Tuesday, July 31, 2012

LJ Mulls - "Treat Yourself Like Gold" EP

LJ Mulls is the recording moniker of singer-songwriter Joseph Mueller who hails from Western North Carolina.  His debut EP Treat Yourself Like Gold was self released as a digital download on his Bandcamp page this past June and is also available on CD as well.  LJ Mulls sings and plays the ukulele, guitar, banjo and bells and was assisted by upright bassist Zack Page, pianist Brian Turner and drummer Kent Spillmann on the four songs of uplifting ukulele-inspired indie pop that make up the EP.  It was co-produced by Mueller and fellow North Carolina songwriter and producer Andrew Schatzberg of the dream rock band Worldline.      
The EP opens with the forward-thinking “If Seeing Is Believing” which features steady ukulele strumming and a swaying rhythm made up of a shuffling drum beat and finger snaps along with a booming, bouncing upright bass line for a perfect introduction to LJ Mull’s laid back beach-blanket sound.  Lyrically, the song is an inspiring statement about his willingness to finally work up the courage to step out into the public and play his songs for others after spending two years developing his sound…and it is a good thing for us that he did!  The piano-led “As We Sit Back To Back” follows and floats along with an easy going, Jack Johnson-like vibe while also conjuring images of 70’s singer-songwriter fair with warm and earnest James Taylor-like vocal melodies.  The title track, “Treat Yourself Like Gold” stands out with a reggae-inspired rhythm and LJ’s silky smooth and southern-tinged voice as well as some carefree, toes-in-the-sand melodies and well placed Glockenspiel notes.  By now you may have noticed that a lyrical theme has developed throughout the EP as he makes a point to focus on the positive with hopes to inspire the same mindset in his listeners.  And just as you are getting in the groove, the too short EP (four songs clock in at just over thirteen and a half minutes) closes out with the nostalgia-laced “Merry Heart Lane” which is LJ’s fictional “happy place”, where he goes to daydream and find inspiration for his songs.  In fact, “LJ Mulls”, the moniker that Joe Mueller has adopted stands for “Little Joe Wonders” which is a fitting representation as he readily admits that he is often given over to a child-like wonder as he ponders life in the present, past and future.  And actually, this sense of wonder helped him discover the musician inside him as he finally at age 24 taught himself to play the ukulele with help from some Youtube videos, after always wanting to play an instrument as a child but never giving it the proper practice time to learn.       
After listening to the Treat Yourself Like Gold EP by LJ Mulls, you will surely find yourself in your own “happy place” and with your finger firmly planted on the repeat button.   His promising debut should give the humble songwriter all of the fuel he needs to write and record his anticipated first full length album.         

Stream/Buy Treat Yourself Like Gold EP here: http://ljmulls.bandcamp.com/

For more info: http://www.facebook.com/pages/LJ-Mulls/170258369670375 and www.reverbnation.com/ljmulls

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

3 Songs: On Repeat

1.  Chase King - "Bed Of Lies" (The first single from singer-songwriter Chase King's new solo album South Tropical Trail, out now on Wonderland Archives, blends tropicalia-laced psych-pop with dusty country and his earnest voice.  This album comes on the heels of his debut album from Slow Country, his project with Boyd Shropshire of Human Television.)  www.facebook.com/chasekingmusic  

Download: http://www.wonderlandarchives.com/chaseking/ChaseKing_BedofLies.mp3

2.  Eric Copeland - "Louie, Louie, Louie" (Eric Copeland of NY band Black Dice goes solo on his new album, Limbo, out now on Underwater Peoples.  A skewed and disjointed yet danceable rhythm combines with buzzing and warped synths on the infectious first single.) http://underwaterpeoples.com/ 

Download: http://www.tellallyourfriendspr.com/singles/ericcopeland_louielouielouie.mp3

3.  The Archives - ""Ghetto Gone Uptown" (The DC-based roots reggae band was put together by producer and Thievery Corporation member Eric Hilton and features vocalist Ras Puma and members who have played with such bands as Eek-A-Mouse and reggae legends Culture.  Clavinet and lively horns provide the foundation for the laid back first single which is a perfect introduction to the faithful and rootsy yet modern reggae of their self-titled debut album out now on ESL Music.) http://www.thearchivesdc.com/

Download: http://pressjunkiepr.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/02-ghetto-gone-uptown.mp3

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Passion Pit - "Gossamer"

Synth-pop maestro Michael Angelakos returns with Passion Pit's highly-anticipated new album Gossamer, out today on Columbia Records.  Again, Angelakos wrote and played everything on the album and turns his anguish and pain into 12 more saccharine-sweet dance-pop anthems. 

The album opens with lead single, "Take A Walk" and its thick stomping beat and lyrics about his Greek heritage, which is not exactly the song I would've chosen to represent this new set of songs.  In fact, "Carried Away" is a much more catchy song with bouncing 80's-inspired synths and an ear-worming, sing-along refrain that rivals his biggest hit, "Sleepyhead".  Another great choice would have been "Cry Like A Ghost" which is a thumping, club-banger with a hip-hop beat and an infectious chorus.  Either way, the album as a whole is solid and sparkles even brighter and poppier than its predecessor, Manners.  Other standouts include the choppy rhythm and dreamy synths of "I'll Be Alright" and the soul-drenched vocals and smoothed over R&B grooves of "Constant Conversation".      

Gossamer was well worth the wait and sharply avoids the sophomore slump and I wish Michael well with his battle with bi-polar disorder that has recently caused him to cancel some shows.

For more info:  http://www.passionpitmusic.com/home

Monday, July 23, 2012

Video Premiere: Woodpecker - "The Processional"

The Brooklyn-based alt-folk band is set to release their long-awaited sophomore album Thanks Anyway tomorrow.  And to celebrate, here is the premiere of their new video for the delicate and melancholic mandolin and violin-led instrumental track, "The Processional", which features a sad man wandering around on vacation with only his giraffe-shaped children's life preserver to keep him company. Frontman Josh Steinbauer is also a cinematographer and directed the stunning video for the track.  In fact, most of the 6 band members are also filmmakers as they formed almost a decade ago from a Craigslist ad to score a short independent film.  Their fittingly cinematic sound is laced with bluegrass instrumentation and punk-infused spirit and humorous lyrics that put a twist on their more serious music. 

Also, below is a download of the first single, "Every Boy In NY" which features twinkling banjo and mandolin figures, homespun male/female harmonies and Steinbauer's unique storytelling.   

Download "Every Boy In NY": http://dl.dropbox.com/u/38730955/mp3/woodpecker_everyboyinny_11_22.mp3

For more info: http://woodpeckermusic.com/ and http://www.facebook.com/woodpeckermusic

Friday, July 20, 2012

Free Friday: Homelife - "Translation"

Lansing, MI-based post-hardcore band Homelife released their debut album Translation on limited edition vinyl as a split release from Black Numbers and Bermuda Mohawk Records this past May.  They are also offering up the digital version as a free or pay-what-you-want download on the Black Numbers Bandcamp page.  With their roots in the hardcore scene their highly-charged melodic punk rock is meant to be played loud and sounds a lot like Hot Water Music if they changed rhythms on a dime like Hey Mercedes. 
Their personal lyrics are emblazoned with the same passion and sincerity as the Midwest emo bands of the mid-to-late 90's that they grew up with and even without repeated choruses, the songs are still super-catchy and anthemic.    

Stand out tracks include the blistering opening track, "Shapeless" with it's winding and chugging guitars and the emotionally strained vocals and rapid fire drumming of "No Direction".

Download Translation here: http://blacknumbers.bandcamp.com/album/translation

For more info: http://www.facebook.com/Homelifemi and http://theblacknumbers.com/

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

3 Songs: On Repeat

1.  Missy Higgins - "Unashamed Desire" (A sultry vulnerability along with honky tonk piano and cowbell highlight the first single from the Australian singer-songwriter's highly-anticipated new album The Ol' Razzle Dazzle out now in the U.S. through Vagrant Records.  After shying away from the music biz since 2007, Missy returns with her most eclectic yet accessible album yet.) http://missyhiggins.com/

Download: http://s3.amazonaws.com/site-images.vagrant.com/audio_items/307/03_Unashamed_Desire.mp3

2. Shout Out Out Out Out - "Now That I've Given Up Hope, I Feel Much Better" (The Edmonton-based 6-piece synth-pop band released their third album, Spanish Moss And Total Loss, this week in the U.S. on Normals Welcome Records.  With two drummers, they can create some crazy, poly-rhythmic yet very danceable beats and their vocoder-laced melodies and analog-based music is just as colorful and twisty as the album's artwork.)  http://shoutoutoutoutout.com/


3.  Icky Blossoms - "Babe" (The Omaha-based art-pop band featuring Derek Pressnall of Tilly And The Wall and vocalist Sarah Bohling combines deep, bass-heavy grooves with melodic pop moments and dance punk energy on their Dave Sitek-produced self-titled debut album out now on Saddle Creek.)  http://ickyblossoms.com/ 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bunbury 2012 Recap

Well, Bunbury is over and in my opinion, the 3-day fest was a massive success in its first year.  The headliners, Jane's Addiction, Weezer and Death Cab For Cutie (with DCFC reaching deep into their catalog) were as good as expected and the next level of bands like, Minus The Bear, Margot And The Nuclear So And So's, and Guided By Voices were just as great! 

Sadly, Passion Pit whose new album drops next week had to cancel and a short deluge of rain and lightning on Sunday threatened to derail the event, but bands like Ume, and their highly-charged live show and the Pomegrantes with their always great performance made some event-goers like myself forget all about that.
Also, Cincinnati's Belle Histoire whose debut album, Dreamers is out today on InVogue Records, even played a short acoustic set on the side for fans waiting around for their rain-shortened set to begin.

The band that surprised me the most was Cincinnati's own The Tillers and their punk-infused brand of old timey blues, gospel and bluegrass.  The trio battled stage defeciencies and soldiered on to play the way they were meant to play when their microphone cut out for two songs.  I hope that this fest helped other people to discover their new favorite band!

Another thing that really impressed me was how well the whole event was planned and coordinated.  For example, they didn't make up for the cheap tickets prices by gouging us with high prices for food and drinks ($2 for water!).  All in all, the Bunbury Music Festival was a great event for the city and for the local music scene and I cannot wait until Bunbury 2013!

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

and http://the-tillers.com/

Friday, July 13, 2012

Interview: Ume

Ume are an Austin-based indie rock 3-piece fronted by singer and guitarist Lauren Larson along with her husband and bass player Eric and drummer Rachel Fuhrer.  Their excellent sophomore album Phantoms was released last August to great praise on Modern Outsider Records.  The bands stands out among the crowd with an energetic live show and a sound built on heavy, distorted guitar riffs that have afforded them to tour with Helmet and The Black Angels and they show their versatility with touches of Cure-like melodisicm and Lauren's sweet and sour vocals.

The band is currently on tour with Helmet and the Toadies but are making a stop at this weekend's inaugural Bunbury Music Festival in Cincinnati.  They will be playing on Sunday at 4:30 on the aliveOne Stage.

Lauren took some time to answers some questions about their influences, outdoor festivals, new songs and Beyonce...

You have played a few festivals, including SXSW and now Bunbury this weekend.  What do you like best about outdoor fests and what would your dream concert lineup be?

Whether we're playing in a basement or festival stage, I've got to do the same thing - hold nothing back and put myself completely in the show.  I do like having a bigger stage to perform on and the energy of the festival crowd is inspiring.  Dream lineup: Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead, Pink Floyd with Gilmour and Waters, Fugazi, Bjork, Portishead, and PJ Harvey.   

My favorite song on your excellent new album, Phantoms is "Burst" with it's Cure-like melodicism.  What is your favorite song to play live and why?

Thanks... not a lot of people pick up on the Cure influence.  My favorite song to play live is always changing.  At the moment I'm having fun trying to play the guitar behind my back during the instrumental build on "Hurricane II."

What bands are you most excited to see at Bunbury? 

I once saw Death Cab for Cutie play for 10 people in Houston at a shoe warehouse, so I'm excited to see how they've changed since becoming one of the biggest bands around.  I'm also excited to see our label mates Pomegranates and Bad Veins.

You have been compared to bands like Sonic Youth and The Joy Formidable but who do you say are your influences?

It ranges from Led Zeppelin to Lykke Li, Black Sabbath to Blonde Redhead, Miles Davis to Fugazi...

Your critically acclaimed second album Phantoms is amazing.  Where are you in the process for your next album? 

We are currently demoing new songs and road testing new material.  We'll be trying out a few brand new ones at Bunbury!

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

Old - "While my Guitar Gently Weeps" by The Beatles.

New - "Street Joy" by White Denim

Are any of you active in any side projects?

Rachel plays drums in local post hardcore band We'll Go Machete.  I occasionally practice with a couple folks from Black Angels, but both our bands are so busy it was tough to get anything going.

Not that you would want to but if you had to, who would you choose to replace you in the band?


The Bunbury Music Festival starts today and there are still tickets left...don't miss Ume and Lauren playing the guitar behind her back!

For more info: http://www.umemusic.com and http://www.bunburyfestival.com/ and http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/phantoms/id451810361 and http://modernoutsider.com/

Free Friday: Facedown Records - "Summer Sampler 2012"

As a thank you to their devoted fans, Christian metal label Facedown Records is giving away Summer Sampler 2012, a new label sampler as a free download.  The 8-song compilation includes new songs from the new school old school hardcore titans Gideon, whose new album Milestone came out last week and some progressive metalcore from Your Memorial, whose new album Redirect drops next week.  Also included is "Retribution", a blistering preview from Letter To The Exiles' new album Make Amends due August 14th and scene vets XLooking ForwardX provide another standout moment with "Down With The Ship".  Rounding out the sampler are excellent tracks from recent releases by Leaders, War Of Ages and The Burial.  Plus, the zip drive contains a 10% off coupon for the Facedown store...

Download: https://s3.amazonaws.com/facedown/2012_Summer_Sampler.zip

For more info and for tour dates: http://www.facedownrecords.com/

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

3 Songs: On Repeat

1. Jonathan Byerley - "I Still Pull The Silver (From The Penny Drawer)" (The frontman for the Brooklyn-based indie rock band Plates Of Cake steps out with a folk-leaning solo album, Catherine Market, out this week on La Société Expéditionnaire.  Lyrically, his music is Dylan-inspired and his voice resembles Cohen in timbre and the dusty, shuffling psych-folk shows a new and captivating side to the songwriter on his promising debut release.) http://www.la-soc.com/jbyerley.html

Download: http://la-soc.com/singlemp3s/i_still_pull_the_silver.mp3

2.  Husky - "Tidal Wave"  (Led by the gentle yet dynamic voice of frontman Husky Gawenda,  the Australian-based folk rock quartet's critically-acclaimed debut album Forever So has been released in the U.S. for the first time on Sub Pop this week.  Gorgeous 3-part vocal harmonies and lush, orchestrated arrangements highlight their brand of folk that also features moments of psychedlia and traditional folk instrumentation.  Jump on the bandwagon now before you miss out!) http://www.huskysongs.com/ 

Download: http://assets2.subpop.com/assets/audio/12032.mp3

3.  Debo Band - "Asha Gedawo" (Bouncy and infectious ska-inspired first single taken from the exciting self-titled debut album by the 11-member Boston-based band led by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen, out this week on Sub Pop's sister label Next Ambiance.  Their eclectic sound blends funk, folk and a little rock with their unique take on 60's and 70's Ethiopian pop music.) http://deboband.com/ 

Download: http://assets2.subpop.com/assets/audio/11683.mp3

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

P.O.D. - "Murdered Love"

P.O.D. return with the release of their long-awaited new album, Murdered Love, out now on their new label Razor & Tie.  Produced by Howard Benson, who also produced their multi-platinum album Satellite, the new album is loose and harnesses their true, funky rap-rock sound.  The lyrics are also some of the most direct and meaningful lyrics Sonny has ever put to tape.  Special guest vocalists on the album include Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed on the powerful and heavy opening track, "Eyez" and Sen Dog of Cypress Hill acts as the ultimate hype man on the bouncy, hip-hop infused ode to their roots, "West Coast Rock Steady".  The first single, "Lost In Forever" is the band's most anthemic track since "Alive" and has been soaring up the charts with its super-catchy chorus.  The soon-to-be-a-hit ballad "Beautiful" stands out with an uplifting sing-along chorus.  Another standout is the closing track, "I Am" which tackles topics like self-doubt, love and compassion with a brutal honesty as aggressive as the music.           

Murdered Love feels like a return to form for P.O.D. who has been together now for over 15 years and that experience has translated into their best and most focused album yet.  Catch the band on tour the rest of the summer on the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival.

For more info: http://www.payableondeath.com/murderedlove/

Monday, July 09, 2012

Show Alert: Bunbury Music Festival

The Bunbury Music Festival is this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Sawyer's Point in Cincinnati.  The fest boasts headliners Jane's Addiction, Weezer and Death Cab For Cutie for it's first year...Pretty impressive!  All in all, there are over 100 bands and DJ's set to perform, including great local bands The Seedy Seeds and Pomegranates among others.  The tickets are very cheap compared to other 3-day fests around the country, at $46 (plus ticketing fees) for single day tickets and $93 (plus ticketing fees) to get you in to all 3 days. 

Organized by Bill Donabedian, the co-founder of Cincy's great Midpoint Music Festival, this festival is sure to put Cincinnati back on the musical map and will rival Pitchfork and Lollapalooza.  Not only that, it is also a great showcase for the eclectic and thriving local music scene!

I cannot wait to see Passion Pit, Margot & the Nuclear So And So's, Pomegranates, Death Cab For Cutie, Belle Histoire, and Minus The Bear! 

Stay tuned for more coverage... follow @BunburyMusicFestival and @Atlasanchor on Twitter.

For more info and to order tickets click here: http://bunburyfestival.com/

Bee Free!

Friday, July 06, 2012

Free Friday: Future Of What - "Moonstruck" EP

Brooklyn-based indie-pop band Future Of What, led by singer-songwriter Blair, released their debut EP Moonstruck this week as a free download on their Bandcamp page.  Their guitar and cymbal-free 80’s-inspired sound is driven by New Romantic synths and emotions with Blair's airy vocals and marks a pretty impressive start for the band who has only existed since January of this year!  

Download the standout single, "Back To The City": http://cobracamanda.com/MP3/01BackToTheCity.mp3

Download/stream the Moonstruck EP:

For more info: http://www.facebook.com/futureofwhat

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Scream The Prayer 2012 Recap

On Saturday June 30th, I attended the Scream The Prayer tour stop in Dayton for the third time in four years.  I always look forward to going to the show every year to engage in some "Heavy Worship" with some of my favorite Christian metal and hardcore bands.  This year I was glad to see The Great Commission command the pit once again and to see Sleeping Giant share their testimony.  I was also curious to hear Michael Sawyer, the new vocalist for Close Your Eyes who did not disappoint.  And I finally got to see veteran bands Emery and Demon Hunter for the first time.  I purchased the new Gideon album and pre-ordered the new Your Memorial, because both bands killed it during their short sets.  And I was surprised by A Bullet For Pretty Boy, Hundreth, and Mychildren Mybride, who I had never really heard before. 

All in all, it was a great day and I already can't wait until next year!

The 5 songs I most wanted to hear:

1.  Sleeping Giant - "Eyes Wide Open"

2.  Demon Hunter - "Not Ready To Die"

3.  Close Your Eyes - "Song For The Broken"
Download: http://images.victoryrecords.com/mp3/CloseYourEyesSongForTheBroken.mp3

4.  The Great Commission - "Draw The Line" (I wanted to hear their version of Katy Perry's "Firework")

5.  Your Memorial - "Endeavor For Purpose"

The second leg of the tour is now in progress check out http://www.screamtheprayer.com/ for dates in your area.