 939 talent buyer and manager Jackie Indrisano, and Boston Emissions host and Rock And Roll Rumble organizer Anngelle Wood. If you missed the Vanya Radio stream of event, fear not: we’ll be uploading songs from each of the live performances over the next few days.
In the meantime, here’s a quick recap of the show’s highlights: snippets of some of our favorite live sets, my interview ragtime from the lower depths of Carroll Place, and words from the hostess with the mostess, Lily Golightly of Golightly Media.
Check out the fast-action five-minute highlight reel below. And stay tuned for another compilation featuring full songs from Amy & The Engine, Los Rumberos De Massachusetts, Drunken Logic, Tumbleweed Company, The Western Den, Kate Diaz, and the aforementioned Smoke Season.
It all sounds just as much fun as it was.
Last week at this time we were rolling down to New York City for our CMJ party with Berklee College of Music, Boston & Beyond. Before we turn our full attention tonight tonight’s Vanyaland Halloween party at Great Scott, we wanted to turn out one last bit of love for what went down at Carroll Place, and that comes in the form of a seven-track compilation features each of the night’s performers.
These tracks are pulled right from our live-set live stream on VanyaRadio, remastered by our own Paul Armstrong for increased listening pleasure. From Tumbleweed Company’s infectious twang to Los Rumberos’ Mexi-pop romp to the seductive electronica swoon of Smoke Season, the comp is a nice snapshot of the varied sounds that repped Berklee at CMJ.
The track list is in order of appearance, as well.
Relive the magic.
CMJ SHOWCASE SPOTLIGHT: AMY & THE ENGINE’S INDIE-POP IS THE SOUND OF EVOLVING PERFECTION – Vanyaland
Though Amy & The Engine only recently formed last winter during snowy nights around Berklee, frontwoman Amy Allen is a known force of songwriting smarts in her native Maine. A two-time winner of Best Female Vocalist in the Portland Phoenix (2011 and 2013) and recipient of the 2013 SESAC Best Young Songwriter Award, Allen is taking her quirky pop vision and adding a brand new Engine to her sound.
The result is a sound self-described as “indie-folk-pop,” and debut single “I Got You” hints at the greatness to come, possessing a country flair with a modern edge ripe for mainstream success. We can even hear it hummed along by Anna Kendrick in a summer comedy flick. It’s probably one great placement away from bringing Amy & The Engine national recognition, and hopefully the rest of the band’s upcoming debut EP follows in similar catchy, earworm style.
“I think that now is a more fully realized version of what I’ve worked for — and what I am always working towards,” Allen tells Central Maine. “I’m drawing from influences from the Beatles to classic rock and a lot of indie influences, as well. I came from a bluegrass background when I was playing in Maine so there’s a lot of folk and bluegrass influences. We have a mandolin player, as well.”
We certainly have a soft for mandolin players. Get to know Allen’s work, from solo compositions to collaborative efforts to her recent turn with Amy & The Engine, below…
NY SEE & HEAR: LISTEN TO THE BANDS PLAYING THE BERKLEE + VANYALAND #CMJ MUSIC MARATHON SHOWCASE – Vanyaland
With October in full-bloom, CMJ season is here. And with our party with Berklee College of Music just 18 days away, it’s high time to start getting to know the participating bands filling Carroll Place with sound come Friday, October 24 in New York City.
Last week we spilled the basic details, and today we offer up an exclusive playlist mix that shows off the varied sounds of Boston & Beyond, the party series christened earlier this year when we first teamed with Berklee for SXSW.
Check out the Soundcloud mix below, which features current cuts from rootsy electronic pop act Smoke Season, infectious indie-pop collective Amy & The Engine, and the late-night Americana of Tumbleweed Company. There are also new tunes from Drunken Logic, Kate Diaz, the Western Den, and Boston & Beyond SXSW performers Los Rumberos de Massachusetts.
Flyer deets after the jump. Our event is open to all CMJ badge holders and there’s a $10 cover for the general public.
NEW YORK BOUND: HERE’S WHO’S PLAYING THE BERKLEE & VANYALAND CMJ MUSIC MARATHON SHOWCASE PARTY – Vanyaland
After a blowout bash in Austin for SXSW, we are proud to announce that Vanyaland has once again partnered with Berklee College of Music as media sponsor of the school’s annual CMJ Music Marathon Showcase.
This year’s event, dubbed Boston & Beyond, goes down Friday, October 24 at Carroll Place in New York City’s Greenwich Village — the same joint that’s hosting the SXNE party the next night. And it features seven up-and-coming bands spanning various genres, all with Berklee ties.
Among the Boston & Beyond performers are rootsy electronic pop act Smoke Season, a Los Angeles duo whose single “Badlands” has been getting regular play on Vanya Radio, and Amy & The Engine, an infectious indie-pop collective based out of Boston. The other acts include Drunken Logic, Tumbleweed Company, Kate Diaz, The Western Den, and Los Rumberos de Massachusetts, who we partied with at SXSW.
Here are the full details, with band links after the pertinent info…
Boston and Beyond: Berklee’s CMJ Music Marathon Showcase
Friday, October 24, at Carroll Place Features
Smoke Season, Amy & The Engine, Tumbleweed Company, and more
Boston, MA, September 30, 2014 — Boston and Beyond: Berklee’s CMJ Music Marathon Showcase of alumni and student artists takes place on Friday, October 24, from 8:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. at Carroll Place in New York. The show features rock, Americana, folk, Latin, and electro-pop by Drunken Logic, Tumbleweed Company from Nashville, Kate Diaz, The Western Den (HRR), Los Rumberos de Massachusetts (HRR), Amy & the Engine, and Smoke Season from Los Angeles.
The showcase is presented by The Red Room @ Cafe 939, Berklee Alumni Affairs, and Heavy Rotation Records (HRR), with media sponsor Vanyaland.
Vanyaland will be live streaming the event at Vanya Radio.
Boston and Beyond: Berklee’s CMJ Music Marathon Showcase is open to all ages. Admission is free for CMJ badge holders and $10 for the general public. Carroll Place is located at 157 Bleecker St. (between Thompson St. and Sullivan St.), New York, NY. For more information, call 212-260-1700.
The event includes free raffles for a chance to win a badge to attend next year’s CMJ Music Marathon. Free copies of HRR’s latest album, Dorm Sessions 9, featuring showcase artists The Western Den and Los Rumberos de Massachusetts, will also be given away.
CMJ Music Marathon is one of the world’s most important platforms for the discovery of new music, drawing 120,000 people with over 1,400 performances in more than 80 venues. Berklee has presented many up-and-coming acts at its past CMJ showcases, including Lucius, Nini & Ben (of HAERTS), Elizabeth & the Catapult, Christopher Barnes (Gem Club), Bleu, Julia Easterlin, and Golden Bloom.
Amy & The Engine to perform in Gardiner – Central Maine
On July 17, Gardiner’s Waterfront Park will be the site of a 5:30 p.m. concert featuring the sextet known as Amy & The Engine, which was formed in 2013-14. It is made up of six musicians: Tyler Perry (not the actor) — vocals, guitar; Ben Kling — mandolin, keyboards; Vinny Silva — lead guitar; Manuel Ruiz — drums; Blain Crawford — bass; and is fronted by Amy Allen. Now, if that name seems familiar, it should: Allen, a South Portlander, has three solo EPs under her belt and has garnered two awards from the Portland Phoenix (“Best New Act” and “Best Female Vocalist”) … she is also a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston and it was there that she was reached for a telephone interview recently.
Amy & the Engine
Time: 5:30-7 p.m.
Date: Thursday, July 17
Location: Gardiner Waterfront Park
Q: I went to your website and really enjoyed hearing your new song “I Got You” … is that the direction you’re heading with your new band?
Allen: Yeah, that was our first attempt of a single — we’re going into the studio in a couple of weeks to record the second and third singles — but that was our first one and we recorded it in my friend’s bedroom. The three of us recorded it.
Q: On the website there are six names listed, but the band photo has four of you in it.
Allen: Yes, we are in the process of updating the pictures because there really is six of us. The new picture is on our Facebook page.
Q: I’ve not heard your solo EPs so I can’t really compare the new single with what you’ve done musically in the past. How would you compare then and now?
Allen: I think that now is a more fully realized version of what I’ve worked for — and what I am always working towards. I’m drawing from influences from The Beatles to classic rock and a lot of indie influences, as well. I came from a bluegrass background when I was playing in Maine so there’s a lot of folk and bluegrass influences. We have a mandolin player, as well.
Q: Your tour schedule is quite full for this month and next?
Allen: Yes, we’re going to be super busy but we’re excited. We have a lot of stuff coming up, but it’s all good stuff.
Q: As far as your performances go with The Engine, do you cover some of your older material from your solo days?
Allen: Yeah, we do a couple of my old material right now. One that is currently in our set is called “Old Cloud” which I wrote a little while back that I used to play solo but now I’m playing with the band, which is nice.
Q: What I liked about the single was that it was fresh, up-beat, catchy and loaded with vocal harmonies: a certain weakness of mine, I must confess.
Allen: Well, thank you. We love harmonizing together — that’s our favorite part of the whole arranging process, after we write a song finding the different harmonies and different ways we can make the song come across. That’s also a favorite part of ours.
Q: Do any of the other four members sing?
Allen: Well, we just started getting together our trio with the drummer, Manuel — he plays percussion in the trio — so he’s going to start singing, as well; but as of right now it’s just Tyler and I doing the vocals.
Q: When you perform, will it be the trio or will it be all six members?
Allen: Most of the gigs that are listed on the website are full band — all of the festivals are full-band, as well — pretty much the trio we do for smaller venues and smaller, more acoustic settings.
Q: Does Amy & The Engine seem to be what you’ve been looking for as far as the sound and style goes?
Allen: Definitely! Yeah, Tyler and I — when we first heard each other’s songs in class in September — kind of instantly gravitated towards each other because I came from a little bit more of a pop background and he came a little bit more from a folk background. We balance each other out really nicely and it was just so natural. The two of us felt like we had always been needing the other counterpart — it was really nice for us. The band has just taken form around us so nicely — it’s a really eclectic group and we have a lot of fun making music together.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to folks reading this article?
Allen: I think, at least for the Maine audiences, it’s really important for people to know — if they are familiar with the music I made prior as Amy Allen — is that I basically started this new band with my friends from Berklee. We’re kind of an indie/folk/pop band, I’d say, with a focus mainly on songwriting—we’re just really excited about sharing our music with everyone … it’s still me and I’m still playing everything that I was but I’m evolving and growing as an artist and this is just the realization of what I’ve been working towards forever. It’s new and improved and pushing the boundaries a little bit! (www.amyandtheengine.com)
Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.
THE NEWSROOM SESSIONS: AMY ALLEN – Maine Today
Amy Allen chats with Aimsel Ponti and performs in the Press Herald studio. She plays at Bon-Ton at 6 p.m. today.
Kings and Queens of Summer – The Portland Pheonix
June 15: Her new album’s out June 6, and she’ll be at Old Port Fest, but this gig at the Big Easy just might be the best chance to catch Amy Allen this summer. The third EP, Other Side of Somewhere, continues her evolution as a top-drawer pop-country songwriter and performer. The title track is certainly glossy, with a matured and deeper voice from Allen and lots of Taylor Swift (which is a compliment; I love her songs). And “Rip up Your Heart” has great body contrasted with a trilling falsetto, a stomp in the open that goes ’80s rock in a major way. It’s crazy catchy.
She gets more balladic with “So it Goes” (piano and fingerstyle guitar, but with Adelle undertones) and “What Are You Looking For?” (damn near Seals and Crofts, pretty sappy). “On Your Side” is a nice compromise. It’s jazzy in the open, with lots of horns through out, bleating their way into stomping chorus with plenty of high hat and snare. You might snap your fingers to it.
Like the debut Birdy album, Allen finishes her disc by covering Radiohead’s “High and Dry” with nothing but voice and piano. Sure, Thom York has been quoted saying it’s a “very bad” song, but that was Pitchfork. It’s an alternate universe. And this is a nice platform for showing off Allen’s great pipes.
Read more: http://portland.thephoenix.com/music/154372-kings-and-queens-of-summer/#ixzz2bsXPbFOf
Amy Allen Travels to Neptune – The Portland Phoenix
There were a couple directions Amy Allen could have taken to follow up her 2010 pop-lovely debut EP, Honey, released just as she headed off to the big city for college. Did she immerse herself in Kierkegaard, "mature," and get all kinds of moody/emo?
In fact, she embraced her pop inclinations (with a hint of twang) ever more. Of Honey, I wrote: Jerks of Grass' Carter "Logan's acoustic guitar soloing and the fiddling are really cool sound elements, actually, since this kind of pop would normally have an electric rock guitar and synthesizers and probably manufactured beats."
Makes sense, then, that EP #2, Neptune, is full of synthesizers and rock guitar, but with Allen's acoustic guitar mixed in and a normal-sounding drum kit. It straddles a few different worlds, with songs that could sound almost equally at home on WCLZ (adult contemporary), WJBQ (top 40), and WTHT (pop-country). They are catchy as hell, and easy to sing along to, but don't travel all the way down that top 40 road full of digital beats and a full-on eschewing of actual instruments.
"Neptune," the opening track, might give you pause, though. When it leads with a digital, swirling, wicka-wicka kind of non-instrument, you might get flashes of Gaga-lite. But producer Jonathan Wyman (and co-producer on this track, Spencer Albee) makes the smart decision to always keep Allen's voice front and center, which is the sort of thing that dispels fears in a hurry.
She's got an agile set of pipes, but Allen's not an Idol-style yeller by any means, and there are all kinds of little trills and sustains and a general vocal playfulness that carries this record.
In "Slipping Slow," it's the way she emphasizes each of the three syllables of "beautiful" with a piercing punctuation when she sings the chorus of "because you're so beautiful to me," and then polishes it off with a staccato "oh-oh-oh-oh-oh," that's pure throwback pop. In "Calling All (Hearts of Stone)," it's the way she rhymingly riffs on "calling" and "falling" in the chorus.
Heck, when she drops down in the register during the latter for "I been thrown around, up and down/Still I'm walking tall and proud," she might be a young Shania Twain. The one pop trapping this girl definitely does not need is Auto-Tune (well . . . I'm pretty sure, anyway).
There's a nagging feeling, though, that if Allen had gone all Kierkegaard and moody, and maybe done something like Jolie Holland's Escondida, it would have really been spectacular. It's a bit much to ask something like that of a 20-year-old songwriter, of course, but Neptune might leave some wishing for that spectacular voice matched with some material possessing more emotional gravity, something akin to the covers record used to introduce the 16-year-old Birdy to the world (such as the "American Boy" cover on the last EP, actually).
As it is, the material is pretty exclusively guy-girl, holding-hands, lovey-dovey stuff. Which is completely fine — just maybe a lost opportunity. Certainly, there will be any number of winsome young men wishing they were named differently so as to be the object of "Oh Peter": "I want to be the girl you say 'I love you' to-ooo." Here we finally get the prominent acoustic guitar the album's cover might make you expect, with a clap clap-clap in the chorus to ramp things up. The move from the bridge to the final couple of takes through the chorus gets the heart racing nicely, too.
Read more: http://portland.thephoenix.com/music/138716-amy-allen-travels-to-neptune/#ixzz2bsXrSXbZ
Amy Allen: Girl with a Guitar – Dispatch Magazine
Amy Allen isn’t your average pop singer. Though her tunes are catchy and her voice is honey-sweet, there is depth to Allen that I have trouble imagining in her contemporaries. Despite their success, I just can’t see Katy Perry leaning in and honestly, passionately talking about volunteering in Tanzania. Taylor Swift seems like a smart kid, but I don’t picture her thriving at Berklee. Allen, however, does it all with ease that makes her seem older than her 20 years.
Maybe that has something to do with her down-to-earth upbringing. Amy has never been a diva, which may have something to do with her Maine roots and close family ties. But instead of describing the songstress, I’ll let Allen speak for herself. We recently sat down in the Dispatch office to discuss her musical history, her influences, her ambitions, and her current idols. After that, we took Amy outside and turned her into the ultimate flower child. Read on to learn more about this up-and-coming star.
Listen while you read: Amy’s new single from Other Side of Somewhere
DISPATCH: How did you get into music? What made you want to be a musician?
AMY ALLEN: Originally, I started playing bass in fourth grade because I wanted to join my sisters all girl rock band in middle school.
DISPATCH: That sounds so cool!
AMY ALLEN: It was really cool. They needed a bass player, so I picked up the bass, and I did that for a little while. Then I started taking guitar lessons on the side with Carter Logan, the banjo player from a Portland band called The Jerks of Grass. Later, I joined the high school jazz band where I played guitar, but I refused to learn to read music so I left that pretty quickly after I started it [laughs]. But I just really fell in love with the guitar and writing songs. My sister and I did that together for awhile, and we started opening for Jerks of Grass in local bars when we were still really young, and from there I just took off songwriting. When my older sister went to college, I went solo.
Amy Allen girl with a guitar
Special thanks Mexicali Blues for providing the clothes for this feature!
DISPATCH: Do you have plans to work with your sister again?
AMY ALLEN: It’s hard. She went to college for lacrosse, and I went for music, so we chose different paths. But whenever we’re home we like to play together. She plays the drums, too. We go to the basement and rock out. My mom actually takes ukulele lessons now, so it’s pretty cool.
DISPATCH: Who were your major musical influences growing up?
AMY ALLEN: Locally, definitely Carter Logan. He taught me pretty much everything I know about playing guitar—and about being a musician. Right now, I’m a huge fan of The Civil Wars, I love Mumford and Sons, and Joni Mitchell has always been someone who inspires me. I look up to her in terms of songwriting and how she delivers her lyrics. Stevie Nicks is also really great; Fleetwood Mac has always been my favorite band. I love rootsy music, where people are writing their own songs.
DISPATCH: It seems like there’s been a resurgence of that sort of musician lately, with the new folk scene.
AMY ALLEN: I think so, too!
DISPATCH: Do you think that’s been tied to grassroots politics or the social changes we’ve seen?
AMY ALLEN: It’s funny because on the flip side, there’s also so much electronic music being made right now. Going to Berklee, that’s a huge part of the music scene. I personally think this is all feel-good music. Folk has had a long history of revealing these internalized, deeper feelings. But now, it seems to have gone mainstream, and has become much more palatable for wider groups of people. I personally love it.
DISPATCH: Would you describe your music as folky? Or, actually, just how would you describe your music?
AMY ALLEN: I love this question because I never know how to answer it! I try to get better at answering every time someone asks. When I write it, I think of it as folk-pop. But one of the fun parts of being an artist is that when you go into a studio, your work takes on a new identity. It’s funny, my songs always come out a little more pop than I imagine them in my head, but when they do come out I’m always just so happy with them. They’re everything and more than I would want them to be. But that’s a hard thing to answer!
Amy Allen Flower Child
DISPATCH: Someone once said, “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” It’s hard to describe.
AMY ALLEN: Yeah, it’s so hard to describe yourself. Folk-pop-rock, maybe? Singer-songwriter-folk-pop-rock. How long can we make this? [Laughs]
DISPATCH: This isn’t Twitter, we don’t need to limit it! I describe my music taste sometimes as “girls with guitars.”
AMY ALLEN: That works. Have you heard of Tristan Prettyman? Write that down! She’s great, so talented. I saw her recently in Boston, and it was great. I also love Rachel Yamagata and A Fine Frenzy.
DISPATCH: I know you were recording in Nashville recently—did y
Amy Allen Shows "Other Side" – Portland Press Herald
South Portland native Amy Allen started singing and playing guitar when she was 9 years old, and has been performing around New England ever since.
click image to enlarge
Amy Allen will be playing as part of the Alive at Five series in Portland’s Monument Square on July 18. Her latest EP proves she’s no Taylor Swift clone.
Select images available for purchase in the
Maine Today Photo Store
HOW IT RATES
AMY ALLEN – "OTHER SIDE OF SOMEWHERE"
PRODUCED BY: John Mark Painter and Leland Grant
Based on a four-star scale
She is a beautiful young woman playing country-influenced pop, so comparisons to Taylor Swift were inevitable. However, with the release of her third EP, "Other Side of Somewhere," her growing maturity as a songwriter is on full display, proving that she's no mere Swift clone; this is the sound of a talented original finally finding her own artistic voice.
Fans of modern country will find lots to love about "Other Side of Somewhere." The production is bright and crystal clear, and every one of these tracks is radio-ready straight out of the box.
And while Allen's sound is definitely rooted in the pastoral, this is no Patsy Cline record. Each track has been given a shiny pop sheen, with her voice placed front and center in the mix, more Martina McBride than Loretta Lynn. And there are hooks galore here too, with every tune sporting something memorable, be it a sing-along chorus or a toe-tapping verse guaranteed to keep these songs lodged in your brain for days.
The opening title track starts things off in fine upbeat fashion. It's a charming, feel-good summer song, all about not knowing what life will throw at you next and being perfectly OK with that idea.
"Other Side of Somewhere" segues nicely into what is perhaps the EP's catchiest song, "Rip Up Your Heart." An infectious hand-clapping backbeat lays the foundation for this one, in which Allen chides a friend who's constantly chasing after the wrong guy. "Rip Up Your Heart" is also the only track credited solely to Allen, and it's a nice example of her rapid development as a songwriter over the course of three EPs.
"So It Goes" is a poignant break-up ballad, but the mood is one of quiet resignation rather than despondency.
But the stand-out track of the EP is also the song that's the biggest departure from Allen's trademark pop country sound. "I'm on Your Side" is as sexy as anything Shania Twain's ever done, but its sassy brass and finger-snapping strut give it an almost jazz-like feeling, with Allen pouting and crooning breathlessly like Norah Jones. This one is a terrific example of Allen's range as a performer, and it would be fascinating to hear her cut a whole album in jazz chanteuse mode.
"What Are You Looking For" plants us solidly back in radio-friendly modern country mode, then the EP climaxes with a surprising cover.
Allen delivers a shockingly good version of Radiohead's classic "High and Dry," her version honoring the integrity of the original, while at the same time allowing her to put her own stamp on the song. The production gives it a high coat of Coldplay-esque gloss, and if this track ever reaches mainstream radio, Allen's got a bona fide hit on her hands.
How one feels about "Other Side of Somewhere" will depend largely on how one feels about modern country music. Still, there's enough catchiness and genuine heart on this album to satisfy even the pickiest of pop fans. Keep an eye on this young woman. Her talent and cross-over appeal are definitely going to take her someplace special.
Catch up with Allen's latest doings at www.amyallenmusic.com/, and be sure to catch her as part of the Alive at Five series in Portland's Monument Square on July 18. Allen's music can be purchased online and at all Bull Moose locations.
Rick Johnson is a freelance writer and radio host from Westbrook. He can be reached at email@example.com
LEWISTON, Maine (August 29, 2013) - Singer-songwriter Amy Allen, who appeared on season two of NBC’s The Voice, highlights a stellar entertainment lineup for the fifth annual Dempsey Challenge presented by Amgen. The event will take place Oct. 11 – 13 in Lewiston, Maine. Allen will share the stage with North of Nashville, Spencer Albee and the Maine Marimba Ensemble.
Allen hails from South Portland and is currently attending Berklee College of Music in Boston and has released three EPs. Her latest, titled Other Side of Somewhere, was recorded in Nashville. Following the release of her first EP, Honey, she was named Best New Act and Best New Vocalist by the Portland Phoenix. Her follow up effort, Neptune, received four starts in a Portland Press Herald review. She will perform at the Oct. 11 Courage Fest Marketplace and on the Festival in the Park entertainment stage on Oct. 13.
“Using music to support and improve the lives of others is why I began playing in the first place,” said Allen, whose first live performance was at her great grandmother’s nursing home. “I can't think of a better cause.”
North of Nashville, comprised of Portland’s Jay Basiner and Andrew Martelle, were named one of "10 Bands to Watch in 2013" by the Press Herald. Previously, the duo were part of This Way, a five-piece alt-country act nominated for “Best Folk, Country and Roots Act” by the 2012 New England Music Awards. The duo will perform on the entertainment stage on Oct. 13
Spencer Albee has been part of Portland’s music scene for nearly two decades. He was a member of Rustic Overtones and worked alongside some of the industry's leading engineers and producers with connections to Paul McCartney, Prince and Michael Jackson.
Albee recently released a self-titled album. His first, The Popsicko, enjoyed critical and commercial acclaim, spawning two number one singles and an offer from Island Records. He will perform on the entertainment stage on Oct. 12.
"We are honored to take part in such a wonderful and supportive cause that has been a grand staple to Maine and our nation's growing cancer awareness,” he said.
The six-member Maine Marimba Ensemble was featured on the popular TED Talks series. They perform complex polyrhythmic arrangements of traditional and contemporary Zimbabwean music on their set of homemade marimbas. They’ll keep Festival in the Park attendees dancing on Oct. 13.
The Dempsey Challenge, which serves as the primary fundraiser for The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing, kicks off on Friday, October 11th with Courage Fest. The Courage Fest Marketplace at The Atrium opens its doors to the public at 4:00pm in downtown Lewiston and will showcase a farmers and gourmet marketplace, local restaurants and the very best of Maine’s wine, hard cider and craft beers. The Franco Center will be showing a free screening of the Peloton Project, an inspiring film produced by Patrick Dempsey; and wrapping up the evening with the official after-party at Gritty McDuff’s L-A Brew Pub. Participants will hit the streets in the 5K and 10K run/walk on October 12 and cycling routes of 10, 25, 50, 70 and 100 miles on October 13. All events will begin and end at Simard-Payne Memorial Park.
The weekend will include a family friendly Festival in the Park which plays host to a Health and Wellness Expo, KidZone, a free Kids Fun Run, vendor fair and live entertainment. The Amgen Breakaway from Cancer Survivor Walk highlights the weekend festivities, Oct. 12 at 10 a.m.
Participants are encouraged to create or join teams through the Dempsey Challenge website to build camaraderie and assist their fundraising efforts. For more information visit dempseychallenge.org.
The 50 Musicians You Need to Know From Each State in the US – Culture Trip
Following on from a look at the top 50 male musicians state-by-state across the United States, Culture Trip concludes its two-part installation with the 50 female artists and groups from every corner of the U.S. you need to know right now. Determined to present the next class of musicians on the rise, every selected artist has under 100,000 likes on Facebook, save one or two exceptions, and genres include hip hop, country, indie, soul, electronic, rock, jazz, dance-punk, R&B, and more.
Portland’s Amy Allen previously appeared as a contestant on The Voice, and she studied songwriting at Berklee College of Music. Her debut EP, TandeMania, is the dream of a brighter Billboard chart, comfortably picking from the pop-rock of the ’50s and the danceable beats of the ’80s.
Amy & The Engine to make Waterville Debut – Central Maine
Back in June 2014, I chatted with a young lady, Amy Allen by name, who was putting together a new band and heading in a new musical direction. Allen had a successful solo career with three EPs and a couple of awards under her belt when the decision to get together a group of like-minded musician friends became Amy & The Engine. She ended up playing at the Waterfront Concert Series in Gardiner the following month. Well, the Berklee graduate and current Boston resident recently talked with me about what’s happened since our last conversation.
Q: Well, I’ve been enjoying the six-song album you have on your website “TandeMania.” Is this your first record?
Allen: As Amy & The Engine, yeah, it’s our first one.
Q: When did it come out?
Allen: We released the whole record last November, but we released the first single in February of 2015.
Q: Are you working on anything new?
Allen: Yeah, we’re right in the middle of our first full-length record right now, which I’m really excited about. It’s the most excited I’ve been about any music I’ve ever made. I can’t wait to get it out.
Q: So, how far along in the process are you?
Allen: I’d say I’m about a third of the way through. We’re working with a mixing engineer in Los Angeles who’s mixed some of my favorite records of all time, so I was honored and really excited when he agreed to take on the project. He was really excited about it, which made me feel really good about it, too. So, he’s mixing the second song right now and there’s going to be about nine songs, I’m guessing eight or nine. We’re in the beginning phases of that, but we have about four songs 90 percent done, so we have about five more to go, I would say. But it’s going really well. We always record the basics, like drums and bass, in Windham, Maine, at this place called The Halo with my friend John Wyman. He’s recorded me since I was 17 years old, so it’s really fun to get to work with him and to get to be home in Maine recording. I really love doing that. So, we usually do the basics there and then we kind of bounce between home studios in Boston and Brooklyn record the rest of it. So, that’s what we’ve been up to, and of course we’ve been playing a ton of shows all the time which is good, too, so we’ve been very busy.
Q: Well, that keeps your chops well-honed.
Allen: Yeah, definitely, definitely!
Q: Now about your band, The Engine, are there three members or five? I’ve seen pictures of both configurations on your website.
Allen: So, the three core members of The Engine that have been in it from day-one are myself, Manuel Ruiz, he’s the drummer and he’s from Lima, Peru, but we met at school in Boston. And then the third member is Vinny Da Silva and he’s from Brazil and is the lead guitarist. We have other members. We have a bass player and a utility player that plays keys and electric guitar and sings, but those two people alternate a little bit. So, really the band proper is the three of us, and then when we play live shows, we’ll have two other members on stage with us.
Q: So, that would mean that when you hit Waterville you’ll have those other two members with you?
Allen: Yeah, we’ll be a full band when we play there; there will be five pieces. The bass player will be Steve Bunce, and I’m not completely sure who is going to be confirmed as the other player at this time, though.
Q: Have you ever played in Waterville before?
Allen: Not that I can remember, so I think that this will be our first time.
Q: Now, is what we hear on “TandeMania” pretty representative of what your band sounds like live?
Allen: Umm, that’s a good question. I think what is on the record isn’t quite as rock as we are live. My biggest influences growing up was my dad playing music for me in the car on the way home from ballet and figure skating. He played a lot of Rolling Stones and David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen. The Pretenders were a huge one for me. So, it was a lot of classic rock and those influences come out more live then they do in that first record “TandeMania” that’s out. But this second record I’ve worked really hard to let those classic rock influences kind of come through the recording more. So, the new record is going to be much more representational of what we sound like live. It’s going to be a little bit heavier and rockier than “TandeMania.” But all of that being said, all the songs on “TandeMania” we do play live and we play them pretty close to how you hear them now, but just a little more classic rock than those album tracks are, not quite as studio pop.
Q: Well, one of the things I enjoyed about your latest album was that girl-group sound that came through loud and clear. It was a refreshing kind of blast-from-the-past, if you will.
Allen: Oh, thank you! I’m so glad that you could hear those influences in there. I fell in love with the Supremes and Dionne Warwick when I was so young. Those are the records that I always go back to when I’m in a rut with writing or lyrics in general. I’ve always relied on those types of melodies and harmonies in my songs, so I’m glad that you could pick up on those.
Q: Is there anything, Amy, seeing this is the first time you’ve performed in Waterville, that you’d like me to pass on to the readers of this article?
Allen: I think it’s always nice to, when I’m playing Maine shows, let the audience know that I’m originally from Windham, Maine. That’s where I grew up. I would also like them to know that we’ll be releasing a new record in early 2017. Oh, and that all of our music can be found on Spotify, iTunes and Youtube. We’re pretty much available on all of those platforms if they want to find it. (www.amyandtheengine.com)