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Been a minute since I put out an Underappreciated Mix, and well these times of hibernation have given us all a moment to reflect, seek solace in comfort food, movies and in my case music. Those sleepless 2–4am hours for those of us who can’t turn off their restless minds worrying about the planet, a little studio, the kids, friends and colleagues eventually leads to uncovering some buried new music.

So here it is, with not much explanation, but simple genre categorization… a bunch of songs that have eased my mind in these historic times:

Neo Soul:
“Prayer” — Jack Penate
“Antidote” — Orion Sun
“Sunday” — Easy Life
“Eugene” — Arlo Parks
“Texas Sun” — Khruangbin & Leon Bridges
“Lover Come Back” — City & Colour (live version)
“QADIR” — Nick…


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New Soulful Voices

1) “Falling” — Lost Leaders — From a new-ish duo and the bass player of The Levon Helm Band and the Lumineers comes one of my favorite songs of 2019.

2) “Ride Out In The Country” — Yola — What an unexpected gem from the singer of Phantom Limb, who sang background for Massive Attack, produced by The Black Key’s Dan Auerbach.

3) “Morning In America” — Durand Jones & The Indications — Welcome to Lowrider Soul by this mixed race band with killer group harmonies.

4) “My Man” — Delacey — “Bitch don’t steal my man, he’s got a weakness for girls like you, we both know you can, but I really need him more than you”. Saw Delacey live about a week ago at Hotel Café just belting this one out. …


By Van Toffler, CEO of Gunpowder & Sky

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So I was reunited with my boatloads of CDs and albums while back on the east coast for the holidays. Yes, I’ve also experienced the significant upgrade in the playlist/recommendation algorithms on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and others. …


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Going full on indie music for this current list. These are some cool mostly new artists scattered across the internet and the world, who have found a core rabid fanbase without the big support of a major label. Yet these songs and artists definitely deserve wider recognition.

  1. Hollie Stephenson — “Leave Her Be” — If you’re missing Amy Winehouse check Hollie out. This record is a few years old and mostly produced by the great Dave Stewart.
  2. Shemekia Copeland — “In the Blood of The Blues” — Pretty awesome to have more women fronting blues bands again a la Alabama Shakes. Really diverse new album produced by Will Kimbrough, with guest turns by John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Rhiannon Giddens, and Steve…

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I so appreciate a bunch of my old and new school homey’s reading this blog and sending in some of their underapprecciated favs, some of which made today’s list:

1. Ben Glover — “Keeper of My Heart”

Well for those of you missing the yearning of the “Love Is Hell”/“Gold” phase of Ryan Adams, look no further. You’re welcome.

2. Tish Hyman — “Subway Art”

And for any of you missing Lauryn Hill, check this one out and also seek out the wonderful video for this track. …


By Van Toffler, CEO of Gunpowder & Sky

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Underappreciated is a new blog by Gunpowder & Sky CEO Van Toffler where he discusses music he feels should get more recognition. Check the official Spotify Playlist here — Van will update it with his new underappreciated songs after each blog post. Listen while you read for the fullest experience.

For all six of you who have read my prior blogs while I was at the MTV empire, well I’m back. I’ve started a new studio, Gunpowder & Sky, moved coasts, suffered unimaginable heartache, made and released a bunch of movies and digital content, and well music continues to propel me thru the sorrow and elation. And unlike my contemporaries, I still buy music, yes buy, and see live music each week. I’ve returned to the pure joy of creating content with soulful artists, creatively fearless freaks plus a few bona fide criminals. …


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For those who didn’t know, prior to his time as CEO of Gunpowder & Sky, Van Toffler served his time in the MTV Empire. While there, he had a regular blog series where he talked about music he loved and felt needed more attention. We’re bringing it back at Gunpowder & Sky — please enjoy! Make sure to listen to the playlist as well; it makes the reading experience come alive.

Link to the Spotify Playlist

A few disclaimers:

For those reading this on Facebook, I sort of tried to join The Facebook a little while ago and well it just overwhelmed me. So much info, so many people to catch up with, so much lost time, and so many stories to tell. It freaked me out. So I apologize to all those I’ve lost touch with over the years, and hope you all have figured out how to get thru the bad shite life sometimes rains down, and have figured out how to milk the really wonderful times. I won’t be posting on the Facebook or talking about my life, I’m just gonna live it as best I can. I will occasionally put up these Underappreciated blogs, as music has never left me and I feel the least I could do is payback those musicians who have provided me so much joy. And if you really wanna know how I’m doing, well you can view some of the movies, series, or shorts I produce… and if they ever get too heavy then I’m probably dying. …

Gunpowder & Sky

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