Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top 10 Albums Of 2014

Top 10 Albums of 2014 (in alphabetical order)
Death VesselIsland Intervals (Sub Pop)
Empty Moon The Shark (High Dive Records)
The Hotelier - Home, Like Noplace Is There (Tiny Engines)
Pillar Point Pillar Point (Polyvinyl Records)
Shabazz PalacesLese Majesty (Sub Pop)
Shy BoysShy Boys (High Dive Records)
Somos Temple Of Plenty (Tiny Engines)
Sylvan Esso - Sylvan Esso (Partisan)
Tweedy Sukierae (Anti-)
Jack WhiteLazzaretto (Third Man Records)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat – featuring a track from The Armory Wars

The Armory Wars – “Stay” (Following their two well-received EPs, the Atlanta based indie rock band recently released Rediscover, their highly-anticipated and very promising debut album.  Led by dual vocalists Sean Wheeler and Marc Harris, the five piece band creates highly energetic and infectiously catchy radio-ready pop and punk-infused rock anthems.  The passionate standout single here is highlighted by buzzing noise-addled guitars, emotionally-charged vocals and swirling Circa Survive-like melodies.) http://www.thearmorymusic.com/


Owen – “Judas” (Under his longtime moniker Owen, Mike Kinsella – of Cap'n Jazz, American Football, and Owls - recently released a new album of cover songs, titled Other People’s Songs via Polyvinyl Records.  He distinctly transforms some punk rock classics from The Promise Ring, The Smoking Popes, All, and Against Me! into his own lush acoustic-based style that is bolstered by touches of piano, strings and female vocals from guest Sarah Mitchell.  Here he takes on Depeche Mode’s “Judas” with stirring strings and cyclical guitars lending it a warm, organic atmosphere and uncovering the beauty hidden beneath the burgeoning electronics of the ethereal original.) https://www.polyvinylrecords.com/#artist/owen
Stream: https://soundcloud.com/polyvinyl-records/owen-judas-depeche-mode-3

The City On Film – “ (Bob Nanna of Braid, Hey Mercedes and Lifted Bells has had a busy 2014, Braid released No Coast, their excellent long-awaited return in July and now Nanna has released a new album, La Vella, under his solo moniker The City On Film via Topshelf Records.  Prior albums as The City On Film have found Bob more subdued, as an outlet for his quieter songs but La Vella rocks with as much intensity as his parent band with his signature voice and phrasing and penchant for catchy, off-kilter melodies taking the spotlight.)  http://www.bobnanna.com/
Stream: https://soundcloud.com/topshelfrecords/the-city-on-film-you-wild-thing-an-illuminous-life/likes    

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat – Remastered & Reissued Edition

Songs: Ohia – “Blue Chicago Moon (Demo)” (Jason Molina’s last album under the Songs: Ohia moniker was 2002’s excellent Didn’t It Rain with its fuller yet still skeleton-sparse arrangements and his most personal lyrics.  The album with its live recording and contributions from Jim and Jennie of bluegrass band Jim & Jennie & The Pinetops started to show signs of what would become Magnolia Eclectic Co.  This week Secretly Canadian has reissued the album with a second disc of demos and rarities from the sessions.  Check out the home demo version of album standout “Blue Chicago Moon” here.) http://www.scdistribution.com/songsohia/   

Flake Music – “Spanaway Hits” (Before James Mercer formed The Shins there was Flake Music and Sub Pop - in conjunction with Mercer’s Aural Apothecary imprint - has recently reissued a remixed and remastered edition of the New Mexico-based band’s 1997 debut album, When You Land Here, It’s Time To Return, for all to enjoy.  The jangly guitars, strange synths and spiky rhythms along with Mercer’s distinct voice and knack for quirky melodies are present, showing what was to come with the The Shins, Broken Bells, etc.)  https://www.subpop.com/artists/flake_music     

Cursive – “Am I Not Yours?” (Saddle Creek Records has remastered and reissued The Ugly Organ, one of Cursive’s finest moments.  Led by frontman Tim Kasher’s highly meta references and confessional lyrics alongside the standout singles “Art Is Hard” and “The Recluse” the album was praised by critics and fans alike in 2003.  The second disc included in the deluxe reissue features eight bonus tracks taken from their stellar cello-centric era – courtesy of Greta Cohn - including four tracks from the 8 Teeth To Eat You EP that have never been released on vinyl.)  http://saddle-creek.com/store/646    
Stream: https://soundcloud.com/saddlecreek/cursive-am-i-not-yours

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat - featuring a new track from Lindsay Mac

Lindsay Mac – “Remember” (After getting her start as a classically-trained cellist, Cambridge, MA-based singer-songwriter Lindsay Mac went on to perform quirky folk-pop.  Now with her new album, Animal Again, she has transformed herself into an electro-pop ingénue.  With her famous cello now almost non-existent, it allows her dynamic and soulful voice, inspiring lyrics and catchy, honey-sweet melodies to grab the spotlight and shine alongside the exuberantly danceable rhythms and lushly arranged 80’s-inspired synth-pop symphonies that were co-written with producer J Declan.  Check out the super-catchy debut single here with its bubbly rhythm, colorful synths and joyous melodies.) http://www.lindsaymac.com/        

Young Tongue – “RXNLA” (The Austin-based five-piece - previously known as The Baker Family - recently released their debut album, Death Rattle as a joint venture between the Austin indie labels Punctum and Raw Paw Records.  Led by the husband and wife duo of Stu and Liz Baker along with Nathan Ribner, Darryl Schomberg II, and Travis Larrew, they create a dazzling contrasting blend of dark, angular post-punk and lush dream-pop.  Standout track “RXNLA” is built upon forceful acoustic guitar strums, plucky piano and the clever call and response vocal trade-offs between Stu and Liz.  Catch them on tour now with Mr. Gnome.)  http://www.youngtonguemusic.com/
Stream: https://soundcloud.com/youngtongue/rxnla   

The New Basement Tapes – “Liberty Street” (Sparked by the recent discovery of lyrics handwritten by Bob Dylan in 1967 during the period that generated the recording of his original Basement Tapes, producer T-Bone Burnett put together an all-star band featuring Elvis Costello, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons, Rhiannon Giddens of Carolina Chocolate Drops and Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes to write and record new music to the lyrics.  The excellent collaborative album, Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes out now via Electromagnetic Recordings/Harvest Records - is full of each artist’s personality while still retaining Dylan’s singular vision.  The standout single here - co-written and led by Jim James – is a rollicking romp that recalls the close-knit harmonies of The Band but updated with warbly guitar solos and surging MMJ-like synths for the best of both worlds.) http://www.thenewbasementtapes.com/  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat – featuring an exclusive stream from Fractal Control

Fractal Control – “Starved For Change” (Hailing from Youngstown, Ohio, the politically-minded instrumental metalcore band led by Mike Louttit recently released their very promising debut album, Disconnection Equals Freedom.  The album was inspired by Peter Joseph’s film, Zeitgeist: The Movie and deals with corruption and justice and is led by the dynamic standout track heard here.  It trades off between effortless moments of complex yet pummeling prog-rock fuelled force and highly-melodic sections that soar with fancy, fluid fretwork for an engaging and unique sound that recalls like-minded acts Animals As Leaders and Scale The Summit.) https://soundcloud.com/fractalcontrol 

My Goodness – “Young Turks” (The Seattle garage rock trio takes on Rod Stewart’s 80’s classic with all of their visceral heavy blues-rock grooves and howling vocals intact.  The band which consists of vocalist/guitarist Joel Schneider and drummer Andy Lum recently recruited the Blood Brothers’ Cody Votolato to play bass.  They also recently released their stunning debut album Shiver + Shake which is led by the outstanding single, “Cold Feet Killer” and was produced by the late, legendary Seattle producer Rick Parashar, who has also produced for Pearl Jam and Temple Of The Dog among others.) http://mygoodnessmusic.com/
Stream: https://soundcloud.com/mygoodness/young-turks

Foo Fighters – “The Feast And The Famine” (To coincide with the HBO mini-series of the same name, in which they recorded in 8 different musically-rich U.S. cities, the Foo Fighters have recently released their eighth and most recent studio album, Sonic Highways out now via Roswell/RCA Records.  One of the sessions and episodes focused on D.C.’s historic punk scene and Inner Ear Studios.  The result is the standout single heard here - a signature arena-worthy anthem highlighted by its choppy offbeat rhythm and wiry guitar tone that was inspired by area punk legends Fugazi and Jawbox.) http://www.foofighters.com/     

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Haerts – “Call My Name” (Vocalist Nini Fabi - a Stevie Nicks-like siren - leads the NYC-based synth-driven indie-pop group whose hotly-anticipated self-titled debut album is out now on Columbia Records.  The 80’s-inspired single here is bathed in swaths of gauzy synths and a soaring, super-catchy vocal melody that is both blissful and aching.  Catch them on their co-headlining tour alongside the like-minded Mikky Ekko.) http://www.haertsmusic.com/    

Bent Knee – “Being Human” (The wildly dynamic Boston-based six-piece art-rock band released their stellar sophomore album Shiny Eyed Babies this week.  They blend together soaring Bjork-like vocal outbursts, strange synths and psychedelic prog-rock tendencies with avant-garde chamber-pop and jazz for a totally unique, mind-blowing and genre-defiant sound.)  http://www.bentkneemusic.com/

Project 86 – “Spirit Of Shiloh” (The veteran Chrsitian rock band - led by vocalist Andrew Schwab’s distinct growl - released their ninth album, Knives To The Future this week via their own Team Black Recordings label with the help of a successful Indiegogo campaign.  The new album is filled with their explosive brand of heavy and emotional hardcore-fuelled anthems that continue with the lyrical themes of their last album, Wait For The Siren; as a soldier, post-battle battles his past and future.) http://project86.com/
Stream: https://soundcloud.com/project86/spirit-of-shiloh

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Liars – “Poison Bender” (Art-punk trio Liars released their new I’m No Gold EP this week via Mute.  The EP leans heavily towards remixes of the jumpy, exuberant title track – taken from their excellent most recent album, Mess -  by the Liars themselves and a pumped up mix from Mute founder Daniel Miller.  Also included are two new tracks including the droning and propulsive yet feather-light standout track heard here.) http://liarsliarsliars.com/

Modest Mouse – “White Lies, Yellow Teeth” (Isaac Brock’s label, Glacial Pace has just reissued Modest Mouse’s first two full-lengths on vinyl.  Additionally, a 7” with two previously unreleased tracks from those sessions were released alongside each respective album.  The song heard here – with its signature scratchy guitars and ramshackle rhythm - was taken from the same sessions that birthed their seminal 1996 album, This Is a Long Drive for Someone With Nothing to Think About.) http://glacialpace.com/

Deerhoof – “Exit Only” (For La Isla Bonita, their thirteenth (!) studio album - out now via Polyvinyl Records - the band added fresh touches of “riot grrl” and Ramones-inspired punk and more direct pop-leaning melodies to their already off-kilter art-rock sound.  The lead single here, mixes Spanish lyrics, thick, fuzzed-out guitars and a driving yet stuttering drum beat as a punk-fuelled shot in the arm for the indie rock vets.)  https://www.polyvinylrecords.com/#product/la_isla_bonita
Stream: https://soundcloud.com/polyvinyl-records/deerhoof-exitonly

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Stream It From The Mountain: Empty Moon - "The Shark"

Empty Moon is the new solo project of Brendan Hangauer, formerly of Lawrence, KS indie rock band Fourth Of July; his debut album, The Shark is out today via High Dive Records.  The new moniker and album are a result of his move from the Midwest to the Golden State of California and the fuller, sun-streaked arrangements and lush production from Jason Quever of Papercuts sets this project apart from his three albums as Fourth Of July.  Another difference is that lyrically the themes are grander in scope, as Hangauer chose not to focus on personal relationships as the primary theme this time around.  Also, former bandmate Adrianne Verhoeven (The Anniversary, Extra Classic) returns to provide her distinct vocals on a few of the tracks.

The nine-song album is led by the standout single, “75 Degrees” with its plinking piano notes that fall somewhere between doo-wop and honky-tonk and “The Shark”, the album’s title track which hews closest to his previous output with a lovelorn, raise-your-glass-in-the-air sing-along chorus alongside rafters-reaching reverb-rich piano and a forceful acoustic guitar rhythm.  Other standout tracks include the philosophical “Dear Life”, which weaves five different situations into one storyline alongside cyclical acoustic guitars and swaying swells of vintage organ and the strummy guitars, calliope-like melody and droning organ of “Golden Mean” which provides the perfect background for the contrast of Brendan’s deep, rich baritone and Dri’s lighter signature swoon.    

Stream The Shark here:

For more info: http://highdiverecords.com/index.php/empty-moon/

Friday, October 31, 2014

Free Friday: SPC ECO - "Nocturnal" single and video

SPC ECO, the London-based electro dream-pop duo of producer and multi-instrumentalist Dean Garcia, formerly of 90's shoegazers Curve and his daughter Rose Berlin recently released their stunning album Sirens And Satellites via Saint Marie Records.

Today as a special Halloween treat, they have released the epic new track "Nocturnal" with its Portishead-like noir-ish qualities as a free download on their Bandcamp page along with an accompanying video.  The appropriately haunting and hypnotic film was produced by the A-B Collective.

Stream and Download "Nocturnal" here:

Watch the video here:

For more info: http://www.spceco.com/

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

VLMA – “Thumb Bucket” (VLMA, the Maryland-based grunge-pop trio just released a self-titled cassette with Fleeting Youth Records which holds their first two EPs.  The songs were recorded entirely on analog equipment – the same type that Nirvana used to record Bleach - which helped them to capture their effortlessly catchy and 90’s nostalgia-inducing brand of fuzzed-out grunge-punk.) http://fleetingyouthrecords.bandcamp.com/album/vlma

Rancid – “Collision Course” (The 90’s punk pioneers triumphantly return with Honor Is All We Know, their eighth album and first album in over five years.  Out now on Hellcat/Epitaph Records, the stellar new album - produced by Bad Religion guitarist and Epitaph CEO Brett Gurewitz -puts Tim and crew at the top of the punk food chain once again with another set of pummeling ska-tinged punk anthems.  The standout single here with its propulsive rhythm and unhinged guitar outbursts is an example of what the band does better than anyone else.) http://rancidrancid.com/    

Pianos Become The Teeth – “Repine” (For Keep You, their third album and debut for Epitaph Records, the Baltimore-based post-hardcore band added in  more melancholic melodicism and unbridled emotion to their already textural sound while subtracting some of the overt heaviness and distortion for their best and most experimental album yet.  The ethereal strings, catchy refrain and driving, tom-heavy rhythm of the atmospheric first single here is the perfect introduction.) http://www.epitaph.com/artists/artist/308/Pianos_Become_The_Teeth  
Stream: https://soundcloud.com/epitaph-records/pianos-become-the-teeth-2

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Afternoons – “Say Yes” (The L.A.-based indie-pop 6-piece released their long-awaited debut album, Say Yes, this week via eenie meenie Records.  The album was produced by Aaron Espinoza of Earlimart who captured their infectious, danceable and arena-worthy synth-driven sound that recalls Fun. along with their penchant for sunny, sing-along melodies that bring to mind likeminded L.A. band the Little Ones.  Check out the exuberant title track here.)   http://afternoonsmusic.com/   

Cold War Kids – “Hot Coals” (The scrappy veteran indie rock band released their fifth album, Hold My Home this week via Downtown Records.  Produced by guitarist Dan Gallucci, formerly of Modest Mouse, the new album offers up even more anthemic and soulful hooks alongside a much brighter production along with the addition of drummer Joe Plummer, also of Modest Mouse and The Shins.)  http://www.coldwarkids.com     

Jessie Ware – “Say You Love Me” (The minimalist R&B songstress returns with her highly-anticipated sophomore album Tough Love, out now via Interscope Records.  She reaches new heights on the album as her soulful voice soars above thicker beats and church choirs and this powerful, emotionally-charged standout single co-written by Ed Sheeran is the perfect example of the broadened and bold new sound found on the stellar new album.) http://jessieware.com      

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Primus & The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble

The best and most definitive Primus lineup - featuring drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander, guitarist Larry Lalonde and bassist/vocalist Les Claypool - has returned to release their strangest album yet and first full-length album since 1995.  Out today via ATO Records is Primus & The Chocolate Factory, where Les and crew pays homage to and re-imagines the soundtrack to the iconic 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, as only they could, putting an even darker twist on the already quirky songs to make them their own.  The mysterious Fungi Ensemble provides all of the ancillary ornamentation such as the vibraphone, marimba and strings that make the score so unique.           
In addition, Primus is set to bring the album to life on tour complete with an elaborate stage show, Primus-branded chocolate bars and demented Oompa Loompas.     

Check out the stomping rhythm and psychedelic guitar freakouts on “Golden Ticket” here: 

Listen to their lovingly odd take on the soundtrack’s most well-known song “Pure Imagination” here: 

For tour dates and more info: http://primusville.com

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat – featuring an MP3 PREMIERE from Lac La Belle

Lac La Belle – “The Border” (The Detroit folk duo of multi-instrumentalists and songwriters Jennie Knaggs and Nick Schillace released their excellent third album, A Friend Too Long last week.  Led by some fancy Fahey-like fretwork and Knagg’s lilting vocals, their rootsy brand of organic Americana is infused with catchy pop-leaning melodies, stomping percussion and some Appalachian hoots and hollers for good measure.  The album was recorded during the chilling “Polar Vortex” earlier this year with a full band treatment for the first time and the result is a timeless yet modern set of songs and their fullest and most complete album yet.  Check out the flickering guitars and yearning lyrical sentiment of the standout single below.) http://laclabelle.bandcamp.com/album/a-friend-too-long   


Stars – “Turn It Up” (The Canadian art-rock vets return with their seventh album, No One Is Lost, out now via ATO Records.  The album was recorded above a dance club and the throbbing beats below greatly influenced their danceable, synth-smeared and shiny indie-pop.  Check out the soaring synths, bright horns and playful playground-like chants of the anthemic standout single here.) http://www.youarestars.com/home/

Jen Wood – “Run With The Wild Ones” (The Seattle songstress – also known for singing on The Postal Service album – released her new album, Wilderness this week as a joint venture between Radar Light & New Granada Records.  The highly melodic yet experimental album features electronic elements like Gameboy/Chiptune melodies that were composed by Andy Myers of Stenobot and Supercommuter and it was written on piano as opposed to guitar - a first for the songwriter - for her best and most diverse album yet.) http://jenwood.bandcamp.com/        

Stream: https://soundcloud.com/jen-wood-music/run-with-the-wild-ones

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Minus The Bear – "Cat Calls & Ill Means" (Seattle indie rock vets return with Lost Loves a new album out now on Dangerbird Records collecting unreleased songs from sessions dating from 2006 to 2013 that didn’t quite flow with their respective albums.  The standout single here - taken from the critically-adored Planet Of Ice sessions - is built upon a buzzing bass line and filled with their signature synths, fancy fretwork and ear-worming melodies.  The result is a strong and cohesive album that is a Pisces Iscariot-like testament to their craft.) http://minusthebear.com/

Field Report – “Marigolden” (The Milwaukee-based indie-folk quartet led by the rich, earthy voice of singer-songwriter Chris Porterfield released their stunning second album, Marigolden this week via Partisan Records.  The new album progresses their wistful and organic folk sound to add electronic elements and beautiful female vocals from Tamara Lindeman of Weather Station for a sophomore slump-busting album that shouldn’t go unnoticed.)  http://www.partisanrecords.com/artists/field-report/     

Night School – “Birthday” (The new Oakland-based trio led by singer Alexandra Morte of Whirr and Camera Shy perfectly blends lovely 60’s doo-wop harmonies with fuzzy shoegaze guitars, synths and gritty garage-punk on their very promising 4-song debut EP, Heart Beat out now via Graveface Records.) https://www.facebook.com/nightscool  
Stream: https://soundcloud.com/graveface/birthday

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Weezer – “Everything Will Be Alright In The End”

After celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of their seminal debut album earlier this year, Weezer return with Everything Will Be Alright In The End, their ninth studio album, out now via Republic Records. 

Led by the standout first single, “Back To The Shack”; Ric Ocasek returns to the producer’s chair and lyrically Rivers Cuomo makes tongue-in-cheek meta-references to the band’s heyday in’94 as the new album rocks with some of The Blue Album’s crunchy riffs and fun, arena-sized power-pop hooks as a welcome return to form.  Additionally, Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino duets on the playful surf-pop standout “Go Away” and the chugging Middle Eastern-tinged “Cleopatra” revives some of Pinkerton’s emotional exuberance. 

With Everything Will Be Alright In The End, Weezer delivers an album thick with nostalgia and knowingly, enough of the band’s best attributes so that the goofy songs like “Beverly Hills” and albums like Raditude can be more easily forgiven and the band can be celebrated once again with their best post-90’s album.        

Stream “Cleopatra” here:

For more info: http://www.weezer.com/

Friday, October 03, 2014

Free Friday: Earl Boykins – “Everybody Like Dogs” EP

Earlier this week the New Paltz, NY based jangle-punk band Earl Boykins released their new EP Everybody Likes Dogs on limited edition cassette via Forged Artifacts.  To celebrate, they have the digital version of the 5-song EP up on Bandcamp as a pay-what-you-want download.
Led by the standout single, “Lance Armstrong” with its driving rhythm, bright melodies and elastic 90’s guitar tone; this very promising new collection of songs streamlines the fuzzed-out noise-addled hardcore outbursts of their debut EP, FRIENDS - released earlier this year – and allows the band’s infectious pop chops to come to the forefront alongside jangly guitars and cleaner production that only heightens the anticipation for a full-length release. 

Stream/Download the Everybody Likes Dogs EP here:

For more info: https://www.facebook.com/Earlboykinsband

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Soft Swells – “Floodlights” (Led by singer-songwriter Tim Williams, Soft Swells has swollen to become a fully formed band and the anthemic synth-smeared surf-inspired and folk-drenched indie-rock on their hotly-anticipated sophomore album, Floodlights – out now on Modern Outsider – is much bigger, bolder and better as a result.) http://www.softswells.com/  

The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Terrified” (The beloved Canadian indie-folk trio released their long-awaited third album, Mended With Gold this week via Saddle Creek Records.  The new album deals with loss and heartbreak and its painful and sometimes joyful aftermath.  The standout first single here with its foreboding piano and biting lyrics that contrast nicely with soaring vocal harmonies and a driving rhythm is the perfect re-introduction.) http://www.theraa.com/      

Lunchbox – “Tom, What’s Wrong?” (Now a duo, Tim Brown and Donna McKean recently returned with Lunchbox Loves You, their first album in over ten years.  Released on Jigsaw Records, the excellent new album is a sugar rush of fuzzed-out 60’s bubblegum-inspired dreampop with jangly guitars, bursts of bright horns and strings and insanely catchy melodies reminiscent of the 60’s-indebted indie-pop Apples In Stereo and Dressy Bessy released in the 90’s.) http://jigsawrecords.bandcamp.com/album/pzl057-lunchbox-lunchbox-loves-you
Download: http://jigsaw-records.com/sounds/Lunchbox-Tom_What's_Wrong.mp3

Friday, September 26, 2014

Free Friday: Kicklighter – “The Fascinating Thinking Machine”

Kicklighter is the Tallahassee-based band led by Everett Young.  The Fascinating Thinking Machine, their debut album was self-released earlier this year as a pay-what-you-want download via the band’s Bandcamp page.  Young, who has a PhD in political psychology picked up the guitar four years ago at the age of 45 after some uncertainty in the job market and has hit the ground running, now giving lessons to other aspiring musicians.  On the album he plays the guitar, keyboards and harmonica and the sound he creates is a throwback to smart 80’s-leaning pop-rock that brings to mind acts like Tears For Fears yet with touches of 70’s classic rock, 60’s pop and acoustic folk for good measure.    

“Until You See The Sun” opens the album with shadowy cinematic synth flourishes, treble-thin guitars and a rolling rhythm that propels the song until the sing-along chorus hits like a ray of sunshine for a standout moment.   A loping bass line and steady acoustic guitars drive the earnest folk-pop tune “Building A Robot” which showcases Young’s smooth vocal style.  Next, “The Sultan Of Brunei” adds some laid back 70’s soft rock flavor with glassy keys and an arrangement of French horn, trumpet and flugelhorn to the catchy call-and-response vocal melodies.  Another standout, “When Howie Dressed Me Down” features a jittery New Wave-inspired rhythm, glimmering synths and a melodic guitar solo.  The eleven-track album’s centerpiece is ‘The Professor” which sets Young’s personal journey to his music career alongside a bouncy island rhythm that sounds like James Taylor fronting the Talking Heads.         
Everett Young and Kicklighter have created an inspiring pure pop pleasure with their promising debut album The Fascinating Thinking Machine.     

Stream/Download The Fascinating Thinking Machine here: 

For more info: http://www.kicklightermusic.com/

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

S – “Brunch” (S is the solo project of Jenn Ghetto - formerly of Carissa's Weird - her excellent new album; Cool Choices is out now on Hardly Art.  Produced by Chris Walla - now formerly of Death Cab For Cutie - the album is split between melancholic and personal Elliot Smith-like piano ballads and shimmering, catchy guitar-led indie-pop that recalls 90’s Pacific Northwest indie rock.) http://www.hardlyart.com/s.html

Whirr – “Mumble” (The quintet melds thick textural shoegaze guitars and whisper-y pop vocals with elements of punk and metal along with hypnotic rhythms and soaring atmospherics on their stunning sophomore album Sway, out now via Graveface Records.  Check out the surging and stomping standout single here.) http://www.graveface.com/whirr.html     

Terry Malts – “Let You In” (The San Fran. retro-punk trio – featuring former members of Magic Bullets - have released a new 4-song EP, titled Insides via Slumberland Records.  The first single heard here is their catchiest track yet with a driving, hip-swiveling rhythm and blasts of surf-rock guitar lines that break through the power-pop fuzz for a standout moment.) https://www.facebook.com/terrymalts   
Stream: https://soundcloud.com/slumberland-records/let-you-in

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tweedy - "Sukierae"

Recording under the moniker of Tweedy, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco along with his son, Spencer have just released their debut album, Sukierae via Wilco’s dBpm Records imprint.  Originally planned as a solo album for Jeff, Spencer helped from the beginning to shape the 20 tracks that make up the album with his creative and cagey jazz-inspired rhythms that push Jeff in new and exciting directions.

Opening track “Please Don’t Let Me Be So Understood”, the stuttering “Diamond Light, Pt. 1” and the psychedelic, classic rock-like “World Away” with its Led Zeppelin-esque stomp highlight what Spencer’s drumming brings to the table.  Elsewhere, Jeff’s trademark power-pop leaning roots rock sound is intact on many of the songs including the laid-back and loping “Summer Noon” and the shuffling “Wait For Love” with its whistling solo and sincere sentiment.  Many of the songs touch on Jeff’s wife Linda’s battle with non-Hodgkin lymphoma; the album’s title is her nickname.   

Though the album is pretty much stripped-down, Jeff and Spencer are joined by guests Scott McCaughey (The Minus Five, REM) who provided keyboards and Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of the Brooklyn-band Lucius who lent their gorgeous close-knit harmonies to several of the tracks including the delirious standout, “I’ll Sing It” and the subtly sunny 60’s folk-pop tune “Low Key”.

With the solid Sukierae, Tweedy turns his solo project into a family affair and the result is much better than expected. 

Stream “Diamond Light, Pt.1” here:

For more info: www.wilcoworld.net

Friday, September 19, 2014

Free Friday: Victory Records Fall 2014 Label Sampler

Chicago indie king-pins Victory Records recently released a label sampler as a free digital download via their website as an introduction to their current roster and their upcoming Fall releases.

The 13-track sampler opens with a nice one-two punch; first with Islander's modern take on hardcore-laced nu-metal that recalls both Deftones and P.O.D. and then Meridian's anthemic emotionally-charged hardcore that fits right in alongside former label mates A Day To Remember and Thursday.

Other standouts include Christian metalcore band Darkness Divided who offer up a thunderous slice of energy from their excellent debut album, Written In Blood and tech-metal band Wretched throw in some 80's thrash and 90's melodic death metal for good measure.  One of their most recent signings, Feed Her To The Sharks are represented with a track from their yet-to-be-titled or released new album.  Also included is a new track from psycho-billy pioneers Reverend Horton Heat, who released their great comeback album Rev earlier this year on Victory.  Rounding out the sampler are choice tracks from the latest albums from Emmure, Sister Sin, Close Your Eyes, Comeback Kid,  The Bunny The Bear, and Il Nino as well as a new track from Tear Out The Heart's upcoming new album.

Download the Victory Records Fall 2014 Sampler here: http://bit.ly/1tOyX9f

For more info: www.victoryrecords.com

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Rev Gusto – “Still There” (In April the K.C.-based 60’s garage-pop purveyors released a 7’ inch as part of The Too Much Rock podcast’s Single Series.  The infectiously catchy A-side here is a colorfully jangly slice of hip-swiveling Kinks-like pop that only heightens the anticipation for their debut full-length due later this year via High Dive Records.  The B-side is a faithful cover of Graham Parker's New Wave power-popper "Local Girls".) http://highdiverecords.com/index.php/rev-gusto/   

Pink Frost – “Seek And Recover” (Hot on the heels of their stellar sophomore album Sundowning released last fall, comes the release of a new EP entitled, Traitors.  Out this week via Smart Like Virus Records it contains 4 more perfect opportunities to hear them blend their anthemic 90’s alt-rock hooks with their blazing psych-rock and stoner-rock meets shoegaze guitar sound.) http://pinkfrost.bandcamp.com/album/traitors

Natalia Zukerman – “Courage To Change” (The Brooklyn-based indie-folk singer-songwriter and guitarist released her dynamic sixth album, Come Thief, Come Fire this week via Talisman Records.  Her unique take on Americana is informed by everything from jazz and blues to country and even shuffling bossa nova and is highlighted by her smoky, sultry voice and cinematic storytelling.) http://nataliazukerman.com      

Stream: https://soundcloud.com/natalia-zukerman/courage-to-change

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

David Vandervelde – “One More Time” (For Shadow Sides, his third album, the singer-songwriter recorded directly to a four-track, using no computers for a purely analog affair.  The new album released as a joint venture between Secretly Canadian, Park The Van and Burger Records is his most personal yet; dealing with addiction and the death of his friend and collaborator - former Wilco member, Jay Bennett.  Those heavy themes are masked by bright, soul-infused power-pop melodies with swirling Beach Boys-esque harmonies.) https://www.facebook.com/vanderveldemusic  

Death From Above 1979 – “Trainwreck 1979” (The punk n’ roll duo returned this week with the release of The Physical World, their highly-anticipated and long-awaited sophomore album.  Out now via Warner Brothers, the reunion album is a triumphant return that feels both nostalgic and fresh, delivering their roaring fuzzed-out bass-led grooves, danceable rhythms and sweat-soaked debauchery once again to a new generation of listeners.) http://www.deathfromabove1979.com/

Floating Action – “Unrevenged” (Floating Action is the moniker for N.C. singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Seth Kauffman who recently released Body Questions, his stunning sixth album and first for new label home New West Records.  Kauffman expertly crafts his catchy pop songs with eclectic elements of folk rock, Motown soul, and African rhythms which has made him a favorite of and go-to session player for Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.) http://floatingaction.com/

Stream “Unrevenged” here:

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Sloan - "Commonwealth"

Sloan - the Canadian indie rock institution - is set to release Commonwealth, their eleventh album today via Yep Roc Records.  The band boasts four equally great and able songwriters and they share the wealth on Commonwealth with each songwriter providing a side to the double LP, allowing for each individual’s style to shine through.     

The 15-track album opens with five tracks from Jay Ferguson who blends his cherubic voice and Beatles-esque melodies into their 70’s-loving power-pop with standout tracks, “You’ve Got A Lot On Your Mind” and the melodic piano-led “Three Sisters”.  Chris Murphy takes the second side with five songs that showcase his penchant for jangly, shimmering chamber-pop with clever lyrics and the upbeat standout track, “Carried Away” is the perfect example.  Patrick Pentland puts the power in “power-pop” on his side with four tracks including the buzzing and propulsive “13 (Under A Bad Sign)” and the standout first single, “Keep Swinging (Downtown)” with its pounding piano and raucous riff and rhythm.  The album closes out with Andrew Scott’s dynamic and psychedelic “Forty-Eight Portraits”, an 18-minute-long opus that takes up the final side and highlights everything that the bands does best..    

Even though each side represents one of the songwriter’s styles, the album as a whole is still distinctly “Sloan” with layers of close-knit harmonies and infectiously catchy melodies, resulting in their best and oddly enough, their most cohesive album in years. 

Stream “Keep Swinging (Downtown)” here:

For more info: http://sloanmusic.com/ 

Friday, September 05, 2014

While I Was Out: The Top 10 Releases I Missed While On Paternity Leave

For the past month I have been off work and totally unplugged from the blogosphere to be on paternity leave with my beautiful wife Jenna and our first child, Bennett.  It was an amazing time - despite the lack of sleep – and now I am back to work and missing that little guy.
While I was out there was a ton of great music released and to catch up, here is my list of the top 10 releases during my brief hiatus, listed in alphabetical order.

EDJEDJ (Eric D. Johnson of the Fruit Bats released his debut solo album under the moniker EDJ.  The new album - his most personal yet - highlights his high tenor and penchant for blending Beatles-esque pop with quirky, Country-leaning indie folk and is out now via Easy Sound.  Eric also welcomed guests such as James Mercer of The Shins, Andy Cabic of Vetiver, Tim Rutili from Califone and Nathan Larson of Shudder to Think to help shape the sound of the album.) http://www.ericdjohnsonmusic.com/

Entombed A.D.Back To The Front (Vocalist LG Petrov, an original member of the pioneering Swedish death metal band has put together a new version of the band under the moniker, Entombed A.D.  The new album out now on Century Media retains their inimitable groove-heavy sludge-thick riffs and LG’s distinct growl but with some modern twists such as gang vocals and sharp hooks.) http://www.cmdistro.com/Artist/Entombed_A.D/96648

Frontier(s)White Light EP (The Louisville based band is led by former Elliott and Falling Forward front man Chris Higdon and Matt Wieder of Mouthpiece and The Enkindels.  Their highly-anticipated new 5-song EP was released via Tiny Engines and features a more streamlined and hook-driven sound that touches on the atmospherics of Elliott and the athemic thrust of Mouthpiece.)  http://tinyengines.bandcamp.com/album/white-lights

J MascisTied To A Star (J returns with his second stunning solo set, out now on Sub Pop.  The acoustic-based - save for some of his signature guitar solos - folk songs perfectly contrast with his Dinosaur Jr output.  The album also features appearances by Ken Maiuri, Pall Jenkins, Mark Mulcahy, and Chan Marshall.) https://www.subpop.com/releases/j_mascis/tied_to_a_star

Pelican Arktika (The Chicago-based instrumental post-metal band recently ended a 4 year hiatus with their excellent new album, Forever Becoming and have now self-released their first live album, Arktika.  Recorded in Russia, the album includes highlights from across their catalog and showcases the band’s thunderous live power.) http://pelican.bandcamp.com/album/arktika

The RentalsLost in Alphaville (Matt Sharp - along with a host of guests including Patrick Carney of The Black Keys and Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius - returns with the long-awaited third album out now on Polyvinyl Records.  The 16 year-old still inside of me can’t get enough of the vintage synths, fuzzy bass-led rhythms and close-knit vocal harmonies!)    http://therentalsmusic.tumblr.com/     

RubblebucketSurvival Sounds (The dynamic Brooklyn art-pop released their third full-length and label debut for Communion Records.  Produced and mixed by John Congleton (St. Vincent, Modest Mouse) the album retains their use of clever arrangements, off-kilter rhythms, bright melodies and punchy brass and synths but with a little more polish for their best effort yet.)  https://soundcloud.com/rubblebucket/carousel-ride-1?in=rubblebucket/sets/rubblebucket-survival-sounds

Shy Boys45 (Hot on the heels of their acclaimed self-titled debut album released earlier this year, the K.C. surf-pop trio return with a new single via High Dive Records.  The A-side “Life Is Peachy” is another rip-roaring burst of 60’s inspired pop and the B-side, “Follow The Leader” is a bit more mellow yet just as melodic.) Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/high-dive/sets/shy-boys-45

Sleeping GiantFinished People (The Salt Lake City-based Christian metalcore kingpins return with their highly-anticipated new album out now on Century Media Records.  The passion and power of their music and the positivity and direct spirituality is unsurpassed in the genre.)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NACB8QCAEp8     

SpoonThey Want My Soul (The indie rock vets released their excellent eighth album last month via their new label Loma Vista.  With their best album in a while, they show no signs of slowing down.) http://www.spoontheband.com/