Christina Alessi & the Toll Collectors released our very first EP in Late November 2020 – Raindrops and Watercolors. You can stream it or download it everywhere now!
Click on the image above or on this link to be taken to all of the streaming and download options – https://linktr.ee/thetollcollectors.
The first two singles are out from our forthcoming EP, entitled “Raindrops and Watercolors.” You can listen to “Whatever Gets You Through” and “Where the River Flows” now pretty much anywhere you can listen to music. Here’s a handy link that will get you to many of the place quickly! Please follow Christina Alessi and the Toll Collectors and add us to your library and playlists!
Listen now >>
Hope you enjoy them! The full record will be coming soon. 🙂
I’m excited to announce I have a new song available – “Think It Through.” It’s a reflection on all of the politics that has erupted around the COVID-19 pandemic and a reminder that we should look out for each other and try our best to keep each other safe. I recorded it at home and played all the instruments on the track.
It’s available exclusively by donating to the Spondylitis Association of America. Earlier this month, I participated in the virtual Banding Together Webathon benefit organized by Lazlo of blowupradio.com. He hosts the benefit each year as it’s a cause near and dear to his heart – his wife suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis. Donations are used to fund research as well as programs and services for the community.
To receive your compilation of 65 exclusive songs from the NY/NJ music community, including my song, you can donate here – https://spondylitis.org/webathon
Thank you for donating and I hope you enjoy the compilation!
Christina Alessi and the Toll Collectors have a new EP coming out. We tracked it live in the studio and we’re super proud of it. The first single is called “Whatever Gets You Through” and is now available on all of the platforms – check it out here https://linktr.ee/thetollcollectors. You can watch the lyric video for it on YouTube right here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydEl8B18jss
Today, I’m releasing a brand new cover song – “Latch” by Disclosure (featuring Sam Smith).
I tried to reimagine this club hit from Disclosure as something you might enjoy on your favorite acoustic playlist in your living room. A pop song, in its power and simplicity, can often have potential to be interpreted in many different genres. Yet, so often we only get to hear the one version. With this interpretation, I wanted to stretch the song to a place that sounds familiar but feels like something new. Without the bass thumping, there’s a tenderness and a vulnerability to the song. In this version, you’re in on the secret – it’s a love song. Someone so consumed by love that they want to latch onto it and never let it go.
The cover image comes from an photo I captured on Lover’s Bridge in Prague. There were so many locks attached to this bridge, where people from all over the world would come to “lock in their love.” I thought it was a nice fit.
As for the music, my good pal Ty Tuschen played electric guitar on this, including the tasty lead. I sang and played all of the other instruments.
This single is now available everywhere you can consume music – Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon Music, Tidal, iHeart Radio, Pandora, and more.
Hope you enjoy it! If you do, please share with others. Thank you!
In case you missed it, you can now stream my performance on www.blowupradio.com as part of Banding Together 2018. On Friday, October 19th I traveled to Blow Up Radio’s HQ to perform as part of Banding Together 2018, a benefit for the Spondylitis Association of America.
Check it out in the embedded player below, or listen directly on SoundCloud here: https://soundcloud.com/joshbicknell/josh-bicknell-live-2018-banding-together-webathon-for-spondylitis-association-of-america
I’m excited to share with you a new piece of music – a cover of the Bruce Springsteen classic, Atlantic City.
This version takes the song to a place I don’t believe it’s ever been to before. To me, it conjures up a cold, windy, and desolate evening on the beaches of this classically-tragic New Jersey shore city. It sounds like something you might hear on the Stranger Things soundtrack.
It starts with a dark analog synthesizer sound that pulses slightly, conveying the constant movement of the ocean. Along with a sparse drum machine, this sound makes up the foundation of the arrangement.
As the song continues to build momentum, the bridge arrives, bringing an entirely new sonic landscape; lifting the song with brighter guitars, strings, and sounds of the ocean that propel the song into its closing. The vocal performance is stark, up-close, and at times, just a whisper. It is haunting yet intimate.
As I listen to this arrangement today, it brings to mind the current state of Atlantic City, the city. Having been released from state control, will it be primed for a rebirth? Or continue on the same haunting path?
The casinos can shine bright, but the beach can still get very cold at night.
I hope you enjoy this new interpretation of a classic.
And if you do, I’d be honored if you added it to your music library, one of your playlists, shared it with a friend, or just let me know that you listened. 🙂
When is a piece of art – be it visual, music, writing, or something else – considered finished?
There is always something to add, change, or fix. Always something that could be different or better. And when you’re working digitally, it becomes more apparent. You can theoretically create unlimited versions of any piece.
When does it end? Or, does it ever end?
Is most art still a work in progress?
When Queen recorded Bohemian Rhapsody, they layered so many vocal harmonies and new tracks that they could actually see through the tape. It wasn’t until they were on the verge of physically breaking the technology, the tape, they considered it finished. The technology forced them into it!
Walt Whitman was never truly finished with Leaves of Grass. Each new printing was an opportunity to add, change, and evolve the work. In his third edition, he added 146 new poems. The eighth edition was the final time he altered it, 33 years after the first edition!
It’s been said that a work of art takes on a life of it’s own once it is received and interpreted by an audience. I find it interesting that a work of art also evolves at the hand of the artist. The art has an initial birth, but has the opportunity to evolve over time.
My single, Walking On, follows in this tradition.
It began as a contribution to a benefit compilation album. Banding Together is both a celebration of local music and a benefit for the Spondylitis Association of America. It’s a yearly event organized by Lazlo at blowupradio.com.
For the 2016 compilation, it didn’t feel right to take the same stripped-down approach I had taken in previous years. My live show had evolved. I was experimenting with live looping. Ty Tuschen had been joining me on electric guitar for shows. I wanted to incorporate these new elements into the recording.
So I evolved my recording process. I live-looped a guitar percussion part, played guitar and sang over the loop. Then, I invited Ty to play electric guitar. He added a killer guitar solo, a slide guitar, and some additional atmosphere. I added a bass to fill it out. It sounded great. I released it to Lazlo just within the deadline!
Walking On was officially birthed, but was it finished?
Like Queen, I began thinking of new parts that might make it better.
Like Walt Whitman, I began thinking about what else I might do with the track as part of it’s next release. Send it to all of the major distributors like Apple Music, Amazon, and Spotify. Make it an official single. At the same time, I knew the Banding Together version ought to be exclusive to the compilation.
I went into the recording session file and duplicated it. Just like that, the next evolution of the song was born. A work in progress.
The looped guitar percussion was unique, but didn’t hit you with enough impact. I doubled it with a kick drum (a live sample and an 808) and hand claps.
The lead vocal was recorded live in one take. I knew I could make it better. I learned some new vocal production tips to thicken the main vocal and make it shine.
What about backing vocals? Yes!
Then, I thought the bass should be more present. So I doubled it with a sine wave synth bass.
After (probably) a few too many days of mixing and tweaking, wondering if Walking On was actually finished, I did a final export.
This latest version of Walking On is the one I’m sticking with for now. I’m glad it did not take me 33 years to get there. I’m also glad I didn’t risk a technology breakdown to get there.
It’s available everywhere you can find digital music. Apple Music/iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Bandcamp, and hundreds more.
I’m in the midst of the next work in progress. Like Queen, I’m pushing the technological limits. I’m working with 100+ audio tracks and my system is on the verge of breaking down. When it’s as good as it can be, I will release it as another single. Maybe when I have enough singles, I’ll have an EP. Or a full-length album.
Maybe when I get to that point, I’ll have another opportunity to further evolve these works in progress.
In celebration, I’ve made public playlists of some of my favorite holiday music, both old and new. It’s currently filled with 3 1/2 hours worth of music. Perfect to have in the background as you open presents, spend time with family and friends, travel, or any time you want to get in the holiday spirit. Set it to shuffle and enjoy!