Owen Ashworth used to release his lo-fi keyboard pop under the name Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, but these days he calls it Advance Base.
Walking the line between electronic music & traditional singer/songwriter forms, Ashworth writes minimalist, heavy-hearted, & nostalgia-obsessed songs of longing & regret. His conversational, baritone vocals sing stories of hard-luck Midwesterners & their demons amid swirls of electric pianos, Omnichords, drum machines & samples.
Advance Base's second album, Nephew in the Wild, was named #1 Indie Pop album of 2015 by PopMatters.
A decade-plus on the road, near-constant musical output, and shifting creative priorities caused the revered Austin duo, comprised of multi-instrumentalists Rob Lowe and Michael Muller, to soberly assess the band’s future. What, in the form of Balmorhea, was there left to say? And did they have the energy to say it?
Stranger, the group’s maximalist, genre-leaping full-length from 2012, and the HEIR singles, from 2014, had already seemed to trace the group’s farthest bounds. And, over the years, they’d worked with a roving cast of accomplished string and rhythm players to craft a glassy-eyed, sage-brushed, instrumental Americana that, while celebrated in The New Yorker, Pitchfork and The Atlantic, among myriad other press, and attracting the film, ad, and television worlds — Balmorhea’s “Bowsprit” incites trembling in the credits of the Sundance show Rectify — risked pigeonholing them for good.
Still, though Muller and Lowe sensed that winds hinted at change, they also knew the form of it couldn’t be grasped in the abstract. So, in the spring of 2016, the two longtime friends decamped to Balmorhea’s East Austin studio to suss out what, if anything, was left to convey.
As they had in the beginning, in 2006, Muller and Lowe worked simply and with restraint, letting intuition guide them as they molded 30-plus raw ideas into the 10 elegant, spacious gestures that comprise Clear Language. They eschewed complexity for complexity’s sake, allowing a watery, sand-hued mood to settle over their use of analog synthesizers, piano, vibraphone, electric and bass guitar, violin, viola, field recordings, and, for the first time in the band’s history, trumpet, performed by Tedeschi Trucks' Ephraim Owens. A relaxed, clear-eyed wonder tumbles through these songs like herons lancing through Kerouac’s “hungermaking” fog.
Clear Language was released by Western Vinyl, Balmorhea’s longtime label, in September 2017. The album was co-produced and engineered by David Boyle in Austin’s Church House Studios, a renovated Jazz-era haunt — originally housing a Baptist congregation — that has also hosted musicians from Philip Glass’ Looking Glass Studio.
This spring, in cities across Europe, Balmorhea will bring Clear Language to life with a full band of multi-instrumentalists. Audiences can also expect to hear classic works from All is Wild, All is Silent, Stranger, Constellations — the spareness of which invites comparisons to Clear Language — and more from Balmorhea’s dense catalog, dating back to 2006.
Berdmajik is an electro-soul/pop band from Philadelphia, PA. The music is written by Donnie Felton (also known for his work with Grubby Little Hands) who performs as a solo act and occasionally with the support of Chad Brown on drums.
Berdmajik mesmerizes audiences with soulful incantations cloaked in boom-bap, head-nodding rhythms and rich, electro-pop textures. Berdmajik's sound was born on his middle school courtyard, where Felton would play bass clarinet while a friend played lunchbox drums for whoever would listen. Looping clarinet melodies are still featured prominently in live Berdmajik sets to this day. Our introduction to this new artist comes in the form of his dazzling debut single, Circles, a preview of a full length in the works via Golden Brown.
John Jagos, better known by his stage name, Brothertiger, is a Brooklyn based solo electronic musician and producer. He first took on the moniker while he was still a sophomore at Ohio University in 2009 with the release of the Vision Tunnels EP. Vision Tunnels received significant exposure from sites like No Pain of Pop and Pitchfork and inspired John to embarked on his first full length record, Golden Years, which was released in 2012 on Mush Records. John swiftly followed up on Golden Years with his sophomore LP, Future Splendors which came out a year later. Future Splendors not only took Brothertiger in a new and darker direction, it was also the first record he went on tour with.
Since then, Brothertiger has been diligently writing and recording music for his upcoming album, Out of Touch for which is expected to see a late 2015 release. The new album was born out of John’s desire to create an auditory journey through a metaphorical jungle of emotional states - from tribulation, despair, and fatigue to serenity, joy, and tranquility. Out of Touch captures these raw emotions with its earthy and vibrant tones while mixing in the softer and warmer sounds people have come to expect from Brothertiger. The album was recorded … The artwork for the album was created by John’s father, John Jagos Sr. in the early 80's and ended up being the perfect reflection of the lush and enigmatic elements of the record.
BUHU is the shape-shifting musical brainchild of Jeremy Rogers and Tiffany Paciga.
More than just a moniker, BUHU is a retrospective of their lives and a reflection, or refraction, of their relationship. Nothing is held back, all is laid bare. To see BUHU perform is an experience so intimate that it feels almost illicit—like peeking through a window and witnessing a private moment you’re not meant to get to share. Rogers exudes true feeling on stage, bounding freely and dancing with the microphone, moving himself to the point that his legs buckle underneath the weight of all the emotion and fatigue. He wraps the mic cord around his neck like a noose, seemingly choking himself to get these words out. Meanwhile Paciga, like a goddess Rogers can never quite reach, holds court stoically, majestically, to the side, her throne an array of synths, drum machines, pedals, samplers, and loop stations, which she orchestrates like a conductor, weaving a musical tapestry that’s lush, sexy, and utterly captivating. The juxtaposition of the two performers together is impossible to look away from. It’s music you know somebody’s getting lucky to, whether you happen to be one of those lucky ones or not.
Born and bred between Wisconsin and Texas, BUHU’s recordings might be described as electronic bedroom pop, in the sense that Rogers produces them largely himself. But that term is way too reductive; these are no tinker-toy beats crapped out with GarageBand on a MacBook. BUHU’s compositions are powerful, sonically cinematic, multidimensional, precise, ever unfolding. The songwriting atop that composition borrows from many of the greats both past and present, from Jackson Browne to Modest Mouse, The Books, Tortoise, even Peter Gabriel. The beats bump and the hooks catch. BUHU's music attacks from both sides.
A Busman’s Holiday performance begins with the thump of kick-pedal on suitcase and the tuning of acoustic guitar strings, two affable brothers quietly considering where to take their audience first. They may begin with an exultant and driving harmony or a ballad in a melancholy mode, but not before they have laughed and shared stories with their audience, patient and cheerful, assuring the crowd that they are in good hands. As Lewis and Addison begin to sing, their voices together evoke the Southern Indiana where their music was born. One can’t help but feel the presence of the songs’ characters in the room beside you, the music offering intimate details from vivid strangers.
The Rogers brothers’ appeal has never been limited to a niche audience. Tested on the road for years, playing music at honky-tonks and roadhouses, moth-eaten lounges crawling with night creatures, punk palaces, last-wave folk huts, they’ve honed their skills and free-flowing banter to the point where they’ve been able to endear themselves to all corners.
Chocolat was. Chocolat is.
First came a band bursting with unpredictable rock and roll violence, Chocolat released a straightforward and erotic self-titled EP in 2007, followed by Piano Élégant in 2008, a suavely romantic debut opus infused with rock and yéyé influences. More fierce and fiery than ever, they released Tss Tss in 2014, an album whose expansive psychedelic sound and kraut-inspired repetitions earned the band international recognition and many tours abroad. Chocolat is now well into its second incarnation. On Rencontrez Looloo, the group has parted with its sprawling explorations and moved towards a more modal hard-franco-prog with punk and folk accents.
Awakened minds already know it: Rencontrer Looloo is like seeing the future in the bottom of a bottle of Cherry Coke, or accessing the infinite through the twists of a pretzel.
Introducing our new favorite Cali kvetcher, D.A. Stern, and his debut album Aloha Hola. Out on Twosyllable Records January 20, 2017. this exciting new collection of 11 catchy tunes was painstakingly written, recorded and produced by Stern in his mother’s New Jersey basement. Though formerly a nebbishe New Yorker, D.A.–full name, David Aaron–has relocated to discover all that Hollywoodland has to offer from Canter’s to Langer’s and beyond!
More inspired by Albert Brooks and Woody Allen than any songwriter, Stern, a bonafide cruciverbalist, finds his inspiration from screenplays, comedic timing and especially crossword puzzles more than melody or harmony. Despite its peppy power pop pastiche, it’s his excellent, dark lyricism that holds the secrets of our true, twisted reality. Take, for example, the sugary pop hook on “Miami” that examines the ultra-connected, device-obsessed populous, or the jaunty balladry on “In Pain”, which details the aftermath of a love story we’ll never know.
At its core, Aloha Hola, like a modern Harry Nilsson, Dylan or post-Beatle record, is an album of melancholic love dirges for the loss of girls, booze, New York City and even life itself. Stern tackles these life-long questions of solipsism with a poet’s aplomb.
That’s not to say his songs aren’t catchy, hummable, karaoke gems in the tradition of Elvis Costello or The Jesus of Cool… Aloha Hola scratches that guitar-driven pop itch we’ve all been hiding from our doctor. Listen as D.A. Stern woos you! After one spin, you’ll be harmonizing on these hooks as you’re stuck on the 405!
Mike Mitchell and Nick Wiger love to talk almost as much as they love to eat. On Doughboys, they review chain restaurants and generally gab about grub.
DETECTIVE (DTCV) was born late at night at a party in the Hollywood Hills mansion of a film producer, where novelist, screenwriter and guitarist James Greer met Lola G., French dilettante in the L.A. stoner/garage scene.
Uninterested in mingling with celebrities and bored with the dildo collection in the living room, Lola and James started a conversation about Super-Fuzz pedals and decided to form a band, named DETECTIVE after a Godard film and later shortened to DTCV to avoid confusion with homicide news on the Internet.
With both Lola and James as songwriters and multi-instrumentalists, DTCV quickly had enough songs to record several albums. A first EP, BASKET OF MASKS, was recorded in the Oakland warehouse of garage prodigy Greg Ashley (The Gris-Gris, King Khan), followed by the album HOWEVER STRANGE released on Burger Records in 2012.
After a year of touring, they released HILARIOUS HEAVEN (Xemu Records, 2013), an ambitious double album recorded by stoner legend Steve Kille of Dead Meadow. Later that year, a radical life change and desire to escape the domesticated world took them to the Mojave desert, where they settled in a Joshua Tree cabin and now live as desert hermits.
Desert life inspired the album UPTIME! which came out on Xemu and Lolipop Records (cassette) following THE EARLY YEAR, a comp of their early EPs/singles released by Mock Records in 2014.
In 2015, while listening to Clifton Chenier’s French Zydeco and the Nouvelle-Vague-inspired Brian Jonestown Massacre album Musique de film imaginé, Lola felt an urge to write songs in her native tongue and a new album CONFUSION MODERNE was recorded with psych guru Joel Jerome.
Entirely written in French, CONFUSION MODERNE comes out in France via the underground collective La Souterraine in February 2016 and will be released later in the year by Xemu and Lolipop Records. DTCV will tour most of 2016 in support of the new album, starting with a European tour late February.
Early Day Miners
Over the course of the last 20 years Daniel Burton (the man behind Early Day Miners) has become one of the mid-west's best kept secrets. Mentored by Daniel Lanois at his Teatro Studio in Los Angeles, Burton has put his project-oriented stamp on a variety of important records. Anywhere from early Songs: Ohia recordings to the tribal rumblings of On Fillmore (Glenn Kotche of Wilco's band with the venerable Darin Gray) to the pink noise and melodies of Windsor for the Derby.
After 8 Early Day Miner’s albums and a handful of Ep's and singles released on labels from Secretly Canadian to Western Vinyl, and touring throughout the U.S. and Europe, Dan Burton has relocated the band to New Orleans where work on a new album has begun with a new lineup including Johnathon Ford (Unwed Sailor) on bass and Marty Sprowles (Dreamers of the Ghetto, Hunterchild) on drums.. The band is currently writing a new album and playing live shows.
Grubby Little Hands
Songwriters Brian Hall and Donnie Felton work through a simultaneous sense of anxiety and armchair-apathy with regard to the ever-looming-but-never-arriving imminent doom of civilization, as experienced through 21st century mass media and internet culture. Album opener Dial Tone fantasizes about a hypothetical party where no people are present but automated technology goes through the motions nonetheless. Balancing Act imagines a posthumous interaction between people from disparate socioeconomic backgrounds, equalized by their mortality. Don’t Shoot Straight portrays catastrophic destruction from the perspective of theater patrons. We Don’t Exist embraces, even idealizes, a post-human world. Despite all of the gloomy malaise, there is the persistent presence of hopeful optimism holding everything together. Whether it is due to the belief that their anxiety is unwarranted or to their acceptance of the inevitable, the presence of this glowing thread provides a buoyancy that pervades the entirety of the record. Garden Party puts its apocalypse on a cinematic widescreen and serves it up with refreshments.
“ Aggressive flashes of sound bookended by moments of Zen. On-your-toes, progressive percussion and elegant harmonies.” Austin Fusion Magazine.
Hikes is a band of friends formed in 2010 by Nathan Wilkins and Will Kauber. The two found in each other a kinship based around their shared tension between a youth spent playing in hardcore and metal bands and a recent move to Austin,Tx where they were surrounded and inspired by the booming local scene of indie, folk-pop and electronic music. The duo began to forge their signature mix of heavy and soft styles by playing local shows and trading off between guitar and drums before finding in permanent drummer Chris Long their perfect collaborative partner. Soon after, Kauber left the band and went on to help found art collective and record label Raw Paw who would later release the band’s first two albums as Wilkins and Long continued towards the shared vision of new sonic territory. After adding guitarist Claire Puckett and bassist Colin Jenkins, Hikes released their first full length album “Friends” in 2013 on which they toured nationally and gained a small, but devoted following. Puckett would go on to leave the band to focus playing in the orchestral rock band Mother Falcon as Kauber rejoined the ranks to finalize the band’s lineup. Hikes would release their second, self-titled full length in 2014 and tour heavily, nationally and internationally, before recording their forthcoming album Lilt with legendary guitarist and producer Takaaki Mino (of the band Toe) in Tokyo.
House of Wolves
House Of Wolves is the music project of California native Rey Villalobos, the band name taken from the literal translation of his last name. Villalobos’ music is an intimate portrait of hauntingly sentimental and unreserved songs echoing from another era. Crossing the genres of folk, americana, alternative, retro and personified by delicate arrangements, the music is dark, discreet, and cinematic. A singer, songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist, Villalobos classically trained on piano, falling in love with the Chopin nocturnes early on and whose phrasing permeates his songwriting. Villalobos reunited with producer John Morgan Askew for the the 3rd album recorded at Flora Recording & Playback in Portland Oregon and released on Discolexique in Europe in 2016. Stay tuned for a U.S. tour this fall 2017.
Imaginary Tricks takes an experimental approach to delivering a familiar thump. It’s a heartbeat, with multiple layers of complex sounds, mired in soul and hidden lyrical depth. Welcome to the world of Mike Visser, the world of Imaginary Tricks.
It wasn’t so much opening a map of music and dropping a finger on a destination as it was a methodical and sometimes arduous journey to where Visser is now. It started with the Sacramento, California band Frank Jordan—a tightly wound rock trio where Visser could learn to push his vocal range, the power of a good hook, what touring felt like in shit weather and what if felt like to open for some greats (Grandaddy, Dr. Dog, Jimmy Eat World). He just needed one more turn, one more journey into the abyss—traversing fear, self-realization, and what feeling truly alone was all about—before heading back into the world to share his discoveries.
So here we are now. Imaginary Tricks. Another journey for Visser, but this one feels different. Not that the past didn’t matter—it did. But the future holds so much more, and the new set of songs featured on Skommel lays it out for you to follow. A trip not so succinct that you can make your mind up quickly. Out there in the distance, just far enough that you have time to decide on what it all means.
The songs on Skommel are poignant and varied, from the surefire pop hit of“Night Owl,” which captures the universal feeling of staying up at night, worrying yourself to bits. And there’s the rugged and rhythmic “Lights Out,” addressing the distribution of wealth in the Western world. And in the disarming “No Ordinary Guy,” Visser details his father’s immigration from South Africa to the United States.
Listen closely, and you’re inside the room with him, in the eye of a storm, whipped up by whatever inclination strikes: whistles and wah-wahs, Doppler-effect vocals and alien Wurlitzer keyboarding. For his captivating live shows, he is joined by Harlan Muir, who contributes an alchemy of sounds, combining keys and tape delay. The results are intoxicating.
Much of Skommel was drafted and recorded at Japam Studio in Brooklyn. Conjuring up a romantic picture of a dank and dark place where the songs were pounded out night after night until they took shape would be a cool notion. But Imaginary Tricks songs are written in Visser’s head—one can only imagine what goes on in there—and then sketched out here, in the real world, for us to hear. Can colors, thoughts, dreams and sideways conversations be translated into words and music? After listening to Skommel, it just might seem possible.
Skommel will be available on March 24, 2017 on Friendship Fever.
Jackson Boone & The Ocean Ghosts
Jackson Boone is a songwriter who quietly emerged from the misty magic of Portland, Oregon in late 2013. With the help of producer Riley Geare (Unknown Mortal Orchestra), bassist Randy Bemrose (Radiation City), Violinist Patti King (Radiation City), and a few close friends, Jackson recorded his first solo album, Starlit, in the basement of a green house in NE Portland. Immediately after Starlit’s release, Boone, his five piece live band ("Jackson Boone & The Ocean Ghosts"), and Riley Geare, packed up their equipment and took off to the Oregon Coast, where they spent two weeks tracking a new record by the beach. The byproduct, Natural Changes, was self released in September of 2015.
Jackson Boone’s music has been featured by KEXP, Stereogum, Impose Magazine, and other publications. With his band, Jackson Boone & the Ocean Ghosts, he has performed at festivals like SXSW, Treefort Music Festival, Pickathon, and the CMJ Music Marathon. The band has also toured through Portland mainstays like the Bunk Bar, Mississippi Studios, and Doug Fir, as well as venues across the country.
In 2016, Jackson Boone released a collection of intimate songs titled Lo-Fi Home Recordings, mastered specifically for tape and released on Portland’s Rainbow Magnet Tapes. Jackson Boone & the Ocean Ghosts also returned to the Oregon Coast to track their upcoming third album, Organic Light Factory, due out in early 2017.
Jesse Marchant is a Swiss-Canadian multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and record producer based in New York City. He has recorded 4 studio albums and an EP, Brightest of Feathers. His most recently completed LP Illusion of Love will be released in January of 2018.
Jesse Brian Marchant was born in Montreal, Canada on January 29th 1981 to a Swiss mother and Canadian father. He began classical guitars lessons at age 7 and attended a French Lycée for elementary and high school. He is fluent in English, French and Swiss-German. Jesse attended McGill University, majoring in Civil Engineering and then Finance, before dropping out in his last semester. Marchant moved to New York City in 2001 and has lived in the United States since.
Jesse wrote songs for his first album while living in Los Angeles from 2003-2007. Not Even in July was recorded in Hudson, NY at Henry Hirsch’s church studio, in the fall of 2008 and released on Partisan Records in the spring of 2010, subsequent to his self-releasing it in 2009.
Marchant has produced or co-produced all of his records and performed many of the recordings himself. Stray Ashes was engineered and performed by Marchant alone, in a rented great lodge in N. Argyle, NY.
Bass was later added by Macy Taylor with additional drumming by Makenzie Smith. The album was mixed by Grammy-Winning producer John Congleton and released on Western Vinyl in 2012. Marchant's album's since have been engineered, mixed and co-produced D. James Goodwin, and released on Marchant's No Other label.
Marchant has completed numerous headline tours of the US and Canada, in addition to national support slots for the Mercury Prize-Winning group Alt-J, Other Lives, Nathaniel Rateliff, Sondre Lerche, Rogue Wave, Cloud Cult, Heartless Bastards, Local Natives, AA Bondy, Damien Jurado, among others.
Marchant’s songs have been featured on many Emmy Award-Winning shows, including Gray’s Anatomy, Parenthood, Shameless, The Blacklist, Eyewitness, Bones, Hawaii-5-0, Elementary, etc.
For his self-titled record marchant produced a video trilogy starring Amanda Seyfried and Christopher Abbott. The series was directed by Houmam Abdallah, with cinematography by Zack Galler, filmed on
Location in the desert of 29 Palms. The parts were premiered by Entertainment Weekly and Buzzfeed. Abdallah also directed a video for Marchant’s Only Now, filmed on location in Loch Ness, Scotland, which
was premiered by Nowness. His first video off Illusion of Love, for the song Sister, I was directed by Brady Corbet, whose first film
won 2 Golden Lions at the 2015 Venice International Film Festival. The video features sky-writing by the stunt pilot Nathan Hammond.
For fans of the song and how to feel it. Kath Bloom (USA) is some kind of legend. She comes from a special place where country, blues and folk are made beautifully translucent and emotive. She has a special gift – her voice is delicate and tender, yet retains that raw emotion and hard worn truths that allows each sung word to be felt.
The more you hear of Kath Bloom, the more you notice it’s not just the arresting voice, but the power of the songwriting. “Beautiful” is the typical response—the kind of beauty that comes from truth, musical and the deeply lyrical. There are no good comparisons, but if you like the deep well of Emmylou Harris, the more poignant lyrics of Lou Reed, the joy of Maher Shalal Hash Baz or even Joni Mitchell, you're kinda in the right zone. In reality, she’s simply Kath Bloom: horse whisperer, vocalist, mum, songwriter and a beautiful person.
Her albums recorded with Loren Mazzacane Connors in the 70′s/80′s are rare things, full of songs that float and melt into the ether. Impossibly beautiful and hard to find on LP, but check the reissues from a few years ago . In the 90′s Kath’s music was famously featured in Richard Linklater’s film Before Sunrise. Since then she has been busy writing and recording to great acclaim. Two new albums in the last few years and she and her songs where also honoured on a tribute album featuring Bill Callahan, Scout Niblett and Mark Kozelek.
Mike Adams At His Honest Weight
It’s been over three years since Oscillate Wisely, the debut album from Mike Adams At His Honest Weight. A lot has happened to all of us since then, but it was a particularly action-packed time for ol’ Mike. His newborn son requiring emergency heart surgeries immediately after birth (doing fine now!), his former rock band of nearly 10 years calling it quits, and plenty of other heavy things have helped shape the follow-up, Best of Boiler Room Classics, into one of the most believably moving albums to come around in a long time.
But forget about all that stuff for a minute because we need to talk about how great these SONGS are! And these are real songs, daddy! Verses, choruses, hooks, bridges, you know, well-written timeless songs that at least some of us will be listening to 50 years from now. The same mixing/mastering team of Adam Jessup & Eric Day have returned and have really taken their time to make this album sound like exactly one million bucks. The thoughtful, hard work that went into this record has resulted in something truly special, like a Midwestern Tusk made by fun, lovable people who actually get along really well.
Best of Boiler Room Classics has the subtle, earnest warmth of an album like the Clientele’s Strange Geometry but with the arena-ready grandeur of ELO’s Out Of The Blue. While there is an unforgettable instant catchiness to these songs, there is a depth, both lyrically and musically, that makes repeated listens a delight.
While this is not a country album by any means, songs like “Count On It” and “Don’t Want It, Don’t Get It” find Mike’s comforting words gripping your heart like an old Roger Miller ballad. Speaking of “Count On It”, just wait until those actual strings kick in at2:27! It’ll do something to you!
What if the GBV albums on TVT had been produced by Cowboy Jack Clement? What if The Wonders songs in That Thing You Do were actually performed by The Pernice Brothers? What if Dee Dee Ramone wrote “Late For The Sky” instead of Jackson Browne? What if Todd Rundgren engineered a Cass McCombs record? Find out on April 29, 2014 at your local record store!
Curled up in a nest of fuzz pedal guts, Minihorse guitarist Ben Collins realized one night that his dreams have no meaning. All that circuit wiring, as it turns out, is a harness for trapping delusions.
The band explores that revelation over the unresolved pop progressions of debut EP Big Lack, shrugging off the big dumb universe with a wry tunefulness. Tracked at Collins’s home studio amid tinkerings with a prototype electrode headband, the record leaks out of headphones like slow direct current.
Minihorse's genetic inheritance is a recombination of bedroom transistor wizards like Bob Pollard, cruising guitar rock into the outer valences of space in a shit-can convertible, and the brandied humor of Evan Dando and Alex Chilton, approaching the void with a pack of cigarettes.
Cooing sarcasm over a wallop of scuzzy power pop, Collins pokes at misfit notions of belonging or purpose with a Jason Lytle sigh. “Hollywood painted it black/Wait. Paint it back,” he jokes before the dam breaks on “Drink You Dry.”
Collins and his fellow Ypsilanti yntroverts, bassist Christian Anderson and drummer John Fossum, are giddy with their musical contraptions. They scatter hooks like firecrackers on a blacktop throughout opener “Blueblack” and beat down doors with cool-headed kraut jam “Pinstripe Web.”
With breezy “Thriller”, Collins grips the tape reel, jerking the recording into warbled askew against a hummable fuzz bass counterpoint that coats the band’s keen insight:
"The thrill is not what's gone/It never was."
BBC-4 Radio called a recent live session "marvelous... absolutely beautiful... one of our favorite sessions of the year”, the magazine El Pais declared a Spanish performance "monstrously sad and brilliantly anachronistic…”, & Rolling Stone France calls his most recent release “perfect, just perfect”. For ten years Monk Parker has sung on stages across the US and Europe, in small groups (most notably Parker & Lily), large ensembles (including the 14-man strong The Low Lows), and solo. Under diverse names he has released five full-length albums and two EPs on such labels as Misra, WARM, Manifesto, PCP, Monotreme (England), Houston Party (Spain), & Crippled Dick Hot Wax (Germany); and played festivals from a Flaming-Lips curated All Tomorrow’s Parties in New York to Barcelona’s Primavera Sound.
His seven-piece band’s live shows revolve around a slew of vintage organs and hollow-body guitars that round out a dense, funereal live sound evocative of early My Morning Jacket or Phosphorescent. Featuring members of Okkervil River & the Polyphonic Spree, the intricately orchestrated brass section evokes both stax/volt-style balladry and Neutral Milk cacophony. Stately, dreamlike waltzes a la Richard Hawley or M. Ward build to explosive, gospel-tinged climaxes, and a woozy country narcosis kin to Skygreen Leopards or The Low Anthem alternates with Velvets-style feedback drones & buried noise melodies.
On June 16th, 2015, Monk is slated to release his very first solo album “How The Spark Loves The Tinder" on the Bronze Rat label out of Berlin. Featuring over 30 musicians, with large strings and horn sections, it was recorded over a two-year period of illness & dislocation following the breakup of The Low Lows and Parker’s subsequent move to Austin TX. It’s eight long, dense, heavily-orchestrated songs chart a dreamy path through the damning consequences of carnality & affection, revelling in the novelistic details of romance. “Sadly yes I know just where to go, where to go / Sadly yes we can all three see the bright writing on the marquee”, goes the first line on the record, from a song about a love triangle gone inexplicably right... and the last stanza reveals both the album’s title and the philosophic theme of the record: “How the spark loves the tinder / How the fuel the spark / How the night longs to not be so dark.” Love in Monk Parker’s world, it would seem, insists on flowering regardless of consequences, and all worldly things conspire & rejoice in that lovely, terrifying process.
Palo Duro is the droning, pulsating, technicolor universe of Michael Winningham, a Texas born songwriter known for making music in and around Austin for the last two decades, opening for national acts such as Mac DeMarco, Lord Huron, Balmorhea, and many others.
In Q1 2017, Danger Mouse's new label, 30th Century Records, releases the first single from Palo Duro entitled, Darken the Glow, a kind of William Onyeabor inspired pop song mixing scaling Western African guitars and colorful synthesizers. Produced by Sam Cohen (Kevin Morby, Pavo Pavo), Darken the Glow is just the first taste of a full length record to follow in 2017.
Please look for Palo Duro performing live at SXSW Music Festival, Treefort Festival, and beyond.
Poster Children was formed in Champaign, Illinois in 1987 by Rick Valentin (guitar, vocals) and Rose Marshack (bass, vocals). Jim Valentin joined on guitar in 1991 and Matt Friscia (drummer #7) joined in 2001. They have released eleven studio albums, on various independent and major labels, and one feature-length film, “Zero Stars.” Known for their strong DIY ethic, the band members toured incessantly in the 1990s, driving their own van around the US and Europe, creating their own artwork and T-shirt designs, and operating their own record label. Poster Children were also pioneers in several forms of electronic technology relating to performance art, including enhanced CDs, webcasts, and blogs. The band will be releasing their 12th album, Grand Bargain!, in May 2018.
Psychic Temple is a cult. Psychic Temple is a band. Psychic Temple is a singular vision realized by the some of the finest artists on Planet Earth. While soulless corporations pick off your heroes one by one, appropriating their style and mystique – Psychic Temple is set apart, calling you back to a more honest time. Some make art to challenge their own creativity. That is the Spirit of Psychic Temple.
Formed in 2010 by band/cult leader, Chris Schlarb, Psychic Temple explored avant-jazz territories before pivoting toward folk and soul music on Psychic Temple II. After touring the country with various lineups, a working band took shape around Schlarb’s newfound voice and electric guitar work, perfectly anchored by Tabor Allen’s lyrics and foundational drumming. Psychic Temple III saw the group augmented by collaborators new and old, including Avi Buffalo drummer Sheridan Riley, Minutemen bassist Mike Watt, and jazz trumpeter Kris Tiner. Shifting their focus to adventurous songwriting, Psychic Temple is ready to amass the following that was always waiting for them.
Are you sitting down? Yes? Good.
Now get up, go outside and take a walk. And take Winning Star Champion with you.
See, the music on Ruler’s debut album—hook-heavy, assertive, inspiring—is made for motion. It’s a soundtrack for moving forward, for getting better, in terms of both healing and self-improvement. Built on main man Matt Batey’s lifelong fears, anxieties, addictions and failures, not to mention his preternatural gift for creating instantly classic indie rock, these eleven songs follow that old adage by Robert Frost: The best way out is through. And in this case the best way through is with the volume cranked up all the way.
How can an album five years in the making sound so urgent? First and foremost, it’s the music. At 30 years old, Batey is already a seasoned veteran of Seattle’s high-achieving music scene. The Montana native relocated 12 years ago, intent on tapping into the city’s longstanding creative legacy, and immediately joined a band seeking a singer-songwriter-frontman. Buoyed by genuine instrumental chops but hobbled by a streak of bad luck, the band toughed it out gig after gig, EP after EP. In four years Batey wrote more than 120 songs, songs he says nobody heard. This was his rock ‘n’ roll boot camp. Combined with his talent and ambition, it propelled him out of the collective setting and into solo territory, where a meticulous craftsman like him truly belongs. Finally, on his own, he picked a name that felt triumphant, playful—a fist-in-the-air kind of name. Matt Batey would be Ruler, his first great musical project.
Batey is a prolific songwriter but coming up with the resources for recording was slow going. He started alone in his apartment in 2012 and over the years—and when he could afford it—paid for time at engineer Martin Fevyear’s celebrated Jupiter Studios. All along, the cost of living in Seattle rose stupendously, prohibitively, keeping him and many others that comprise Seattle’s artistic community pinned close to the poverty line and nearly forcing him out of the city and away from the creative populous that nurtured and sustained him for the past decade. Like so many people his age, the precariousness of Batey’s situation has been an interminable struggle and source of tension. He deals with it because the music is worth it.
Parts he couldn’t play himself he fielded out to friends and colleagues he’d accumulated throughout his evolution in Seattle. With a healthy working environment in mind, Batey chose folks who were good human beings as well as fantastic musicians, and they comprise the album’s all-star cast: Michael Lerner of indie-rock heroes Telekenisis played drums on three tracks; Eric Howk, formerly of Seattle fashion-punks the Lashes and currently guitarist for Top 40 phenoms Portugal. The Man, appeared on several; Eric Anderson of Seattle’s Cataldo plays on the record, while Matt has been a member of Eric’s band since 2009. Batey gave direction, they took it and ran. The rest—guitars, bass, vocals, production—are entirely him.
And that’s the second secret to Winning Star Champion’s power: Batey’s integrity, his bravery. He put all his messy personal struggles into these songs and in doing so made some degree of peace with his humanity. That process is what you hear here. Album-opener “Petrified” addresses his pathological fear of the future, underscoring his need for commiseration with layers of yearning vocals and zooming guitars. In the title song, Batey battles—and bests—that obsessive part of himself that wants to wreck everything around him. On the churning, sunny “Obvious,” Batey conflates his ongoing recovery from addiction with his relentless creative drive.
Not long ago, Batey spent months confronting his agoraphobia by forcing himself out of his apartment and onto the vertiginous span of Seattle’s Aurora Bridge. The point was to face his fear in order to overcome it, a grueling process he describes unabashedly in “Unhindered Pace,” singing, “I walk an unhindered pace, through the dark and dingy places/All just to see a hopeless sight, and keep a smile on my face.” Toward the end of the album, “Cars and Houses” is a statement of acceptance: Batey chose a life of creative expression over the pursuit of wealth, and he’s still coming to terms with his decision.
No platitudes or love songs here—only raw interior monologue and deep character analysis. For most us, this stuff is hard to confront and even harder to articulate. Batey’s lyrics are pointedly specific—so much so that they’re immediately relatable. And they’re set to soaring tunes that are beautifully, earnestly upbeat. Amid his brilliance and artistry, Batey exposes himself as one of us. That’s his purpose and his gift, spelled out in Winning Star Champion’s bold, beautiful songs: Life hurts, but it's great, and that’s it.
The music of Sama Dams steals from you most virtuously — it will rob your sense of time and leave you wondering how long you’ve been awash in sound, rhythm, and ether.
On their fourth release, “Say It” — released on Friendship Fever on April 6 — Lisa Adams emerges from the background to deliver commanding lead vocals in her clarion soprano alongside partner Sam and the highly textured drumming of Chris Hermsen.
Almost in answer to the muted ambivalence that marks movements from the band’s previous “Comfort in Doubt,” “Say It” features the trio striking boldly throughout, both musically and thematically. According to Sam, “It’s about being more honest about what we’re thinking and feeling.”
Inspiration came from a year of watching silence make a mess of love in friendships close to the band. “Something seems off — you sniff something,” says Sam. “You don’t acknowledge it exists, and so by letting a small problem go, you allow it to grow.” “What’s the use for pockets if they’re empty?/Fill them up with things you use against me,” sings Lisa on the album’s first track, succinctly summing up the war of attrition underlying a failing relationship.
The band’s hallmark of grooving angularity packs even more punch when partnered with direct pathos, as in tracks like “Driving By.” Melding the wailing riffiness of fellow Midwest native Billy Corgan at his best with the cool synthesizer of a hundred beloved 80s soundtracks gone by, Sama Dams takes their distinctly left-field sound into anthem territory, and does it with audacious and tender authenticity.
The album feels like a coming-of-age for the band, who have been creating and touring out of Portland, Oregon since 2012. Having first pitched their tent in a time and place that revolved around the folky fusion of bands like The Decembrists, Sama Dams now claims a favored seat in a music scene edgier and more eclectic than the Pacific Northwest itself.
The Adams’s, proactive about fueling the creative partnership at the heart of the band, are constantly looking both outward and inward for inspiration. They have toured relentlessly both domestically and abroad since the release of their first full-length album, honing their ambidextrous live performance to a soulful effortlessness that belies the complexity of the music. Their dynamism is infectious, spawning side projects and writing experiments that span states and genres.
Small Houses is an Austin, TX-based alternative country project featuring the songs and poems of Flint, MI-native Jeremy Quentin. Artfully crafted with finger-style guitar and softly sung melodies, the bars of his new album Still Talk; Second City describe the people, the love, and the homes of Quentin’s life.
Still Talk; Second City is the result of a one yearlong effort, borne of the exhaustion from too much time spent moving. Prompted to flee to Atlanta with the intent of an indefinite stay, Quentin’s eight months of living and recording was funded by various odd jobs and sleeping in the car – anything to keep the project alive. All-night restaurants and friends’ homes were among the venues where he recalled the memories of the hometown suburbs that suffuse the album, while shades of influence from poets like James Wright, Jim Harrison, and Seamus Heaney hover like weighty ghosts in the background.
Featuring guest appearances by artists including Mike Brenner (Magnolia Electric Co., Songs:Ohia), Samantha Crain, Erin Rae (The Meanwhiles), and John Davey, Still Talk; Second City celebrates the survival of winning out of “the worst and the longest time” and the drive to create a home outside of the one we already had (“I want something better, mean weather, revelier” – “South, Southern”). Other songs struggle with the want and need to leave, but reveal the need missing, or withheld (“I hear you’re lucky on me, honest, and torn to beat up my 99′′ – “Staggers and Rise”). “Still Talk” eavesdrops on imagined conversations, wished for but never had: “I want to make my real life static, real life when it’s worth, braided veins and a headlight coming, and a real list of words saying, ‘your mom and I still talk’”.
Damon Moon, the album’s producer and engineer, was inspired by the recording style of creators like Richard Swift (Foxygen, Tennis, Damien Jurado) and Roy Halee (Simon & Garfunkel, The Byrds), and took a hand in helping to write and serve as a sounding board across one of his most involved efforts to date.
So Stressed started as a largely improvisational noise band around 2010 in Sacramento, California. They very slowly whittled the group down from a rotating cast of five or so to a simple three-piece ensemble comprised of Kenneth Draper (drum), Morgan Fox (keyboard and voice) and Andrew Garcia (guitar). They then began writing rock and roll songs rather than just flailing and making noise. They released their first EP, Attracted To Open Mouths, through the now defunct Music Ruins Lives label in 2012. They then wrote some more harsh rock and roll songs over a significant period of time and were approached by Meredith Graves and asked if they would like to release these songs on her newly minted, and also now defunct label, Honor Press. They agreed with alacrity. The resulting album was called The Unlawful Trade Of Greco-Roman Art which was released in the summer of2015. At this point, every label that had released any music of theirs had folded shortly after. With flagrant disregard for this fact, Nathan Williams’s label, Ghost Ramp, offered to release a seven-inch album, PC Duster, as well as their second full-length, Please Let Me Know. These were released in December of 2016 and February of 2017, respectively.
Throughout the recording and release of their albums, So Stressed has toured the United States of America by themselves as well as with friends. They have also continued to refine their lineup and as of this moment they are now operating as a two-piece consisting of Kenneth Draper and Morgan Fox. They are regularly joined by friends for recordings and performances.
Some things just take time. Nothing could be truer for Philadelphia’s Suburban Living, a project originally envisioned in 2011 as a solo endeavor of Virginia native Wesley Bunch. Yet, after 5 years and a move to Philadelphia, Bunch found Suburban Living to be much more than solely his own, joining forces with seasoned musicians Michael Cammarata, Peter Pantina, and Chris Radwanski in his newfound home. The resulting collaborative relationship amongst these four refreshed the project and expanded upon the already impressive groundwork laid by Bunch.
In early 2015, on the heels of touring throughout the U.S. and Japan, Suburban Living began writing what would become the band’s sophomore full length, “Almost Paradise.” During this time, a chance meeting with Philadelphia-based engineer Jeff Zeigler (The War on Drugs, Kurt Vile, Nothing) led to Zeigler offering to work with the band on their next recording. “Working with Jeff was pretty amazing. I’d never worked with an engineer that knew exactly how I wanted something to sound without me having to express it.” explains Bunch. The support of Zeigler, as well as his bandmates, equipped Bunch to spearhead undeniably the best Suburban Living material to date.
David Alexander, better known as Summer Heart, blends catchy lo- and dream-pop motifs that capture the soundtrack of an endless summer. Tastemaker blogs and mood-driven playlist curators have loved his tracks for years, with Hype Machine promoting him on ‘Nordic Spotlight’s Top 20 of
2016’ and ‘Hype Machine Favorites Vol.1’ on Spotify. With the 2017 release of his new album, 101, his Spotify pro le is pushing 40 million plays, and his Soundcloud is close behind at 10 million.
The new album tells the story of David’s love/hate relationship with music, best expressed in the song, “Love Affairs,” that acts as both a devotion to making music and as a love letter to someone special. These universal life experiences are musically infused with nostalgia for days of summers passed. Lyrically, Summer Heart songs touch on the transience of summer and the fleeting relationships therein. Hints of Washed Out, Blood Orange and Toro y Moi have inspired David to re ne chillwave sounds and polish them into his own summerwave aesthetic.
On his shift from lo- to electronic dream-pop,
David says, “I’ve always been into electronic music. Many of my very early Summer Heart releases
were 100% electronic. So, the sound of my album 101 is mostly due to my current influences, which are leaning more towards the electronic. The lo- sounds are disappearing because I am improving my production skills, which make me more con dent as a songwriter.”
David assembled his song ideas for 101 on the
road and recorded them back home in Sweden. He recalls, “I was in New York at the time, just hanging out, visiting art galleries and exhibitions, watching people, drinking mojitos and listening to music in my headphones.” Summer Heart is a musical diary of snapshots and memories from David Alexander’s life experiences.
Sunjacket is a four-piece indie rock band from Chicago. In the fall of 2014, Bryan Kveton (vocals/guitar/synth), Carl Hauck (vocals/guitar/synth), and Garret Bodette (drums/percussion) took a year off from playing shows to finish writing and recording songs for their debut LP, after which Jeff Rukes (bass/synth) joined the group.
The result is Mantra, a 10-track album whose songs range from dark, synth-driven pop to layered, syncopated rock, with moments of ambient sparseness in between.
The album, released September 16, 2016, was produced in collaboration with Fraser McCulloch (of Brooklyn band Milagres) and mastered by Joe Lambert (Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Dirty Projectors, Local Natives).
Originally from Los Angeles, California, multi-instrumentalist brothers Joey and Ryan Selan grew up playing saxophone and trumpet in their middle school jazz band. Continuing to play throughout high school, the brothers had a desire to start composing their own pieces. They eventually each picked up different instruments while still in school - Ryan with guitar and Joey with piano - and soon began writing their first music together.
Fast forward to 2015 where the brothers officially formed The Lagoons in Austin, Texas. Over the course of their first year recording and performing together in front of audiences around Austin, the duo began to formulate their sound and build out their live show. One year later, their unique blend of synth-pop, jazz, soul and electronica was first heard on their Summer 2016 single California and was followed up by their Spring 2017 Gems EP.
California has since been featured twice as the #1 Most Popular Track on Hype Machine and was used in a Golf Digest/BMW ad series starring supermodel Kate Upton and baseball star Justin Verlander. The Lagoons are currently finishing up their second studio EP scheduled for an early 2018 release. Some primary musical influences of The Lagoons include Daft Punk, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Radiohead, Dave Matthews Band, alt-J and Zero 7.
The Octopus Project
Austin's favorite experimental pop band, The Octopus Project, is set to return with their 6th studio album, Memory Mirror, in March 2017. The album was recorded by the band, mixed by Danny Reisch (Shearwater, White Denim) & Dave Fridmann (Tame Impala, Flaming Lips), and mastered by Greg Calbi (David Bowie, Talking Heads).
The Octopus Project has been releasing joyous party music since 2002, following a musical path that veers through blown-out rock’n’roll, vivid electronic colors, surreal pop and expansive psych landscapes. As performers they’ve earned a reputation for elaborate multimedia experiments and extremely loud, extremely fun live shows - a practice they’ve pursued over a decade of worldwide touring that has included festival stages such as Coachella, Lollapalooza and All Tomorrow’s Parties, and tours as handpicked support for artists as diverse asAesop Rock, DEVO, and Explosions in the Sky.
Also active as composers for video games and film, they were awarded the Special Jury Award for Musical Score at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival for their work on the film KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER. They are currently working on another film score to be released in 2017 -- DAMSEL (directed by Zellner Bros. // starring Robert Pattinson & Mia Wasikowska).
The words “We will destroy the Earth and all we’ve made” taken in their most literal form appear to be strikingly brutal. Approach it via its position in the opening track on Thunder Dreamer’s new LP, however, and the tone feels altogether more enigmatic and alluring. With its crushingly somber delivery, the words immediately create a palpable and dark romantic mood that sets the tone for the album to come. Indicative of a record that never once settles, even when it opens up into far more embracing moments of splendor, "Why Bother" immediately plunges the listener in to the heart of Thunder Dreamer’s work: ‘Capture,' the band’s most fully realized and affecting work to-date.
Released in May via 6131 Records (Julien Baker, Touché Amoré), 'Capture' takes the stifling small-town isolation that has peppered the bands work thus far — through their 2013 eponymous EP and 2015’s debut LP — and imbues it with the things that have always led to the most endearing of rock and roll records: hardships and heartaches, lethargy and crushing indifference in the face of it all. Absorbing such things from the Midwestern heartland they call home, that tough, resilient authenticity runs through the band’s new record like hot blood through cold, hard-working limbs.
Sprawling out across eight monumental tracks, 'Capture' finds frontman Steven Hamilton in torch-bearing form. Once his solo project but now expanded to a four-piece, Thunder Dreamer specialize in writing songs that feel remarkably human. The emotional connections to the people and places that fade in and out of the record are not just a pertinent inclusion, but a vital one. Even when the band are crafting a gleaming slice of Americana — think Whiskeytown at their most opulent, or Songs: Ohia's rollicking pomp — the whole thing is underpinned by an overwhelming poignancy.
Some five years on from their initial outing, Thunder Dreamer offer an about-turn on ‘Capture,' shaping the rawness of their previous work in to something altogether more complete and substantial; a gritty take on the great American songbook, with its arms and heart left open to all.
Thunder Dreamer is: Steven Hamilton (vocals, guitar), Corey Greenfield (drums), Alex Wallwork (bass), and Zach Zint (piano).
Born in Seattle in 1998 at the tender age of intent, Unwed Sailor is helmed by Oklahoma-born songwriter Johnathon Ford. The basis for the instrumental project came into being while Ford was still writing with Seattle luminaries Roadside Monument. Pulling towards a bass guitar-oriented sound, the songs he had begun to craft did not fully feel right for Roadside Monument, thus the unbeknownst predestined forming of Unwed Sailor. Not aiming for Unwed Sailor to fall into the regular confines of a typical band, Ford's ever evolving cast and crew has been tirelessly composed over the years of good friends and company. Throughout the past decade, Unwed Sailor has shared the stage with the likes of Pedro the Lion, Mary Timony, Low, The Danielson Famile, Sufjan Stevens, Early Day Miners, Minus the Bear, The Advantage, The Starlight Mints, Battles, Mates of State, and Beach House(just to name a few....). The band has since been relocated and based out of cities across the United States, including Chicago, Seattle, Washington D.C., Jackson MS, Little Rock, AR, and most recently Lawrence, KS. With numerous tours in the U.S. and Europe, the band has traveled almost as much as it has evolved.
From their 1998 debut ep release, Firecracker(featuring Dave Bazan from Pedro the Lion, and Casey Wescott from Fleet Foxes, The Vogue, & Seldom) to their 2001 full length release The Faithful Anchor(engineered by Dan Burton/Early Day Miners), the band strived to create side door studies into the pictures behind sound, while opening multiple avenues in the creation of reflective, legitimate, sometimes instrumental music. In 2002, these studies also produced two short film soundtracks for independent film maker Chris Bennett - Stateless (a musical collaboration with Early Day Miners), and For Jonathan, a multi-genre compilation featuring artists as varied as The Album Leaf and Mikael Jorgensen to Jessica Bailiff and Her Space Holiday.
In 2003, the shape of Unwed Sailor changed dramatically as the sound became less a standard suite of instrumental rock songs, developing instead into a full scale storybook tale presented through classical baroque and nursery rhyme melodies, overlayed with organic/toy like percussion. The resulting album was recorded and released as The Marionette and the Music Box; music set to tell the painted "story-book" story of a lonely little marionette in search of a cherished, lost music box. With this change in musical direction, Unwed Sailor composed pieces just as suited for concert halls as they were the hot, impassioned stages of dark night clubs.
In 2006 the band introduced two brand new recordings with Dan Burton(Early Day Miners) once again behind the soundboard, the ambient/Eno-esque EP "Circles", and the atmospheric and brooding full length "The White Ox". These two releases ushered Unwed Sailor's sound into a dark, minimalistic world of Native American imagery, and soothing meditative moods.
These releases were supported by national tours with Me Without You, Murder By Death, and The Appleseed Cast, as well as an extensive 5 week tour throughout Europe.
In 2008, Unwed Sailor combined its instrumental rock roots, with the experimental/ambient sounds from its recent previous releases to create Little Wars. Little Wars features energetic and highly melodic instrumental rock songs, gently colored with layered synth keyboards and percussion. The album moves along steadily with danceable rhythms, melodic distortion, and delicate ambience. Little Wars is truly a unique, progressive, and challenging, addition to instrumental music. In the 2 years since the release of Little Wars, Unwed Sailor has toured consistently throughout Europe and the U.S. promoting the release.