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It’s oh-so-French of global pop phenomenon, Phoenix, would call its
new album Bankrupt! given the worldwide success of the band’s breakthrough album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix – Madison Avenue practically made that album an ATM. But for good reason: As they had been
doing (practically unnoticed) for years, said album was filled to the brim
with great hooks and a sugary production that produced a buzz on contact. Despite their Parisian roots, Phoenix plays guitars and sings in
English. You’d think their countrymen would despise such a methodology, but when you write songs this good then all is usually forgiven.
Bankrupt! is anything but. In fact, it’s an embarrassment of riches. Just
direct your ears to the first single “Entertainment” and you’ll quickly
realize that this is still a band on top of their game (and, when you get
home, be sure to check out the Dinosaur Jr “remix” – which is basically this definitively American band performing a cover that rivals the
original). Sorry to keep harping on the money thing, but it does seem
like the band’s good fortune has made it’s way into the lyrical content as
well. But these aren’t songs that wallow in bling, rather they find the
band at what might be their most sardonic. It’s oh-so-French of them.
Matthew Houck, for he is Phosphorescent, likes to work. The Alabama native,
now resident in Brooklyn has delivered five albums as Phosphorescent since
his 2003 debut. Nearly three years on from his breakthrough album Here’s
To Taking It Easy, Phosphorescent returns to the fray with his most stunning
record yet: Muchacho. Muchacho reprises the understated melancholia and
sensuous minimalism of 2007’s Pride, while kicking up a little of Here’s To
Taking It Easy’s dust, but it also strikes out into more adventurous waters via
rhythm and electronic textures. It took shape if not quite by accident, then
partly as a result of events beyond Houck’s control. He bought a load of old
analogue gear and “just starting playing around with it, making these noises. A domestic crisis meant he had to find another apartment/studio at short
notice, in the dead of winter. Houck admits he was “in the middle of a bit of
a freak-out,” so one Sunday, he booked a ticket to Mexico, on a plane that
was leaving three hours later. He spent a week there, working to finish the
songs that would become Muchacho, then went back to NYC, fitted it out
with his studio, and began tracking the record – a collection of melancholia
and texture that stands as a testament to the healing power of music.
Dido, one of the world’s best-selling female recording artists of all
time with over 29 million albums sold, returns with her strongest
album yet entitled Girl Who Got Away. Working once again with
her brother Rollo Armstrong, who produced the majority of the
album, Dido collaborated with a “who’s who” of hit makers including Brian Eno, Jeff Bhasker, Rick Nowels and Greg Kurstin to create an album of finely, self-penned songs and soul-baring pop with
electro, folk, hip hop, ambient and dance infusions. The album Girl
Who Got Away is a captivating collection of well-crafted songs
and stunning production: from the euphoric “Go Dreaming,” to the
barbed wit of “End of Night,” the folky “Sitting On The Roof Of The
World” to the dance-y-yet-dark “Blackbird” to the album’s title
track which Dido shares: “It’s one of my favorite songs on the
record,” she says. “But I guess it also sums up the last few years for
me. Taking a step back from it all and going off to have the whole
happy adventure of starting a family and making an album that I
really am so proud of. And now I just can’t wait for people to hear
it.” And here’s your chance…
Sometimes, it takes a while to find your way home, wherever “home”
may be. But when you do, it’s nothing short of glorious. And that, in a
nutshell, is the story of The Dear Hunter’s new album, Migrant. Casey
Crescenzo, mastermind of The Dear Hunter, was born into music. His
parents met while both were working at the Record Plant. He was born.
He broke his arm. He learned to play guitar with a cast. Then without
one. He joined a few nu-metal bands, designed websites, directing
videos, touring, and working himself to the point of exhaustion.
Eventually he began working on some new material which both his
booking agent and record label encouraged him to do full time. The
Dear Hunter was then born. Within a year he’d released the full-length
albums Act I: The Lake South, The River North and Act II: The
Meaning of, and All Things Regarding Ms. Leading. The third
installment, Act III: Life and Death, came two years later. Then, in
2010 and 2011, he took a break from the Acts to record The Color
Spectrum, a series of nine EPs, each named for a color of the rainbow
(along with black and white). After all that experimentation, The
Migrant – Crescenzo’s most cohesive statement… And it’s a doozy.
Straight from the dungeons of L.A., Wavves are release Afraid Of
Heights. Now a duo consisting of guitarist Nathan Williams and
bassist Stephen Pope, they sound bigger, brasher, and shockingly
more professional than ever on Afraid Of Heights which positions
the band to take their rightful place amongst the pop-punk gods.
The product of more than a year of writing and recording, Afraid
Of Heights expands the Wavves sound while remaining true to the
band’s original vision - it was created with absolutely no label
involvement, a specter that nearly derailed the last album, King Of
The Beach. Working with producer John Hill (known for his work
with M.I.A. and Santigold, as well as with hip-hop acts such as
Nas and the Wu-Tang Clan), the band found a willing party in creating what they felt was the truest expression of what they wanted.
As for the Afraid Of Heights sessions themselves, Williams paid
for them out-of-pocket, explaining his reasoning with, “In doing so,
I had no one to answer to. We recorded the songs how and when
we wanted without anybody interfering, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. “
Odd Future. Remember that shit? It was pretty funny. Even ruffled a few
feathers. It also spawned a few superstars, including that dude Frank
Ocean you may have heard about. The man-child behind the whole enterprise is an aptly-named skateboarding chap called Tyler, The Creator. On
his album Goblin, Tyler, wrote about lots of non-necessarily-wholesome
stuff… But no more: “Talking about rape and cutting bodies up, it just
doesn’t interest me anymore... What interests me is making weird hippie
music for people to get high to. With Wolf [his brand new joint], I’ll brag
a little more, talk about money and buying shit. But not like any other rapper, I’ll be a smart-ass about it. People who wanted the first album again,
I can’t do that. I was 18, broke as fuck. On my third album, I have money
and I’m hanging out with my idols. I can’t rap about the same shit.” Fuck
yeah. But despite that braggadocio, Wolf is very much beat-oriented,
some of it even recalls the work he’s done with badass Canadian hip hop
/ jazz group (yes, you read that right) BADBADNOTGOOD. It’s quite a
refreshing change of pace, Wolf. You’ll like it. And, if you get the deluxe
version (which looks BEAUTIFUL) then you might find yourself with a cool,
new pair of sock. Fo’ realzies.
Pitched somewhere between the loose revivalism of Jack White and the
groove of Alabama Shakes, Rival Sons possess a chimera-like character:
A jazz -trained rhythm section that met at Isaac Hayes’ house, a garagerock fuzzadelic guitar maestro, and a Blues rooted street singer with the
powerful raw delivery of rock and the sensitivity of a Laurel Canyon trip.
Though rooted in the past Rival Sons play with awareness and modernity like they’re calling on inspiration through their roots anew, filtering out
more of rock’s overblown past and bringing in call-and-response testaments to truth. In their own words, they “want to give the people the rock
and roll they deserve by keeping it honest, visceral, and dangerous.”
Head Down is scuzzy blues-rock that invades Motown’s backbeat to
startling effect — from the eerily insightful “Jordan” to the breathy summer pop stylings of “Until The Sun Comes” or “Wild Animal,” and setting
the whole thing aflame with the sprawling psychedelic guitar freakout
“Manifest Destiny Pt.1.” Head Down is anchored in fuzzy guitars and
soul groove spliced from The Small Faces and The Animals - Rival Sons
don’t mess about, but they’re not purists, they’re modern. Get turned on.
New West
Few of us make much out of the endless weekend hours we spend
together when we’re young. Draping ourselves throughout our
friends’ houses and airing out the angst and dreams and heartbreaks that will shape us before they fade away with time, we may
make mixtapes, or weave friendship bracelets, or simply craft
inside jokes and rosy memories to cherish in years down the line.
But for Dublin folk rock quintet Little Green Cars, those Sunday
afternoons may have built the most important adventure they’ll ever
take. Absolute Zero�s 48 minutes, crafted in unabashed earnestness with the aid of seasoned epic-producer Markus Dravs
(Mumford and Sons’ Sigh No More and Babel, Arcade Fire’s
Neon Bible and The Suburbs, Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto), act as a
soul-bearing report, as guileless as the young quintet themselves,
on the act of simply growing up: a process that requires, at once,
so little and so much effort it could explode you from the inside at
any moment.
Between the opening title track and the reflective closing of “Remember
Me,” The Low Highway is very much Steve Earle’s road record, and
one that has seen many miles. Says Earle: “I’ve been on every interstate
highway in the lower forty-eight states by now and I never get tired of
the view. I’ve seen a pretty good chunk of the world and my well-worn
passport is one of my most prized possessions, but for me, there’s still
nothing like the first night of a North American tour; everybody, band
and crew, crowded up in the front lounge, eating Nashville hot chicken
and Betty Herbert’s homemade pimento cheese, swapping the same
tired old war stories half shouted over the rattle and hum of the highway. And I’m always the last one to holler good night to Charlie Quick,
the driver, and climb in my bunk because to me it feels like Christmas
Eve long ago when I still believed in Santa Claus. God I love this.” The
12-track set is the first to feature “The Dukes” band name since 1987’s
Exit 0. The Low Highway features his live band consisting of Chris
Masterson, Eleanor Whitmore, Kelley Looney, Will Rigby and Allison
Moorer. Also available on 180-gram vinyl.
Port St. Willow is the project of Nicholas Principe, begun in 2009 as a
recording outlet following a series of quick moves. Principe settled in
Portland, OR where he released the project’s first EP, Even//Wasteland, in
the fall of 2010. Though brief, the record carried the weight of a much larger piece with movements bleeding into each other, creating a world glued
together by swells of white noise and static. It provided an introduction for
what was to come next. After a period of live experimentation, Principe
began working on the project’s first full-length album, Holiday. Recorded
over the course of a year in his Portland studio, the record is a meditation
on family and self. An exploration of new and old homes, seen though the
lens of a blurred and softened memory, too saturated with distance and
time. And through these tunnels back, full of warm and heavy water, there
are anchors that do not age. Halves of lives that grow whole, full of contradiction and mess born from a lonely place. To find the lens warped, the
colors faded, and the patterns returned, is not a defeat but an understanding that we are here, bent and maybe broken in places, but here. Holiday
is a love record to no one. A recognition of an ending, and an awakening
of the self - unarmored and honest.
Strike Gently is sophomore album from The Virgins – an Indie
Rock outfit fronted by Donald Cumming. The Virgins first made the
scene back in 2008 with a debut album that foamed many a mouth.
The Strokes frontman / founder of Cult Records, Julian
Casablancas, not only related – he elated: “When I first saw the
Virgins I was psyched there was such a rad new band from NYC.
Donald’s such an awesome guy and it’s great to meet someone
who’s such a true artist. I think they’ve made a classic record and
we’re really excited they chose to work with us.” Made in the basement of what used to be the venue Brownies, and now is the East
Village Recording Center, Strike Gently was recorded mostly live,
in a little room packed with gear and no vocal booth. After extensive touring for the first album, Donald experienced a spiritual crisis that led to a four-year gap between the first and the new
records. The lineup has changed. The Virgins are now: Donald
Cumming, Xan Aird, John Eatherly, and Max Kamins.
Lord Huron is a musical and visual project created by Ben Schneider. He
was born in Michigan and started playing music as a child, on his father’s
acoustic guitar. The senior Schneider wasn’t a musician by trade, but he
had learned a bit during his downtime on ships in the Navy. Schneider’s
father would bring the instrument out from time to time — most often on
summer nights around the campfire up on Lake Huron — to strum and hum
the songs he knew. Schneider studied art in college and lived in France and
New York before moving to Los Angeles in 2005 to pursue a career in the
visual arts. Music was an ever-present pastime, whether through bands or
personal projects. Passions often intertwined, and Schneider composed
music for various visual art projects over the years. His work was continually inspired by his outdoor explorations, landscape, and water in particular. He travelled the world, but it was upon returning to Lake Huron that all
his passions came together – cultivating in two beautiful (and well-received)
EPs and this, his first LP, Lonesome Dreams – a collection of songs that
yield that strange intimacy one finds in larger-than-life surroundings. These
are the sounds that are bigger than you – and nature just sings along.
Telekinesis is both a band and a person. Now a grizzled and wizened
26 year old, Michael Benjamin Lerner has recorded his third album,
Dormarion. The record is, in ways both practical and profound, the
sound of a man figuring out exactly who he is. Also, it’s a total fucking
hoot. Lerner wrote the 12 songs that comprise Dormarion in early
2012-half at his home in West Seattle and half at his family’s house in
the San Juan Islands-with the original intention of recording the album
completely on his own. Instead, he road-tripped over the summer and
made the record in two weeks with Spoon drummer Jim Eno (Heartless
Bastards, Strange Boys, Polia, Black Joe Lewis, Mates of State), with
whom he’d talked about working for years. Lerner packed up the van,
screwing up his courage the whole drive towards Eno’s vaunted Public
Hi-Fi studio in Austin, Texas (Arcade Fire, Spoon, Explosions in the Sky,
Roky Erikson, Jet, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Lyle Lovett, Joe
Walsh). On Dormarion Lane, to be specific. “It’s a beautiful-sounding
word, and if you Google it, nothing but this one tiny street comes up,”
says Lerner. “No origin, no description. I can’t tell you what the word
means. It’s like something from Lost.”
In late 2007, founding members Kelsey Kopecky and Gabriel
Simon became united with four friends who shared a mutual vision.
They planted seeds that have been nurtured for the past five years
through persistent touring and recording – and those seeds are
rapidly reaching maturity. The Kopecky Family Band – a non-traditional family, at that – is dynamic, and they wield an equally
dynamic slew of instruments. A diverse backdrop of sound supports the Band’s thoughtful songwriting, and the musical canvas
is covered with broad brushstrokes – ranging from clanging tambourines and guitars, booming percussion, intelligent string
arrangements, and triumphant horns. These six bandmates – siblings, if you will – swap their musical tools without a second
thought, creating an emotive, adventurous, and energetic environment onstage. With thousands of miles traveled, and surely thousands to come, The Kopecky Family Band is only just beginning
their adventure… And, with Kids Raising Kids, they want to bring
you along for the ride.
It was the seventies. You were sexy. We all were. Even John Denver
was. Maybe it was the drugs? The optimism? The confusion?
Maybe it was The Muppets… But it was probably the songs. Life
may be a funny, funny riddle (as the man said) Music was still king
in the seventies and John Denver had a ton of �em. 15 years after
his death and 40 years after the release of his widely beloved song
“Rocky Mountain High,” ATO Records will celebrate John Denver’s
life and music with The Music Is You: A Tribute to John Denver.
The album features covers of Denver’s most popular songs by a
diverse group of artists including Dave Matthews, My Morning
Jacket, Train, J Mascis, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
and many more. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The
Wilderness Society in John’s name.
The Thermals are a post-pop-punk trio from pre-Portlandia-Portland,
Oregon who are (perhaps) most famous for turning down $50,000
from Hummer, discovering the elusive fourth chord in punk rock (F#m)
and for soundtracking that scene in Weeds where Mary-Louise Parker
jumps in the pot-filled pool in her underwear. The Thermals’ sixth LP and
debut for Saddle Creek, Desperate Ground, was produced by John
Agnello (Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth) in Hoboken, NJ. Agnello and The
Thermals completed the record and evacuated the studio just hours
before Hurricane Sandy ravaged New Jersey, a fate quite fitting when
you consider the product. Desperate Ground is a true scrappy and
scratchy return-to-form for The Thermals, with all the raw power and
unhinged adolescent energy that made their early LP’s so insanely
enjoyable. Lyrically, Desperate Ground is a brash and irresponsible
ode to human violence, a black celebration of the inevitability of war
and death. A dark and yet joyous affair, Desperate Ground tells the
(murky) tale of a lone rogue in the night. One man, one path, one
sword. An unceasing urge to destroy. A never-ending battle against the
forces of nature. A destiny impossible to avoid.
Shaolin Soul Selection: Volume 1 is a two CD collection curated
by Hip Hop master, The RZA. In the early �90s, The RZA, then known
as Prince Rakeem, had begun making music for his then new Staten
Island (aka Shaolin) based supergroup, Wu-Tang Clan. When Enter
The 36 Chambers was finally released in late �93, the effect was
seismic. The RZA’s “awkward” combination of rugged drums and
off-center loops formed the foundation of a unique sound that would
inspire a whole new generation of samplists, as well as set off
searches for the components of those loops. Shaolin Soul
Selection: Volume 1 presents 24 original recordings - nearly 2 1/2
hours of essential soul music from the vaults of Stax Records and its
subsidiary labels that inspired The RZA and the classic sound of The
Wu-Tang Clan.
Milk Music is a band of American folk artists who make cosmic
electric soul rock on the subject of life and the human condition.
Their impeccable songwriting and style can be compared to artists
such as the Velvet Underground, Gun Club, Neil Young & Crazy
Horse, and the Meat Puppets. The band release everything themselves, highly by choice, not to keep a DIY aesthetic, but to ensure
quality control over their products and presentation in an era when
records tend to look and feel like unimportant shit. Until now, Milk
Music has never had a record label, yet they have politely declined
offers from dozens over the last 3 years including Mexican
Summer, Jagjaguwar, and Vice Records. Their beautifully pressed
1st album, Beyond Living has been working overtime for the guys
for the last two years, circling the globe on word of mouth and selling thousands. But this new LP, Cruise Your Illusion is a real motherfucker. Get with it.
Impossible Truth was born on tour as William Tyler was reading
two books with an odd kinship while on long and lonely
Midwestern drives: Barney Hoskyns’ Hotel California and Mike
Davis’ The Ecology of Fear. Both center on the promise and psychosis of southern California, albeit from very different angles:
Hoskyns tackles the naive and narcissistic Laurel Canyon scene of
the early seventies, while renowned social scientist Davis deals with
the history of the destruction of Los Angeles, both in real and imagined disasters. The synchronistic tackling of these tomes inspired
Tyler to compose a story rooted in apocalyptic expectation and bittersweet nostalgia. Or as Tyler puts it, this is “my �70s singer-songwriter record; it just doesn’t have any words.” Recorded and mixed
at Beech House in Nashville and co-produced by Tyler and Mark
Nevers, Impossible Truth features guest appearances from Chris
Scruggs, Luke Schneider, Roy Agee, and Lambchop compatriot
Scott Martin. Impossible Truth will challenge your ideas of what an
instrumental guitar record can and should be.
Langhorne Slim’s art school manner and hopeful folk musical
stylings can make it hard for him to stand out among the oh-somany singer songwriters affecting the same sensitive ramblings. But
what sets Langhorne Slim apart is a genuine sincerity. It appears
that everyone who meets the musician is charmed by his general
sweetness. He even seems to lack the self-awareness it perhaps
takes to craft and cultivate such an image. His simplicity of lyric is
too direct to be so calculated. In The Way We Move’s third track,
“Fire,” he sings, “I kissed a girl she made me smile,” and there is
no irony to directly follow this statement in the song. At times he
achieves Cat Stevens, as in “On the Attack,” at other times he even
channels southern gospel, as in “Someday.” But the driving beats
of songs like “Great Divide” and haplessness of “Wild Soul” are
energizing and captivating. The Way We Move has the potential to
bring the folky Langhorne Slim’s smiling face before a much wider
As first albums go, CoCo Beware was something akin to a moody
statement of intent, a blueprint for a band quickly learning how to
create horizon-wide rock songs that were equal parts intimate and
expansive. So it’s fair to say that the songs on Caveman benefited
from a solid year of touring on the band’s part. As a result, the guitars on Caveman are bigger and more expansive, the rhythm section is tighter and more adventurous, the keyboards more opaque
and pronounced. Like a marriage between Tangerine Dream, late
period Slowdive, and Lindsey Buckingham, tracks like their new single “In the City” and “Ankles” boast synth lines that sound simultaneously retro and futuristic, while “Pricey” and “Never Want to
Know” overflow with guitar sounds that could have miraculously
floated off an old Cure album. And while Caveman’s music could
certainly operate on the level of dreamy soundscape and still be
excellent, the depth of feeling in front man Matthew Iwanusa’s lyrics
helps weave the songs deeply into your memory. Wonder and
regret seem to fuel the record in almost equal measure.
Stornoway is a band. They live in a city called Oxford in England.
Rob loves confusing time signatures, dogs and posh nosh. Jon loves
accents, Russia, and weird musical instruments. Brian loves birds,
power kiting and beer. Oli loves moustaches, palindromes and loop
pedals. They love making music and have recorded both of their
albums themselves — in garages, community centers, churches,
windy barns, kitchens and bedrooms in and around our home town.
The first album Beachcomber’s Windowsill was compiled from our
early EPs, written and recorded over the course of almost 6 years,
whilst they studied at school and university. Stornoway has a new
album. It’s called Tales From Terra Firma. It is an album of true stories about discovering what it means to be human, and it’s crammed
full of such eccentricities as Rob’s Bavarian spoon solo on �Knock Me
On the Head’, Oli’s reverberating bass line that mimics the call of a
South African bird, and the fruits of Jon’s quest to find the only glass
harmonica player in all the land. It’s the vacation you so richly
deserve. Don’t delay.
Los Angeles four-piece Cold War Kids elevate their passionate take
on indie rock with their emotionally raw fourth album Dear Miss
Lonelyhearts. Formed in 2004, the band’s breakthrough debut
Robbers & Cowards was released to considerable acclaim in
2006. The darker Loyalty To Loyalty followed two years later, and
2011’s Mine Is Yours introduced deeper anthemic qualities to the
eclectic group’s catalog. “We were shaken up, ready to let certain songs go further than before by trying new styles and arrangements, while keeping others sparse and caring more about the finished product and less about how we got there,” explains frontman
Nathan Willet about the ten-track album, which was recorded at
the band’s private studio in San Pedro, CA. Dear Miss
Lonelyhearts, which features the rollicking, energetic single
“Miracle Mile,” is Cold War Kids’ first release with former Modest
Mouse and Murder City Devils guitarist Dann Gallucci, who also
handled its production alongside Lars Stalfors.
She is a Grammy-nominated artist…
She received an instantly addictive review from NPR’s World
Cafe on her 2006 debut release, For Lovers, Dreamers & Me...
She was named one of the 10 Most Exciting Artists 2007 by
Entertainment Weekly...
She can count Ellen DeGeneres among her many fans...
She was a featured performer at the 2012 Afro Punk Festival...
She has played to sold-out crowds at NYC’s Highline Ballroom,
Mercury Lounge, Joe’s Pub, and Blue Note Jazz Club...
She is a singer-songwriter-producer whose 4-octave vocal range
is described as tart and sultry by the New York Times and soul
stirring by BET...
She embodies soulful pop and R&B melodies wrapped in layered
harmonies and orchestral arrangements...
She is... Alice Smith
Like his early hero Miles Davis, Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko
has a gift for shaping great bands, and this one, formed in the
world’s jazz capital, overflows with promise. The bass and drums
team of Thomas Morgan and Gerald Cleaver is one of the most
sensitive in contemporary improvising, and Cuban-born pianist
David Virelles, inspired by ritual music as well as by Thelonious
Monk and Andrew Hill, seems particularly well-attuned to the
brooding darkness and sophisticated dread of Stankos’ free ballads. In the uptempo pieces all four players seem to enter new territory, with very exciting results. The double-album program of new
Stanko compositions is inspired also by the poetry of Wisawa
Symborska, the Polish poet, essayist and Nobel Laureate, who
died in 2012. Says Stanko: “Reading Wisawa Szymborska’s words
gave me many ideas and insights. Meeting her and interacting with
her poetry also gave impetus to this music, which I would like to
dedicate, respectfully, to her memory.”
Forget whatever you thought about Clutch. Earth Rocker crumples
up the bad categories that have miscast them for years — stoner
rock, post-hardcore, metal, grunge — and leaves no question
about what they are: a damn good rock and roll band.Earth
Rocker is a solid, straight-up rock and roll album, exactly what the
band had in mind for their tenth studio album.“I’m excited about its
succinctness, and how balls-to-the-wall it is,” says frontman Neil
Fallon. “The length of an LP is optimal for enjoying a body of new
music, approximately 40-45 minutes. There’s something to be said
about Side A and Side B. It’s more cinematic, and that was the
approach.” The album began taking shape when Clutch toured with
Mötorhead, then Thin Lizzy. Revisiting those two favorite bands,
Clutch was able to apply their own experience as musicians to better understand the dynamics of their heroes. Not everything on
Earth Rocker is strictly vintage rock and roll, though: The aggression and minimalism of Bad Brains and Fugazi was applied to these
tracks – keeping things simple, smart and powerful… Which is how
you’ll feel after hearing this album.
For a long time if you wanted to hear the most exciting new band in
Britain, you knocked on a tall black door off the Lambeth Road. An aging
British Rail building - part art studio happening, part squat – Studio 180
was where south London’s Palma Violets were gestating, away from sunlight and the world at large. A thrilling rock’n’roll four piece channeling
The Clash, ? And The Mysterions and the Bad Seeds, from September
2011 they were holed-up here writing songs “their friends could dance
to” and occasionally putting on celebratory, ecstatic parties about which
word quickly spread. It should be noted that the news of these parties /
shows was spread in a manner that harks back to the days before the
internet – aka “word of mouth.” For until a couple of months ago, Palma
Violets had no online presence, no music recorded, and no press team
working for them. If you got through the door of Studio 180 in that early
period, what greeted you was an intoxicating sense of chaos. For Palma
Violets, everything they do comes from a real love of music and a need
to communicate feelings on a forceful basic level. They’re not a product
of modern moodboard culture, they’re a pure elemental force.
Colleen Green always wears sunglasses onstage. Colleen Green is
long hair and getting high. Colleen Green’s first full-length for
Hardly Art, Sock it to Me, is grounded in pure pop. Green’s multitracked, emotive vocals take an enormous leap forward, evoking
all-time heroes such as Rose Melberg and Tina Weymouth, with
every drum-machine-tracked song awash in the dreamy slacker
romanticism of California. Green is a powerful DIY force of one.
She looms large, not only in the basement scene of the USA, but
across the large stages of North America. People left and right fall
for her style and brand of popular music and why wouldn’t they?
Everything is in this pot! You get some Stacey Q, Tom Tom Club, Nu
Shooz and mix it up nicely with the Descendents, the Ramones, and
the Fastbacks, then, light it up with a fire made from the bones of
Sebadoh? The smoke that comes from all of this, that’s Sock it to
Me, Colleen Green’s first full length for Hardly Art. Sweet and custom made, just for you.
Billy Bragg is staunch believer of conservative values. He believes
marriage is a special contract between a man and a woman. He
thinks Margaret Thatcher was a righteous babe. A longtime supporter of the rights of giant corporations, Bragg has long scoffed
at the ideas of workers rights, unions, an resource drainers like
unemployment benefits. He believes in absolute freedom provided
it falls in lines with strict adherence of God’s word. Recycling?
Poppycock. Global Warming? A myth. Mormonism? A cult…
Though he thought Mitt Romney would restore hope and glory to
the United States, despite the fact that he is an Englishman. Taxes?
No way. Social safety nets? Not on his watch. Wilco? Posers.
Woodie Guthrie? A no-good-nik. Obama? Wasn’t even born here.
Ann Coulter? Hottie! So listen, sinner, it’s time for you to get right
with the Man upstairs. His brilliant and compelling new album is
called Tooth And Nail and that how he’s gonna fight for what he
To describe The Staves’ music as merely comforting or enjoyable
would be to severely under-egg the pudding. Theirs is songwriting
as striking as it is exquisite — a melding of still, bright English folk
and sublime West Coast pop that, performed live, is capable of
plunging an audience into awed silence. It is singing so alluring
that The Staves were asked to provide backing vocals for recent
albums by both Tom Jones (alongside Gillian Welch and Dave
Rawlings) and Fionn Regan, and to tour with Willy Mason, Josh
Ritter, James Vincent McMorrow, and Mt. Desolation, among others. Meanwhile, legendary producers Glyn and Ethan Johns
(whose combined credits include the likes of The Rolling Stones,
The Eagles, Joan Armatrading, Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne,
Kings of Leon, and Laura Marling to name but a few) found The
Staves’ talents so compelling that they both independently tracked
the band down. For the listener, these are three songs that offer the
merest taste of the sisters’ extraordinary talents, a promise of the
brilliance to come, and a reminder, perhaps, that being sung to
really is the nicest thing in the world.
*this is the only sentence that isn’t absolute bullshit.
Since the release of 2011’s award winning debut, No Time for
Dreaming, Charles Bradley has transformed from a rising star in
the Daptone galaxy into a bona-fide headliner, now affectionately
known across the globe as “The Screaming Eagle of Soul.” The raw
emotion and soulfulness of Bradley’s voice lifts him up among the
greats of the golden age of Soul - Otis, JB, Wilson Pickett, and
Darrell Banks. Anyone who has had the privilege of hearing him
sing has experienced how Bradley can captivate an entire audience with a simple “Ooooo...” Bradley and writer/producer/multiinstrumentalist Thomas “TNT” Brenneck returned to Dunham studios
and recorded the most exciting Daptone release to date, Victim of
Love. On this album, Bradley moves past his “Heartaches and
Pain” to the great promise of hope and love. Though quite at home
among the music that has affirmed Daptone as the world’s #1
authority on Soul Music, Victim of Love proves to be a genrebending masterpiece, picking up where the early 70’s Temptations
left off and edging boldly forward into psychedelic soul exploration. You need this.
They Might Be Giants have perfected their deliriously catchy, original
sound over the past three decades. The two-time GRAMMY winning
Brooklyn originals return with charming wit, electrifying pop melodies and
just enough bass clarinet on their 16th studio album, Nanobots.
Nanobots finds the band in fine form. Blending the band’s signature storytelling, some dueling horns and sly humor, “Call You Mom” is a caffeinated pop gem. Title track “Nanobots” puts a dark cartoonish spin on the
world of technology while the call and response chorus and percussive guitar line of “You’re On Fire” dares even the grumpiest wallflower not to
dance. Oh: and six of the songs are under 20 seconds long. Why? “We
came of age in the time of albums,” says Giant Flansburgh. “So we were
raised on the notion that songs—when collected together—serve to amplify and support each other when part of a well-considered collection. With
Nanobots we weren’t making a concept album, but it does have a certain
power as a kind of song cycle. These short little tiny songs have a purpose
and they make sense when surrounded by the longer songs. There’s a certain mania to this record, a certain energy you get when you include all
these hard working miniatures.” Take that, shuffle!
Kvelertak (Kuh-vell-er-tack) is a band from Norway that plays rock
music. And not just any rock music. The hard stuff. The stuff your
parents (used to) hate. Their latest album is called Meir and it was
produced by Kurt Ballou of Converge – a band well known for not
fucking around. They recorded it in Salem, Massachusetts where
there are / were witches – so you know there’s some seriously
weird mojo coursing through this heavy ass music. With the explosive first single “Bruane Brenn” to the slowed down guitar crunching of “Evig Vandrar” to the brutally chaotic “Nekrokosmos”, Meir
is an album that certainly lives up to the hype of giving the listener
“more.” Tight rhythms, inventive guitar hooks and melodies that
seep into your consciousness, this is an album that constantly surprises. “It is both catchy and heavy; we’re pushing our limits in both
ends of that spectrum,” says lead singer Erlend Hjelvik. “It’s very
varied and there are a lot of surprises in store. I mean, it’s unlike
anything I myself have heard before, so we even managed to surprise ourselves.”
“I want the band to mark a moment in time, to celebrate the being
of something new; The light at the end of the tunnel, the first step
toward revealing something that needs to be seen,” says singersongwriter Casey McPherson of Alpha Rev. Following the success
of New Morning. The band’s third album Bloom is a set of personally transformative and redemptive songs, born in the spirit of
creative expansion, and a mandate to blossom and grow. With a
glistening rock sound that is at once fragile and tough, Bloom picks
up threads from the past while it takes a big bite into the eternal
here and now. Drawing from the wellspring of American history,
the grandeur of its landscape, and life’s sweet and tragic mysteries,
McPherson leans into his personal challenges as well as the wages
of the 21st Century and emerges with a triumphant statement on the
ways in which music can serve as a constant source of strength and
inspiration. “Alpha Rev is a combination of the Greek word for the
beginning, and the incredible Latin prefix rev, as in revolve, revolt,
reveal,” says McPherson. “Alpha Rev is more than a band name—
it’s a motto.” Quite.
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