Thursday, September 30, 2010

No Age - "Everything in Between"

L.A. noise-pop duo No Age returned this week with one of the year’s most anticipated releases, Everything in Between, their third album and second for Sub Pop Records. By dissecting influences like My Bloody Valentine, The Ramones and “everything in between” the band creates melody-driven pop songs with a DIY punk ethos underneath all of the fuzzy distortion and experimental noise.

“Life Prowler” opens the album with a chugging, steady beat and a robot-like vocal cadence along with soaring synths. “Glitter” begins with a pep rally beat then swirls of searing samples swoop in to contrast with the catchy chorus on the standout track. “Fever Dreaming” is high energy punk with a delirious, and distorted caterwauling wordless chorus and “Depletion”, a fuzzed out and psychedelic rocker with an early 90’s slacker mentality showcases the band’s ability to marry melody with dissonance like no other. “Common Heat” turns their sound on its side with acoustic guitars and clear vocal production and “Skinned” follows with jangly guitars, a thumping beat and a catchy refrain for two of the more poppier tracks on the album. Also highlighted are the two back to back solo instrumentals, the dizzying “Dusted” performed by Dean and Randy’s smoldering “Positive Amputaion” are the first solo songs they have ever been recorded for a No Age album. The album closes with the extra noisy “Shred and Transcend” which lives up to its name and “Chem Trails”, an upbeat and catchy slice of art-pop with singing synths.

With Everything in Between, No Age has capitalized on the buzz created by 2008’s Nouns and created an excellent and eclectic new album worthy of the hype.

Download "Fever Dreaming" here:

For more info click here: and

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

3 Songs: On Repeat (New Music)

1. Botany - "Feeling Today" (Botany is the recording moniker for Spencer Stephenson's translucent and vivid sound sculptures that make up his debut EP Feeling Today out next month on Western Vinyl.)


2. Soars - "Figurehead" (Mixing industrial rhythms with gauzy dream-pop, Soars create enveloping soundscapes fit for bleary Fall days on their self-titled debut out next week).


3. Lucius - "Shenandoah" (Handclaps and luscious melodies from singer-songwriters Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig highlight the hushed, homemade folk on the first single from their debut Songs From the Bromley House, out now.)


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Adam Haworth Stephens - "We Live On Cliffs"

Adam Haworth Stephens of Two Gallants is set to release his debut solo album, We Live On Cliffs, today on Saddle Creek Records. Improving upon the organic folk of Two Gallants, Adam spices up his folk with eclectic pop arrangements and emotional lyrics for a strong debut.

“Praises in Your Name” opens the album with soft farfisa chords and Adam’s unique voice before a bluesy guitar leads into the catchy chorus for a standout out moment right from the start. Adam is supported by many guests on the album with Patrick Hallahan of My Morning Jacket playing drums on most of the tracks including the soulful single “Second Mind”, which also includes Hammond organ provided by Bo Koster also of My Morning Jacket. “With Vengeance Comes” is stripped and slowed down to a ballad’s pace with a cyclical acoustic guitar, atmospheric trumpets from Nate Walcott (Bright Eyes) and pretty vocal harmonies. The swaying melodies on “Heights of Diamond” are supported by guitar from Cody Votolato of Blood Brothers and Jaguar Love and a shuffling beat. The first single, “The Cities That You’ve Burned” is folky with well placed violin and mandolin and a slight bounce. “Elderwoods” features crunchy guitars cresting upon the high moments of an emotional ebb and flow on the standout track. The well-worn vibe of “Southern Lights” features backing vocals from Andy Cabic of Vetiver and drums by session drummer extraordinaire Joey Waronker. The upbeat, saloon-style sing along of “Angelina” is lead by ukulele and surreal Wurlitzer. “Everyday I Fall” closes the album with Petra Haden lending her fiddle and voice to the elegant and aching classic country and western inspired track.

If his work in Two Gallants didn’t give it away, Adam Haworth Stephen’s solo album, We Live On Cliffs definitely proves he is one of the most captivating songwriters in the modern folk scene today.

Download "Second Mind" here:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. A Classic Education - "Gone To Sea" (An ascending melody and lots of "twee-verb" highlight the first single from their new EP and first US release for the part Canadian-part Italian band signed to Lefse Records.)


2. Mackintosh Braun - "Could It Be" (Portland electro-duo's first single from danceable new album Where We Are features glassy synths with a cool, Hall & Oates vibe.)


3. Villagers - "Becoming A Jackal" (Comparisons to Bright Eyes aside, this Conor creates haunting and emotional music all his own. This has been a favorite for a while now.)


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Margot and the Nuclear So and So's - Buzzard"

After contention with Epic, their former label, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s soldiered on and return today with, Buzzard, their most experimental and loudest album. Transplanting himself from his hometown of Indianapolis to Chicago, singer/guitarist Richard Edwards wrote the album in six months and recruited help from Tim Rutili and Brian Deck of Red Red Meat and Califone as well as longtime So and So’s, Tyler Watkins and Erik Kang. The resulting album is more guitar-based with a sound that replicates the raw emotion in his lyrics with the powerful immediacy of their live show, for an album unlike anything they have done before.

Album opener, “Birds” finds the band embracing the abrasive as it opens with soft, yearning verses before crashing down with stabs of distorted guitar on the choruses, with a pretty piano-led middle part and strange sound effects holding it all together. “Let’s Paint Our Teeth Green” plays like damaged classic rock with haunting background vocals and winding guitars for a standout moment. The guitar-led first single, “New York City Hotel Blues” is a catchy and jangly pop song with lyrical bite and showcases the shift from the chamber pop of their past releases. Similarly, “Will You Love Me Forever” is fitted with bright, soft chugging guitars and scathing, noisy Califone-like outbursts that take the place of the violins. And “Claws Off” burns with loose, sliding guitars with a nod to 90’s slacker rock. Standout track “Tiny Vampire Robot” is a plaintive ballad with a humorous dark lyrical twist and subtle horns for a quieter moment. The atmospheric “Freak Flight Speed” opens with layers of guitars colliding and clamoring for space with a propulsive rhythm. “Lunatic, Lunatic, Lunatic” is a bittersweet mostly acoustic ballad with reversed guitars in the middle that have “Brian Deck” written all over them. “I Do” is stripped-down, dripping with heartache, baring Richard’s soul to close out the album.

Longtime Margot fans may bristle at the changes in sound but the experimental louder moments are balanced by the trademark softer moments and make for a complete album in an age of singles and half-hearted filler

Download "New York City Hotel Blues" here:

For more info click here:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Free Friday: NazcarNation - "Dynazty" EP

NazcarNation blend super catchy sun-drenched harmonies with hip-hop and dub-step inspired beats on their debut, Dynazty EP. The L.A.-based band is offering up the 5-track EP as a free download, using the pay what you want model through their Bandcamp page.

“The Swell” opens with a glistening guitar figure then bursts into a short Kraftwerk-like rave-up for an instrumental introduction. Standout track “Destiny Intro” features layers of great sing along harmonies as well as a stuttering glitchy beat and ringing guitars. “Beeswax” begins with breezy beach blanket guitar strumming adding more sticky sweet vocal harmonies to an energetic beat with bubbly synths to create what the band calls “chillstep”. The poppy “Trust Fall” features bending guitars, a scaling straight-from-the-80’s chorus and a warped dance floor breakdown for another standout moment. The last song, “Monolith Prep” is another quirky instrumental with a violin-laced melody and buzzing synths.

With summer fading, the Dynazty EP is the perfect soundtrack for those last few days and a very promising debut from NazcarNation.

Download the Dynazty EP here:

For more info click here: and

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Azure Ray - "Drawing Down The Moon"

Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor are back with their first Azure Ray album in six years. The highly anticipated new album, Drawing Down The Moon was released today on Saddle Creek Records.

The stirring lullaby “Wake Up, Sleepyhead” opens the album floating on clouds of harmonies and harp for a dreamy, gentle wake-up call. “Don’t Leave My Mind” unfolds with acoustic guitar strums and an electronic beat along with their signature complementary vocal harmonies. “In The Fog” as you would expect from the title is built upon a gauzy atmosphere with scuttling electronics and soaring vocals. Frequent collaborator Andy LeMaster shows up on “On and On Again”, contributing vocals and guitar to the standout ballad. Singer-songwriter Eric Bachmann has taken over for Andy in the role of producer and plays many of the instruments on the album. He also wrote the song “Silver Sorrow”, a glistening, bittersweet tune full of bells and a choir of heavenly voices, one of which belongs to Liz Durrett. The visceral heartache of “Signs in the Leaves” is haunting yet strikingly beautiful. Similarly, “Love and Permanence” ebbs and flows with pulsating keyboards for a transcending and hypnotic rumination on love and loss. Orenda and Maria prefer to paint their songs in shades of grey with subtle streaks of light and color like the brighter melodies that make up “Dancing Ghosts”. Finally, the album closes with the understated and introspective “Walking in Circles” and its beautifully orchestrated arrangement.

With Drawing Down The Moon, Azure Ray have marked their long-awaited return with an album well worth the wait. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another six years for the next album…

For more info click here: and

Download "Don't Leave My Mind" here:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. of Montreal - "Coquet Coquette" (Super catchy and anthemic first single from their awesome new album False Priest out now!)

2. White Flight - "Children of the Light" (Second single from the upcoming second album White Ark, from Justin Roelofs, formerly of The Anniversary; features another strange beat from Ratatat and some tricked-out robot-psychedelia.)

3. Screaming Females - "I Don't Mind It" (First single from their fourth album, Castle Talk, out now proves the band is more than a one trick pony - frontwoman Marissa Paternoster can shred! - but after tours with Dead Weather and Dinosaur Jr., their 90's Pacific Northwest punk inspired-indie rock shines.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Black Angels - "Phosphene Dream"

The Black Angels descend today to release their third album, Phosphene Dream, and first for Blue Horizon Records, the legendary label relaunched by Richard Gottehrer and Seymour Stein. With major label backing and a stellar producer in Dave Sardy (Black Mountain, Wolfmother), the psychedelic Austin-based band is due to break out, with their collaboration with UNKLE having already been featured in the most recent Twilight film.

Album opener “Bad Vibrations” locks into a groove with droning organ, distorted guitars and pounding percussion all swirling around hypnotic harmonies before launching into a fuzzy freakout to end the song for a perfect introduction to their massive sound right from the start. “Haunting At 1300 McKinley” is a hip-shaking, monster mashing ghost story perfect for a Halloween dance party. “Yellow Elevator # 2” was co-written by Colin Ryan of … and is noisy but poppy with colliding layers of 60’s inspired vocal harmonies that flow like the liquid in a Lava Lamp. “River of Blood” crashes in with a wall of reverb and distortion before settling into a delirious organ-led romp. Lyrically and musically, the stomping “Entrance Song” invokes images of speeding down the highway with reckless abandon. The title track, “Phosphene Dream” is trippy with wild howls and oscillating reverb. “Telephone”, the first single, is a swaggering, bluesy garage rocker with a catchy call and response chorus. The album closes with “The Sniper”, featuring loose, sliding guitars and clattering noise like the soundtrack to a raucous bar-room brawl.

The band has always known their way around a good pop hook and even more so with Phosphene Dream, but the darker tones of their past albums have been evened out with more accessible, brighter melodies invoked by the sunshine and psychedelia of the 60’s for their best album yet.

Download "Telephone" here:

For more info click here:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Interview: Admiral Radley

Atlas and the Anchor: Though the recording process was described as "loose and enjoyable", what roles, either expected or unexpected, did each member fall into during the writing and recording of the album?

Aaron Espinoza: Besides writing songs...ummmmm...well...I was basically the over-see'r of the studio side of things...overall production/mixing/mastering etc...Jason and Ari are really good at little hooky keyboard or vocal melody they provided a lot of the xtra's...Aaron B. is the drummer and shot-gunner of beers!

AA: Did you have a sound in mind that you wanted to create other than a mix of Grandaddy and Earlimart?

Aaron E. No. We didn't overthink any of the was all pretty natural. Whatever we were feelin at the time...that's what made the cut. We would'nt spend too much time on any one part or song...tried not getting bogged down...we just kept movin.

AA: Your first shows were during SXSW this year, how was that experience and do you have any future tour plans for the East Coast or Midwest after your "I Heart California" tour?
Aaron E. It was a blast! and totally frightening at the same time.....we barely knew the songs, by the time sxsw happened.....but it was such fun. We've probably gotten a bit better since then....we've now done a pretty extensive tour of North America and we're about to do some more west coast dates with Band of Horses in late Sept. So pumped!

AA: What are you listening to in the tour van?
Aaron E. A lot of cassettes...Kenny Rogers, some 80's mix tape that Ari had...Lytle is really into books on tape...Steinbeck and whatnot. Aaron B. still looks for Suicidal Tendencies at every truck stop!

AA: Jason, what Earlimart song do you wish you would have written yourself?
Jason Lytle: All of em!

AA: Aaron, what Grandaddy song do you wish you would have written yourself?
Aaron E. Eh...I dunno...maybe, "He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot"

AA: Is Admiral Radley a side project or will it continue as a band and are there any other side projects any of you are working on currently?

Aaron E. Dunno...maybe. We'll see. It's been fun gettin' everyone together like this. Hangin out...playin some music...even the touring part of it. Lots o' hijinx.

AA: Warning...Corny final question: Describe why you "heart" California in 2 words or less?
Aaron E. Tri-Tip!

Download the single, "I Heart California" here:

For more info click here:

Atlas and the Anchor review of I Heart California:

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. The Postelles - "Everyday" (Rising NY band's faithful cover of the Buddy Holly classic, whose original version is currently selling cellphones for AT&T. Their debut, White Night EP was produced by Albert Hammond Jr. of the Strokes and is out now.)


2. Zach Hill - "Memo To The Man" (Drummer and collaborator extraordinaire is joined by Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier on the abrasive yet poppy and extra-percussive lead-off track from his new solo album Face Tat out 10/19 on Sargent House.)


3. Wolf Parade - "Ghost Pressure" (This synthy track is still on repeat and a reminder that Expo 86 is on track for album of the year!)


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Carl Broemel - "All Birds Say"

Carl Broemel, the guitarist for My Morning Jacket released his debut solo album All Birds Say last week on ATO Records. The lush arrangements and varied instrumentation on this collection of modern folk speak volumes of his experiences writing and touring with My Morning Jacket and with his previous band, the highly under-appreciated Old Pike.

Opening the album, the instrumental title track, “All Birds Say” features gentle, acoustic guitar that leads into the next track, “Life Leftover”, a meditative M. Ward-like tune with excellent harmonies. The laid-back, slow waltz of “In The Garden” follows with pedal steel and features Carl’s father, a former member of the Indianapolis Symphony, who lends his bassoon, clarinet and baritone sax to create a lush atmosphere. “Carried Away” also boasts an elegant atmosphere, featuring vibraphone, to go along with its easy-going country charm. The first single, “Heaven Knows” features breezy Hawaiian melodies and whistling, giving the standout track a timeless quality. “Questions” is classic, “tear-in-your-beer” Country through and through with all of the instrumental adornments you would expect but with enough of a modern tilt to avoid anything resembling pastiche. Another standout, “Different People”, again features brass and woodwinds from Carl’s father for a jazzy moment. Album closer “Retired” is a contemplative and orchestrated waltz with twinkling piano and gorgeous vocal harmonies.

The songs on All Birds Say are natural, subtle and organic; they unfold with ease like classic records of the past with carefully composed layers for a rewarding listen each time.

Download "Heaven Knows" here:

For more info click here: and

Friday, September 03, 2010

Free Friday: Big Charlie - "That Really Hurts" EP

Big Charlie is the moniker for Italian indie-electro duo Matteo De Ruggieri and Stefano Milella. They are giving away their new EP That Really Hurts for free on their website. They create a funky and jazzy electro-pop for fans of Phoenix, Daft Punk and Beck.

The EP opens with a short intro titled, “Jitterbug” with a ragtime rhythm and a kooky kazoo melody that leads into the next song, “Backseat” which features the same ragtime theme set to a stuttering disco beat with a catchy chorus. The standout first single, “Roses” opens with tinkling piano and croons and swoons like Bowie fronting an electro version of Roxy Music. And the EP closes with “Ants” and its stylish bursts of horns, handclaps and a 60’s spy film vibe for a danceable and enjoyable listen overall.

Get on board with Big Charlie now before everyone else does…and they will!

Download the That Really Hurts EP here:

Watch the video for "Roses" here:

For more info click here: and

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Film School - "Heart Full Of Pentagons" (Shimmering single from their fourth album, Fission, incorporates synths and vocals from bassist Lorelei Plotczyk for an even grander sound.)

2. Bad Books - "You Wouldn't Have To Ask" (Kevin Devine and Manchester Orchestra team up as Bad Books, the churning first mp3 is a great introduction with Andy’s gruff howl and Kevin’s rich and gentle voice blending seamlessly into the straightforward power-pop.)

3. Voxhaul Broadcast - "Leaving On The 5th" (Energetic and soulful indie rock with twinkling guitars from their debut Timing Is Everything out 11/2 and they are gonna be huge!)

Bonus: Live video performance of "Leaving On The 5th" from The Wilcox Sessions: