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Music

New Alaska music from Concrete to Clouds, Blackwater, Emma Hill and many more

  • Author: Chris Bieri
    , Danielle DuClos
  • Updated: June 10
  • Published June 10

Summer is here, and even though live music performances are still fairly sparse, a number of Alaska musicians have released new tracks and albums in recent weeks.

From a new book with an accompanying soundtrack to a throwback to a famous musical name, here’s a sampling of what’s new in Alaska music.

’Live at Kukuau Studio Vol. 1 ’ Blackwater Railroad Company

Blackwater Railroad Company, “Live at Kukuau Studio Vol. 1”

The bluegrass, country group sounds just as good live — maybe even better.

Their new four-track EP of live takes recorded at Hilo’s Kukuau Studio features their popular “Alaska Song” and “Kids at Play.” Listeners can fully appreciate the breadth of the group’s instrumental talent and sweet harmonies with this raw performance.

The laughter and applause of the crowd and commentary of frontman Tyson Davis give the feeling of an intimate, private concert.

— Danielle DuClos

’Anyone There? ’ Cannon Fire Orange (Album art by David Tatum)

Cannon Fire Orange, “Anyone There?”

Indie rock band Cannon Fire Orange just dropped their first EP, and as their name suggests, it is fire.

The album has five tracks of feel-good alternative rock. Its third song, “Homesick,” takes on a new meaning within the context of COVID-19. The feeling of not wanting to be either inside or outside definitely resonates.

The EP also features the group’s first single, originally released in 2019: “Yeah Yeah Yeah,” a classic headbanger rock song. The up-and-coming group has a youthful, energetic sound great for blasting with the windows down.

— Danielle DuClos

’21st Sensory ’ Chad Reynvaan (Album art by Brian John Park)

Chad Reynvaan, “21st Sensory

Chad Reynvaan’s musical fingerprints are all over the Alaska scene. He’s recorded or produced albums for a number prominent artists at his Wattage Studio and has displayed his chops playing with groups like Medium Build and The Sweeteners. Reynvaan’s many rock influences are clear in his recent solo release, “21st Sensory.”

“Permanently Lost,” the album’s first single, would fit neatly in the Weezer catalog. “World of Lies” is a track that could be pulled right out of a Tom Petty record, and other songs on the album draw on Reynvaan’s favorite sounds from bands like Wilco and the Cars.

Featuring a number of Alaska musicians in supporting roles, “21st Century" is a quintessential summer rock album perfect for a cruise down Turnagain Arm.

— Chris Bieri

Orion Donicht, ’Hand-Dug Well Full of Snakes ’

Orion Donicht, “Hand-Dug Well Full of Snakes

Orion Donicht’s most recent project is a double-release of sorts. The Homer-based songwriter penned a book, “Hand-Dug Well Full of Snakes," and recorded a number of songs as a soundtrack to the book. The book focuses on Donicht’s travels from Minnesota to Alaska, leaving his father’s ashes in different spots along the way.

“The book itself is about my drive from the Mississippi River to Denali, spreading my dad’s ashes along the way,” Donicht said. “A bunch of his tunes are featured in the book, so I recorded them, just me and a guitar, to accompany the story.”

Some of the songs, like “Vampires of Cedar Avenue,” are familiar to fans of Donicht’s music, but others he hasn’t regularly performed.

— Chris Bieri

’Characters ’ Concrete to Clouds

Concrete to Clouds, “Characters”

The four member indie-rock band wrote “Characters” with lyrics that have exactly 280 characters, including spaces, the maximum number allowed in a tweet. The song criticizes our overuse of social media and calls for people to get out from behind their screens and have person-to-person conversations.

The line “don’t waste time, please choose to love” is nothing short of what the world could use right now.

— Danielle DuClos

Emma Hill, “Heart on Fire”

Emma Hill, with her musical ally Bryan Daste, released her sixth album, “Magnesium Dreams,” in 2019, and the video for its first track came out June 5.

“(Heat on Fire) is about being in love with someone who’s emotionally unavailable/stunted, and they’re trying to care and be better but just can’t meet you at the level you were hoping for,” Hill said.

The video plays out with the singer building a life-size robot based on the toy she lost as a child. Their love blossoms as the robot struggles with his lack of humanity, and since he can’t love her in the way she needs, he builds himself a heart that ends up destroying him.

“The lesson is probably most about the harm we can do to ourselves when we try to fix ourselves to fit someone else’s needs in a relationship," Hill said.

And it’s Hill’s airy voice paired with the country-esque guitar that creates the calming but melancholy feeling of the song.

— Danielle DuClos

’Alaska ’ Liam Bureau (Album art by Paula Meler Perez)

Liam Bureau, “Alaska”

Hope-based artist Liam Bureau’s “Alaska” is an eight-track instrumental album that pulls from classic elements of EDM and lo-fi beats.

The guitar chords paired with synthesized percussion set a smooth, mysterious mood throughout. The songs are dynamic, as Bureau fades in new layers of sound and changes the intensity of the tracks. “Overdrive” has a sexy electric guitar whereas “Borderless” pulls from the more traditional electronic genre. Bureau records and mixes all of his music himself on audio production software.

If you’re looking for something new to dive into, “Alaska” offers a range of intricate beats to try out.

— Danielle DuClos

The twin-sister duo does it again with some fiery acoustic guitar and a melody that takes you through the ups and downs of a love that’s falling apart.

Maris and Bryce O’Tierney, the voice behind maeve & quinn, grew up in Anchorage and now write and perform in Chicago, where they are working on their second album.

Their first album, “Something Overheard, Something Overhead,” that came out in 2018 has lighter, more folksy songs with piano and violin compared to this slightly more intense single.

— Danielle DuClos

’Pink/Blue ’ Medium Build (Album art by Kimberly Elliott)

Medium Build, “Pink/Blue”

Anyone plugged into Anchorage’s music scene knows Medium Build, and their latest single doesn’t disappoint.

A mix of indie rock and ’80s pop vibes, “Pink/Blue” is a six-minute groovy yet lonely track. This would be what’s playing at the end of a great night when the bar is closing down and everyone is heading home.

This track also features Ed Washington on vocals along with frontman Nick Carpenter.

— Danielle DuClos

Mossy Kilcher, “Northwind Calling”

Mossy Kilcher, of the famous Kilcher homestead family from the reality TV show “Alaska: The Last Frontier,” released this double LP in 1977 as Mossy Davidson.

On July 10, Tompkin’s Square label is re-releasing the double album about her connection to her family’s land outside Homer, where they pioneered in the 1930s.

Musical talent runs in the Kilcher blood: Mossy is the aunt of multi-Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Jewel.

“Northwind Calling” is an acoustic folk tribute to Mossy’s family and the beauty of Kachemak Bay.

— Danielle DuClos

’Last Night (In the Echo) ’ Sideways

Nostalgic for ’90s rock bands? Anchorage-based group Sideways has a sound not unlike the cult classics of Blink-182 and Green Day. The trio of John Gillies, Taylor Curry and James Hermansen is bringing back the best of rock.

They released an EP, “Before the Grave,” earlier this year and the single “Last Night (In the Echo)” in April.

— Danielle DuClos

’Everywhere with You ’ Stone Atlas (Album art by Meg Baker)

“Everywhere with You,” the debut album of Stone Atlas, is nine songs of soulful blues rock. Their sound is as timeless as Stevie Ray Vaughan’s mix of blues guitar with husky vocals.

Justin Baker, the group’s songwriter on guitar and vocals, pairs his instrumental talent with poetic storytelling in “Johnny 9.” Baker’s six-string magic is most evident on "Travelers Way,” which takes the pace down a notch for a sultry solo in the middle of the song.

The band just popped up on Alaska’s music scene within the last year and has since already cranked out 10 croony blues songs.

— Danielle DuClos

’Mars ’ Willem of Midnight

Willem of Midnight, “Mars”

The stage name for Harrison Sturm, a senior at West High School, Willem of Midnight released his first demo single in May. Right now, Sturm is working to produce his EP “Bloom” by the end of summer.

The song is about escaping to the red planet on a permanent vacation.

His acoustic guitar and echoey vocals create a dreamy, sweet melody perfect with your coffee on a Sunday morning or sitting around a campfire under the midnight sun.

— Danielle DuClos

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