Wednesday, July 30, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Jenny Lewis – “The Voyager” (After a six year wait, the former Rilo Kiley frontwoman has released her long-awaited third solo album, The Voyager this week via Warner Brothers.  The album – produced in part by Ryan Adams, Mike Viola, Beck and Johnathan Rice - deals with personal themes of love and loss and the title track here is a string-leaden slice of soul-pop with Lewis’ lovely lilting melodies.)  

Field Mouse - Everyone But You” (The Brooklyn-based quartet led by Rachel Browne recently released Hold Still Life, their highly-anticipated debut album via Topshelf Records.  Their modern yet retro-leaning sound is the perfect blend of upbeat post-punk rhythms, pretty dream-pop melodies and shimmering, roaring 90’s shoegaze-inspired guitars.)      

The Black Angels – “Diamond Eyes” (The Austin psych-rock vets first released their excellent new 7-track EP, Clear Lake Forest on Record Store Day this year and it has now received a wider release via Blue Horizon.  The new tracks lean more toward upbeat 60’s psych-pop with jangly guitars and catchy melodies for one of their best releases yet.)    

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Shabazz Palaces – “Lese Majesty”

Lese Majesty – released today via Sub Pop - is the excellent sophomore album from the Seattle-based project from Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler, formerly of Digable Planets.  Gone is the cool Jazz-cat influence that became his trademark, as the new album along with his 2011 debut, Black Up, is full of next level experimental electronic-based hip-hop – thanks to producer Tendai Maraire - but his old school flow, poetic lyrics and distinct butter-smooth voice remains.  Butler, aka Palaceer Lazaro is assisted in the studio by guests like THEESatisfaction’s Catherine Harris-White along with Erik Blood and Thadillac.     
The 18-track album is broken up into 7 different suites of spaced-out and psychedelic synth-driven soundscapes with a tracklisting like this:  

Suite 1: “The Phasing Shift”:
1. “Dawn In Luxor”
2. “Forerunner Foray”
3. “They Come In Gold”

Suite 2: “Touch & Agree”:
4. “Solemn Swears”
5. “Harem Aria”
6. “Noetic Noiromantics”

7. “The Ballad of Lt. Major Winnings”

Suite 3: “Palace War Council Meeting”:
8. “Soundview”
9. “Ishmael”
10. “Down 155th In The MCM Snorkel”

Suite 4: “Pleasure Milieu”:
11. “Divine Of Form”
12. “#Cake”

Suite 5: “Federal Bureau Boys”:
13. “Colluding Oligarchs”
14. “Suspicion Of A Shape”

Suite 6: “High Climb To The Gallows”
15. “Mind Glitch Keytar Theme”
16. “Motion Sickness”

Suite 7: “Murkings On The Oxblood Starway”:
17. “New Black Wave”
18. “Sonic Myth Map For The Trip Back”

Stream the bouncy standout single “#CAKE” here:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Free Friday: Red Fang – “ presents an Absolute Music Bunker Session with Red Fang” Acoustic EP

Steam-rolling stoner rockers Red Fang released an acoustic EP this week - titled, presents and Absoulute Music Bunker Session With Red Fang - as a free download via their Bandcamp page.  Recorded in March in London, the EP includes mostly acoustic versions of “Failure” from last year’s Whales And Leeches album along with “Human Herd” and “Malverde” taken from the 2011 album Murder the Mountains, both released on Relapse Records.  The 6-song EP also includes the pummeling album versions alongside the acoustic versions. 
“Failure”, in its acoustic element, is just as brooding and heavy as the original with vocalist Aaron Beam swapping his growling bark for a Nick Cave-like bite on the standout track.        

Download the Red Fang acoustic EP here:    

For more info:

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Alvvays – “Adult Diversion” (The Toronto indie-pop quintet - with the easy to Google moniker - led by Molly Rankin released their self-titled debut album this week via Polyvinyl.  Produced by Chad VanGaalen, his quirky sentiment and fuzzy production style complements the band and their blend of reverb-rich 60’s surf-rock, mellow twee and bittersweet power-pop for a promising debut.  Bright blasts of horns and catchy vocal melodies burst through the warped synth fuzz-pop of the standout single here.)   

FREEMAN – “The English And Western Stallion” (The former Ween frontman, Aaron Freeman, returns refreshed – after going clean and disbanding Ween - with his new solo project whose self-titled debut album was released this week via Partisan Records.  On it he blends sleazy blues rock with lush, country-leaning psych-pop and the off-kilter humor we have come to expect, but Freeman also showcases a more personal and vulnerable side of the songwriter.)  

United Nations - “Meanwhile On Mainstreeet” (The mysterious project fronted by ex-Thursday vocalist Geoff Rickly and featuring members of Pianos Become The Teeth released their long-awaited sophomore album, The Next Four Years, last week via Temporary Residence.  Rickly and his inimitable voice have never sounded as raw or better and their abrasive throwback hardcore sound and biting, tongue-in-cheek commentary on “scene” politics is a well-needed shot in the arm, equaling out to one of the best albums of the year.)         

Friday, July 18, 2014

Free Friday: Sea Wolf – “Song Spells, No.1: CEDARSMOKE”

Sea Wolf - the indie-folk solo project of singer-songwriter Alex Brown Church - released a new album this week entitled, Song Spells, No.1: CEDARSMOKE as a free download via his Bandcamp page as a gift to his loyal fans.  Though not the proper follow-up to his excellent third album, Old World Romance (released last year via Dangerbird Records) this new 10-track album may be more immediate and experimental but it is just as gracefully orchestral and melodic as ever with Alex’s vividly literate storytelling again the spotlight.    

The album opens with the instrumental “Intro” and its churning cello and ambient programming that leads into “Ram’s Head” with its swelling synths, gentle acoustic guitars and subtly catchy melody.  The upbeat strumming, driving rhythm and bright keyboard melodies of “Bergamot Morning” provides a standout moment as does “The Water’s Wide”, which features a shuffling wire-brush drum beat, atmospheric guitars and cello and a memorable vocal melody.  The album closes out with the epic, nine-minute long "Visions" which may be Church's best, most dynamic and diverse song yet with its ringing guitars, propulsive beat, and sing-along refrain.     
The album was recorded, mixed and produced by Church at his home studio in a four month period last fall and is the first in series of albums he plans to release in between studio albums.

Download Song Spells, No.1: CEDARSMOKE here:

For more info:

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat – Expanded Communicating Vessels Records Edition

Communicating Vessels is the Birmingham, Alabama-based record label owned and operated by Jeffrey Cain, formerly of Remy Zero.  He has released his own musical projects Dead Snares and Isidore but has been signing and spotlighting some of his hometown's best songwriters and musicians.  This week the label released four great and diverse new albums, check them out below. 

Dead Fingers – “Twisted” (The husband and wife duo of Taylor and Kate Hollingsworth released their stellar sophomore album, Big Black Dog this week.  On it they blend shuffling country, dusty blues and folk with close-knit harmonies and quirky lyrics and melodies.  Aside from this band, Taylor has played in Conor Oberst’s Mystic Valley Band and Kate has toured with her sister Maria Taylor.)


Dirty Lungs – “Space, Man” (The Birmingham-based garage-rock staples released their self-titled label debut this week on which they rip through nine face-melting jams with twists that incorporate elements of Zeppelin-like pomp, fuzzed-out surf rock, and elements of 60’s psych-pop and 90’s grunge for an experimental sound that goes beyond the garage door.)    

The Green Seed – “Jude Law” (The Alabama hip-hop group consisting of emcees R-Tist and C.O.M.P.L.E.T. and DJ duo FX and Jeff C,  released their debut album Drapetomania this week.  Forget everything you think you know about rap from the “Dirty South” as they blend old school boom-bap production with smart, positively-minded and complex rhymes.  The standout first single here marries a horn-heavy loop and DJ scratches with sharp-tongued lyrics.)

Wray – “Relative” (Wray create a shimmering shoegaze-inspired brand of atmospheric dream-pop laced with locked-in Krautrock grooves and subtly catchy Cure-like melodies on their self-titled label debut released this week.  The Birmingham-based trio is currently on tour with like-minded label mates Man Or Astroman?.  The single here closes out the seven-song album with a propulsive post-punk beat, psychedelic synths smears and bright melodies.)    

For more info:

Read an interview with Jeffrey Cain of CommVess here:

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

’68 – “In Humor And Sadness”

Josh Scogin, the former frontman for The Chariot and Norma Jean debuted his new project, ’68, whose debut album; In Humor And Sadness was released last week via Good Fight Entertainment.  Assisted by drummer Michael McClellan, Scogin wrote and performed the songs himself which adhere to the raw post-hardcore chaos of The Chariot with startling bursts of noise but forges new melodic territory with elements of howling old-timey blues, classic country and early Nirvana-like grunge.
None of the tracks have actual song titles, instead they are titled, “Track One”, “Track Two” and so on.  In this digital age of i-Pods and the “shuffle” button, I like this concept as it reminds me of popping in a CD in the car stereo, leaving it in there for months playing it front to back only knowing that tracks 2, 4, 5 and 9 are your favorites but everything on the album is killer.    
“Track One” opens the album with a Kurt Cobain-like groan then immediately launches in with rumbling drums, squealing feedback and a bluesy riff for the perfect introduction.  “Track Two” follows with a jangly distorted guitar riff straight out of the 90’s but quickly dissolves with growling vocals and a fractured rhythm.  The two standout tracks from their debut release, the Midnight EP - originally released on 7” vinyl by VelvetPress and reissued by No Sleep Records -  return as “Third Time Is A Charm”, now “Track Three” features a stomping groove, Josh’s distinctive howling vocal style and catchy, sing-along gang vocals from the band Ghost Cat.  “Three Is A Crowd” returns as “Track Eight” a blistering and buzzing ball of cathartic energy.    Another standout on the ten track album is “Track Nine” which offers a change of pace with cyclical blues rock guitars and foreboding single note piano for a haunting, punk-inspired take on Southern Gothic Americana. 
With his highly-anticipated new project, ’68, Josh Scogin delivers something instantly familiar for his fans but something new and exciting all at once with his debut, In Humor And Sadness.        

Stream “Track One” here:

For more info: and

Friday, July 11, 2014

INTERVIEW: Bad Suns – Bunbury Music Festival 2014

The emerging young Los Angeles-based band Bad Suns are set to play Bunbury Festival tonight on the River Stage at 6:45.  Along the banks of the Ohio River will be the perfect setting for fans to witness their energetic, sun-drenched and danceable arena-worthy indie-pop anthems in person.  Bad Suns’ very promising debut album, Language & Perspective was released just last month to great praise on Vagrant Records.
In anticipation of their performance, I interviewed vocalist/guitarist Christo Bowman about their musical influences, remixes, their favorite song to play live and more.    

In the sparkling reviews of your debut album, you have been compared to many great bands and even your label mates in The 1975.  In your own opinion, who are some of your influences?    
“Sonically, we're huge fans of bands like The Police, Talking Heads, The Cure, and hundreds more. Inspiration comes in several forms, within and outside of music.” – CB

You will soon play Bunbury and later Riotfest, what do you like best about playing the big outdoor fests?
“We only have a few under our belts, at this point, but we love festival shows. It's a bit daunting to play on such a big stage, in a big open space. There are definitely moments when you're wondering if people are going to care to show up for your set. So far, our experiences at these shows have been excellent, so we're really excited for the rest of the summer.” – CB

A lot of people are excited to see you guys play on Friday but what bands are you most excited to see at Bunbury?
“The bummer about these shows is that you rarely get the chance to catch other bands' sets. If time allowed for it, it'd be great to see Flaming Lips.” – CB

My favorite song on your excellent debut album is the infectiously upbeat and 80’s-tinged “Dancing On Quicksand”.  What is your favorite song to play live and why?
“As of right now, that song "Dancing On Quicksand" is probably my favorite to play live. It has a really great energy, gets people excited, and all of the guitar licks are really fun to play.” – CB

After your first EP, Transpose dropped, many great remixes of the tracks started to appear from the likes of Peter Thomas and Nicita.  Do you have plans to release more remixes of the tracks from the new album? 
“Remixes are a bit scary, because what they sound like is really out of our control. We record the songs the way that you hear them, because we feel they come across best that way. It is an exciting feeling when a producer does a great job at re-imagining your song. The first time I heard Nicita's remix of "Transpose" I was very, very impressed. We hope for more good ones to come along.” – CB

Stream the Talking Heads-like “Dancing on Quicksand” here:
For more info and tickets to the Bunbury Fest: and

Thursday, July 10, 2014

INTERVIEW: Wild Cub - Bunbury Music Festival 2014

Nashville indie-pop band Wild Cub - led by songwriter/composer Keegan DeWitt and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Bullock - is set to play the Bunbury Music Festival this Friday, July 11. 
They are touring in support of their highly-praised debut album, Youth, out now via Mom+Pop.  More recently though, they released the Letters Home From Far Away: Covers, Outtakes, & Live Recordings EP exclusively via iTunes. The six-song EP features live recordings of their hit singles, "Thunder Clatter" and "Wishing Well," and covers of Beyonce's "Crazy In Love," Drake's "Hold On We're Going Home" (recorded live from SiriusXM Alt Nation) and CHVRCHES' "The Mother We Share" as well as a previously unreleased track, "Shadows”. 
I spoke with Keegan DeWitt in advance of their performance about their non-musical influences, outdoor festivals and more.

You have been compared to some great bands alongside the great praise you have received from your debut album. Who would you say are your biggest or even your less obvious influences?
“As a songwriter, I'm very rarely influenced by other music. More often than not, it's photography, poetry or film that gets me inspired to work. As a writer, it's definitely vital to stay hungry for music, to always be digging and listening and discovering... and that all sits in your subconscious and is certainly present and forms your tastes and instincts. But in terms of direct inspiration, it's usually something less musical.” – Keegan DeWitt

You will soon play Bunbury and you have also recently played the Hangout Fest, what do you like best about playing these big outdoor fests?
“Festivals help keep you excited and inspired to both play and make music. When you are in the midst of a long touring cycle, like we have been this year, you start to feel a bit drained. You play a similar setup every night. Festivals knock you out of your habits. They also give you the chance to soak up other music, meet artists you admire, and become a bit of a fan again.” – KD

I know that a lot of people are excited to see you guys play on Friday but what bands are you most excited to see at Bunbury?   
“Empire of The Sun is a big one.” – KD

My favorite song on your excellent debut album is “Wishing Well” with its infectiously danceable rhythm and retro 80’s vibe.  What is your favorite song to play live and why?
"’Summer Fires / Hidden Spells’ is definitely a song that has taken a life of its own live. For us, it's a very physical song, there are lots of drums, plenty of moments to really connect with the song and the room. Those songs go a long way live because they help you cut through the pretense and affect people. No matter what the vibe may be, a song like "Summer Fires" gives you the chance to up the stakes and melt away any inhibitions, both for yourself and the audience.” – KD

Recently you have released excellent covers of both Drake and Beyonce.  Without giving away too many surprises, is there any chance we might get to hear one of those great covers at Bunbury?
“Very, very possible.” – KD

What does the future hold for Wild Cub?
“Touring through the fall, then we will shut down and I'll think about the next record.”

Stream Wild Cub’s cover of Drake's "Hold On, We're Going Home" here:

For tickets to Bunbury and for more info: and

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Braid – “Bang” (The legendary 90’s indie-rock band released No Coast, their first album in over 16 years this week via Topshelf Records.  The album finds the band refreshed and improves upon their 2011 EP, acting as the proper, long-awaited follow up to their 1998 classic Frame And Canvas.  The standout first single and album opener here shows the band in - dynamic, twisty and energetic - top form once again.)     

Gingerlys – “Jumprope” (The NYC indie-pop quintet - led by guitarist Matt Richards and the beautiful breathy vocals of keyboardist Maria Garnica - released their debut EP, Jumprope on limited edition 7” vinyl via Shelflife Records this week.  Sweetly soaring synths and fuzzy guitar melodies contribute to their very promising shoegaze-informed dream-pop sound.)

Lightfoils – “Diastolic” (The Chicago quintet released Hierarchy, their highly-anticipated debut album this week via Saint Marie Records.  Produced by Sanford Parker (Nachtmystium, Pelican), they create blissfully psychedelic shoegaze soundscapes that lean toward post-rock and 90’s alt-rock with roaring and ringing guitars, glassy synths and Jane Zabeth’s lilting vocals and memorable melodies.)  

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Magic Man – “Before The Waves”

Led by vocalist Alex Caplow and guitarist/keyboardist Sam Vanderhoop Lee along with bassist Gabe Goodman, keyboardist/vocalist Justine Bowe and drummer Joey Sulkowski, the Boston-based synth-rock quartet Magic Man create a highly melodic rush of infectiously catchy and jubilantly danceable electronica-inspired indie-pop on their long-awaited sophomore album, Before The Waves, released today via their new label, Neon Gold/Columbia Records. 
Originally the duo of Caplow and Lee released their highly-praised debut album, Real Life Color way back in 2010 as a free download on Bandcamp that only hinted at the band’s promise.  The time since was well spent as fans of The Postal Service’s synth-driven sentiment and The Killers arena-worthy hooks should find plenty to hang their hats on.
Several standout tracks from their excellent 2013 EP, You Are Here return such as the equally-as-big “Texas” and the pretty, punchy and passionate single, “Paris” as well as “Waves” and the swirling “Every Day”.  A couple of the new songs that stand out are the soaring “Catherine” with its deliriously catchy sing-along chorus and “Chicagoland” which is built upon a bouncy beat with squiggly synths and anthemic vocal melodies.  Later, the upbeat “Out Of Mind” recalls likeminded New Englanders Passion Pit with its twinkly 80’s synths, undeniable melody and booming bass-led beat.  The 12-track album closes out on a high note with the cathartic “It All Starts Here” and its ascending synths and propulsive rhythm.    

Watch the video for “Out Of My Mind” here:

For more info:

Monday, July 07, 2014

INTERVIEW: Saintseneca | Bunbury Music Festival 2014

The Columbus, OH based indie-folk band, Saintseneca released their excellent sophomore album, Dark Arc earlier this year via their new label, Anti- Records.  Led by singer and multi-instrumentalist Zac Little, the quartet create a clattering and chaotic yet highly melodic style of punk-inspired Appalachian folk with stomping percussion, forceful acoustic instrumentation and enough catchy pop smarts to hold it all together.  They will be bringing their energetic live show to the third annual Bunbury Music Festival held in Cincinnati this coming weekend. 
In anticipation of their Bunbury performance, Zac recently spoke with me about some of their least obvious influences, their favorite song to play live and more. 

In reviews of your music, you have been compared to many great bands new and old.  Who do you say are your biggest or even your less obvious influences?
“The Beatles are my biggest influence. Some less obvious ones are The Clash, The Replacements, Guided By Voices, and The Cure.” – Zac Little 

You are set to play the Bunbury Festival after having recently played the Nelsonville Music Festival.  What do you like best about playing the big outdoor festivals, especially in your home state of Ohio?
“Those big festivals seem to do a great job of bringing a lot of interesting bands in. I'm always excited to see cool stuff brought to Ohio. On top of that, if we're playing, it's fun to see a great band from behind stage.” – ZL   

 A lot of people are excited to see you guys play on Sunday, July 13 but what bands are you most excited to see at Bunbury?
“I'm really looking forward to The Flaming Lips! Kishi Bashi will be rad as well.” – ZL  

My favorite song on your excellent sophomore album is the catchy, sing-along “Blood Bath” with its close-knit harmonies and driving rhythm.  What is your favorite song to play live and why?
“’Blood Bath’ is one of my favorites to play live as well. A lot of times we'll include a noise section in that song, and occasionally stretch it out for a long time. I think people don't expect an abrasive freak out thing from us, so it's fun to do. Hope that doesn't ruin the surprise.” – ZL

What does the future hold for the band?
“Continued rocking in the free world.” – ZL   

For tickets and more info: and

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

3 Songs: On Repeat

Lab Partners – “Taking Our Time” (Dayton’s “space-rock” veterans released their long-awaited new album, Seven Seas on Record Store Day via Pravda Records.  Ex-Guided By Voices and The Breeders drummer Jim Macpherson mans the drums as bassist Amy Smith and guitarists Mike Smith and Mike Volk team up to create a thick avalanche of cosmic, shoegaze-inspired psych-rock that recalls My Bloody Valentine with the understated pop sensibility of Mercury Rev and the Boo Radleys.)        

Home Video – “Forget” (The NY indie-pop duo consisting of David Gross and Collin Ruffino released their third album, Here In Weightless Fall last week via Dash Go Records.  Their synth-driven sound incorporates danceable club-worthy beats and nostalgic elements of 80’s synth-pop along with dark yet catchy vocal melodies for an exciting and engaging sound that has one foot firmly planted in the future and one flirting with the past.)

bentcousin – “2014” (The London-based twins Amelia and Pat Innit returned this week with the Dizzy 7”, their first new music since their promising debut EP Everybody’s Got One was released last year on Team Love.  The infectious A-side “Dizzy” is a fun-loving mash-up of hip-hop and surf-pop with jangly guitars and summery melodies while the B-side, “2014” features punk-rock legend and PiL guitarist Keith Levene on guitar for a lo-fi punk romp.)     

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Mastodon - "Once More 'Round The Sun"

Mastodon, the Atlanta heavy music heavy-weights returned last week with their sixth album, Once More Round The Sun via Reprise Records.  Produced by the Grammy award-winning Nick Raskulinecz (Rush, Foo Fighters), the new album sees the band continuing down the path set on The Hunter, as they strip away much of the ambitious lyrical concepts and twisty prog-rock tendencies of their previous albums for a more straight-forward yet still sludge-heavy rock sound that includes doses of arena-worthy alt-rock hooks and looser grooves that have the band reaching for and attaining the stars.         
“Tread Lightly” opens the album and doesn’t heed its own advice with its roaring riffs and soaring hooks.  The single, “The Motherload” pairs a frenetic rhythm with psychedelic vocal effects and an enormously catchy refrain.  The super-charged chug and monstrous riff of the standout single “High Road” follows with its howling vocals, melodic dual guitar solo and sing-along chorus and leads into the searing, Sabbath-loving title track, “Once More ‘Round The Sun”.  The most dynamic track on the album, “Chimes At Midnight” ebbs and flows with a heavy churn before it fades out with cascading guitars.  Later, “Ember City” is propulsive on the verses but lightens up with a rafters-reaching chorus that doesn’t quite fit but redeems itself with several swirling guitar solos.  Another standout, “Aunt Lisa” features the members of fellow Atlanta garage-punk band The Coathangers chanting like cheerleaders singing along to The Ramones.  To end the album, Mastodon gives us a taste of their beloved past with the epic, nearly eight-minute long “Diamond In The Witch House”, which also features guest vocals from Scott Kelly of Neurosis.  
Caught between two worlds – underground and mainstream metal – Mastodon deliver with their riff-heavy and hook-leaden new album, Once More “Round The Sun that gives us the best of both of those worlds. 

Stream “High Road” here:

For more info: