Hot Artist: Bianca Merkley

New York singer-songwriter Bianca Merkley‘s sultry sweet voice is self- described as “tasty as a cupcake”. Bianca lays sandy vocals over simple arrangements with stirring melodies that come together to rival the likes of Jewel and Tori Amos. Starting at only eight years old, Bianca began performing anywhere she could, from company Christmas parties to the 2002 Olympics. At sixteen, when most teenagers would kill to be gifted with a car, Bianca choose a guitar and never looked back. Armed with the same guitar, Bianca’s refreshing sound and conviction move listeners to “forget their problems”, in turn inspiring Bianca’s debut album.

Promise, released in 2007, bakes in everything delicious”from pop to folk and even jazz. Top it off with a dash of Latin influence and you’ve got yourself a tasty treat indeed. You can download Bianca’s track “The Canvas” below, and be sure to check out her interview on

FREE DOWNLOAD: Needle In The Haystack Oh My!

This week’s free download from Needle In The Haystack artist Oh My! is perfect for those who like to wear their pants on the tighter side. In fact, it’s easy to imagine the their track “21” floating in the background of a sweaty, dark basement filled with colorfully flannel-clad hipsters.  If you can’t say “I knew about them before everyone else,” don’t feel bad”this pop song can easily break the divide for pop lovers of all shapes and sizes. Luckily, though, you can watch the music video and download “21” below for free then say you did know about them before everyone else.

Needle In The Haystack: Oh My!

This week’s Needle In The Haystack is a mystery wrapped in good tunes. While Oh My! seems to have accounts on a respectable number of various sites, they choose to let the music do the talking, leaving little to be said by way of bios, etc. We do know that the five-piece hails from Sweden, which we had to correct ourselves in thinking was the land of the wooden shoes (that’s Holland, by the way). And that they are “defying the icy chill, delievering the rock, bop and swing.” Our favorite tid bit has to be them citing Christopher Walken’s hair as an inspiration. Isn’t it always, my friends.

Listen and learn more about these Swedish imports below, and stay tuned for more from Oh My! throughout the week.

For fans of: The Strokes, The Kooks, Arctic Monkeys

FREE DOWNLOAD: Needle In The Haystack French Cassettes

Sometimes when a band has a million members its easy to recognize. Arcade Fire, for instance, with its huge roster (we’re still not exactly sure whether its nine or ten) throws in sounds, instruments, vocals, hoots and hollers with such veracity into both songs and live performance that its virtually impossible not to recognize this is not your average sized group. While this week’s Needle In The Haystack artist, French Cassettes‘ musician count isn’t in double digits, six is still a lot of people to cram into a practice space” let alone a song-writing session. But the French-pop group makes it work, and somehow seamlessly conceptualizes songs like “Seahorse” with simple execution and clean transitions of what appears to be a lot of different views, like rolling vocals spliced with electrified guitars.

Check out the chaos that goes into a recording session with the French Cassettes below, and download the magic that comes out of it with “Seahorse”.

Needle In The Haystack: French Cassettes

This week’s Needle In The Haystack artist French Cassettes hails from Ripon, California. And while we’re not sure if that’s anywhere near Indio, we think the winds of Coachella may have been blowing through, as whiffs of festival favorites like The Black Keys and Local Natives can be picked up in both their melodies and vocal stylings. The French Cassettes take it a step further, invoking both their moniker and Parisian singer songwriter influences.

Learn more about the six piece below, and stay tuned for more from the French Cassettes all week long.

For fans of: Arcade Fire, Cold War Kids, The White Stripes

Artist Takeover: Needle In The Haystack Bella Ruse

There’s no handbook for being an independent musician nowadays. No checklist of items that once accomplished guarentee the gates of Madison Square Garden will open with a sold out crowd waiting for you. Hard work and creativity seem to be the name of the game lately, and  this week’s Needle In The Haystack artist Bella Ruse seems to have embraced the challenge.

“Hiya. We’re Bella Ruse. We’re a folk pop duo (I’m Kay, he’s Joseph) and we travel the country in our vegetable-oil-powered van. So far, we’ve been through 44 states on tour; still working on New Hampshire, Florida, North Dakota, Louisiana, Hawaii and Alaska.  We eat a lot of fast food along the way because the smell of the veggie oil makes me hungry for french fries. We should probably stop doing that.

Today I’m trying to write a song for the RPM Challenge, in which you record a ten-track album in the month of February. I’ve written one full song so far and about fifty-seven bits and pieces so I’d say I’m doing pretty good. Joseph is writing his ten songs about Pecos Bill for a musical he’s working on with a friend. I don’t think he has any songs done yet. I win.

The first song I wrote for RPM is called “Operation”. As in the game where you remove little plastic objects with tweezers from a board shaped like a man and try not to touch the sides or else the man will get shocked and his lightbulb nose will light up. If his nose lights up, you have to put that piece back and try again. I always hated that game, but it turns out it’s a pretty good metaphor for life and love and all that. How DO you remove a broken heart without getting shocked? My nose is always lighting up.”

-Kay Gillette

Bella Ruse