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Justin Vernon
Justin Vernon

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Nina Simone
Nina Simone

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Coheed and Cambria’s upcoming sixth and seventh studio albums
will be a double-concept album entitled, The Afterman, and will be
released in two separate full-length volumes. Musically, The
Afterman: Ascension sees the band perfecting their powerhouse
progressive rock, soul and even pop landscapes. The dual release
also marks the return of original drummer Josh Eppard, who the
band parted ways with in 2006, bringing with him his benchmark
percussive grooves. Coheed and Cambria self-financed and coproduced The Afterman, alongside Michael Birnbaum and Chris
Bittner, who produced the band s first 3 albums, in Woodstock, NY.
The album was mixed by Rich Costey (Muse, The Shins, Foster the
People) and Ryan Williams (30 Seconds To Mars). The second volume, The Afterman: Descension is slated for release in February
In 2006 Lupe Fiasco dropped his debut, Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor
propelled by the breezy first single “Kick, Push” – the best love song about
skateboarding ever committed to 1’s and 0’s. The song itself was a breeze
– an impressionistic jazzy ode to a loose band of characters just looking
for a place to be themselves… If only for a little while. The rest of the album
was brilliant – twisting jazzy tropes and hip hop idealism into a brilliant
bright swirl. Even the album cover was laser bright – idealistic and fun. 6
years and few albums later, Fiasco has made a sequel: Food & Liquor 2:
The Great American Rap Album. This time the album cover is pitch black
(save an inevitable Parental Advisory label). Not one to shy away from
social topics, as evidenced by recent single “Bitch Bad” (a tale of learned
misogyny), Food & Liquor 2 delves pretty deep into a different American
landscape he explored on skateboards only a short time ago. The results
are startling eye-opening, truthful… And ultimately optimistic: But all at the
behest of our opening our collective ears, eyes, and minds. Brother should
be a household name, but like all great treasures much of the value is held
in the dig. Check it out.
“Way back in 2010 I opened my mouth to say that Infinite Arms felt to
me like it was the first Band of Horses record. I was trying to imply that I
finally had the band I’d always dreamt of, that the album was a celebratory debut of this unit. Or was I joking? If Infinite Arms was our beloved
pet that we possibly spoiled rotten and stuffed full of too many “treats,”
then Mirage Rock would be his surprise little brother left on our doorstep.
Maybe a bit rougher around the edges, but the same wily, feral bloodline.
Then there’s the guy who created the environment that enabled us to have
the most fun ever had making a Band of Horses record: Glyn Johns. It was
a natural fit: Given how much Glyn’s fingerprints were all over the parents’
record collections we grew up on, it’s not hard to imagine how Glyn influenced so much of not only our tastes and musical voices and personalities,
but Rock n Roll as we know it: Glyn is part of the fabric of this music and
it’s all been part of us since childhood. And as with all great experiences,
Mirage Rock left us with some questions too: Is “Dumpster World” a joke?
Is “Heartbreak On The 101” the saddest song we’ve ever recorded? Is it
even meant to be sad? Really, I’m asking you. I can’t even tell what number album this is for Band of Horses” — Ben Birdwell
Moon Taxi is one of those rare bands that unites musical ingenuity with
thoughtful lyrics and still somehow manages to wildly entertain and
thrill a crowd. Their new record, Cabaret, is a layered, multi-dimensional endeavor that displays the band’s maturing sense of their own
musical identity. A follow-up to their live album, Live Ride, Cabaret
illustrates the challenges of defining yourself in a world that seems to be
suffering from its own identity loss.
Evoking the musical revolution
of the sixties and seventies, Moon Taxi ignites their eclectic sound with
unique melodies and energetic shows. The band has already formed a
loyal fan base across the Southeast, selling out clubs and creating a
strong grassroots following. The songs on Cabaret are stories in themselves, each contributing to the continuing narrative of ideals lost to
youth and also newly discovered for the future—both of revelry and
social-consciousness. On “Hideaway,” an anti-war protest is heard in
the background. Songs such as “Southern Trance,” “Whiskey Sunset,”
and “Cabaret,” perpetuate youthful visions of campfires, torn jeans,
and a good roll in the hay with the cutest stranger at the party.
Matisyahu guests.
Lord Huron is a musical and visual project created by Ben Schneider. He
was born in Michigan and started playing music as a child, on his father’s
acoustic guitar. The senior Schneider wasn’t a musician by trade, but he
had learned a bit during his downtime on ships in the Navy. Schneider’s
father would bring the instrument out from time to time — most often on
summer nights around the campfire up on Lake Huron — to strum and
hum the songs he knew. Schneider studied art in college and lived in
France and New York before moving to Los Angeles in 2005 to pursue a
career in the visual arts. Music was an ever-present pastime, whether
through bands or personal projects. Passions often intertwined, and
Schneider composed music for various visual art projects over the years.
His work was continually inspired by his outdoor explorations, landscape,
and water in particular. He travelled the world, but it was upon returning
to Lake Huron that all his passions came together – cultivating in two
beautiful (and well-received) EPs and this, his first LP, Lonesome Dreams
– a collection of songs that yield that strange intimacy one finds in larger-than-life surroundings. These are the sounds that are bigger than you
– and nature just sings along.
The Soft Pack are back with Strapped – an adventurous album that finds
the Los Angeles-based foursome breaking with expectations and exploring the possibilities of how they can push their sound. In making it, the
group took to heart a quote from the sage Pasadena thinker David Lee
Roth that goes something like: “The first rule of rock & roll is if it sounds
good, it is good.” This pace allowed them to integrate new ideas and
approaches into their existing sound, not just outright cop them. The Soft
Pack’s pop rock foundations are undeniably still present—nine of the
songs don’t break three minutes and from the first seconds of glorious
album opener “Saratoga” it’s obvious they haven’t abandoned the fuzz.
That said, they’ve also spent a lot of time listening to Denim, Momus, The
Church, YAZ, Grace Jones, INXS, Carole King, Lee Hazelwood, The
Byrds, and Elton John. “Bobby Brown” is an icy new wave number, whose
saxophone solo is just one of several horn appearances on Strapped. For
“Head on Ice,” they layer on the dark atmospherics and capture a spiraling sense of doom. Maybe the most surprising cut on Strapped is album
ender “Captain Ace,” a jubilant space cruiser that jams out to nearly the
seven-minute mark. Enjoy the ride.
Following the success of his award-winning, critically acclaimed
2009 album Truelove’s Gutter, Richard Hawley – former Pulp guitarist, snappy dresser, Sterling Morrison enthusiast, and overall
badass – is back with his sixth studio album, Standing At The Sky’s
Edge. Recorded in his beloved Sheffield at Yellow Arch Studio in
2011, Standing At The Sky’s Edge marks a seismic shift in direction for Richard. Mirroring the blasted industrial sunsets of Sheffield,
Hawley partners his distinctive fluid snarl with blazing electric guitar, spray-painting his audiences senses with a new sound, embracing the ever-changing landscape around him. The overall effect is
hypnotic and psychedelic, casting a euphoric stage for Hawley to
unleash some of his most tender moments to date. Any fan of sophisticated pop should crank this immediately.
Don Felder is renowned as the former lead guitarist of The Eagles, one of
the most popular and influential rock groups of our time. Felder originated and co-wrote The Eagles’ biggest hit - the iconic, Grammy-studded
smash “Hotel California” - along with fan favorites like “Victim of Love”
and “Those Shoes.” He became immediately celebrated for his lyrical,
signature guitar work on legendary songs like “Life in the Fast Lane,”
“One of These Nights,” “New Kid In Town,” and numerous more.
Growing up in the Gainesville, FL local music scene, Don Felder would
incongruously encounter a number of the greatest talents that would go
on to change rock and roll history. In high school, he formed a band with
a young Stephen Stills; Felder also gave guitar lessons to a teenaged Tom
Petty at the local music store, and The Allman Brothers were also local
pals. Road to Forever represents the culmination of a personal journey
of introspection that Felder began over ten years ago. In 2001, he suffered an emotionally-devastating double blow - separating acrimoniously from The Eagles for the last time while facing the end of his first marriage, which had lasted 29 years and produced four children. Road To
Forever is his chance both to heal and forge a new future.
What do you do when you’ve written songs that have been etched
into the fabric of timeless rock songs? What’s next when you’ve
already had several careers’ worth of achievements? You could flip
the whole thing on its head and make a record that sounds like you
started the band last week with your best friends, simply for the
love of making music...which is exactly what Jakob Dylan and his
band The Wallflowers have done. Glad All Over sounds like a
group of 21 year-olds ready to set the world on fire, but with the
wisdom of a veteran band that knows how to let just the right
amount burn. Only then is time on your side, which is what it took
to write Glad All Over. From the Clash-inspired “Reboot the
Mission,” (featuring Mick Jones on vocals and guitar) with its
unmistakable shuffle backbeat, to the pulsing forward push of “It’s
a Dream,” like an old Motown song but with an almost Tom Waits
twist, there’s fresh blood on the canvas. This is the sound of a band
just going for it… But they’re going for the heart as well as the gut.
Check it out… And prepare to be surprised.
Composed, according to Flying Lotus, as ‘’a collage of mystical
states, dreams, sleep and lullabies’‘, Until the Quiet Comes has
the distinct feel of this nocturnal trip. From the twitching descent
into a subconscious state and the out-of-focus time-ether of the
journey that follows, the sound is an unhinged, yet elegant evolution of the melodic and rhythmic interplay that is woven into the
DNA of Flying Lotus’ aural personae. But what’s best about Until
the Quiet Comes is it’s sense of unity – this album could be just
one continuous track – a space-jazzy dream that, while more
streamlined than his last outing, the brilliant and choppy
Cosmogramma, that truly feels like it’s own world. Best enjoyed
late at night… Who knows where it will take you. Guests include
Erykah Badu, Laura Darlington, Niki Randa, Thundercat & Thom
Yorke. Quite simply: It’s a masterpiece… And you need it. Also
available on vinyl.
Ben Folds Five — Ben Folds (piano), Robert Sledge (bass) and
Darren Jessee (drums) — launched in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
in 1994. The trio’s high energy gigs garnering an intensely loyal
fanbase that eventually got them signed to a major label. The
album that came after, Whatever And Ever Amen, was a slice of
pure pop perfection – but the ballad “Brick” brought them major
notice. But you probably know all that. The band parted ways in
2000, and Mr. Folds carried on with a solo career – but the group
stayed in touch. In 2008 they re-united for a one-off performance,
and then got together again last year to record a few new tracks
for a Folds retrospective. It was then the band knew they had more
to say and decided to try their hands on making a new slice of
Power Pop glory with The Sound of the Life of the Mind — the
group’s first album of new music in 13 years… And they succeeded. So have a listen and know this: A portion of the funds generated by album sales, and other BFF items ordered by fans through
PledgeMusic, will be used to support Music Education and Music
Therapy, a charity personally chosen by Ben Folds Five.
The Lost Brothers first met in an old dusty library in Liverpool, England
and noticed they had a lot in common: They both come from Ireland and
having both come from musical families, they had both played in various
bands since a young age and had now come to Liverpool to seek a
brighter future. The pair shared the same love of music (from the Carter
Family to Sam Cooke, Mississippi John Hurt to Dion and the Bellmonts,
Phil Spector to the Louvin Brothers, the Impressions to Van Morrison), and
were soon jamming together in the dive bars of Liverpool when not on
the road with their bands. The pair were regular faces on the Liverpool
music scene and when together, people began to call them, The Lost
Brothers. The duo then de-camped to Portland, Oregon and recorded
their debut, Trails Of The Lonely, in an attic. Returning to the UK, The
Lost Brothers spent the next few years touring and writing, honing their
craft both as a live act and a songwriting partnership, while building a
steady fan base. Along the way, the Losties caught the ear of Raconteur,
Brendan Benson, who invited them to record their third album in his
Nashville studio. It is called The Passing Of The Night and, quite simply, it’s their finest album yet.
Musicians often claim they are giving themselves to their listeners, but
it’s rarely as true as on Ben Sollee’s fourth album, Half-Made Man —
a revealing, deeply moving album that explores a man trying to figure
himself out. Known for his thrilling cello-playing that incorporates new
techniques to create a unique mix of folk, bluegrass, jazz and R&B,
Sollee possesses rough-smooth-smoky vocal stylings and a knack for
intricate arrangements that has brought about comparisons to Sufjan
Stevens. Sollee shares himself completely with his audience, whether be
it by personal lyrics, or his commitment to the environment. Sollee can
often be found riding a bicycle to his concerts (cello strapped to the
back), which have become legendary for their intimacy. Through it all,
Sollee has garnered a rabid following of listeners devoted to his music.
The songs give us the many facets of a human being who is acutely
aware of the world around him and his own faults. The album is novelistic in its scope — we travel with the narrator who reveals everything
about himself as a father, a spouse, a musician, and more. With HalfMade Man, a record of raw power, grace, and wisdom, Sollee is sure
to be measured alongside the best artists of his generation.
One of the most iconic, celebrated pop groups in the world, Pet
Shop Boys have created some of the most beloved hits ever (‘West
End Girls’, ‘It’s a Sin’, ‘What have I Done To Deserve This’, ‘New
York City Boy’, etc.), selling over 30 million records and playing
shows all over the world. Their last album Yes spawned two #1
dance hits “Love Etc.’ and ‘Did You See Me Coming’. In a career
spanning over 2 decades, the duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe
have worked with artists like Dusty Springfield, David Bowie, Liza
Minnelli, Robbie Williams, Kylie Minogue, Electronic and
Madonna. Elysium features twelve new songs that display a warm,
deep electronic sound, and includes orchestral arrangements by
Joachim Horsley, Andrew Dawson and Ben Leathers. Backing
vocals are provided on many of the tracks by veteran singers Oren,
Maxine and Julie Waters (whose long career spans sessions with
The Jackson Five to Adele), and singer/songwriter James
Fauntleroy. Now we can only hope for a stage show that will make
the Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics (in which they
participated) look like Community Theater.
On stage and in the studio, Judah Bauer, Russell Simins and Jon
Spencer have destroyed and rebuilt American roots music with
such ferocity and wild abandon, that it’s hard to believe there is
anything left. It’s been twenty years since The Jon Spencer Blues
Explosion first pressed ‘record’, and twenty years since Spencer
and his A-Team of sonic terrorists tore up the indie-rock landscape
with fever and a visceral, untouchable vision of rock’n’roll that did
for a new wave of blues-punk primitivists what Helen of Troy’s face
did for the armada. Meat And Bone is the first studio album
by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in eight years. This is straightup, Grade A Blues Explosion, mixed by Mr. Spencer himself, with
no special guests. Meat And Bone is 12 prime cuts of raw rock ‘n’
roll, recorded on Sly Stone’s “Riot” Flickinger console at the legendary Key Club Recording Studio in Benton Harbor, MI, and
mixed in the jungles of New York City. Judah Bauer, Russell
Simins and Jon Spencer continue to blow minds with their fusillade
of energy and rhythm, and have once again proven that the Blues
is #1!
James Iha began his career as a co-founder of The Smashing
Pumpkins in Chicago in 1987. He recorded and toured with the
group until 2000, during which time they released ten albums and
became one of the biggest bands of the era, selling millions of
albums and filling arenas worldwide. In addition to his guitar playing and singing, James was also a contributing songwriter. In
2003, he joined the acclaimed progressive rock band, A Perfect
Circle, featuring members of Tool and Marilyn Manson. Look To
The Sky is James’ first solo album in nearly 15 years, following
1998’s Let It Come Down. The album features guests such as
Karen O and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sara Quin of
Tegan and Sara, Nathan Larson of Shudder To Think, and the oneand-only Tom Verlaine (who’s a way better guitarist than ol’
Pavement-hating Ming The Merciless). It’s also worth mentioning
that Look To The Sky is quite lovely – like Elliot Smith all hopped
up on Tears For Fears. Check it out!
Field Report is the creation of Chris Porterfield, who cut his musical
teeth with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and the members of Megafaun in
the now-legendary band DeYarmond Edison. After their breakup in
2006, Bon Iver and Megafaun went on to success while Chris hung
back in Wisconsin, thinking his career in music was over. It was really just beginning. For the first time in his life, he began writing his
own songs, which he spent the following five years carefully divining, killing off, revising, and honing. In December 2011, the record
was created at Vernon’s studio in Fall Creek, WI, where the influence
of Talk Talk hung thick its sizeable tracking room. The result is a
haunting, lyrical narrative that has already garnered a swell of
attention nationwide. Fortunately, Field Report was worth the wait.
Interested in the full range of human faults, foibles, dysfunction, and selfdelusion? You could spend your evening re-reading the DSM-IV Manual.
Or you could opt to spend some time with an even more entertaining catalog of idiosyncrasies: Charmer, the latest album from Aimee Mann, as
fine a chronicler of the human comedy as popular music has produced.
Names have been obscured to protect the guilty, but you will almost certainly recognize yourself in these short narratives, along with the fellow
travelers who have conned, enabled, victimized, or (yes) charmed you.
You might say it naturally follows that an album named Charmer would
need to be musically seductive, as well. And this one certainly delivers its
own charm offensive with a production style that sometimes harks back
unabashedly to an earlier era, three decades or more ago, when electric
guitars and synths walked the earth together in harmony. The characters
Mann writes about tend not to think such noble thoughts, but if art is
largely making something functional out of dysfunction, then Mann just
might be our laureate. She’s the kind of artist who’d rather disarm than
charm, though maybe you’d be forgiven for even applying the C-word to
her bracing musical bewitchery.
The second collaboration between singer/songwriter Kevin Devine
and Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra, Bad Books II finds these
two extraordinary tunesmiths untethered from their respective
brands, joining forces to reach new stylistic and emotional terrain.
Accompanied by members of Manchester Orchestra – with guitarist Robert McDowell also producing and keyboardist/percussionist Chris Freeman once again supplying distinctive album art –
Hull and Devine offer up a series of magnificently etched songs
which light upon everything from anthemic stadium rock (“The
After Party”) and reflective balladry (“42”) to energetic bubblegum
(“No Sides”), gloriously baroque psychedelia (“Petite Mort”), and
whistling big beat pop (“Forest Whitaker”). The real-time sound of
a group of talented friends synthesizing into something altogether
more cohesive and accessible, Bad Books II reveals a remarkable
new band in the truest sense, emboldened and at ease enough to
set out together for places unknown.
After two years and over a dozen tours, Freelance Whales were feeling road-worn and eager to rediscover their creative process. They had
been building on the grassroots appeal of their earthy debut,
Weathervanes, for tens of thousands of miles. To tare the scale, the
band embarked on a many faceted journey during which they found
themselves isolated in West Kill, sprawled with their instruments in
Hoboken, and packed into studios in Brooklyn and Manhattan. What
resulted from nearly a year’s worth of creative productivity is the group’s
second full-length, Diluvia. Whereas Weathervanes was delivered
from the perspective of a child infatuated with a young female ghost,
Diluvia is a record about the possible survival – or peril – of space-faring humans and other arguably fantastical scenarios. Curiosity over
these unknowns has evolved into notions of space exploration, ancient
astronauts, dreams, and natural and artificial selection, with new songs
building to expansive, atmospheric destinations. Diluvia is an experiment in finding the confluence between science and emotion. Their
hypothesis is that such a cathartic place exists, for both themselves and
their fans, and it can be found somewhere in their new music.
Produced by OK GO’s Damian Kulash, Jr., mixed by Dave Fridmann
(Flaming Lips, MGMT) and featuring strings by the Calder Quartet,
Lavender Diamond’s Incorruptible Heart is a sublime, soaring art-pop
record. Pop in the biggest sense of the word — a record made for
everyone - more songs in the cosmic key of love. Incorruptible Heart
matches singer Becky Stark’s angelic, multi-octave voice with a dynamic range of styles. The eclectic spectrum includes a song for belting out
the blues (“I Don’t Recall”); for the dreamscape of dawn (“Teach Me
How to Waken”); for the end of the world (“Everybody’s Heart’s
Breaking Now”); for reconnecting with the world (“Forgive”); for the
edge of the Void (the desolate “Come Home”); and a song for a choir
of angels (“Oh My Beautiful World”). On top of that, the record also
features an unexpected dance number, calling to mind the magic of
Giorgio Moroder & Donna Summer (“Light My Way”). “Perfect Love,”
a silly, unapologetic love song, features guitar work by M. Ward, vocals
by Kulash, and tap-dancing rhythmic accompaniment by Stark. The
album’s epic, psychedelic landscape closes with the sweeping anthem
“All the Stars.” You need this.
With 1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project, Kurt Elling honors
the legendary location that birthed some of the most popular songs in the
Western world. This 11-track collection features renditions of classic
songs that came out of the Brill Building. Some of the tunes on 1619
Broadway The Brill Building Project were actually written years after
their composers had left the Brill entirely. “For example,” Elling explains,
“Carole King, like many other signatories to The Brill Sound, never had
an actual office at the Brill. So it doesn’t pay to be too didactic about any
of this. The Brill is both a physical reality and a mental construct; and
because of that, I felt comfortable casting a wide net.” Track after track,
Elling and longtime collaborator/arranger, Laurence Hobgood, illustrate
the creative fireworks that have marked their work together from the start.
Some tracks, such as “On Broadway” and “You Send Me” glow with
atmosphere, unexpected rhythms, and jazz sensibility. Others, such as
“I’m Satisfied” and “A House Is Not A Home” artfully distill the essence
of the original through a jazz filter. But all of them manage to strike a balance of tradition and modernity that will by now be familiar to Elling’s
longstanding admirers.
Forwards ever, backwards never. In a perfect world, those four
words would tell you everything you need to know about
Sacrament thrash-punk juggernaut Trash Talk. But in a perfect
world, these four furious scions of guitar-wrought destruction
wouldn’t exist. Lee, Garrett, Spencer, and Sam are fueled by our
ugly, and they give it back in spades.
Their new full length
record 119 adds in the always unquantifiable, never conventional
entity that is Odd Future. That’s right: Odd Future signed this band.
How punk rock is that?!? Indeed: Forwards ever, backwards never.
Tyler The Creator and Hodgy Beats guest.
I Know What Love Isn’t came out of a break up, something Jens
Lekman didn’t see as worth writing about at first. The songs began
building from images and memories and soon began to take their own
route, one that Lekman wasn’t privy to their destination. In “The World
Moves On” he paints a picture of a sweltering summer in the city of
Melbourne where he lived while writing and recording the album. It
seems to lead nowhere at first but the aimlessness in itself reaches heartbreaking conclusions later on, summed up by the soaring chorus
“...and you don’t get over a broken heart, you just learn to carry it
gracefully.” Like Joan Didion once said that she writes entirely to find
out what she’s thinking, Jens wrote until he caught up with his thoughts.
And of course they led him right back to the break up. Musically, I
Know What Love Isn’t chooses an economic route. From the vast
palette he created for Night Falls Over Kortedala, he’s only chosen a
few somber colors this time around. There are strings but not a string
section, an upright piano and not a grand. The songs are lighter, almost
aerodynamic. What I Know What Love Isn’t is a collection of songs
that grew to a story that had to be told. A story that is not new, but
essentially human.
On the surface, Murder By Death is a Bloomington, IN quintet with a wry,
ominous name. But behind the geography and moniker is a band of
meticulous and literary songwriters matched by a specific brand of
brooding, anthem-riding balladry and orchestral indie rock.
By Death’s path began in the early 2000s as most Midwestern collegetown groups do, by playing to small crowds at ratty venues and frenzied
house parties. While many of their formative-year scene-mates failed to
make it much further than campustown’s borders, Murder By Death translated their anonymous beginnings into a 10+ year career founded on a
bedrock of five full-length albums, tireless D.I.Y. touring and performing
ethics, and, most importantly, a dedicated, cult-like fanbase.
Since the
band began in 2001, their audience has blossomed due in part to
extended tours alongside similarly hardworking musical kin such as
Against Me!, Gaslight Anthem, Lucero, William Elliott Whitmore, and Ha
Ha Tonka. The overriding sound of Bitter Drink, Bitter Moon is an amalgamation of textures ranging from dark and desolate to upbeat and
brightly melodic, all of it landing somewhere under the orchestrated indie
rock umbrella.
Take a sip… But know this is powerful stuff.
On June 5, 2012, the same day as Venus‘ visible transit across the
sun, Three Days Grace realized they had both a finished album
and it’s title – Transit of Venus. “Some things will never happen
again in your life time” was the slogan created for the album, referring to both Venus crossing the sun and the mood that the lyrics and
music that Three Days Grace bring to the listener. “We went for a
tighter, more articulated sound on this record”, said Neil, the drummer of the band. “The music we were writing was a little more intricate than in the past, and we’ve been experimenting with new
instruments. We wanted to present these new ideas concisely without going over-the-top in ambience and overall production.” The
album was produced by Don Gilmore and recorded at Revolution
Studios in Toronto.
John Darnielle is a human male and American musician who was born
in Indiana. Alone or in collaboration with others, he has been known as
the Mountain Goats since 1991. He has written almost 600 songs now,
and some of them are very sad, dealing with hard drugs and tragic ends,
hurting yourself and others, sicknesses of both body and brain, off-brand
alcohols. They are told in beautiful, unnerving, specific detail, because
John Darnielle is a very good writer, and also some of them are just true
stories about his own life. But many have noted that John Darnielle seems
often very happy, and his demeanor on stage is almost exclusively
unhaunted, ecstatic. Anyone who reads his Twitter feed knows he takes
great delight in his delights: vegan cooking, fat babies, hockey, the beautiful alchemy of Chemex coffee, Anonymous 4, playing music for people,
loaning out socks when the time comes, basements. These are the consolations; and if some of his songs suggest that there are real hells on earth,
other songs remind that the heavens are equally close at hand.
(Sometimes they are even the same songs.) Transcendental Youth is full
of songs about people who madly, stupidly, blessedly won’t stop surviving, no matter who gives up on them.
In 2008, Daniela Gesundheit of Snowblink moved from San
Francisco to Toronto, irreversibly altering Snowblink from a whimsical warm-weather band touting four male backup singers (two of
whom were MGMT) to the current acclaimed duo with Dan
Goldman (Luxury Pond). Snowblink quickly became “one of the
most compelling new voices on the Canadian scene” (CBC), opening for Jeff Tweedy, Owen Pallett, Timber Timbre, Ohbijou, Great
Lake Swimmers, and The Hidden Cameras on extended tours
throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. Gesundheit wrote Inner
Classics first on the icy shores of Lake Erie and then on the sunny
shores of Malibu. The album title is taken from the traditional
Chinese medicine text, ”Inner Classic,” or “Huang Di Nei Jing,”
written by several anonymous authors between 300 and 100
B.C.E. Inner Classics was recorded in Toronto and Montreal with
co-producer Chris Stringer (Timber Timbre / Ohbijou). The result
is an absolutely stunning album that is both haunting and hopeful,
centered around Gesundheit’s gorgeous voice, which Interview
Magazine called “inhumanly smooth.”
As a real, genuine kid, long before he became Kid Koala, Eric San wanted an E-mu SP-1200 sampler – the Ark of the Covenant of hip hop production, used by his idols and heroes and imbued with legendary, almost
supernatural, audio powers by rap aficionados worldwide.
Unfortunately, he worked out he would have to deliver around eight million newspapers to buy one. Now, having hit his thirties, Eric finally has
the machine he always craved. Of course, music production has largely
moved on, so Eric began working out what he could do with it - a kind
of reverse engineering back to his childhood self. Over three days he cut
up and reassembled the bed tracks for 12 Bit Blues. No sequencing software was used. Using the pads on the machine and a multitrack, Eric
played each part of the tracks in real time, before finally returning and
adding cuts over the top. The result is a really raw, immediate and
strangely beautiful album, much like the music it draws on for its inspiration. This is the music, ripped and scratched and distressed until all those
souls sold down the crossroads rise up and send shivers down your spine.
And notice the package: You can turn this CD into a real, live record player for making scratches of your own. Try downloading that!
Forever fascinated by the purest possibilities of sound, since forming in
2001 Efterklang have consistently adjusted their sonic modus operandi to suit very specific inspirations. But Piramida is perhaps the band’s
greatest achievement. Its roots were laid in 2010, when the band first
saw photographs of a forgotten settlement lying, slowly dying, on
Spitsbergen, an island of the Svalbard archipelago midway between
the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole. This ghost town, which
the trio eventually visited in August 2011 would give their fourth album
its title, and comprise the conceptual catalyst for its contents. When the
band returned home, nine days later, they’d accumulated just over
1,000 field recordings from the many and varied environments they
explored in Piramida. Now, what might sound like an organ of some
kind on the track “Sedna” is actually a combination of recordings from
the aforementioned fuel tank and grand piano – but it’s only at an
atomic level that these elements remain, so delicately have they been
synthesized into a workable instrument. Throughout, the album contains
sounds that quite simply have never been heard before. What you’re
hearing is a very singular kind of sonic alchemy. Check it out.
After three years of touring and world-wandering in the wake of
2007’s The Golden Hour, Firewater ringleader Tod A finally
touched down in Istanbul, Turkey. “The city is fascinating. It s a
melting pot a lot like NYC,” Tod says of his new hometown. ”And
with the revolutions going on all around, I knew we should record
here.” International Orange!, produced by Tod A and mixed by
Tamir Muskat of Balkan Beat Box, carries on from where The
Golden Hour took off, slipping across new borders into uncharted
territory. International Orange! continues in the proud Firewater
tradition of cultural and stylistic mash-ups. High-energy Turkish percussion drives jagged guitars and horns on eleven anthems of frustration and hope, movement and transformation. The songs tap into
grooves as disparate as Turkish maqsoum, Punjabi bhangra,
Jamaican ska, Greek rebetiko, classic punk and old-school mambo.
Muskat’s mixing aesthetic draws on everything from the Bollywood
excess of 60s-era R.D. Burman to the early dub experiments of King
Tubby. Yet the team manages to meld all these flavors into a cohesive whole, as only they can do.
This is Miggs though the eyes of Don Miggs: East coast, life, Rolling Stones,
guitars, girls, local shows, euphoria, 4-man band, death, heartbreak, no
money, school, marriage, record deal, tour, tour, tour, 10-minutes of fame,
no more record deal, 4 band members down to one, U2, west coast, car
and a trunk, 3 band members, tour, tour tour, record deal, offers 12-minutes
of fame, add a guitarist, lose a drummer, divorce, no money, school, lose a
drummer, work, girlfriends, tour, little bit of money, van and trailer, national
tours, record deal, marriage, become a three piece, have kids, lose a drummer, bus-no trailer, national tours, play in front of 10,000 people, play in
front of 10 people, find perfect drummer, add the right guitarist, same bass
player, same singer, more drive, more ambition, better at the craft, survived
the roller coaster, ready for our close up, hungrier for your attention, the list
can go on and it does end result we are here! This album is in your hands
and if you re wanting a little rock a little rock, a little pop, a sprinkle of
Americana, a dash of nostalgia, and have it all held together with lyrics that
don’t make you dumber as you listen then welcome. This is a band on the
corner of a new crossroads, 15th & Hope, and YOU can be the difference
as to which way they go.
Defying any definitions of age, Ephrata, P.A.’s Texas in July have
already toured the country and back, sharing stages with everyone
from The Devil Wears Prada and Every Time I Die to August Burns
Red and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster – all before the entire
band had graduated from high school. With the two youngest
members walking across the graduation stage this year, Texas in
July and a new self-titled album, they are about to charge headfirst into living out their dreams full-time. The band is comprised of
Alex Good (vocals), Ben Witkowski (bass), Adam Gray (drums)
and Christian Royer (guitar). By balancing their sensitive expressions of faith with some of metalcore’s most ferocious and in-yourface vocals and breakdowns, the band is well on their way to making a name for themselves and to putting small-town-Pennsylvania
on the map!
Fight or Flight, is the fifth studio album by American rock gods
Hoobastank. Produced by Gavin Brown, the album features eleven new
studio tracks including first single, “This Is Gonna Hurt” which, of
course, rock as f**k! The release of Fight or Flight marks the band’s
newfound independence and the opportunity to move forward on their
own terms. That’s right: Hoobastank are now indie rockers! “We’ve
been on this journey for a long time now,” says singer Doug Robb. “It’s
like a clean slate, but not in a bad way—quite the opposite. We’re no
longer trying to satisfy others, not even on a subconscious level; we’re
comfortable in our own skin. It’s not about ‘we’re the smartest people in
the world and the only people that could make those decision.’ It’s about
being able to make those decisions. There were some different things
discussed, there were a lot of different options. One of the options and
the one we ended up taking was through management. So our management ends up being our own little record label. We outsourced some
things that would normally be in house and got the ball rolling.” But this
isn’t a band whose songs are for your brain – they’re for your heart.
In the early 1970s, Brazilian popular music was approaching a high
water mark of creativity and popularity. Artists like Elis Regina were delivering top-shelf Brazilian pop, while tropicalists like Os Mutantes (see
World Psychedelic Classics 1) were entertaining the college set with
avant-garde fuzz-pop poetry. Enter Tim Maia with a massive cannonball
into the pool. Standing just 5’7 (6 with the Afro) Tim Maia was large,
in charge and completely out of control. He was the personification of
rock star excess, having lived through five marriages and at least six children, multiple prison sentences, voluminous drug habits and a stint in an
UFO obsessed religious cult. Tim is also remembered as a fat, arrogant,
overindulgent, barely tolerated, yet beloved man-child who died too
young at the age of 55. Tim Maia changed the game, introducing modern black music from the U.S. to national pop music, linking funk and
baiño, bringing soul closer to bossa nova and opening windows and
doors to new forms. Nobody Lives Forever: The Existential Soul of Tim
Maia collects the best of Maia’s music – and it wasn’t easy: Luaka Bop –
the label co-founded by David Byrne – has been trying to release this
record for a decade. But it was worth the wait… You need this.
Revered by many, including Meshell Ndegeocello, Nina Simone was not
only talented in her work but was a proud, black, female musician during
a time when black female voices were often silenced. Holding similar
ideals to Simone’s refusal to be owned by genre, industry or expectation,
Meshell has stepped away from trying to explain herself. After 20 years
in the industry and 9 previous records under her belt, Meshell
Ndegeocello has made a name for herself, earning critical acclaim and
continuous respect. After only ten days in the studios of guitarist Pete Min,
this album was born, reflecting Meshell’s admiration for the pioneering
work of an artist who refused to be owned by genre, industry, or expectation. Guests on the Pour une âme souveraine include Sinead
O’Connor, Lizz Wright, and Cody ChesnuTT. Revered by Meshell, Nina
Simone was a powerful influence both musically and politically. Her music
was highly instrumental in the fight for equal rights in the United States.
“She wanted success, was pressured to make hits, but her own sound was
still irrepressible,” explains Meshell. “She had things to say, she protested. She was a loud, proud black, female voice during a time when black
female voices were not encouraged to make themselves heard.”
Jon Samuel is a Canadian musician who currently plays in the Juno
award winning Wintersleep. In 2001 he began his career as a
recording artist with the Halifax based band Slight Return who
released their debut album You Are Not Our Demographic on the
Quebec math rock label Matlock Records. Along the way he joined
Contrived for their second full length record Dead Air Verbatim and
the subsequent Blank Blank Blank album. In the spring and summer
of 2011, along with fellow band mates Tim D. Eon and Loel
Campbell, Samuel began recording his debut solo effort First
Transmission. Musically these are a collection of pop songs build on
very few chords with scrappy instrumentation and playful vocal harmonies. Lyrically First Transmission offers a glimpse into Samuel’s
interests: News headlines, film and television dialog, politics and
religion. The album title is a reference to SETI scientists who search
for signs of intelligent life in space. First Transmission is as focused
on the singer/songwriter aspects of making a solo record as it is in
adding layers textures to simple arrangements – and it’s a true work
of art.
Hailing from the British Midlands, Joanne Shaw Taylor was discovered at
age 16 by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, who recruited her to play guitar in his side-project D.U.P. Tours with Stewart and fellow band members
Jimmy Cliff, Candy Dulfer and Mudbone Cooper provided a first taste of
the international stage. Taylor then spent several years developing her
craft as a guitarist and, in particular, as a singer and writer of original
material. She recorded her debut, White Sugar, with Grammy-winning
producer Jim Gaines - a direct link to two of her greatest guitar heroes,
Albert Collins and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Almost Always Never is the
sound of a bar being raised. Rather than riff on the same themes as her
feted past albums, White Sugar and Diamonds In The Dirt, this third
collection finds Joanne dodging expectations, writing the songs her muse
dictates, diving in at the deep end with just her talent to keep her afloat.
Recording in Austin, Texas, these 12 cherished cuts were nailed alongside
Mike McCarthy – the producer whose gold-plated CV takes in everyone
from Patty Griffin to Spoon – and the crack session team of David Garza
(keyboards), Billy White (bass/slide guitar) and J.J. Johnson (drums). As
you’ll gather from a cursory spin: They aced it.
Kendra Morris grew up imbued with a sense of music—her parents
played in bands together, and she often broke into their cabinets full of
vinyl to listen to their favorite records. As Marvin Gaye, the Spinners,
War, Stevie Wonder, Jackson 5, and the Temptations washed over her,
they soon became hers too. After studying musical theater at a performing arts high school and deciding not to pursue it, Morris half-heartedly went to college in Tampa. She spent less time studying than singing
in bands, which ultimately led to her flunking out. In 2003, Morris
moved to New York. She came across an eight-track recorder and
made 2 EPs of raw, earnest soul. Another secondhand find that marked
Morris’s path was a Sharp GF-777—the Holy Grail of boomboxes
made famous by ’80s hip-hop (and, namely, Run-DMC). Once again,
she innovated and incorporated it into her live shows, lugging it, her
loop pedals and guitars all over the Lower East Side. It was in this fashion she was discovered and given the chance to a make her debut longplayer. Inspired in name by wailing female demons from Irish folklore,
Banshee is an amalgam of stories, both imagined and Morris’s own.
Mark Eitzel of American Music Club returns from his longest absence
with his sixth solo album (as well as 9 albums with AMC), Don’t Be A
Stranger —and it’s his best solo work to date. Over the last three years
Mark’s life was thrown upside down. While working on demos to the
new American Music Club album tragedy struck with Mark suffering a
serious heart attack that forced him to bed rest for months where he reevaluated his life. Mark decided the demos would work better as solo
project than an AMC album and abandoned the recordings. Then luck
struck, a funder who had just won the lottery decided to lend Mark a
hand by loaning him the money to record his album in a proper studio
with an outside producer, real strings, real everything. The producer
that brought Mark’s vision was the brilliant Sheldon Gomberg (Rickie
Lee Jones, Ron Sexsmith). Don’t Be A Stranger is Mark’s first properly produced solo album of new material since The Invisible Man in
2001. Guests include Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello and the Attractions)
on drums and Vudi from American Music Club on guitar.

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