Friday, April 29, 2011

Free Friday: The Kickaways - "America! America!"

The Kickaways, a young Cincinnati-based garage-rock band have recently released their debut album America! America! as a free download on the rising net-label The Recording Label, owned and operated by members of the Cincy band Pop Empire. The unhinged, bursts of dissonance and youthful exuberance make their brand of straightforward sweat-drenched blues rock stand out among the rest, sounding more like a band from Detroit than southern Ohio.

With America! America!, their ambitious self-proclaimed effort to bring a rock and roll revolution back to Cincinnati has commenced. It is now up to you whether or not to follow or be kicked away to the side while they blaze a familiar path with a sound and swagger all their own.

This album is too good to be unheard, check it out and help spread the word!

Download America! America! here:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Decoder - "Decoder"

Decoder is a post-hardcore super-group of sorts, made up of former members of Oceana, VersaEmerge and Of Machines. Their excellent self-titled debut was released earlier this year on Rise Records and was produced by Matt Malpass (Manchester Orchestra, Copeland). Guitarist Jack Burns, formerly of Oceana and drummer Brent Guistwite, ex-Of Machines, started the band because they wanted to create something different than their previous bands and after chosing Keith Jones also formerly of Oceana to provide the screamed vocals and Spencer Pearson formerly of VersaEmerge with the contrasting clean vocals and keyboards, they have succeeded. Their ambient prog-rock is laced with throat-shredding screamo and post-hardcore for a forward-thinking, atmospheric sound reminiscent of Circa Survive but much heavier yet still very different from the rest of the Rise Records roster.

Check out the stream of 3 tracks from the album below. "Believers" builds from a staggering industrial rhythm with a loud/soft dynamic in play not only in the music but in the differences of the two vocalists. The first single, "Conflicts" features soaring vocals and a dream-like atmosphere in between the chugging verses. And "The Horrid" is as light as air at times and as heavy as fog the next, showcasing the band's depth and the experimental song structures.

For more info click here: and

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Times New Viking - "Ever Falling In Love" (New song from Dancer Equired, their new album and Merge Records debut which is more of a "mid-fi" rather than lo-fi affair with their subtle melodies, that used to hide beneath the distortion and noise now in focus for their most cohesive and accessible album yet.)


2. Thao and Mirah - "How Dare You" (The two unique songwriters combined their different talents together with no pre-conceived notions and have created a suprising, funky, emotional and super-catchy debut, co-produced by tUnE-YaRdS mastermind Merrill Garbus, who also guests and even wrote a song for the album out now on Kill Rock Stars. Thao takes the lead on this upbeat track with Mirah providing the sweet melodies.)

3. Grouplove - "Colours" (Forming after the members met during an art residency on an island in Greece, you would think they would be pretentious, but their fun-loving, upbeat and anthemic indie-pop proves that theory wrong. Their self-titled debut out now on Atlantic is filled with off-kilter, Modest Mouse-like rock and the infectious first single bounces along on a quirky vocal delivery and charged guitars.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Texas In July - "One Reality"

Texas In July are set to release their Zeuss-produced sophomore album One Reality today on their new label Equal Vision Records. Not even out of high school a year, with an EP, a full-length, and numerous high profile tours under their belt, they are mature beyond their years. The Ephrata, PA-based 5-piece band takes their music and their message seriously. Their positive, Christian metalcore is melodic yet heavy to the core and straightforward, devoid of anything unnecessary like auto-tuned choruses and full of dueling guitars, crushing breakdowns, aggressive screaming and unconventional song structures.

The album opens with the aptly titled “Introduction”, a super-melodic instrumental before settling into the groove of first single, “Magnolia”, an intense tale of betrayal set to rhythmic power riffing and a rattling breakdown. Standout track “Dreamer” begins with a pop-punk leaning, melodic riff but then launches into a full on volatile assault with dense riffs and Alex Good’s throaty screams that convey just enough melody to match the running guitar harmonies and “Dying World” is a head-banging plea for change. The furious “Pretender” stands out by blending metallic riffs with hardcore chugging. Also included is “May”, a classic metal acoustic interlude with intricate guitar lines and an ornate arrangement, showcasing the band’s depth. And the album closes with the anthemic and shredding title track, “One Reality” which offers hope to those struggling; with the lyrics, “One chance, one reality, to make the best of what the world has given you”.

With One Reality, Texas In July have created an intense, passionate and heavy album that reflects their skill and faith-based message fully.

Check them out on tour the rest of the year with Bayside and Silverstein and then on the Scream The Prayer tour alongside of Norma Jean, Sleeping Giant, The Chariot, Close Your Eyes, I The Breather, The Great Commission, As Hell Retreats and Sovereign Strength.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Free Friday: VISIONS - "Re: VISIONS"

Boston-based indie country band VISIONS is the project of songwriter T.J. Petracca. They have taken to Bandcamp to release their ambitious debut album Re: VISIONS as a free or pay what you want download. Pedal steel, vintage organs and lush string-filled arrangements set the tone for T.J.'s raw, emotional lyrics about the struggles of life and love, all filtered through a pop sensibility.

The album opens with "Salt Artifacts", featuring an anthemic chorus with swirling strings that will grab and hold your attention for the rest of the excellent album. The emotional weight conveyed in the seamless way the strings and the pedal steel intertwine on "Paper Covers Rock" is enough to cause you to spill a tear in your beer. "Drunk Children" is a slow waltzing reflection of a failed relationship with close knit harmonies that defy the subject. The dark and plodding "Feed You To The Wolves" is a stand out track with an infectious chorus and the pleading "Chelsea" features a saloon-style sing-along and some more dark, cathartic lyrics, sung with a wink. And "Mary" features a gospel choir, closing the album out with a bang.

If you like your alt-country to be anthemic and emotional and you are a fan of Dear and the Headlights, Wilco and early Bright Eyes, you will find a lot to like from Re: VISIONS.

Download Re: VISIONS here:

Check out a video of the closing track "Mary" performed live as an 18-piece band at an art gallery here:

For more info click here:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

American Babies - "Flawed Logic"

American Babies is the project from Philly musician Tom Hamilton who used to front the electro-rock band Brothers Past. Hamilton drops the electro flourishes of his past projects for the highly melodic Country-inspired roots rock on Flawed Logic, the new album produced by Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog, Man Man) and first for new label Engine Room Recordings.

The album opens with “Streets of Brooklyn”, showcasing Tom’s personal yet relatable lyrical storytelling, touching on everything from greed and Wall Street, to war and love. “Desperate Times” may be down in the dumps lyrically, but musically the spirit is high with a classic rock guitar solo and a rollicking beat. The aching, swaying waltz of “The Sin” features a yearning vocal, pedal steel and gorgeous background vocals from The Sisters 3. First single, “Dance All Night” features honky-tonk piano and a shuffling beat that you would have to be hog-tied not to move along with. Standout tracks “Winter War Games” side-steps the Americana with a crunchy rock riff and ringing organs and “Joeline” rocks out with an anthemic chorus for the underdog, with Tom adopting a Bowie-like vocal. And “Blue Skies” and the authentic “Restless Heart” bring the Grand Ole Opry-style Country & Western in spades with more moaning pedal steel and slide guitar without a stitch of pastiche. The album closes with the biting lyrical commentary of “Weight Of The World” and the romantic balladry of the closing “Great Expectations”, a duet with Cassandra Sadler of The Sisters 3.

There is nothing flawed about the logic in thinking that American Babies’ Flawed Logic may the best Americana, Alt-Country or “whatever you want to call it” album of the year. Stream it at the link below and see what you think.

Download "Dance All Night" here:

Stream Flawed Logic here:

For more info click here: and

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Title Tracks - "All Tricks" (Title Tracks is the project of John Davis formerly of Q And Not U and Georgie James. His second album In Blank, out now on The Ernest Jenning Record Co., again showcases his knack for a super-catchy power-pop hook filtered through the spirit of punk rock, but he has put together a band this time instead of playing every part himself and mixed the album in mono for an authentic sound. The album also features a great cover of the Flamin’ Groovies song, “I Can’t Hide.”)


2. The Head And The Heart - "Lost In My Mind" (The Seattle band self-released and sold 10,000 copies of their self-titled debut on their own. And were rewarded with a proper re-release from Sub Pop this week. Their heartfelt piano-led, harmony-rich roots rock is worth buying twice!)


3. tUnE-yArDs - "bizness" (tUnE-yArDs, the art-pop project of Merrill Garbus makes eclectic seem ordinary; combining Afro-pop, folk, and R&B on her excellent sophomore album, whokill out now on 4AD.)


Friday, April 15, 2011

Free Friday: Black Bell Records - Record Store Day Compilation

Record Store Day is tomorrow and if you don't know what that is, then you aren't very good at being a music fan! Black Bell Records was founded by Ayad Al Adhamy of Passion Pit and has released music from The Joy Formidable and DOM. In honor of the fourth annual Record Store Day, they are giving away an exclusive 12" label compilation on white or yellow vinyl including standout tracks by The Joy Formidable and DOM (featuring Madeline from Cults). Also an exclusive new track from Pretty & Nice, an awesome cover of "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" by up-and-coming band Soundcheck and a cover of The Joy Formidable by ARMS, the project of Todd Goldstein from Brooklyn's Harlem Shakes are included. Rounding out the LP are awesome tracks from Normandy, Secret Music and GIRLFRIENDS.

This exclusive LP will only be available at these select indie record stores: Newbury Comics, Boston MA Other Music, New York NY Vintage Vinyl, St. Louis MO Origami Vinyl, Los Angeles CA Music Millennium, Portland OR Jackpot Records, Portland OR Good Records, Dallas, TX Stinkweeds, Phoenix AZ Landlocked Music, Bloomington, IN End of an Ear, Austin, TX Guestroom Records, Norman, OK Luna Music, Indianapolis, IN and Sonic Boom, Seattle, WA.

But, if you are like me and live no where near those stores, you have 2 options:

1. Get the vinyl version for free with an order of 2 or more items from the Black Bell Records Store here:

2. Or download the album for free here:

For more info click here: and

Enjoy RSD 2011!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. A Lull - "Weapons For War" (The propulsive first single from the Chicago quintet's sparkling debut Confetti out now on Mush Records (with vinyl on Lujo) features everything and the kitchen sink percussion and a mix of post-rock and electronica for songs that explode with color and life. Song of the year!)


2. Low - "Especially Me" (Recorded in an old Church, their new album C'Mon sounds spacious yet full, reaching new emotional heights and this track features tight, reverb-rich harmonies that reach the rafters and beyond for their most accessible album yet.)


3. Beat Connection - "Space Vacation" (The Surf-inspired escapist electro-pop from the Seattle duo's excellent debut, Surf Noir EP originally a free download on Bandcamp, but now retouched and refined into a mini-album through Tender Age/Moshi Moshi out now with bonus tracks. This one was taken from the recently released Silver Screen Single.)


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Vivian Girls - "Share The Joy"

The Vivian Girls return today with Share The Joy, their third album and first for new label Polyvinyl Records. In the two years since their sophomore album, the girls have been busy with various acclaimed side and solo projects, including All Saints Day, The Babies and La Sera; and that experience has translated into their best album yet.

“The Other Girls” opens the album with a hail of noisy guitars before slowing down into a quieter groove with the telling refrain of “I don’t wanna be like the other girls”, and the six and a half minute song also contains an extended guitar solo. The longing first single, “I Heard You Say” finds the band sharpening their harmonies while reducing the fuzz to let their sparkling pop sense shine through. The hip-shaking “Dance (If You Wanna)” picks up the pace and refuses to take no for an answer. Standout track “Sixteen Ways” is a dark and rumbling punk, rockabilly and girl-group hybrid with an infectious chorus. The nostalgic “Take It As It Comes” features talking verses, embodying the spirit of girl group's gone by and “Vanishing Of Time” is hazy and reverb-drenched, featuring another melodic guitar noodling session. The album closes the same way it started with another six minute song, this time though “Light In Your Eyes” begins with a quiet moment before crashing into a barrage of fuzzy distortion and a noisy jam session to end the album on a high note.

Share The Joy succeeds because it doesn’t rush by like their excellent debut but instead their pop sense is at the forefront and more care has been taken in the arrangements, showing a growth that was expected from their third album.

Download "I Heard You Say" here:

For more info click here: and

Friday, April 08, 2011

Free Friday: Swarm Of Bats - "There Is No Tomorrow"

Swarm Of Bats is the new project from Matt, Adam, John, Myk (but not Jared) of emo-darlings Brandtson. Their Myspace bio describes them like this: "From out of the darkness, through blackened skies and cold of night, come countless avengers, with black wings and blood red eyes..." So in place of the impeccable harmonies and heart-on-sleeve emo-punk they were known for and the more dance-informed indie-pop of their last album, the name change has brought about a new direction toward sweaty punk and garage rock with a dark side. They took to Bandcamp to release their apocalyptic debut album There Is No Tomorrow for free in February.

Be warned, this is not a new Brandtson album, it's a totally new concept and the album opening "Zombies"; a swaggering, high-energy dose of garage rock properly introduces you to their new sound. The hard-charging "(R U) Street Legal" is reminiscent of Queens Of The Stone Age's brand of classic rock meets punk. And "Just Say It" features noisy, electronica and a boastful, tough-guy chorus. Standout track "Down Your Spine" sounds the most like their previous band with chiming guitars and soaring vocals. And "Ink & Blood" and album closer "They Came From Above (Swarm Of Bats Theme)" are anthemic with scuzzy guitar freakouts perfect for cruising in your Camaro circa '87.

The songs on There Is No Tomorrow lack that instant spark like their work in Brandtson. The hooks are more subtle and the guitars are more atmospheric but the heaviness is a welcome commodity missed during their forays into danceable indie-pop and makes for a fun listen.

Download There Is No Tomorrow here:

For more info click here: and

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Atlas and the Anchor Radio on

Songza is a new site where you can create your own streaming radio station from a giant library of artists and songs. You can then sync it with your Facebook page and even allow others to add songs to the station if you choose. Check out the Atlas and the Anchor Radio station I have created on Songza, featuring my favorite songs of the past and present, including Shudder To Think, Obits, Modest Mouse, Cold Wave and more!

For more info click here:

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Scattered Trees - "Love And Leave" (The loping, lovelorn standout first single from their debut album Sympathy out now on Roll Call Records, features lush harmonies and an unhinged guitar solo.)


2. Timber Timbre - "Black Water" (Tinkling piano, scuzzy sax provided by Colin Stetson and a dark, eerie atmosphere created by vintage instruments highlight the first single from their sophomore album Creep On Creepn' On out now on Arts & Crafts.)


3. Wolf Ram Heart - "Humming Doves" (Gauzy and laid-back single from Ohio psych-pop group's new album Betrayal of Hearts out now on Sovereign States Records, features washes of synths and 60's influence like if 4AD had released a Brian Wilson album.)


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Cold Cave - "Cherish The Light Years"

Cold Cave return with their bolder, more song-oriented new sophomore album Cherish The Light Years, out today on Matador. With more of a focus on the lyrics and singer-songwriter Wesley Eisold’s voice, the album seamlessly incorporates Brit-pop, touches on New Order and The Cure and mixes in harsher textures like, Industrial for a more cohesive and ambitious album.

The thundering industrial assault and anthemic chorus of album opener “The Great Pan Is Dead” sets the scene for the darker yet still melodic tone of the album. “Pacing Around The Church” features intertwining guitar and synths with a sound geared more toward the live setting. Stand out track “Confetti” sounds like an MTV-era 80’s hit with swirling, icy synths, thin guitars, moody vocals and a pulsating beat accented by synthesized tom-fills. The bobbing “Catacombs” is upbeat with electronic handclaps while the darker lyrical themes belie the nature of the song. “Underworld USA” is set to a buzzy, insistent beat with syncopated piano notes and another catchy sing-along chorus. The mix of Kraftwerk-like synth patterns and discordant, broken down outbursts makes “Icons Of Summer” another standout. And the grandiose guitar-led “Alchemy And You” features skronky horns and a disorientating rhythm. Closing out the album is the syrupy “Burning Sage” with its smacking beat and the tumbling single “Villians Of The Moon” and its charcoal-tinted gothy melodies.

Cherish The Light Years still features the sharp melodies and rough, noisy edges of their acclaimed debut but with a more polished and confident stance that only spells success.

Download "Villians Of The Moon" here:

For more info click here: and

Monday, April 04, 2011

Maritime - "Human Hearts" - featuring a full album stream!

Sometimes getting too comfortable can be a bad thing but not for Maritime. They have found comfort in their Midwestern lives, with children, wives, jobs and with each other. In fact, Human Hearts out tomorrow, is their fourth album and first for their new label Dangerbird Records. That is the same amount of albums that singer/guitarist Davey von Bohlen and drummer Dan Didier released with their seminal pop-punk band Promise Ring. The result is a confident, melodic and emotional album full of gracious pop hooks while retaining their punk rock spirit and their best yet.

So get comfortable and check out the full album stream below. Be sure to listen to album highlights such as the joyful yelps on the chorus of the album opener "It's Casual" and the glimmering interplay between the guitar and synths on first single "Paraphernalia". Other standout tracks are "Peopling of London", featuring soft guitar chugging and a singalong chorus and the bouncing post-rock rhythm of "Air Arizona". Also check out the links below to order the album and to become a fan of Maritime on Facebook.

Download "Paraphernlia" here:

For more info click here:

Friday, April 01, 2011

Free Friday: We All Have Hooks For Hands - "Girls" EP

9-piece indie-pop band We All Have Hooks For Hands have released their new EP Girls as a free download through their record label Afternoon Records today. The unconventional band from Sioux Falls features two drummers, a violinist, bassist, three guitarists, and two horn/keyboard players, giving the band a dynamic and colorful sound to house their enthusiastic pop songs.

Moaning keyboards give way to an infectious guitar melody on the opener “Changes”. The title track, “Girls” features a bobbing beat, exuberant horns and a vocal trade-off that will have you singing along at the top of your lungs right with them. “Amy’s Room” is a highlight with tumbling drums, soaring synths and “ooh-ing” background vocals. “Trapped” slows down the pace with an expressive slide guitar for a back-porch country jam including another all-out sing along. “Games” closes out the EP with a cacophony of falsetto vocals and brassy E-Street Band-like horn melodies, capping off a fun and too short set of songs worthy of repeated listens.

So go download the Girls EP and just try not to smile and sing along!

Download in exchange for an email here:

For more info click here: and