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10 Live Session Recordings You Need to Hear Right Now

KALEO - "Way Down We Go" Live in a Volcano

Blues-steeped folk rock band KALEO formed in Mosfellsbær (outside of Reykjavik), Iceland. Jökull Júlíusson (vocals and guitar), Davíð Antonsson (drums), Daníel Ægir Kristjánsson (bass), and Rubin Pollock (guitar) made their live debut in 2012 and began releasing original music shortly after. The group struck gold with their 2013 live radio performance of traditional Icelandic song "Vor í Vaglaskógi" and signed with major record label Sena later that year. From there, KALEO only grew in popularity, achieving gold status, five number one hits, and a headline European tour. Before long, KALEO signed with Atlantic Records in the US. Track "Way Down We Go" quickly became an international sensation, as well as their 2016 album A/B, which rose to number 16 on the Billboard Top 200 Charts.

Have you ever wondered what it's like inside a volcano? Wonder no longer. KALEO took their 2015 smash hit "way down" into the depths of the Þríhnúkagígur Volcano in Iceland. A lengthy introduction to the live performance shows the band traversing across the expansive plain at the base of the volcano and trekking up its steep side on foot, instruments in hand. A machine lowers them down through the inside mouth to the dark, damp depths of Þríhnúkagígur. A ring of natural lighting from above casts a dim halo over KALEO and condensation drips from the walls around them. The cold air leaves Júlíusson's voice visible as he sings, further adding to the surreal (probably freezing cold) aesthetics of the session.

The location promotes not only visual intrigue, but also an inimitable sound quality, with cavernous acoustics and natural echoes bouncing around the walls of the volcano. Quiet moments of only guitar and vocals linger eerily before the full instrumentation starts. The raw, gritty vocal take explodes with emotion and power during choruses; the band mirrors the same energy. In a sense, KALEO causes the normally dormant Þríhnúkagígur Volcano to erupt with bluesy musical chaos.

The Backseat Lovers Maple Syrup Acoustic Sailboat Session

Hailing from Utah in the US, indie rock outfit the Backseat Lovers have been on the scene since the release of their debut EP Elevator Days in 2018. 2019 hit single "Kilby Girl" accumulated more than 200 million streams on Spotify alone and hit number 39 on the Billboard Rock & Alternative Airplay charts. The band, which consists of members Joshua Harmon (lead vocals and second guitar), Jonas Swanson (lead guitar and vocals), KJ Ward (bass), and Juice Welch (drummer and background vocals), has brought a contagiously upbeat energy to sold-out shows across the US, Europe, Australia, and the UK. The group continues to rock the boat (literally) as the latest stars in the indie rock genre.

During the late lockdown period of 2021, the Backseat Lovers recorded an acoustic version of their popular song "Maple Syrup" on a sailboat. The easy-going live session recording brought light and optimism back to listeners everywhere (and also made us really miss live music). With just three guitars and one drum, the group created a cozy musical tête-a-tête. Ward's inventive use of the low strings on his acoustic guitar to mimic bass parts and subtle group harmonies are just a few of the elements that make the sailboat session special. The soft glow of sunset on the water gives "Maple Syrup" a genuine and welcoming vibe.

Aurora x Pomme - "Everything Matters" Live on RHYTHM BY MODZIK

Norwegian singer-songwriter AURORA is known for her dreamy folk pop sound and ethereal, fae-like appearance. Shortly after the release of her self-released debut single "Awakening" in 2013, she began working with major record labels. Debut album All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend brought more attention to her music, dedicated to "the warriors and the weirdos". Each new release brings AURORA further to the forefront of the music industry and to the tops of charts across the globe. Created in collaboration with rising French artist Pomme, "Everything Matters" appears on AURORA's 2022 album The Gods We Can Touch.

With both musicians known for their silky soft vocals, it's no surprise that "Everything Matters" is a fairytale come to life. The track opens with an ambient, haunting guitar before AURORA's first verse begins. Soft electronic drums add to the energy of the song as Pomme joins in with unison vocals. The MODZIK TV live session brings an element of surprise to new listeners, beginning with a close-up view of AURORA before panning out to reveal Pomme sitting beside her with a handheld microphone. The live video feels like a fever dream, from the soft pastel background to the contrasting styles of the two artists. This dichotomy manifests itself not only visually, but also in angelic harmonies, which change and evolve as the song progresses. The simplicity of the session's layout sets it apart from others; "Everything Matters" live on RHYTHM BY MODZIK finds the beauty in human connection. The final verse features Pomme on melody in the French language. Deviating once again from the original recording, delicate piano melodies fade out to an intimate a capella moment.

Noga Erez - Succulent Sessions

Tel Aviv, Israel's singer-songwriter and producer Noga Erez combines music and activism with her outside-the-box approach to electronic pop. Erez was born just one year before the Gulf War started, eventually utilizing her musical education at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces as a military musician. In the years following, she played in an indie folk group and a jazz trio before discovering her affinity for electronic music. From 2012 on, she and her collaborator and life partner, producer Ori Rousso, established a voice that is both sonically unique and socially poignant.

Erez combines clever, sardonic, and blunt lyricism with a vibrant, individualistic electronic arrangement. The artist has been outspoken about issues in her home community, writing "Dance While You Shoot" about the guilt and irony of living safely beside other neighborhoods devastated by war. 2017's "Pity" sparked conversation surrounding women's safety and sexual assault in Tel Aviv.

Noga Erez's artful delivery of serious topics draws global focus and promotes equality and optimism. Her live performance at Tel Aviv's Succulent Sessions reimagines her dynamic electronic sound with a fully live band. Erez incorporates horns, piano, guitar, bass, and percussion in this cohesive, stripped down set. The band hits every pause and groove, balancing playful interactions with complex arrangements. Standout song "Views" begins about eleven minutes and thirty seconds into the recording. An addictive vocal hook by Rousso paired with Erez's witty lyricism keep listeners coming back for more. The colorful, aesthetically pleasing session places Erez and her collaborators in a room teeming with succulents–any plant-parent's dream.

Alewya x Moses Boyd - "The Code" Live Session

Born in Saudi Arabia and raised in Sudan before moving to West London as a refugee at age five, Alewya found inspiration in Ethiopian and Arabic devotional music introduced by her parents, as well as edgy alternative rock from London's music scene. With a name that translates from Arabic as "the highest", it's no surprise that Alewya's musical identity is based upon themes of transcendence. Her debut single "Sweating" in 2020 (produced by UK and Ghana-based producers Busy Twist and mastered by Shy FX) caught ears around the world, leading to collaborations with the likes of Little Simz and award winning producer, composer, and drummer Moses Boyd.

Co-written and co-performed between Alewya and Moses Boyd, 2021's "The Code" blends alternative rock, R&B, pop, and electronic music into one supersong. The tune's dark, serious energy combined with sultry pop vocals has been likened by fans to a Rihanna-Nirvana lovechild. The session opens with a clean toned guitar riff, which is joined shortly after by Alewya's reverberating, grungy lead guitar melodies. A laid-back live drum kit contrasts with pop and hip-hop-driven singing. As "The Code" progresses, the live recording grows into an energetic rock jam, complete with guitar solos, amp feedback, and flashing lights. Visually, Alewya and Boyd create a trendy yet edgy set and performance. Simply put, it's cool.

Parcels - 90th Anniversary Session Live At Abbey Road

Australia's favorite electro-funk five piece, Parcels, has been stirring up the music market since their early singles in 2016. 2017 track "Overnight" (produced by Daft Punk) was a turning point in the group's progress, with the debut self-titled album that followed hitting the top 100 on the ARIA charts. "Tieduprightnow", "Lightenup", and "Comedown", among other songs, saw instant popularity. The arrival of Parcels' 2021 sophomore double album Day/Night brought a brand new collection of bops, including "Somethinggreater" and "Theworstthing". Headline world tours have taken the quintet on an ultra-funky journey through the UK, Europe, Australia, and the US.

Parcels recorded a roughly 16-minute set at the iconic Abbey Road studio to celebrate its 90th anniversary. The pairing seems fitting given that the entire band, guitarist Jules Crommelin in particular, looks like a long lost member of the Beatles. "Comingback" sets an upbeat tone, building anticipation with a lengthy build before dropping down to only guitar and an impressive set of harmonies. Another aspect of this live recording session which deserves special mention occurs about nine minutes and 57 seconds into the YouTube video. Funky, pocketed "Famous" transitions seamlessly into the next song via groovy instrumental jam. Overall, the session explores playful improvisation and showcases the easy-going creative flow of Parcels.

K.Flay - "High Enough" Seattle Sessions

K. Flay, also known as Kristine Flaherty, was prompted to step into the spotlight during her time as a student at Stanford University in California. The misogyny she heard in mainstream rap fueled her debut mixtape in 2004, a parody of the genre titled Suburban Rap Queen. She continued to gain traction with each new release, eventually collaborating with MC Lars on a playful EP, Single and Famous. Flaherty signed to RCA Records in 2012, but left the following year to develop her fresh take on electronic music and alternative rap independently. Her debut album Life as a Dog reached Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart and she toured the US and Europe extensively before signing to a branch of Interscope Records.

In 2018, Flaherty released an EP of orchestrated version of five songs from her acclaimed Every Where Is Some Where album. The sessions took place in a studio jam packed with different instruments, with various sections of a classical orchestra coming in to record parts. The official Seattle Sessions videos give fans a glimpse into the BTS process of the project and its many steps. "High Enough", which plays as a dark alternative pop song on the original record, transforms into a passionately building classical-pop fusion through thoughtful arranging and a powerful build. Flaherty's classic vocal timbre brings a sense of familiarity to the rendition, despite it being so fresh instrumentally.

Michael Kiwanuka - "Cold Little Heart" Live Session

Born in London and raised by Ugandan parents, Michael Kiwanuka fell in love with rock, jazz, and classic soul. He played in a number of bands before discovering a stripped-down outtake of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" that inspired his own original sound. Kiwanuka worked as a session musician for some time before being discovered by Paul Butler of the Bees and invited to record original music. Two EPs later, the artist was whisked away to support Adele on her UK tour. The first track off his 2016 album Love & Hate made a name as a staple not only in the music industry, but also in the world of film and television as the theme song for award-winning series Big Little Lies.

While the condensed radio edit of "Cold Little Heart" may sound familiar to many people, the full length song and live session version patiently and masterfully bring elements into the arrangement. Clocking in at nearly 12 minutes, the recording provides an immersive experience worth every second spent listening. Ambient synthesizers serve as a backdrop for the expressive slide guitar solo, which occupies the first three and a half minutes of the song. At this point in the session, not a single word has been spoken, yet Kiwanuka communicates strong emotions through thoughtful guitar playing. Three backing vocalists join the band, with unrushed harmonies and unified delivery.

In the next minute, the rest of the group joins Kiwanuka, the synths, and the backing vocals in a soulful, slow jam. The turning point in the song, where the melodies, chord progressions, and key itself change, sets it apart from any other song. Sonic elements interwoven throughout the intro and main progression highlight Kiwanuka's nuanced songwriting style. The strong, evocative main vocal leads listeners through each new modulation and breakdown.

Beabadoobee - "the perfect pair" Official Live Video

Beabadoobee, also known as Bea Kristi, was born in the Philippines and grew up in London. Raised on classical violin lessons, Pinoy music, and 90s alternative, Kristi found her creative voice as a teenager. She learned to play the guitar through online tutorials and eventually released her first single "Coffee" in 2017. The track became an unexpected hit, going viral online and amassing thousands upon thousands of views. Armed with record label support and a full band arrangement, Kristi stunned fans with her Loveworm EP, which brought out new facets of her musicality. She has since collaborated with artists like the 1975's Matty Healy, Pete Robertson, and PinkPantheress.

Soft, uptempo instrumentals combined with Kristi's angelic vocal performance suit the classic Beabadoobee brand, but seeing the performance live packs an extra punch. Sweet lyrics and subtle harmonies bring the song to life. The mellow atmosphere of warm natural light, plants, and very comfortable-looking leather couches makes the listener wish to be in the room with the singer. The unconventional and eye-catching setup of the session leaves each member of the band space to get lost in the music on their own while also connecting with one another.

Toro y Moi - Live from Trona

Chillwave pioneer Toro y Moi is the project of Chaz Bundick (Chaz Bear). Knitting together elements of soul, new wave, funk, modern indie, and psychedelic rock, Bundick's music explores an amalgamation of genres that seemed, for many years, to be impossibly different. By 2009, Bundick had attracted the attention of a record label and of a hungry audience. The dreamy, atypical Toro y Moi sound gave rise to a new generation of alternative lo-fi talent and opened up an entirely new music market.

The Toro y Moi live performance recording in Trona demonstrates the constant evolution of Bundick's creative inspirations, with a healthy blend of feel-good dance songs and moody, contemplative moments. The psychedelic undertones and desert setting of the Live from Trona show recall Pink Floyd's "Echoes" Live at Pompeii. Lively layered guitars and keyboards serve as a rich backdrop to nonchalant vocals. An electronic transition brings mind-bending animated visuals and a nighttime setlist. Percussion, prominent bass, and peppy guitar riffs give Toro y Moi's sound fresh flavor. Red lights, glowing spheres, and aerial shots of the band's circular setup further incorporate trippy themes bringing the absurd and fastic to life.


What artists or topics do you want to see covered next on Enharmonic Magazine? Let us know in the comments below.


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