LOS ANGELES, CA- Founded in 2012, WE FOUND NEW MUSIC (“WFNM”) has been a go-to artist discovery platform that has been finding gems in the music industry rubble. Its founder, Grant Owens, has been tireless in the pursuit of the “next big thing”; and he’s had a pretty impressive track record. From Billie Eilish, to Imagine Dragon to Bishop Briggs, Grant has featured and debuted of the biggest pop music acts of today.
WFNM gives rising talent to share their stories through radio show interviews and other publicity initiatives, but the crown jewel of the activities is the weekly showcases that Grant curates. Currently held at Bar Lubitsch in West Hollywood, we were able to attend the “season debut” of their weekly showcase a few weeks ago. In that instant, I was already familiar with all of the acts slated to perform that evening. On this evening, August 12, 2021. however, I went in blind. There was only one act I had a passing familiarity with. Everything else would be a surprise. A very pleasant surprise.
The show opened with a bang when Zee Machine took the stage. Nee Joe Bissell, Zee Machine brought an energy and enthusiasm to a room whose audience was slowly trickling in. If Zee Machine’s music foreshadowed what we were to expect for the rest of the evening, the bar was set high. It would have to be pop-perfection, and nothing less.
In his music, you could hear hints of a variety of influences. If I had to guess what songs he would put in a self-created playlist I could imagine him putting in everything from Prince to NSYNC to Gloria Estafan. There was a lot of joy in both his music and his performance, and it really made for a genuinely, enjoyable time. His tenor voice has a timbre perfectly suited for the pop music he performed. The smooth transitions from his chest voice into his falsetto really demonstrated a masterful control of his instrument.
In doing a little research on him after the show, I learned that he’s had to overcome a lot of personal struggles. Without knowing better, I would have never assumed that he overcame a serious addiction to meth. With the amount of organic joy he exhibited on stage, it appears that those are crosses he no longer bears.
Of the acts slated to perform this evening, the one artist that I was somewhat familiar with was Courtney Paige Nelson. As I mentioned in an Instagram post, during the pandemic, I got invited to the social media application Clubhouse and found myself as a moderator in certain music industry rooms, joining in on discussions of music law and business. Courtney was one of my first followers on Clubhouse and we’ve had offline conversations with her about the music business. Having just released her latest single, “Cry Wolf”, I thought it’d be a good time to catch her perform live.
Courtney used her time on stage to really hit on all of the facets of her musicality. The only recordings I’ve heard of hers are all studio produced, with crisp electronic production. On this evening, she stripped a couple of them down to acoustic versions. I could only recognize one of the songs, “Cease And Desist”, and I found her acoustic version to be much more emotionally impactful than the studio recording. There was a real palpable sense of vulnerability when she sang, “I see, I see, What you really want from me, Tiptoe near you carefully”.
I think that that vulnerability really gives Courtney’s live performance an edge. The pulling on the heartstrings through her personal lyrics, whether backed by electronic production or an acoustic guitar, really gives the live performance that human touch that I think can serve her very well in the future.
The next act to take the stage was the husband and wife duo YVR. Courtney Jenaé and Stephen Stahl … and this is no exaggeration… blew me away with their music.
I won’t sugarcoat it, I think I prefer hearing their music live. The drops hit harder. The crescendos feel so much bigger. I remember when they performed “What If”, and Courtney belted the chorus in full chest voice, I had what can only be classified as a “permanent stank face”. Mon, Dieu. That was a moment. Perhaps it was because it was the first time I heard that song, but man… I think I have stank face writing this sentence right now just thinking about it.
I read somewhere after the gig that the couple had spent some time in the far east as k-pop writers (with multiple #1 Korean pop hit credits on their songwriting resume), and it didn’t surprise me. You could hear the craft in each of their compositions. Perfect lead-ins. Catchy hooks. Seamless transitions of both mood and sections. The choruses of “Out Of It” and “Always You” … I mean, how big and catchy can a song get? Catchy enough to lure me in. I’m sold on this couple.
As much as I despise the TikTok app, I’ve got to give it some credit for giving a talent like goodboy noah a platform to flourish one. A self-described “run-of-the-mill, average, Jewish R&B singer with a heart of gold”, the kid is way too humble. goodboy noah drops some pretty damn good music, and knows how to drop good vibes on a crowd as well.
Even though his music focuses on love and other typical motifs of the R&B genre, there is a certain youthful playfulness and innocence in his lyrics and delivery that’s like a breath of fresh air. In my humble opinion, I feel like R&B artists tend to take themselves a bit too seriously these days. Sure, there’s a time and place for socio-political, Marvin Gaye-esque R&B music and super romantic, let’s get married type music, but every now and then we need a PTR to rest and just get back to having some fun. goodboy noah does just that.
His performance was breezy and light and just what the doctor ordered. He even threw in a cleverly arranged cover of Rick Springfield’s “Jessie Girl” that elicited even wider smiles from the audience. As long as he can keep those smiles on the faces giving him attention, I think that this run-of-the-mill, average, Jewish R&B sing with a heart of gold will do just fine.
The R&B vibes continued when Joe Daccache got up on stage. Dressed in a sleek beige suit with a sleeveless white t-shirt, and adorned with a gold chain hanging from his neck, I was thinking some smooth 90’s R&B vibes before he hit his first note. By the time he passionately belted the chorus to “Make It Last”, he fulfilled my prediction. I was getting Stockley Williams (Mint Condition) vibes from him.
Prior to closing out his set, and thus the evening, he gave the audience a glimpse into his personal life and told the story of his coming out to his family. He emphasized the importance of living one’s truth and encouraged those dealing with similar issues as his to join him in celebrating that truth with his finale “F.A.G.” (“Fabulous And Gay”). A very positive outro to a very positive evening of some extremely good pop music.
We Found New Music artist showcase happens every Thursday at Bar Lubitsch for the foreseeable future, subject to Covid restrictions/lockdowns. Check out their calendar and discover some new music!