Single Review: Haley Johnsen / Feel The Water

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Back from her early January tour dates, Haley Johnsen returns to Portland to release her captivating new single “Feel The Water”. Last summer, Haley released her EP “Through the Blue” where she demonstrated her powerful vocals and sincere songwriting abilities. In her latest release she continues to provide fans with music that leaves you inspired and wanting to sing along.

“This song emerged for me while I was receiving a guitar lesson from my bandmate, Tim Karplus”, Haley explains. “The guitar melody line became the starting point to where the song would eventually write itself. The vocal melody came very naturally, almost as if it was certain it could be no other way.”

The first time I heard the chorus it felt like a gentle question for a friend and then evolved into a triumphant declaration by the end of the song. Speaking of evolution, Haley is emerging as a songwriter who can effortlessly express her message to the listener. Haley and her band have created an environment in this song that is inviting and draws you in.

Haley EditHaley goes on to explain, “As I was writing it, I couldn’t help but keep hearing the word “water”. I wasn’t sure why it kept insisting on itself, but the water came to represent something much greater than I’d imagined. The water represents all of our potential. Our depth. Our wildest dreams. This song became a reminder to myself and others to not be afraid to live a life of excellence. To make no excuse to settle for mediocrity or wade in shallowness, and to believe in oneself despite the ever looming shadow of complacency. This is the first song that my band and I collaborated on both outside and inside of the studio, and I feel so grateful to have found the right group of musicians to create with.”

With this single, Haley Johnsen has given us some of her best work yet. If “Feel The Water” is any indication, we have plenty to look forward to in her future releases!

Feel The Water: Available January 22nd!

Catch Haley on Local Roots Live, March 9th at Alberta St Pub.


Haley Johnsen- vocal, acoustic guitar
Barrett Johnson- acoustic guitar
Tom Dawson- electric guitar
Tim Karplus- bass
Mark Powers- drums


Skyler Norwood (Miracle Lake Studios)- production/engineering
Jason Carter (Atomic Disc)- mixing
Ed Brooks (RFI Mastering)- mastering

Over Alders album review


A mixture of styles and sonic layers set the stage for a significant message on the self-titled release from Over Alders. This album has a flow and feeling like a soundtrack for a movie. Each song is it’s own scene, standing on it’s own but showing you more and more as the record unfolds. This alt-rock duo has put together a collection of tracks that explore a multitude of emotions and concepts. Jason Henderson Amare (vocals/guitar/keys/piano/bass/percussion) & Tiffany Mericle (vocals/piano/keys) have well thought out vocals and lyrics that address topics like gender equality & the subtleties in relationships. I’ve always been a fan of records that showcase various sounds and styles because you can explore them for a longer time. On this LP, Over Alders deliver that same diversity that will keep the listener feeling engaged and connected.

As I was driving around our beautiful city, listening to this record, I was intrigued by what type of songs would be coming up. You can hear singer songwriter, rock, and ambient influences in the selection of songs. By the time I got to the seventh song “Doorway”, I had heard a large range of styles that managed to also sound cohesive. For some first time listeners this approach to songwriting can be jarring as they are beginning to form an opinion about the artist. However I feel the diversity in this album creates opportunities to get a glimpse into different parts of the artist’s mind. If you are a fan of albums that evolve over time this is one you need to pick up. With any record I buy I find myself liking a group of songs when I first start listening. The truth is there are songs on every album that take longer to connect with. I always find it’s satisfying to make a connection with a song after having heard it a good amount of times.

liveJason and Tiffany have a special balance in their voice. Jason’s vocals remind me of one my favorite singers, Alain Johannes of Eleven who was also in, Queens of The Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, and many more great bands. I’m a long time fan of the band Eleven and in a way the music of Over Alders has the same spirit to it. On the song “My Way” Jason keeps you absorbed with his approach to the melody. This song had me captivated from the beginning thanks to the percussion and moving bass line. After being drawn in by the acoustic riffs and strings I found profound lyrics that address some heavy subjects. I applaud them for having the courage to share the things that are important to them. Throughout the album both of their vocals dance back and forth between counter melodies and harmonies. Tiffany has the ability to draw you into a song with her voice alone. You’ll find the contrast of a playful melody up against an important message in the song “Smile”. It’s this juxtaposition and dynamic attribute that made me really appreciate the songwriting and production of the songs.

When producing a project some artists focus too much on continuity and that may limit their creativity. I don’t feel like Jason and Tiffany put up many walls when it came to presenting ideas for this project. I am interested to see where they go from here and hope they keep the same methodology moving forward. As a request I’d like to see them dive further into the ambient rock realm because I feel their ability to write strong melodies could really shine there. Over Alders have a lot of different things to offer your ears and in my mind that is their biggest strength. This album is a fitting companion to any music lover with an eclectic taste.

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Catch Over Alders on January 26th at Mississippi Pizza and pick up the album in person.


pseudoboss album review


It’s been a long-standing belief of mine that you should listen to a record all the way through at least four times before you make up your mind about it. With the self-titled release from pseudoboss I did just that and found myself immediately captivated by the dynamic intensity of this power trio. I feel they have a Classic rock meets atmospheric alternative sound with a splash of gasoline. The band is known for their high energy shows so I was looking forward to seeing if they could capture that in the studio. With the help of producer Ian Watts they have recorded an album that has all the power of a live performance and a few wonderful surprises.


Photo by Teri Briggs

Recently in an interview on Portland Radio Project, Noah Stroup (lead vocalist/guitarist) explained to me that they tracked the record in six days and did the majority of it live. From a production standpoint this was absolutely the best call they could have made. You can hear our interview on Portland Radio Project here:

One aspect of this album that I really enjoyed was the attention to detail and nuance in the guitar layers. Justin Gibson (lead guitar/backing vocals) plays a soaring anthemic solo on “Bombs Away” and has moments of brilliance all throughout the record. I loved the softly picked harmonics during the intro of the song “Fallen Solider Part I” and then the unexpected appearance of a piano in “Fallen Solider Part II”. When listening to the album with headphones on there is a sense of intimacy with the record that can get lost in a live setting. One of the songs you find this vibe on is “I’ve Been There”. In this song, Charley McGowan (Drums) plays an alluring and almost haunting piece during the verses on his toms. This was followed by hard-hitting cymbals and relentless intensity on the choruses, bridge and outro.


By the third or fourth time I was listening through I found myself looking forward to certain parts of the record where the guys have done a wonderful job of layering vocals. They do so in a way that compliments these well crafted songs. At times the vocals are no nonsense and in your face like on the track “Make Her Scream”. They used a texture on Noah’s voice that reminds me of the classic Delta Blues sounds from the 50’s and 60’s. Then they showcase a larger sonic quality on “Devil May Care” with a sweeping melody and harmonies during the bridge and outro. It’s clear when you hear these songs that the band put a lot of work into their individual parts and how they come together. Noah’s melodies and lyrics propel you through the songs where you can hear the honesty in his voice. The members of pseudoboss have poured their hearts into this project and it shows.

The only complaint I have about the album is that I wish there were more songs for me to enjoy. However the nine songs on the record individually stand on their own but together make very captivating and exciting record to listen to. This one will be in my personal playlist for months to come.

The band is releasing the album this Saturday at the Wonder Ballroom. Do yourself a favor, go to the show and get this record!