Friday, September 30, 2011

Free Friday: New War - "Ghostwalking"

Australian band New War is the new dance-oriented project from Chris and Melissa, former members of Seattle band Shoplifting (Kill Rock Stars). Their debut full-length Calling From Inside is due out March of 2012 on Fast Weapons Records, the label run by Nathan Howdeshell of Gossip.  In anticipation, they have released their debut single Ghostwalking 12" on vinyl with the digital version available as a free download on the Fast Weapons Bandcamp site.

The percussion-heavy single, "Ghostwalking" is ethereal and haunting with spaced-out synths and hypnotic vocals for a perfect introduction to the band who has shared the stage with Gossip, Jandek and Wire.  Also included are a club-ready remix of the track by Gossip and an other-worldly, deconstructed live remix by HTRK.       

Download the Ghostwalking 12" here:

For more info click here:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On Repeat: 4 Songs

1.  Dum Dum Girls - "Coming Down" (The reverb-rich track sways like Mazzy Star, and is taken from their stellar second album, Only In Dreams out now on Sub Pop.  The new album is more polished and a step forward with a full-band approach that really showcases Dee Dee's deft songwriting that was always hiding under all the lo-fi haze.)


2.  Craig Wedren - "Cupid" (Noisy and angular guitars with an off-kilter rhythm mix with his trademark croon on this stand out track from the Shudder To Think frontman's new solo album Wand, released this week on Nerveland Recordings.  After focusing on movie soundtracks, it is great to hear Craig rock out again!)


3.  Dominant Legs - "Where We Trip The Light" (Ryan William Lynch, the former Girls guitarist has returned with a full band and their debut album, Invitation, is out now on Lefse Records.  Poly-rhythms and 80's synths abound, sounding like a love lorn, long lost Talking Heads album!)


4.  Telekinesis - "Car Crash" (The anthemic, power-poppy first single from Michael Benjamin Lerner's highly anticipated sophomore album 12 Desperate Straight Lines was released earlier this year on Merge Records.  You can catch the band on tour with album producer Chris Walla's like-minded band Death Cab For Cutie now!)


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Derek Lee Bishop - "Better Days"

Singer-songwriter and North Carolina native Derek Lee Bishop has just recently self-released his debut album Better Days. Derek Lee Bishop creates a hushed homespun brand of blues-oriented indie folk in the same vein as Iron & Wine with quieted yet confident vocals and rootsy finger-style guitars, while maintaining a widely accessible appeal similar to other singer-songwriters such as David Gray and John Mayer. Bishop began his musical endeavor training in classical guitar and piano and wrote the songs that ended up on Better Days while playing in coffee shops. His approach to songwriting is blended with a touch of both of those elements, highlighting a strong grasp of melody with intricate yet sparse arrangements that make the most out of each song. His voice is rich, warm and inviting and his songs are instantly familiar like a bear hug from a long lost friend. Lyrically, he focuses on his Christian faith and related themes such as love, forgiveness, hope and family.

“Sweet Pardon” opens the album with a passionate, dashboard confessional of Derek’s deep and breathy voice set to striking piano chords and cascading acoustic guitars in front of a wall of gospel tinged organ. The title track, “Better Days” features a positive message, endearing vocals and entrancing cyclical guitar figures along with a poppy, sing along chorus. The mid-tempo stand out track “Not Of This World” introduces drums and bass into the mix for a rollicking, bluesy shuffle that invokes the soulful swagger of early Ben Harper and showcases Bishop’s wide range and skill, to give you a glimpse at what he would sound like leading a full band on a larger stage as opposed to alone in the coffee shop. The ballad-y “I Need You” follows with sweet, close knit vocal harmonies and beautiful, chiming guitar harmonics for another standout moment on a love song to the Holy Spirit. “What You Know” features a laid back and bluesy back porch vibe, while lyrically he reminds us that it’s not what treasures we try to amass here on Earth that are important but that we seek out and rely upon the knowledge of God. In keeping with that theme, “In The Shade” is a solemn and reverent prayer of forgiveness and hope with gorgeous, gentle vocal harmonies and lightly played hand drums that propel the song. Acting as the perfect showcase for Bishop’s classical guitar training, “Romance (Let It Be)” features guitars brushed with a hint of Spanish flair and the song takes on an “Old World” quality complete with a waltzing tempo and an accordion solo. The eight song album closes out with the aptly titled “Julie’s Lullaby”; the song captures a dream-like state with gently picked acoustic guitars with a velvety tone and lilting melodies.

So if you are in the camp that thought Iron & Wine got a little experimental or even if you just pine for rustic and charming singer-songwriter fare, Derek Lee Bishop and his excellent debut album Better Days will perfectly fill that void for you and then some. Plus, you can feel good that the money you spend on the album is going to a couple of great causes. Because as a Christian, Derek has a heavy heart for giving and serving so he has chosen to donate all of his proceeds from the sales of his album Better Days, to various charities. Most notably, Project Red Light Rescue which provides education and a way out for prostitutes around the world and Gospel For Asia, which seeks to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those, especially in the over-populated continent of Asia that have not heard of Him. So, a great message, a great cause and a great sound…Better Days, is a can’t miss!

For more info click here:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Interview: Dave Nelson

Brooklyn-based trombonist and composer Dave Nelson has self-released his debut EP Logistic Minutia this week.  He fuses an intriguing mix of jazz and classical theories with electronics and indie rock on the four-song EP.  You might recognize Dave from playing alongside some of your favorite indie rock bands, like The National, Spoon, and Sufjan Stevens among others.
In this interview with Dave, you can get some insight into what it is like being a classically trained performer in the indie rock world and how both of those experiences helped shape the compositions on his excellent debut Logistic Minutia.  


Atlas and the Anchor: You have played as a trombonist with an impressive list of indie rock bands like The National, Spoon, Sufjan Stevens and Jónsi of Sigur Ros. How did those experiences influence you while composing the jazz-rock fusion on your debut EP Logistic Minutia?

Dave Nelson: I think the biggest influence was just having a front row seat in observing how great artists work. It gave me the confidence to move forward with my own ideas and to think bigger than just being a trombonist. I've always kept notebooks full of ideas and sketches "for the future" but never really got around to developing them. Seeing those guys actually doing something and going for it inspired me to give a shot at producing my own work.

AA: You have also played alongside legendary Jazz guitarist Stanley Clarke, that had to have been amazing! In a dream scenario, who would you like to collaborate with?

DN: That's easy, it would have to be Frank Zappa circa 1973. He's one of my biggest influences early on. I probably spent 7 or 8 years in high school and college obsessing over his albums to the point that I could sing along with every melody, counter melody, and instrumental solo. Of course, he's no longer with us, so this is indeed a dream scenario. Present day, maybe Trey Anastasio...

AA: Your background is in classical music and you have performed with New York City ensembles The Knight Orchestra and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) as well as on Broadway. What excites you the most about performing with indie rock bands and with classical ensembles? It seems like you have no limitations coming from both angles.

DN: Just being able to freely move between the two worlds is probably the most exciting thing. Lucky for me, I seem to have come to NYC at a time when the lines between the two genres are being blurred in a really appealing way. Great indie artists and "classical" composers are collaborating and drawing from each other so frequently which creates an ideal environment for a musician like me. Actually, my earliest background was in jazz and rock. Playing in so many bands down in Athens, GA created a great musical foundation so that later, when I delved into more of the classical worlds, I was able to keep a broader perspective on the music. So now, having the opportunity to work with indie rock artists is like coming full circle and perfectly encapsulates all my experiences so far.

AA: I love the depth of texture the synth provides in your compositions. How did you approach composing for the EP, did you think like a rock musician or classical, or was it a mix of both?

DN: Thanks! My original concept was to write little minimalist chamber pieces for a rock band setting. So, in that sense I was definitely approaching it like a composer. But, there were definitely times when I just hit record and started improvising too. Occasionally an idea would stick and be strong enough to add to or continue the composing process, and things would keep moving along in that way. So, it's probably a healthy mix of unfiltered inspiration and over thinking!

AA: The intergalactic funky groove of “Sequence”, the first track on Logistic Minutia is probably my favorite on the album. What is your favorite song or passage on the album and why?

DN: I have a strange attachment to the title track "Logistic Minutia", probably because I obsessed over the composition and rhythmic detail of that one in particular. Lot of ins, lots of outs, lots of what-have-you's in there - composition techniques and so forth. That doesn't necessarily make a song good though. "Sequence" has gotten a great response which is funny because it started out with me just playing around and improvising on the synth. After another song or two didn't materialize for the EP, I decided last minute, "Hey, maybe this sequence thing could work..." So I filled out the arrangement and rolled with it, and it turned out to be a lot of fun to produce. I think there's a compositional lesson there that hopefully I'll absorb one of these days.

AA: Your debut EP was just released but are you currently writing for a full-length or are you working on any other new projects of note?

DN: I am working on a new project that's shaping up to be pretty quirky. There are at least 5 parts or movements based on a particular concept, and I'm considering expanding it to a full length as well. I've got some sessions planned with my drummer friend Marlon Patton down in his Atlanta studio, and I'm excited to see what happens there.

AA: What one older and current song do you wish you would have written yourself?

DN: Hmm... that's a tough one. Probably some classic from the Beatles like "Yesterday" for the older one. And "Sprawl II" by Arcade Fire would be the current song.

AA: What music are you currently listening to?

DN: Kaputt by Destroyer and Teen Dream by Beach House have been my soundtrack for the last month or so. The melodies are just so good. Just recently, I've been digging on St. Vincent's new album, Strange Mercy.


Download "Sequence" here:

For more info click here:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Say My Name - "La Cygne" (The noir-ish fever-dream of a first single from Say My Name 2, the new album by the Lawrence, Kansas beat maker and soundscaper was created with a mix of both live intruments and dusty samples. Out now on Range Life Records.)


2. WATERS - "For The One" (Most artists go from loud to soft on their solo albums but the crunchy, 90's-like guitar-driven new project from former Port O'Brien front man Van Pierszalowski is an about face from the rich, organic folk sounds of his primary band and a welcome change! The debut album Out In The Light is out now on TBD Records.)


3. Saves The Day - "Deranged & Desperate (Acoustic Version)" (Acoustic take on the lead single from the NJ emo-survivor's new album Daybreak, their first for new label Razor & Tie Records. The FYE exclusive version contains a bonus CD of the acoustic versions of entire album, which completes the trilogy started with 2006's Sound The Alarm. Catch them on tour now with Bayside.)


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thrice - "Major/Minor"

Thrice return with their new album Major/Minor, out today on Vagrant Records. The band, known for their ambitious and forward-thinking sound have returned to their roots for the new album. Though still atmospheric and experimental at the core, the back to basics approach incorporates crunchy guitars and fat bass lines that instantly invoke 90’s era grunge; even vocalist/guitarist Dustin Kensrue adopts the soaring vocal qualities of Chris Cornell, without pastiche. The album title is a play off of the yin and yang symbolism with a contrast of light and dark themes both musically and lyrically.

Blurring the edges between Thrice, Soundgarden and even Tool, the one-two punch of “Yellow Belly” and “Promises” open the album with loose, distorted bass lines, rumbling drums and huge, anthemic choruses that feel instantly familiar and new at the same time. The upbeat “Blinded” opens with a guitar riff that smells like teen spirit and features tumbling drums that just barely maintain control on the standout track. “Cataracts” is a perfect example of the theme of the album, splitting the difference with a chugging and stomping heaviness and spiky guitars and a soaring chorus. “Treading Paper” is spacious and atmospheric with a palpable emotional weight with ringing, skyward guitars that match the yearning in the vocals. The aptly titled, “Blur” opens in a flurry of guitars then trades in the intensity on the verses with whale call-like guitar harmonics and the closest thing to a breakdown in years, to end the stand out track. Another standout, “Anthology” hits hard with big, open chords and an even bigger chorus, even incorporating a little of the dirt road twang of Dustin’s solo work. The eleven track album closes with the arena-sized “Disarmed” and its room-filling vintage organ and sing-along “whoa, oh’s”.

After a successful string of experimental albums, Major/Minor allows Thrice to relax and get back to where they started and just bang out some great rock songs with a positive message, and all without losing who they have become during the process.

Download "Promises" here:

For more info click here: and

Friday, September 16, 2011

Free Friday: Deerhoof -"99% Upset Feeling"

Deerhoof are set to tour this fall and in anticipation, they have released the live album 99% Upset Feeling as a free download on their website. The 11-track album features awesome improv-heavy live takes of "The Merry Barracks" and "Behold A Marvel In The Darkness" from their most recent album Deerhoof vs. Evil and "Offend Maggie", "Fresh Born" and The Tears And Music Of Love" from the album Offend Maggie. Other highlights include longtime favorites "Flower" and "The Perfect Me". Download the album and then go check them out on tour!

Download 99% Upset Feeling here:

Download the album version of "The Merry Barracks" from Deerhoof vs. Evil here:

For tour dates and more info click here:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Primus - "Green Naugahyde"

Primus is back with Green Naugahyde, their first studio album in over eleven years and seventh overall. The self-produced new album released this week on ATO Records features founder and frontman Les Claypool and longtime guitarist Larry LaLonde along with drummer Jay Lane who was also in Sausage, a 1994 reunion of the original 1988 Primus lineup.

The instrumental intro “Prelude To A Crawl” opens the album followed by “Hennepin Crawler” and “Last Salmon Man”, which marks a welcome return to Sailing The Seas Of Cheese form with circle pit-inducing, thrash-punk moments, including the fist-in-the-air chanted refrain of “Go, go, go!”, egging on the pit in the background on “Hennepin Crawler”. Ever the storyteller, Les’s lyrics are as humorous as always, even when he is riffing on societal issues, like mass consumerism and outsourcing on “External Consumption Engine” and celebrity worship on “Eyes Of The Squirrel”, which features an equally squirrely bass line. The first single, “Tragedy’s a’ Comin’” stands out immediately with a tight groove and a catchy chorus that perfectly invokes the Frizzle Fry era yet without feeling tired or rehashed. Les breaks out the cello for the atmospheric and fuzzy “Jilly’s On Smack”. The carnival-like “Lee Van Cleef” stands out with a rubbery bass line and bobbing rhythm. Another standout, “HOINFODAMAN” surprises with a stomping, stoner-rock riff and some of Les’s funniest voices. “Extinction Burst” opens with a clattering drum fill that sounds like an antique cash register on the fritz alongside wah-wah and fuzz-drenched bass. The 13-track album closes with “Salmon Men”, a short reprise of “The Last Salmon Man”.

With Green Naugahyde, everything you have ever loved from Primus remains, though longtime drummer “Herb” is missing, Jay is more than capable and in time the album will be remembered as one of their best.

For more info click here:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Girls - "Vomit" (The beautiful, vintage organ-drenched first single from Father, Son, Holy Ghost, the San Francisco-based band's excellent second album out now on True Panther Records. With a much larger sound and slightly more polished yet warm production, the band adds a 3-piece gospel choir to a majority of the joyous, retro-leaning songs of love, hope and all that goes along with it.)


2. Blitzen Trapper - "Love The Way You Walk Away" (First single from American Goldwing, the Portland band's seventh overall and third for Sub Pop Records invokes the easy riding feeling of hopping on a motorcycle and just riding, carefree with no final destination in mind, to a soundtrack of classic rock and country music colliding.)


3. Wild Flag - "Romance" (Wild Flag is the new project from Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss from Sleater-Kinney, Mary Timony of Helium and Rebecca Cole of The Minders. Their self-titled debut album out now on Merge Records is everything you would wish for and more with disonant, angular guitars and punky harmonies, sounding like a return to the 90's Portland punk scene but with a grace that comes from maturity.)


Bonus: Big Harp - "Goodbye Crazy City" (Nebraska-based husband-and-wife duo Chris Senseney of Art In Manila and Stefanie Drootin-Senseney of The Good Life met while on tour and started the country-lovin' folk band together and their debut White Hat retains a DIY approach and was released this week on Saddle Creek Records.)


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mates Of State - "Mountaintops"

Indie-pop veterans Mates Of State return with Mountaintops, their first album of new material in four years and seventh overall, out today on Barsuk Records. The duo of Jason and Kori self-produced the new album for the first time, owning and honing every aspect of their music to showcase their evolution into an unstoppable, undeniable pop machine over the last decade. Again touches of guitar, trumpets and electronic beats find their way into the mix but the spotlight remains on their effortless vocal harmonies and organ and drums set-up.

The album opens with the joyful and sugary “Palomino” which brings the energy right from the start. The album’s excellent first single “Maracas” features some seriously warped synths set to a rhythm driven by the song’s namesake and a sing-along chorus. The bouncing and delightful “Sway” features chiming bells and a cameo by the couple’s daughter, Magnolia, near the end of the song as she gleefully squeals, mimicking the strange synths employed on the stand out track. The bittersweet “Unless I’m Led” is a mid-tempo ballad with soaring vocal melodies and an infectious chorus. Another fun, stand out track, “Total Serendipity” is a handclap and horn-filled Motown-inspired rave up with lyrics that look back on the beginning of their relationship. “Basement Money” best spotlights Jason and Kori’s harmonious harmonies over spacey synths and another buoyant, energetic rhythm. An electric guitar is introduced to the steady, hip-shaking beat and shimmering synths on “At Least I Have You”, giving the song a dizzying quality even before the blissful refrain of repeated “la, la, la, la’s” takes over. And “Desire” follows with more guitar as a cyclical acoustic guitar and clicking percussion combine with swelling synths and horns on the sweet ballad. “Changes” features a rafters-reaching chorus and a touch of Bowie-esque glam on the 70’s-inspired track. And the album closes with the piano-led and classic Mates of State sounding “Mistakes”.

After slightly “rearranging” their sound on 2008’s Re-Arrange Us, which was a more piano-driven and solemn affair by Mates of State standards, they bring the exuberant energy back in spades on Mountaintops.

Download "Maracas" here:

For more info click here: and

Friday, September 09, 2011

Dream Concert: Fruit Bats

With the Dream Concert feature, I usually make a "dream" set list and choose the venue for a hypothetical show with one of my favorite bands that I have yet to witness live. But this one is a little bit different because I have actually seen the Fruit Bats before. I saw them open for Modest Mouse on both nights of a two nights stay at the Southgate House in Newport, KY in September of 2001. So it has been ten years and four albums since I have seen Eric Johnson and his poppy indie folk outfit. It's almost like I've never seen them! Well, tonight I get that chance and at the venue I would choose, The Southgate House, as the Fruit Bats are on tour to support their new album Tripper, with neo-folkie and fellow Sub Pop label mate Vetiver opening. Here is a list of songs I hope they play.

Set List (by album)


Dragon Ships

Buffalo And Deer

Need It Just A Little


A Bit Of Wind

The Little Acorn

When U Love Somebody

Spelled In Bones:

Lives Of Crime

Born In The 70's

Earthquake of '73

Legs Of Bees

Canyon Girl

The Ruminant Band:


The Hobo Girl

The Ruminant Band


So Long

You're Too Weird

Tony The Tripper

Heart Like An Orange

Tangie And Ray

Picture Of A Bird

Shivering Fawn

Hopefully I will get to check off quite a few of these songs from the list. Fingers crossed!

Download "A Bit Of Wind" from the album Mouthfuls here:

For more info click here: and

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Undeserving - "Almost Alive"

The Undeserving, a Christian pop-rock band hailing from NW Ohio have triumphantly self-released their debut album Almost Alive, this week after experiencing legal woes with their former label Warner Bros. Records that delayed its release. The band’s name has become quite appropriate since their formation in 2005, as they were signed and subsequently dropped from Warner Bros. Records even after their successful first single, “Something To Hope For” was heard on several TV shows such as American Idol, The Biggest Loser and Blue Bloods among others. Almost Alive, which was mixed by Michael Brauer, who has worked with such like-minded acts as Coldplay and The Fray, was shelved until the label and the band finally were able to come to an agreement over the rights to the music. Throughout the ordeal, the 4-piece band, led by vocalist/pianist Clay Kirchenbauer has remained just as positive as the soaring piano-led pop-rock of their debut.

The ringing guitars, shuffling beat and anthemic chorus of “For All Time” opens the 11-track album with a proud statement and continues with the positive vibes and sweet melodies that exude on the uplifting chorus of the radio-ready “Cheer Up (We’re Almost Alive)”. The ballad “Fall” features sharp falsetto vocals and enough emotional weight to balance the rafters-reaching chorus. “Let’s Not Forget” stands out with twinkling keys and swelling orchestration. Elsewhere, while “Nothing Else” falls just short, sounding a little too similar to Coldplay with its vocal cadence, the skyward hook is undeniably infectious. Another standout, “Look Inside” relies less on the piano with driving guitars as a mid-album change of pace. The soulful lyrics of the passionate ballad “There For You” highlights the band’s universal appeal, perfectly designed to appeal to both Contemporary Christian audiences and to the mainstream pop audience. The piano-led single, “Something To Hope For”, originally released in 2010 is included here, tucked away near the end of the album with a message of hope for those who may be struggling and an uplifting chorus that just begs to be included in a TV drama soundtrack. And the album closes with the introspective and emotional “Today You Said I Love You”.

The Undeserving’s anticipated debut, Almost Alive is filled with 11 melodic and emotional pop-rock anthems that are well deserving of radio play, inclusion on TV soundtracks and a spot in your collection.

Download a free 3-song album sampler from Noisetrade here:

For more info click here:

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. MonstrO - "Anchors Up!" (Atlanta psych-rock band features former members of metal bands Bloodsimple and Torche, released their self-titled debut album this week on Vagrant Records. The album mixes hard-charging prog-rock, heavy stomping stoner metal and trippy, 60's psychedelic passages with soaring choruses for a stunning debut. Catch them on tour with Kyuss Lives! and The Sword.)

2. Peter Wolf Crier - "Settling It Off" (The duo expands on the rhythmic and passionate folk of their excellent debut with the addition of samples, keyboards and more experimental instrumentation on their second album Garden Of Arms, out now on Secretly Canadian with great success.)

3. Gold Beach - "Gold Beach" (Austin duo create a lush, hushed brand of folk on their self-released debut album Habibti, out now. The soundscape created on the track "Gold Beach" is jaunty yet haunting with ringing guitars, rolling piano and a shuffling beat as an excellent intro to this must-hear band.)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Canon Logic - "Rapid Empire" EP

Brooklyn five-piece Canon Logic quickly return with the Rapid Empire EP, their follow up to last year’s debut album FM Arcade. The new EP released this week on NYC label Engine Room Recordings, consists of five instantly catchy and energetic indie-pop songs that expand on the sound they established on their debut with an emphasis on guitars rather than the piano this time around.

“Sirens” opens the album with a rubbery bass line and a pounding, danceable beat that flashes back to early 80’s post-punk and New Wave, and soaring vocal melodies on the arena-sized chorus. The super poppy title track “Rapid Empire (Am I M.I.A.)” stands out with a percussion-led rhythm and the catchiest chorus you will hear all year, with the repeated refrain of “Am I M.I.A.”. “Howl In The Night” features a primal energy with tumbling, tom-heavy drums and psychedelic swirls of background vocals that will have you howling along. The piano-led “No Domino” opens with hand drums and a fat vintage organ, leaving enough space to highlight frontman Tim Kiely’s crystal clear vocals that are reminiscent of Nate from Cold War Kids. The EP closes with the flickering guitar licks, strutting bass, striking piano chords and anthemic chorus of “Dungeon Fallout”.

Rapid Empire shows a band at the top of their game with forward-charging anthems that do not rely on bombastic pastiche and have an infectious spirit.

Download "Howl in the Night" and get more info here: