Wednesday, June 25, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

White Reaper “Half Bad” (The Louisville lo-fi garage-punk trio released their excellent self-titled debut EP this week via Polyvinyl Records.  Through a thick wall of thundering drums, crunchy guitar noise and warped vintage synths bursts forth an infectiously catchy psych-pop sensibility that makes the loss of hearing worthwhile.)        

Roz & The Rice Cakes – “Castle” (Providence RI’s favorite art-pop band released their new album Need To Feed this week via new label, Team Love Records.  Led by the sweet Gwen Stefani-like vocals of Roz Raskin, the trio creates an experimental keyboard-driven sound with jazz-informed bass lines, sophisticated arrangements and fun pop melodies.  The single here is highlighted by glassy keys, funky bass fills and a loose groove for a standout moment among many.)

City States – “Uncharted Waters” (The Chicago-based indie-pop band - led by singer-songwriter Joel Ebner - recently released their long-awaited debut album, Geography.  Recorded and mixed by John McEntire (Tortoise, Sea & Cake) the trio creates a stunning blend of ambient art-rock and dreamy indie-pop with icy yet melodic synths, electronic beats, and droning EBow guitar as Ebner deals with the sudden loss of his father.  Fans of The Notwist and The Antlers will find solace in the melodies and rhythms of this very promising release.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Phox - "Phox"

The Madison, Wisconsin based six-piece, Phox are set to release their highly-anticipated eponymous debut album today via Partisan Records.  Produced by Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, The Fray) and led by the magnetic vocalist Monica Martin’s soulful swoon, the album is filled to the brim with their lush yet spacious acoustic arrangements and their blend of classic soul music and quirky folk-pop that has them primed to blow up as the next big thing.    
The album is anchored by the undeniable smash hit single, “Slow Motion” with its flickering banjo, twinkling piano, infectious whistling and stirring orchestration for the penultimate introduction to the band.  “1936” follows and showcases Martin’s breathy and beautiful vocals alongside cyclical guitars.  Next, “Evil” is anything but with layers of old timey barbershop-inspired background vocals, bright horns and lilting melodies.  Another standout on the twelve-track album; “Kingfisher” is a nice slice of dream-pop with layers of gorgeous orchestral flourishes and catchy melodies.    
Phox has issued an assured and statement-making debut album with lasting power so jump on the bandwagon now while you still can.

Watch the video for “Slow Motion” here:

For more info:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

SHOW ALERT: The Ghost Wolves at Canal Public House on Friday, June 20

The Ghost Wolves, the Austin-based husband and wife garage-rock duo of Johnathan and Carley Wolf released their stunning debut album, Man, Woman, Beast last month via Plowboy Records.  They are currently on tour in support of the new album and will bring their energetic live show and snarling, heavy blues-drenched garage-punk sound to Dayton’s Canal Public House on Friday, June 20.
The album is highlighted by the instantly-catchy sing-along first single “Gonna Live” and “Baby Fang Thang” which features vocalist/guitarist Carley’s deceptively sweet yet sour vocal style and blown-out stoner rock riffs alongside Johnathan’s monolithic stomping rhythm.  Another standout, “I’m Yo Mudda” features blazing slide guitar work, an off-kilter beat and playful lyrics for the perfect example of how exciting and entertaining their live show can be so don't miss out!

Stream Man, Woman, Beast here:

Also on the bill are locals Curse Of Cassanda, Tombstone Tremblers, and McGuff and the Dumpster Fires.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Balue - “Charming Flow” (Balue is the bedroom-pop project of Eli Thomas who creates a headphones-worthy blend of sun-bleached surf-rock and dreamy psych-pop on his new album, Quiet Dreamer out now via cassette label Fleeting Youth Records.  The ridiculously catchy single here has “summertime” written all over it with its infectious vocal cadence and hazy atmosphere, just in time to soundtrack your first day of summer.)   

Close Lobsters – “Now Time” and “New York City in Space” (The Scottish post post-punk indie-pop band who were once featured on the famous C86 compilation have returned with their first new material in over 25 years with the release of the Kunstwerk In Space EP on Shelflife Records.  Featuring two new tracks, "Now Time" b/w "New York City in Space”, it’s available on 70 gram limited edition 7" vinyl with a download coupon that includes two bonus remixes for a long-awaited and welcomed return.)

Roll The Tanks – “Toeing The Line” (Featuring members of Piebald and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Roll The Tanks create a no frills blue collar and classic rock inspired punk rock sound with sharp anthemic hooks and a pastiche-free nostalgia-inducing vibe that recalls The Clash and Tom Petty on their stellar third album, Broke Til Midnight out now via Epitaph Records.)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Stream It From The Mountain: Wolves At The Gate – “VxV”

The Dayton-based Christian metal band Wolves At The Gate released their stunning sophomore album, VxV (five by five) last week via Solid State Records.  Armed with this new release and their two EPs and promising debut, the band has quickly solidified their spot at the top of the Christian metal scene’s food chain.              
With well-regarded pastor John Piper piping in on the introductory title track, “VxV”, Wolves At The Gate set the tone right from the start.  Frontman Steve Cobucci pulls no punches leading the band as they preach the Gospel.  They are not merely focused on creating the most brutal breakdown for the mosh-pit; their metal is laced with more melody and lyrical substance than their peers and standout track “Wake Up” is as anthemic as its title suggests with a call and response refrain and an impassioned plea that speaks to believers that are just going through the motions - “actors without action”.  Following that is “Dust To Dust” with its unrelenting rhythm and swirling vocal melodies that reach for the rafters.  Later, “Relief” marries propulsive heaviness with emotional heaviness as ringing guitars and emotionally-charged vocals set the scene for the uplifting, depression-themed lyrics to take effect for another standout moment.  Next, “The Bird And The Bee” weaves a dark yet truthful tale with vivid Biblical-based imagery that sounds like a newly discovered Aesop’s Fable.  The twelve-track album closes out with the hopeful message of “The Father’s Bargain” which was inspired by a short story of the same name by a 1600’s Puritan writer, John Flavel and is accompanied by the most dynamic and ambitious arrangement on the album.                              

Stream VxV here:

For more info: and

Friday, June 13, 2014

Free Friday: The Mitchells – "The Mitchells" LP

The Mitchells - darlings of the Cincinnati music scene - recently released their highly-anticipated self-titled debut album.  The talented performers and songwriters Joseph William Mitchell, Marc Aiello, Carlos Mitchell, and Nicholas Mavridoglou formed just two years ago and have come to create a warm, inviting and organic brand of indie-folk that is laced with elements of indie rock, jazz, and chamber-pop alongside understated yet memorable melodies. 
Their promising and dynamic debut album is available from the band as a limited edition marbled vinyl, with each piece different and beautiful.  And to celebrate, they are offering up the album as a pay-what-you-want digital download via their Bandcamp page. 
The album opens with the breezy, Phish-like jazz-folk of “Driving In Cars” which also features complementing guest vocals from Caroline Kingsbury, also known as the Nashville-based  singer-songwriter The Red Headed Indian.  “Frau” follows with gently strummed acoustic guitars, flickering banjo and a shuffling beat before close-knit harmonies and swells of vintage organ break though for a standout moment.  The upbeat “Orchard” brings forth brighter melodies and indie rock guitar noodling complete with a melodic solo as a change of pace.  In the same vein, standout track “Denmark” offers up a loping bass line and more nostalgia-inducing winding guitar lines that recall early Modest Mouse.  Closing out the eight-song album is “Christmas Gulch” with its hypnotic cyclical guitars, chiming xylophone and wistful, lilting melodies. 

Download The Mitchells here:         

Thursday, June 12, 2014

SHOW ALERT: Pillar Point with Danny & His Fantasy and Riley at South Park Tavern Friday, June 13

Pillar Point - the new synth-based project led by Scott Reitherman of indie-pop band Throw Me the Statue - released their self-titled debut album earlier this year on Polyvinyl Records.  They are set to tour all this summer into the fall and will be making an appearance in the Gem City at South Park Tavern this Friday, June 13 for a free show with a start time of 10 pm.   
 Led by the upbeat first single, “Diamond Mine” with its warped 80’s synth sounds, booming bass line and infectious sing-along chorus, the album boasts nine tracks of melancholic yet danceable synth-wave bliss for a very promising debut.  Another standout, “Cherry” features glittering synths over top of a skittering rhythm and a fast-paced vocal cadence. 
Supporting Pillar Point at South Park Tavern is Danny & His Fantasy, the 80’s inspired synth-driven dream pop project of Joey Cook formerly of Cincinnati psych-pop bands Pomegranates and Healing Power.  Additionally, local favorites Riley will bring their mathy brand of prog-punk to the party for a night not to be missed.        

Stream Pillar Point here:       

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Armand Margjeka – “Hummingbird” (The Birmingham, AL by-way-of Albania based singer-songwriter released his long-awaited sophomore album, Hummingbird this week, as a joint effort by Communicating Vessels and PIPEANDGUN Records.  His rootsy, emotionally-charged Americana is layered with shimmering synth-led atmospherics and is highlighted by his soulful, world-weary voice and memorable melodies.)      

Le Rug – “Harold Camping” (This week marks the release of Press Start (The Collection), the complete 31-track compilation of Brooklyn singer/guitarist Ray Weiss’ (Butter the Children) post-punk project Le Rug.  Released digitally and on limited edition cassette by Fleeting Youth Records, the dynamic collection bursts at the seams to contain each of his 3 earlier albums along with 2 more recent EPs that are full of scuzzy, unhinged guitar-led post-punk that is laced with psychedelic synths and a fun, quirky pop sense.)      

Stagnant Pools - “You Whir” (The Bloomington, Indiana-based brothers, Bryan and Douglass Enas recruited likeminded producer Matt Talbot of 90’s alt-rock pioneers Hum to reinforce their noise-addled and fuzzed-out shoegaze-leaning dream pop sound on their sophomore album, Geist released this week via Polyvinyl Records.  The opening track here stands out as a swirl of sludgy guitars, pounding drums and melancholic Joy Division-like vocal melodies.)  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Old Monk – “Posing As Love”

Brooklyn’s Old Monk is set to release their highly-anticipated sophomore album, Posing Love today via Eenie Meenie Records.  The trio of vocalist/guitarist Josh Carrafa, drummer Ian Burns and bassist Tsugumi Takashi create an energetic brand of garage-rock that is informed by classic rock with prog rock tendencies and equal parts punk and power-pop along with frenetic, off-kilter time signatures, witty lyrics and wailing guitar solos.            
Last year the band spent their time recording and releasing four singles from the album and they are front-loaded in the first half including standouts “Volcanic Prisons” which tells a story about a sailor, robots and a volcano and is set to a hefty slice of liquid-hot prog-punk magma and “Fowl And Foe”, a tightly-spun bundle of raw nerves and energy with a loose bass line, choppy rhythm and soaring vocal melody.  The other two previously released singles; the propulsive and catchy “Mages” and “Seymour”, with its loud/soft dynamic return alongside the rip-roaring surf-rock inspired new single, “Alta Rush”.  The last half of the album is filled with new songs such as “Flesh” which features a hip-swiveling rhythm, falsetto vocals and some anthemic arena-worthy guitar lines and the dynamic “Eurasisa” which is bolstered by a rumbling bass line, tumbling drums and several time changes.  Another standout, “History” is highlighted by jangly guitars and a bright, bouncy rhythm that alternates with heavier, chugging guitars.  Later, the short instrumental jam “Balloon” pops off with Ian’s rapid-fire drumming and ringing guitars and the twelve-song album closes out with the winding guitar and bass interplay of the epic, “Secrets In The Lawn”. 
With their new album, Posing As Love, Old Monk have perfected their garage-pop sound and delivered on the promise of their outstanding debut.                    

Additionally, the band has posted a new website as a companion to the album that features an interactive lyric page for each song with pop-up pictures and notes that help tell the story of the songs here: 
It fits in line with Josh’s sense of humor as he has also posted 8-bit animated gifs of memorable moments in music history here:    

For more info: and

Monday, June 09, 2014

REISSUE: American Football – “American Football”

The current “emo” (or whatever you want to call it) revival is in full swing, and it also comes at the perfect time as many of the seminal releases of the day are celebrating their 15-year anniversaries.  One of them is the eponymous debut by American Football.  The band comprised of guitarist Steve Holmes and drummer Steve Lamos was led by Mike Kinsella - of Chicago art-rock favorites Cap'n Jazz, Owen, and Owls - who combined his trademark off-kilter sense of rhythm and knotty guitar style with emotionally-charged lyrical sentiments for one of the most influential albums to come from that era.  It’s a testament to the timeless songwriting that the album sounds just as modern and forward-thinking today as the day it was released.    
Originally released in 1999 by Polyvinyl Records, it has been reissued by the label as a deluxe edition two-disc set that includes a disc of live cuts, practice sessions and demos.  It also features new packaging with new photographs from Chris Strong, lyrics, and comprehensive liner notes written by the band that give insight into the writing and recording process for each song as well as the tuning for each song.  
Stream the previously unreleased “The 7's (Live at the Blind Pig, Champaign, IL, 1997)” here:

Additionally, a new video has been made for the standout track, “Never Meant” that was shot in the house that graces the album cover and can be seen here:

To purchase the American Football Reissue on 2xLP (Red Vinyl), 2xCD, cassette tape, and digital formats visit:

Friday, June 06, 2014

Free Friday: strangewave – “Only Everything” EP

Dayton dream-pop duo strangewave released the Only Everything EP this week as a free download via their Bandcamp page.  On it they expand their sound and deliver on the promise of their debut album, Pop Noir which was released last year and brimmed with catchy pop-leaning melodies, glimmering synths, beautiful vocals and hazy layers of 90’s-inspired guitars that recalled both Beach House and Mazzy Star.      
The new EP is led by standout single, “Winona Barrymore” with its shuffling yet driving rhythm, spacey synths, complex vocal harmonies and 90’s nostalgia-inducing vibe.  The duo - J. Trenton Crace and Katrina Eresman – also experiment with prog-rock while pairing their complementing voices with a hip-shaking beat and bright melodies on “How Far From Here”, another standout.  The six-song EP closes out with the dynamic ebb and flow of “So Laid Out”, which alternates between a daydreaming lope and shimmer and a chaotic roar of distorted guitars and howling vocals. 
strangewave’s new Only Everything EP shows the emerging band is willing to experiment and expand their sound and it only heightens the anticipation for what they may do next.  Stay tuned.    

Download Only Everything EP here:

For more info:

Thursday, June 05, 2014

INTERVIEW: Extra Classic - New Album "Showcase" Out Now!

Extra Classic is the dub and reggae inspired band from husband and wife duo Adrianne DeLanda (formerly of The Anniversary) and Alex DeLanda.  This week saw the release of their stunning sophomore album, Showcase - a joint release with Burger Records on limited edition cassette and via the duo’s own Nopal Records on limited vinyl and CD.  The new album was recorded in the classic Jamaican album format - “showcase” style - and features six new songs along with each of their corresponding dub/versions for a total of twelve mind-blowing tracks.     
Dri is a soothing soul-pop siren and her vocals are the perfect match for Alex’s authentic analog production and songwriting as they create vivid psychedelic-tinged and pop-leaning reggae that equally pays homage to their inspirations and paves the way for a new wave of reggae music.     
Just as I did for their last album, I spoke with the DeLanda’s and they gave insight into their unique recording techniques, the “showcase” album format, their influences and more. 

Your sophomore album, Showcase, was recorded in the “showcase” style.  Can you please explain more about that?
“The Showcase format is one of our favorite types of albums.  It is traditionally a Jamaican album format in which a song is immediately followed by its corresponding dub/version.  The dub/version highlights the riddim and features psychedelic sonic qualities such as space echo feedback that crashes into the sun and heavy phase that swirls like a twisting star.  We love songs and we love dubs so we wanted to create an album in the Showcase style.” – Alex

For the recording process, you again recorded in your own studio Nopal Recording and used vintage tape machines and recording equipment to capture the most authentic analog sound for the album.  Can you please tell us more about the recording techniques you used and why? 
“We used much of the same equipment from Your Light to record the Showcase album. We knew that we wanted to record in showcase format and that all songs would be followed by a dub.  So, when writing the songs we were conscience of making sure that the chord structure of each song would lend itself to a dub. This meant that there had a to be a repetitive groove for each song which wasn't easy - simplicity is sometimes more challenging than using a wide palette of chord changes within a song.  When we had the songs ready to record we (Dri and Alex) would record a demo with arrangement ideas.  Then we discussed with the drummer and he played to the demo.  The drums were recorded onto 8 track tape and then bounced down to 2-track tape with effects added such as reverb and space echo. From there we went back and recorded all the instruments from the demo. We then ran the whole mix through Altec tube preamps from the 60s to a 2-track 1/4" Ampex tape machine.  Once we got a song mixed to tape, we went back and immediately mixed the dub right after it onto the tape.  The tape was then spliced between the song and the dub to make them connected.  And this is where the magic of the Showcase format happens - when the tape is spliced between the song and it's dub it creates an interesting transition, sometimes it's fluid and it's hard to discern song from dub, while other times it's a little off but is still magical and keeps the listener interesting.  I think that's one of the main things we love about old Showcase albums, the transitions are not always perfect yet always magical because of the tape splicing.  This is something completely lost when songs are put together with a computer - it's too perfect and uninteresting.” – Alex

Besides the showcase style presentation, what do you think makes the new album different from your stellar debut, Your Light Like White Lightning, Your Light Like A Laser Beam?
“Both albums share the labor of love in production that are unique to our producer, Alex and our studio, Nopal Studios. I would say we made an effort with the first album to strive for Black Ark style production, which was Lee 'Scratch' Perry's studio in Jamaica in the 1970s. With the first album we recorded a lot of the tracks live, laid everything to tape and bounced tracks to contain our sound. On the Showcase album, we were going for the sonic quality of the Lovers Rock era of Jamaican music. We allowed ourselves to explore options and use varying instrumentation - including synthesizers - with more tracks. We also did a bit of collaboration with our old friend, Jim Vollentine, who worked on Dri's solo album Smoke Rings. Jim mixed the tracks, "A Little Rain" and "Whispering Leaves" on our new album; we mixed the dubs/versions of the songs and everything else.” – Dri

Showcase also features liner notes written by the legendary Danny Holloway, DJ and producer for Island Records in the 1970’s.  How did you come in contact with him?   
“We met Danny through our pal, Zach Cowie aka DJ Turquoise Wisdom. Danny worked for Island Records in the 1970’s, toured with Bob Marley and worked with The Heptones and The Rolling Stones among other heavy hitters of the time...He has a deep record collection, is a DJ extraordinaire, tells incredible stories and is the real deal. We are happy to call him a friend.” – Dri

You have plans to tour in support of the new album this summer so I would like to know what your favorite song from Showcase is your favorite to play live or will you also be playing any of the alternate/dub versions on tour?
“Many of the new songs we do live we have started to include some of the elements of the dubs. Dri has a space echo delay with her on stage and uses it while playing live.  So, many of the live songs are a blend of the song and it's dub.” – Alex

The promotional video for the album that included a snippet of the standout track, “A Little Rain” was super-cute with the choreographed dancing and student band.  Will a longer cut of the video be released or do you have plans to release a full-length video from the album? 
“Here is the full cut! We are so psyched!” – Dri

“A Little Rain” video

For more info: and

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Josh Berwanger – “Oh Bis!” (Hot on the heels of his stellar debut solo album, Strange Stains, released last fall on Good Land Records, comes a new 7” from the former member of The Anniversary.  Released this week on limited edition colored vinyl via the podcast Too Much Rock - it’s the third in their singles series.  The A-side - heard here - is a raging, two-and-a-half minute power-pop anthem about an unrequited love and the B-side is Josh’s unique spin of the The Jags' 1978 under-the-radar classic, "Back Of My Hand".)     

Centro-matic – “Cross Path” (The Texas-based indie-rock/alt-country veterans led by Will Johnson released their eleventh studio album, Take Pride In Your Long Odds this week via Navigational Transmissions/Thirty Tigers.  The new album finds Johnson and Co. recharged with a solid collection of upbeat, ragged guitar-led anthems that recall Springsteen, especially with the propulsive fuzzed-out chug of the standout single here.)

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – “Coming Down” (Down to just two original members - drummer Sean Greenhalgh and frontman Alec Ounworth - CYHSY have reinvented themselves for their  experimental yet familiar fourth album, Only Run, out now via the band’s Bandcamp page.  The first single is a buzzing fuzz-leaden stomp with spiraling synths that matches Alec’s distinctly quirky yelp with the booming baritone of guest Matt Berninger from The National for a standout moment.  Be sure to check out the band on tour this summer.)  

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Hamilton Leithauser – “Black Hours”

Though The Walkmen announced their indefinite hiatus earlier this year, we are fortunate to not have to wait long for new music from frontman Hamilton Leithauser, whose debut solo album, Black Hours was released today on Ribbon Music.  The album allows Leithauser to be as creative, emotional and personal as ever and he is backed by a host of collaborators including his longtime associate Paul Maroon from The Walkmen along with Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend, Richard Swift of The Shins, and Morgan Henderson of Fleet Foxes.  Most of the album was recorded in the legendary Vox studio in Los Angeles where Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby once recorded.  It’s a fitting tribute as Leithauser has fashioned himself as a rock-informed version of a 1950’s jazz crooner on his excellent solo debut.             
The album opens with the Sinatra-styled “5 AM” that comes complete with a full-bodied arrangement of bowed bass, piano, strings and horns but the spotlight shines on Hamilton’s aching and impassioned vocal plea.  “The Silent Orchestra” follows and features a swinging rhythm bolstered by plucky pizzicato and playful marimba along with background vocals from Amber Coffman of The Dirty Projectors who guest on several tracks.  The standout first single, “Alexandra” was co-written by Batmanglij and is a rousing sing-along with pounding piano, harmonica, dreamy harpsichord and drums by Hugh McIntosh, who played with Hamilton in his first band, The Recoys.  ”11 O’Clock Friday Night” opens with bouncy marimba until reverb-rich guitars take over for a full band arrangement that leans more toward the rock side of things.    
With a simpler yet still gorgeous arrangement, “St. Mary’s County” matches his distinct voice with twinkling pianos and buzzing strings.  “Self-Pity” starts slow with ambient strings but builds steam with an off-kilter rhythm, tangled guitar lines and a soaring vocal performance. Another standout, the blues-soaked single, “I Retired” recalls Bob Dylan with sparking harpsichord and woozy doo-wop melodies matched with honky-tonk piano.  Next, “I Don’t Need Anyone” rocks the most like The Walkmen as Hamilton’s voice soars over jangly guitars and a propulsive rhythm.  The album closes out with the nice one-two punch of “Bless Your Heart” with its trembling guitars, swaying melodies and percussion-heavy beat and “The Smallest Splinter” with its forceful guitar strumming and catchy refrain.            
The deluxe edition of the album also includes four additional songs, “Waltz”, “In Our Time (I’ll Always Love You)”, “Utrecht” and “I’ll Never Love Again”.