5 Reasons We Love The Secret Sisters

We first discovered The Secret Sisters at our hometown music festival, Forecastle, many years ago. We ventured onto the grass by the Bourbon Lodge (yes, that’s a thing we have in Kentucky — a lodge just for bourbon) during a lull in our schedules, and lucky for us, we happened to witness Laura and Lydia Rogers do their thing. They’ve featured on many a Zelda & Scout playlist (most recently our Southern Gothic-themed October playlist). We loved their debut album and their sophomore effort. We love their style and their wit. We love them. Here are five reasons why.

1.  Rich Musical Heritage: The Secret Sisters grew up just outside historic Muscle Shoals, Alabama. In the 1960s, Muscle Shoals was home to  two studios — FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio — that hosted some of the most famous names in music: Aretha FranklinOtis Redding, and Bob Dylan, just to name a few. Spending their formative years in the shadow of some of the most important music of the 20th century, it’s only right that the sisters’ sound pays homage to that history.

2. Old School Southern Sound, with a Modern Twist: The Secret Sisters’ self-titled 2010 first album puts a modern lady twist on a lot of  traditional country classics, from old ballads like “Why Baby Why” and “Do You Love an Apple” to jazz standards like Frank Sinatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid.” The classics are deftly mixed in with a couple original songs (“Tennessee Me” and “Waste the Day”). They established their sound by paying tribute to the genre’s history before venturing into more songwriting on their sophomore album. And on Put Your Needle Down, their 2014 follow-up record, they brought the same old school sound, but with their own twist, on originals like the deliciously dark “Iuka” and the cheeky “Good Luck, Good Night, Goodbye.”

3. Sisterly Love: We love nothing more than a family affair when it comes to music. Zelda’s own family is all about music bringing the family together, after all. And in a world that often pits women against each other, even sisters, we’re happy to see two ladies embracing their love for each other and creating as a team.

4. Enviously Cool Vintage Style: Okay, this is seriously one of our favorite things about The Secret Sisters: They’ve brought their vintage sound over into their wardrobe. From state fairs to Letterman, they always look like they walked out of an early episode of Mad Men, or are doing an exceptional job channeling our favorite Marvel heroine, Peggy Carter, with their dresses and hair in victory rolls and pin curls. Most of all, they are big proponents of body positivity, which is nice to see from anyone in the entertainment industry.

5. Humor: Perhaps not evidenced simply through their music, Laura and Lydia are funny. Their live shows are full of jokes and stories that make us downright guffaw. Their show at City Winery remains one of our favorites that we’ve seen in the city in these last three years, a perfect mix of beautiful tunes and down-to-earth banter, such as you only find between sisters.

The Rogers ladies are between labels at the moment (a tragedy, in our opinion). So until they drop another album, you can feast your ears on their self-titled debut and their amazing second album, Put Your Needle Down.

Photos via: The Secret Sisters and The Southern 

5 Reasons I Love Audra Mae

We first told y’all about Audra Mae back in August when her track with the Almighty Sound, Jebidiah Moonshine’s Friday Night Shack Party, was featured on our Highway Cruisin’ playlist back in August, when we were but a wee baby blog. The song is still one of our faves — we wanted to feature it again on our next one — but my love for her extends far beyond that rollicking three and a half minutes of music.

I discovered Audra back in college when she was on tour with Matt Nathanson. I was super excited to see the California singer-songwriter (another of my favs), but I was surprised to find myself more attached to his opening act. The was an unsettling and yet homey feeling, something like: “This is it — this is the music I’ve been looking for.” A magical meeting of musical kindred spirits, if you will. Here are just five reasons I love Audra Mae so much.

1. Impressive Musical Pedigree: Audra grew up in a family that knew show business. Her great-grandmother was a member of the vaudeville trio The Gumm Sisters, and thus the sister of Judy Garland, making Audra the great-niece of that ruby-slippered star of the silver screen. Audra grew up listening to early country folk music on one side and jazz on the other, and it all shows in her music. Her sound is a little bit smokey, a little bit twang, with real deep roots, and all-around fabulous.

Somewhere over the rainbow... (via PopWrapped)

Somewhere over the rainbow… (via PopWrapped)

2. That Sound: Like I said, when I saw her for the first time, I knew this was the music I had been looking for. It combined my love of bluegrass and folk with a little bit of jazz, and a whole lot of girl power, all crooned out by a soulful voice. Something in my Eastern Kentucky heart recognized Audra Mae, and although her roots may be in Oklahoma, she’s got an Appalachian spirit that calls out to my eardrums.

3. When You Least Expect It: Audra’s is one of those voices that starts to show up everywhere, once you know what you’re looking (or rather, listening) for. She’s provided backing vocals for such vastly different artists as The All-American Rejects (also of her native Oklahoma), Avicii, Flo Rida, and my eternal man crush Idris Elba. She’s even made the audible leap to the small screen: Her crooning vocals have shown up multiple times on my latest binge-watching selection, Sons of Anarchy (her cover of Forever Young is seriously haunting and beautiful). Girl has got versatility coming out the wazoo.

With The Almighty Sound (via Star News Online)

With The Almighty Sound (via Star News Online)

4. Songwriting: While I love Audra’s voice and I’m itching for her to release another album of her own, or even just an EP (something, anything, please! It’s been over three years, girl), she’s been getting more attention for her songwriting of late, and deservedly so. In addition to writing her own music, she has written for everyone from Susan Boyle to Kelly Clarkson. She helped pen Clarkson’s January 2015 single “Heartbeat Song,” and country star Miranda Lambert covered Audra’s song “Little Red Wagon” (one of my favorites) on her Platinum album. Audra is a true singer and songwriter, equally at ease performing material tailor-made for her own voice and at adapting her nimble pen to fit other artists.

5. A Rollicking Good Time: Although I’ve only seen her play live once (much to my dismay), what I continue to love most about Audra is how much fun both she and the crowd seem to be having whenever she plays (it’s one of the things that attracts both me and Zelda most to an artist: see her similar feelings about Houndmouth). And really how couldn’t they? With songs like Smokin’ the Boys, I Won’t Grow Up, and My Friend the DevilAudra is the friend you call on for a good time — whether you’re throwing back bourbons in a smokey bar, counting fireflies on a muggy night, or driving with your windows down, destination unknown.

And, as a bonus:

6. She plays the freaking kazoo. On stage. With her rock band. Enough said.

Until Audra graces our eardrums with another album, we’ll be listening to The Happiest Lamb and Audra Mae and The Almighty Sound on repeat. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.