There is no band, no song, no video, no sound, that is more “now” than AJR.
The band — three brothers born and raised in New York City — has achieved a startling quick level of success with “I’m Ready,” a buoyant electro-pop single that’s taking off. The numbers: over 1 million YouTube views for “I’m Ready,” thousands of singles sold each week, features in Billboard and the New York Post, and heavy airplay on pop radio’s coveted SiriusXM “Hits 1.” And their tour dates last fall included shows with The Wanted, Demi Lovato, and Hoodie Allen. More amazing? They’ve done this all on their own.
No pop svengali overseeing their work. No studio musicians filling in the blanks. No Max Martin co-write.
AJR may, in fact, be the first independent, DIY pop group from New York to make a splash. They’re certainly the only group that’s done it while writing, recording and producing all their own songs in their Chelsea living room. Their ‘I’m Ready’ EP includes “I’m Ready,” along with quintessential NY songs “Woody Allen,” “Growing Old on Bleecker Street,” and the anthemic “After Hours.”
So let’s meet the intriguing Met brothers — Adam (bass/vocals), a 23-year old Columbia graduate. Ryan (guitar/piano/vocals), a bespectacled 20-year old Columbia student who serves as the band’s main songwriter. And Jack (vocals/guitar), the 16-year old prodigy who splits time between lead vocals and attending the Professional Children’s School on NYC’s Upper West Side.
Eight years ago, the brothers got their musical start busking in Central Park and Washington Square, singing Jackson 5 covers, and, later, their own material.
Admittedly, the brothers were no strangers to the spotlight: All three were into theater from a young age, and two of them have TV and movie work in their background (Ryan had a small role on “Chappelle’s Show,” while Jack was in “The Pink Panther”).
But music was their passion. “We realized that the three of us could sing together and our voices worked really well harmonizing,” Adam remembers.
They took those busking earnings to buy musical equipment, which they — thanks to some supportive parents — set up in their living room, now transformed into a recording studio.
“When we’re playing, you can hear it in the entire hallway,” says Jack. “It’s actually really amazing we haven’t gotten complaints.”
As they were practicing, some interesting sounds started to appear. “We were combining older music, from the ’50s and ’60s, with more modern music,” explains Ryan, who dubs their sound as both “electric and folksy.”
Their break came last year. Bored in a psychology class, Ryan tweeted out a link of an earlier version of their video for “I’m Ready” to dozens of celebrities. The song was something Ryan actually wrote while stuck in his Columbia dorm room during Hurricane Sandy. (“I thought it was instantly a hit,” his brother Jack would later admit.)
Apparently, some of those celebrity tweeters heard a hit as well, including popular singer-songwriter Sia, who tweeted back and, eventually, formed a bond with the brothers.
From those first few mentions, “I’m Ready” took on a life of its’ own. The “Spongebob Squarepants”-sampling pop track, which Billboard favorably compared to Beach Boys and Simon & Garfunkel (for the harmonies) and Fun and Imagine Dragons (for the electro-pop influences), started getting play on Sirius XM’s “20 On 20.”
The amazing music video for “I’m Ready” soon followed and the views continue to jump at an incredible rate. At heart, the video is performance based but mixed with a cornucopia of social media tropes and, concurrently, acting as a commentary on the band’s own rise to fame (very meta for a pop band). It was, as one fan described, “something that could only be made right now.”
What’s next: The band was just named iHeartRadio’s Artist of the Month for Top 40, and a Myspace “One to Watch” in February, which is when “I’m Ready” will officially impact pop radio. And this summer, AJR will release their debut album, all written, produced and mixed in their living room. As one article described the early results: “Sticky-sweet pop melodies with vintage barber shop vocals [and] edgier electronic samples and ‘spokestep’ [aka dubstep breakdowns derived from vocals].”
Ask AJR about their rise to fame—and their apparent lack of band turmoil— and the band points to the one thing that’s always united them.
“The fact that we’re brothers helps,” says Ryan. “Because we’re so close to each other, it’s not really an ego battle anymore. It’s just, let’s find the best possible answer and create the best possible music.”
2013 has been an explosive year for Nashville sextet Alanna Royale and
with the speed of a runaway train; they show no signs of stopping. On August 14th,
2012 Alanna Royale arrived at The Basement in Nashville to play their first show
without even a demo in hand and left that night with a room full of fans. After that
first electric show, the word was out and Nashville was ready to embrace them
with open arms. With a bombastic live performance, a handful of performances,
and a growing fan base, Royale’s reputation continued to spread without even one
recorded song. It was five months later in January 2013 when they released their
debut EP Bless Her Heart at a sold out show and confirmed everyone’s suspicions
that they were ready for something bigger. Once Mike Grimes, the owner of the
famous record store declared Royale the “next big thing” coming out of Nashville,
Royale has worked tirelessly to live up to the hype.
Picking and choosing their favorite elements of soul, funk, Motown, and
straight up Billboard pop, Alanna Royale has assembled their own unique style out
of many. Not quite soul but not quite rock, Royale shines brightest when marrying
their dirty rock n’ roll attitude with their smooth, retro roots. Sharing the stage
with some of Nashville’s best and brightest stars of all genres, Royale seems right at
home whether playing with a bluegrass band or a garage rock trio. Fronted by the
larger than life personality of Alanna Quinn-Broadus the band is led fearlessly with
quaking vocals and off the cuff sass. Known for her edgy attitude she will steal your
heart, sing it a love song, and break it all in one set. While Alanna might draw you in,
she is not alone in the act. It is the band as a whole that keeps you there. Backed by
a solid rhythm section and a bouncing two-piece horn section, Alanna Royale lays
down the groove, keeps the beat pulsing, and forces you along for the ride.
In just a little over a year, Royale has made appearances at Bonnaroo, Austin
City Limits Festival, East Nashville Underground, Grimey’s Record Store Day, Music
City Roots, Scenic City Roots, and Nashville Gay Pride. They have been featured in
Garden & Gun, Nashville Lifestyles, on NPR, and in a podcast spotlight with The
Across the country, word of Royale’s dirty pop/raunchy soul has begun to
spread and you can expect them to be turning heads everywhere they go. In such
a short time, they have managed to not only plant their feet firmly in a community
flooded with talented musicians but stand out among them. This winter Royale will
premiere their newest song “Phantom Limb” and then head to the studio to record
their debut full length. Alanna Royale has just begun on an unstoppable journey and
there’s no telling where they might be headed next.
The band’s initials, a new morning, an analogue radio frequency and an existential statement – the title of Arctic Monkeys’ fifth album AM suggests all of those things and more. And the record itself lives up to this pithily resonant billing by being, in drummer Matt Helders’ typically forthright estimation, “the album we’ve always been waiting to make”.
It starts with a sumptuously squelchy synthetic-sounding beat. This turns out to have been built out of all too human body parts, as all four Arctic Monkeys got together to contribute foot-stamps and knee-slaps – “which might make people think of Lederhosen,” admits frontman Alex Turner, “but really it’s the antithesis of that… and there was no bunting either.”
So AM”s opening moments eschew the queasy camaraderie of the ersatz hoedown in favour of a tautly compressed human pulse? “We wanted to come up with a different sort of clap”, Turner explains, “and the way Tchad Blake mixed it makes it sound like someone banging their head against a sci-fi force-field”.
“I like the way it feels dead wooden”, chimes in Matt Helders, in the unabashedly earth-bound spirit of drummers from time immemorial. And this exuberant collective attention to aural detail carries through each of AM’s 12 songs. Whether it’s the En Vogue-worthy backing vocals of “One For The Road”, the crunching Black Sabbath drum-lurch of “Arabella” or the maudlin pedal-steel of “No 1 Party Anthem”, ear-catching particulars never stand out for their own sake but constantly add to the greater glory of the whole.
And since meticulous sonics are no use without tunes, AM has those in clubs. From the lilting space age come-on of “Do I Wanna Know?” to the heady swoon of “Mad Sounds” to “Snap Out Of It”‘s blatantly irresistible chorus, this is an album to sing along with even as you’re wondering if the lyrics can really be as good as they sound, before finding out on next hearing that they’re actually even better than your first thought.
Alex Turner’s reputation as a phrase-maker has been assured since the headlong rush of Arctic Monkeys’ early singles drove them to the fastest selling debut album of any British band in history. Still very much present and correct five albums in are the chewy verbal gobbets – “summat in your teeth”, “simmer down and pucker up” – which continue to release their flavour through multiple mastications. Ditto Turner’s way with a killer two-liner ( “Been wondering if your heart’s still open/And if so I wanna know what time it shuts” and “That place on memory lane you liked looks the same/But something about it’s changed” being two especially fine examples).
But what marks AM out as a real step forward in Alex Turner’s songwriting is the languid elegance with which these lyrics unfurl – easing seamlessly from verse into chorus and back again with the insidious logic of Jay-Z’s finest flows. Internal rhymes and alliteration abound, their effect intensified by Turner’s insinuating crooner’s delivery. He lingers tenderly over lines like “RU Mine?”‘s “She’s a silver lining lone ranger riding through an open space in my mind” as if making them scan was the easiest and most natural thing in the world.
“There was a lot of sitting up on my own all night long battling with the puzzle this time – probably more than before”, Turner admits. “I had a dartboard in the back garden and I’d throw arrows as I’d sit there trying to write. There was definitely some symmetry in how the words were going and where the darts would land – a fair amount of missing the board altogether brought me the occasional treble twenty”.
Recorded in a small East Hollywood studio with long term collaborator James Ford riding the faders, the third album Arctic Monkeys have made in their adopted home of LA takes the best elements of its two predecessors and gives them an entirely fresh twist. In terms of AM’s overall sound, it would be stretching a point a little to call it Arctic Monkeys’ G-Funk album, but there’s definitely the odd echo of Warren G’s “Regulate” in the air.
“If someone asks ‘Is this the West Coast record?’ the question would normally have a different connotation, but that’s what it means to us,” Turner agrees. But anyone hoping to see Matt Helders throwing gang signs from behind his kit is going to be disappointed. The malt liquor of Death Row records is chased down by at the very least a Bacardi Breezer of what the drummer calls “Girlfriend music – the music our girlfriends were listening to at school when we were into Dr Dre”.
“With people like Aaliyah,” Turner explains, “what’s sometimes seen as being cheesy is actually a real coolness about the melodies, and we wanted to get a bit of the way that music moves into what we were doing. That also went hand in hand – in our minds at least – with Seventies rock ‘n’ roll: all those bands like Black Sabbath and the Groundhogs that we listen to very loud in the dressing room when we’re on tour… We call them ‘thin drum-stand bands’, because whatever the drums are standing on sounds like it’s a bit wobbly, but that’s part of what’s so great about them”.
Arctic Monkeys were fully aware of the dangers inherent in putting these ingredients together – “It’s total chemical reaction time”, Turner admits. “You take too much from one world and you don’t get the right colour smoke”. But from the minute “R U Mine” started to define itself as the signpost for the new direction, they knew they were on the right track.
“When we got to the breakdown and it dropped to them two [Helders and bassist Nick O'Malley] doing the backing vocals together, we all liked it so much, we just thought ‘Let’s make a record that surrounds that’”, Turner explains. “From then on I’d sing the part and they’d kind of wrap their voices around it”.
Were they doing that thing with their hands when they went for the high notes? “It’s all in the hands, but it helps if you wiggle your head around a bit too”.
Technology also played its part, but not the state-of-the-art kind. “Even before the band I used to mess around on an old four-track cassette recorder that belonged to my dad”, Turner remembers. “Then I got given one for my birthday last year, and we really liked the way it sounded. So we worked on it for three weeks straight till we wore out the mechanism. I definitely believe in songs existing inside bits of equipment and you just have to let them out – there’s a few riffs we owe that machine. There weren’t that much head room in it, and if we cranked up the gain and got Matt to play really soft, it sounded just like a sample. The snare we got that way became the DNA of the whole record”.
One of the main themes of AM seems to be going back to things that have fallen into disuse and finding how fresh they can be, whether that be an antique tape-recorder, or “I Wanna Be Yours”, the vintage John Cooper-Clarke poem they turn into a lights-down school disco slow jam on the album’s closing number. Those who’ve seen Arctic Monkeys play live over the past year – from the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics to the main stage at Glastonbury on a Friday – have already seen (and heard) the benefits of this newly open-minded approach.
“There was a time I couldn’t bring myself to play ‘Fake Tales of San Francisco’”, Turner admits, “but we can strike up a pretty good cover of it now. There’s an excitement about this new album that makes it much easier for us to do the old ones justice. You get to a point where you’ve been round the block enough times to know that it’s kind of alright, and it’s not all meant to be about you anyway”.
Arctic Monkeys might be the first band in rock history to go to LA and find out that it’s not all about them. Anyone who thinks that sounds a bit grown-up will probably be reassured by the last thing they really liked about the AM soundwave which adorns the cover of the album. Alex Turner laughs: “It kind of looks like a bra”.
The first single from AM, “Do I Wanna Know?”, earned the band their first #1 Alternative song in the US, where it claimed the top spot for 9 weeks. AM gave the band their 5th consecutive UK #1 album and, at #6, their highest ever Billboard Chart placing. Arctic Monkeys recently earned multiple wins at the UK’s GRAMMY-equivalent BRIT AWARDS, where they took home the two major titles of Best British Band and Album Of The Year, and at the fan-voted NME Awards, where they won five awards.
Big Brother Thunder and the MasterBlasters
Big Brother Thunder and the Masterblasters blends funk-soul with rock and jazz by pulling from African, Caribbean and Brazilian styles and rhythms. BBT and the MB’s create soul-moving, foot-stomping world beats while mixing in tastes of home, creating an inescapably danceable sound.
This eclectic unit has had the privilege to perform at events such as St. Louis’ annual Mardi Gras Parade, The Whitaker Music Festival and The Big Muddy Blues Festival as well as they hold a residency at The Broadway Oyster Bar. BBT and the MB’s have shared the stage with legendary musicians Lee Fields and Chuck Berry, among other world class artists.
This band is made of heart and respect for the groove….An experience you don’t want to miss!
Black Pistol Fire
Black Pistol Fire is a Canadian Rock and Roll duo that splits time between Toronto, Ontario and Austin, Texas. Their wild and energetic sound has been described as a mix of classic southern rock and garage punk, garnering comparisons to early Kings of Leon, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The White Stripes, and Clutch. It’s clear that the band’s sound spans many different eras and subgenres, relying on a classic rock and roll sound that has been updated for our modern times. Black Pistol Fire features Kevin McKeown on Guitar/Lead Vocals and Eric Owen on Drums. The two have been friends since kindergarten and began playing music together when they discovered a shared passion for rock and roll music in high school. The two became founding members of rock and roll trio The Shenanigans. With The Shenanigans, they recorded an LP titled Bombshell Baby. After things w ith The Shenanigans and Toronto got stale, the two wanted a change of scenery and to try out something new. They then packed up their instruments and a bag of clothes and headed south. The band finally settled down in Austin, Texas in 2009 and Black Pistol Fire was born. Arriving in Austin, the two began rehearsing as a duo. While they had previously done this to write songs for The Shenanigans, there was one crucial difference this time around: there would be no bass to be added later. They soaked up all that the Austin music scene had to offer, and their music developed a more distinctive “southern” sound. Like every good band, they lived in poverty and survived off a steady diet of potatoes while rehearsing,writing, and creating new material in a garage they had rented. While playing a local Austin hot spot, Producer Jim Diamond (The White Stripes, The Von Bondies, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) approached the band about recording their next record. The LP, simply titled Bl ack Pistol Fire was released in February 2011. The LP garnered a positive critical response from publications such as the Austin Chronicle, Pop Music Matters, and the Houston Press. The band has also seen their music used in television shows such as 90210, Hawaii 5-0, Suits, About a Boy, Grimm Sons of Anarchy amongst many others. Throughout, they have been touring the USA and Canada and completed a successful European tour. They have supported the likes of Weezer, Wolfmother, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Band of Skulls, State Radio, Shonen Knife, TOO Short, and Lucinda Williams. The band recorded their 2nd LP in the early 2012 with producer Michael Rocha in Toronto. This album “Big Beat 59″ was released in August 2012. As a pre-cursor to the album, the band also recoded the 5 song EP “Shut-up!” a tribute to Little Richard, which was released in May 2012. Black Pistol Fire didn’t waste any time when not on the road and recorded the follow-up to “Big Beat ’59″ in earyly 2013. “Hush or Howl” was released in April 1 2014 on Modern Outsider/RED in the US and Conveyor/Universal in Canada. The lead single “Dimestore Hearththrob” hit #1 on the FMQB submodern rock charts in the US. The band gained further momentum during SXSW where The Huffington Post UK called the band “the next big thing” and “the most energetic and musically versatile of all the bands playing the festival”. Things just keep on picking up!
The members of Southern Rock quintet Blackberry Smoke are no strangers to hard work. Playing up to 250 dates each year, the guys are on the road more often than not, and they’ve seen tangible results of their labor. The band has toured with and befriended idols such as The Marshall Tucker Band, ZZ Top (with Billy Gibbons jamming with the band on a Florida stop), Lynyrd Skynyrd and George Jones. The band was even asked to play for Jones on his 80th birthday, not long after the country legend turned in a guest appearance on the band’s sophomore album. They’ve toured Europe thrice over, and had their songs featured in video games (EA Sports’ NASCAR 08) and films (Swing Vote), as well.
Mixing elements of gospel, bluegrass, arena rock, soul and more than a touch of outlaw country, Blackberry Smoke has earned a passionate fanbase that continues to grow as the band itself evolves. The band is as blue collar as the bandanas its members wear.
“Our fanbase is as organic as you can get,” says drummer Brit Turner. “Each fan has been won by live performance or good old word of mouth.”
In a little more than a decade together, Blackberry Smoke has released three full-length albums‚Äîincluding 2012′s The Whippoorwill, the band’s first for country megastar Zac Brown’s Southern Ground label‚Äîtwo EPs and a live DVD, Live at the Georgia Theatre, which serves as the perfect showcase for the band’s raucous, rockin’ good-times-for-all take on rock ‘n’ roll. A chunk of the DVD’s concert footage has aired numerous times on Palladia, and the band also shot a DirecTV concert that has aired countless times.
Brit, along with singer and guitarist Charlie Starr, bassist and vocalist Richard Turner, guitarist and vocalist Paul Jackson and keyboardist Brandon Still, have slugged it out on the road for more than a decade, but now regularly sell out headline appearances across the country and overseas. The band’s audience, Brit says, feels like more than fans, which is appropriate given that their families are their biggest supporters. (A word to the wise: hitting on the pretty ladies in the front row might get you decked.)
Though these road dogs rarely have downtime, they recently managed to carve out enough time to record their newest batch of songs for The Whippoorwill, an album that serves as a platform for smart, battle-tested songwriting and for the band’s ability to leave audiences breathless.
Despite the additional resources at its fingertips, the band decided that The Whippoorwill would be largely an in-house affair‚Äîits own songs, done its own way. Consequently, the band is more excited for this album’s release than any effort thus far.
“I remember not being able to sleep well at night when we were making this new album,” Charlie recalls. “I was so excited about which songs we were going to cut the next day. After it’s done and we can hold it in our hands and be proud of it we know that there’s another one that will have to be made in the not too distant future, but it feels really good to have this one finished; we’re all really proud of it.”
With Zac Brown and the entire Southern Ground team behind them, Charlie and the boys are experiencing all the benefits of life on a larger label. For an already busy band, business is booming.
“The only time we stop or take any time off is when someone’s wife has a baby,” Charlie adds, chuckling. “So, we’ve had to come up with a fictitious band member whose fictitious wife is having a fictitious baby.”
Yet even though they have a wealth of experience under their belts, with the release of The Whippoorwill, the guys find themselves in uncharted territory.
“We’ve never done an album and actually planned a tour around it,” Charlie confesses. “It’s always been ‘tour constantly and whenever the album is done, it comes out.’ It’s a new thing for us to actually plan this far ahead.”
And while the recording process for The Whippoorwill might have afforded the band a few additional luxuries‚Äî”It was strange being able to go into a nice recording studio without having to not pay ourselves for awhile to get the money to do it,” Brit says‚Äîthe band still found itself backs against the wall. Fortunately, that’s exactly where Blackberry Smoke seems to thrive.
“For all the planning ahead, we still had to get it done in four-and-a-half days, so it’s not like we had time to stretch out and find the most comfortable chair in the studio,” Charlie says. “In a perfect world, I’d like to take a little bit more time to record, but it’s not possible until they add more hours in the day and more days in the week. We’re used to doing it that way anyway.”
Regardless of whatever pressures the band might have been under while the red light was on in the studio, that stress isn’t evident on any of The Whippoorwill’s 13 tracks. For example, album opener, “Six Ways to Sunday,” is a footstomping tune that mirrors the song’s carefree attitude, and could be mistaken for an old Motown track at times. At the same time, the title track has the effortless blues approach of ’70s-era Pink Floyd, but with more grease. Nothing feels forced.
Indeed, the band’s history together gives them a natural chemistry when writing the songs that could easily find a home with a diverse set of audiences.
Straddling the line between paying homage to one’s heroes and blatant theft is a tricky business, but it’s a divide that the members of Blackberry Smoke traverse with ease. The band invites a few comparisons to the hallowed forefathers of Skynyrd, but don’t expect to hear the same worn out clich√©s in their songs that every other band with country, pop or rock leanings have already espoused.
“We’re not in the business of writing the same song over and over and over,” Charlie says bluntly.
Speaking of “over and over,” at many points it would have been easy for these blue-collar musicians to get tired of bashing out song after song in distant dives and hang it up, get straight jobs and rock out as weekend warriors‚Äîif at all. But despite some lean years, they kept building an audience and keeping up with wives, children and girlfriends from long distances. So what’s kept them so passionate?
As Brit Turner emphasizes, it’s not necessarily dreams of stardom. It’s simply the love of the game. “We love it or we wouldn’t do it.”
CAKE: As they approach their twentieth anniversary, CAKE’s adherence to their original guiding principles has only grown stronger. Formed in the nineties as a somewhat antagonistic answer to grunge, CAKE’s democratic processes, defiant self-reliance, and lucid yet ever-inventive music has made them a nation-state unto themselves, with no obvious peers, belonging to no school. Now, in addition to writing, arranging, producing, and performing their own music, they have taught themselves to engineer their recording projects in their own solar-powered studio, which actually generates more power than is needed to run it, causing the building’s electrical meter to run in reverse. CAKE’s most recent album, Showroom of Compassion, was released on their own Upbeat Records label and debuted on the US Billboard Top 200 Album Chart at #1 during 2011 — making the album as pure an extension of the DIY aesthetic as ever attempted by an established act.
Jordan Kelley and Jason Huber take their fun very, very seriously. The pair behind the ambitious and emphatic Nashville duo Cherub craft hooky electro-pop that lyrically captures the risque, pleasure-seeking impulses of their youth, while their studio expertise results in grooves so alluring, even your parents can dance to them. Which is their exact goal on Antipasto EP, the precursor to their highly anticipated Year of the Caprese debut LP.
Kelley explains, “it’s just the coolest thing if you can have different generations dancing to the same song.” Cherub doesn’t just commingle age groups. Huber and Kelley’s musicianship and imagination allows them to create their own ideas about style and music rather than abiding to genre. Featuring the viral hit “Doses and Mimosas,” two new songs and a Knocks remix, the four-track set serves as the boldest alignment of their diverse musical interests yet, ranging from brash rock to playful pop to seductive R&B.
The duo met while pursuing music business degrees at Middle Tennessee State, a large public university just outside of Nashville. Prior to meeting up at a dorm party, the two were figuring out how to become their own local legends. Huber was fronting a psychedelic folk-rock band, whereas Kelley was something of a mainstay in the Nashville hip-hop scene. Well, sort of. “I was making beats for this hip-hop duo and we got to open for GZA, but I didn’t know how to DJ my own stuff.” After meeting Huber, “I just asked ‘can you turn my beats into a live show?’” Soon thereafter, Kelley sent Huber his self-composed Man of the Hour EP and the two realized the potential in their partnership. Cherub began in earnest, with Huber’s live production embellishing Kelley’s clever songcraft.
Kelley’s lyrics of relatable hedonism come from everyday experiences – “nonsense on my iPhone notepad,” zoning out during long plane rides or meeting a local yahoo who got an unintentional writing credit on “Doses and Mimosas.”
“We were buying champagne in the Beachside Liquor Store in Gulf Shores, Alabama and there was this dude in his mid-40′s behind the counter. I’ll never forget what he said, ‘I remember the days of ‘pagne and caine!’” It became the indelible, call-and-response hook from “Doses and Mimosas,” their breakthrough smash from the self-released MoM & DaD which was #1 on HypeMachine’s “most talked about” chart in August of 2012.
The release of MoM & DaD was a part of a huge year for Cherub, as they were named one of “12 Tennessee Bands You Should Listen To Now” by Paste and landed spots at Bonnaroo, SXSW, Electric Forest and the Snowball Music Fest. These experiences have allowed Cherub to learn on the job and tailor their songwriting for the benefit of their sweaty, packed crowds. Taking inspiration from formative live experiences ranging from Incubus to Sigur Ros, Kelley
ensures that “we have theatrical elements that don’t detract from the music. When we see the crowd respond to an uptempo song, that gets us going.” Their momentum continued into 2013 with the self-release of the 100 Bottles EP and its infectious lead single “Jazzercise ’95.” The duo continued to book more ambitious gigs, including Lollapalooza, Governor’s Ball, Austin City Limits and their first tour throughout Europe and the UK.
Cherub aren’t much for tags, but if you want to get an idea of what Antipasto brings to the party, just ask them who they’d like to collaborate with. Kelley’s dream would be a duet with “Roger Troutman [R.I.P.], super funky but with no vocals, just talkbox. We’d also want to do an epic, super crazy R&B joint with The-Dream.” Therein lies the alchemy of “Lifesaver” and “Tonight,” where playful guitar licks meld with deep bass and lush synthesizers. But they also grew up idolizing rock auteurs such as David Bowie and Trent Reznor, and you sense their influence in Cherub’s knack for dynamics and solid, singalong melodies. Cherub always remain curious and ambitious – “I want to do a duet with Mariah Carey, but then pitch down her vocals. No one’s ever done that before!”
But above all else, Cherub are men of the people, dudes of the dancefloor, aficionados of the after hours. From the countless house parties they’ve played in Tennessee to their Age of Reason tour with Gramatik to their prestigious Red Rocks Amphitheater gig with STS9, they’ve always made it a point to engage with their fans. “People always think it’s weird when we ask during the show if there’s an after party,” Kelley says with a laugh. Antipasto starts the party, what happens from there on out is anyone’s guess.
One Thing That’s For Sure, the forthcoming album from Colin Lake, captures the songwriter’s unique musical vision, delivering penetrating lyrics with soul and gritty sincerity. On the album’s eleven original songs, Lake sings of love and longing, truth and transcendence, hope and struggle. These are love songs, but not just in the romantic sense — these are songs that celebrate love’s well earned triumph over fear, and tread the territory where light and shadows meet. On songs like “I’m Trying to Tell You” and the heavily distorted “Pay the Price”, Lake sings in desperate pleas, like a man fighting for his life, while in the chorus of the laid back title track and the sun-soaked refrain of “She’s Mine”, the singer swells with joy as he revels in the spoils of love. And why shouldn’t he; these songs were born in New Orleans — the world capital of revelry and joyful expression. And while Lake may not have been born there, you could say that in New Orleans he was born again.
Six years ago while visiting the city, the Seattle native met his future wife in the airport. The meeting sparked a cosmic chain reaction that would change his life forever. Overwhelmed by the gravity that seemed to be drawing him to the city, Lake moved to town less than a year later and his passion and innate feel for roots music would find fertile ground from which to spring. While his powerful vocal style and soulful touch on the guitar and lap steel owe heavily to countless blues greats, it’s Lake’s knack for song craft that sets him apart from almost anyone in that genre. In the textured layers of “The World Alive”, however, and on the spare, tender “Just Begun”, the artist demonstrates that he often isn’t working within one genre at all. Rather, he is drawing from his unique musical palette to create songs that reflect a personal journey which has already spanned great distances, both spiritually and geographically.
In the past year, Lake has opened for acts like Dr. John and Gary Clark Jr, and performed at festivals around the country, including the 2013 Austin City Limits Music Festival, Alabama’s Hangout Beach, Music and Arts Festival, the Key West Songwriters Festival and New Orleans’ French Quarter Festival. This Spring, Lake will make his debut at the legendary New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Acclaimed San Diego-bred five-piece Delta Spirit add fall dates to their extensive nationwide tour celebrating the release of their anticipated album Into the Wide, due September 9 via Dualtone Records. Keeping an eye toward the live experience is always essential to the band. “We just want the songs to be as epic and meaningful as possible when we play them in front of people, which is the be-all and end-all for us as a band,” says Matt Vasquez (vocals, guitar).
Into the Wide follows the band’s 2012 self-titled release, which charted #1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers and was praised by Rolling Stone for its “broader sonic palette.” The latest teaser trailer featuring the song “Live On” is streaming now.
The new album was born in a flood-ruined, cave-like, rat-colonized room in Delta Spirit’s new hometown of Brooklyn. The band spent more than a year writing together in the windowless studio they rebuilt after Hurricane Sandy. “That sense of feeling trapped in our studio and in the city definitely gave the album more of a weight than our previous records and played a big part in this being our moodiest recording yet,” notes Kelly Winrich (multi-instrumentalist, vocals) of the experience. When it came time to record, the band relocated to Maze Studios in Atlanta and teamed up with producer Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter), who helped breathe new life and brighter energy into the songs while still capturing the claustrophobia of their creative writing space. Of the recording process, Brandon Young (drums) explains, “One of the most important things was getting back to all of us being in a room together for every single song and recording everything live.”
Formed in 2005, Delta Spirit is Will Mclaren (guitar), Jon Jameson (bass), Winrich, Young and Vasquez. Their debut full-length Ode to Sunshine garnered a widespread critical response leading to numerous television performances including “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” “Conan,” “Last Call with Carson Daly” and “Later with Jools Holland,” as well as relentless touring and festival appearances worldwide including Coachella, Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo among many others.
The Districts are an impressive young four-piece from Lititz, in Lancaster County. The band channeled the rock-and-soul vibe of Cold War Kids and Spoon; singer Rob Grote’s searing voice cut across the concert hall, blending with the band’s smartly-arranged instrumental interplay. They do the very Pixies loud-quiet-LOUD thing, but in a more textured way than simply turning their overdrive pedals on and off. A thundering swell cuts, leaving a clean guitar arpeggio floating in space as Grote catches his breath; the verses build in waves, with the heaviness sometimes derived just from Braden Lawrence’s drums. Grote is an intense, emphatic, occasionally bewildering stage presence — he kicks, stomps and snarls, both at the mic and far away — but guitarist Mark Larson and bassist Connor Jacobus hold their own, shuffling and bobbing and giving the overall band a dynamic stage presence. Check out “Four and Four” from their album “Telephone.”
…And sometimes, it’s just as exciting to sitback and let the music speak for itself. In the case of Lancaster County rock n’ soul four-piece The Districts, it’s definitely one of those latter cases. The band recorded five songs in our studio last weekend — three from its impressive 2012 debut Telephone, one from the more recent While You Were in Honesdale EP (“Dressed to Kill”) , and one new track — the impressionistic, evocative swell of “Went To the City.” That one’s often their set-closer, the one they bring down the house with when they play live, and it had the same chilling effect in the studio, and later still in my headphones as I was editing the music to present to you today. Listen below, draw your own conclusions, and most importantly, see this band live.
Dylan McDonald & The Avians
Being the son of two very distinctive artists, ( 5 time Grammy winner Michael McDonald and Grammy nominated recording artist Amy Holland McDonald ) Dylan McDonald is just what one would expect, a very unique artist himself with a sound all his own. Dylan’s own musical influences include many of the legendary artist of the 60’s and 70’s. Combine this with Dylan’s great vocals, outstanding writing skills, the extremely talented Avians and you have a refreshing new sound.
DYLAN McDONALD and THE AVIANS have released their 2nd album, “Fueled By Dreams Of The Future”. It’s now available on Chonin Records, iTunes, ItunesUK, Amazon, Rhapsody and CD Baby. Their first critically acclaimed CD, “Out From The Door”, is still available on CD, Vinyl, or Download at any of the above mentioned stores.
As a solo artist Dylan performed the John Sebastian classic, “ Daydream” for the movie Kings Of Appletown, starring the Disney sensation The Sprouse Twins.
Dylan may also be heard singing, “Scarborough Fair” as a duet with Cassidy Cooper on the original motion picture soundtrack for JOBS, starring Ashton Kutcher; the biography of Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple who died in 2011.
Empires have emerged from the deep freeze of Chicago with a collection of tunes imbued with a thick-skinned Midwestern charm. Orphan – the band’s upcoming LP on Chop Shop / Island Records has producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, The Black Angels, Explosions in the Sky) at the helm, capturing the band in their true form. Handpicked by NPR Music as one the 100 acts to see at this year’s SXSW, Empires continues out on the road this spring & summer introducing songs from the new album, including the debut track ‘How Good Does It Feel’.
Melinda Kirwin and Simon Rudston-Brown, better known as Falls, hail from Sydney, Australia. In 2013, the duo found themselves on tour with The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, and Passenger. Quickly catching the ear of Universal Music Group’s Verve Records, they signed to the label in December and moved to the United States soon after.
With their debut US EP Into The Fire still on the Billboard Heatseeker chart, the band has remained busy; touring with Delta Rae, playing the Sundance Film Festival and getting ready for an upcoming US tour with John Butler Trio.
Future Islands believe in true love, you can tell that because their songs speak through our lives. It’s as if their music has always been with us, soundtracking every great hope, dawning realization and broken promise. Every fond embrace, each leap of faith. Over the last eight years Baltimore’s most quixotic and emotionally involving trio have maintained an admirable level of skill and pace, never slowing down for the corners. It’s vocalist Samuel T. Herring, William Cashion (bass, guitars), and Gerrit Welmers (keyboards, programming, guitars) who find themselves responsible. Their sound is at once beguiling and irresistible. It’s one part melancholic, one part euphoric; full of animated bass lines, robust drum machines and questing keyboards, all set off by Sam’s remarkably distinct, soaring vocal.
Future Islands came to life after all three members had served their tenure in the overtly conceptual Art Lord & The Self-Portraits, a waggish band as comical as it was tender. With Art Lord they found themselves in a world of borrowed gear and frenzied house parties, spending endless hours booking tours in notebooks, burning CDRs in the van, xeroxing sleeves. It’s the same DIY spirit that informs Future Islands to this day. Having toured tirelessly since the band’s inception in Greenville, NC back in 2006, Future Islands have now played in excess of 800 shows, often touring with their friends, most notably Dan Deacon, Ed Schrader’s Music Beat and Talk Normal. Sam, William and Gerrit all hail from small towns so they’ve made it their aim on tour to play as many off-the-radar places as possible. It’s this dedicated groundwork that sets Future Islands apart from most, they’ve kept things traditional, converting people on the road, putting the time in, making friends first then fans. With each landmark album, they’ve been growing, loving, losing and leaving us wanting more.
Returning with their new album Singles, Future Islands have refined their unique sound further still. Having worked with Thrill Jockey and Upset The Rhythm previously, Singles marks the start of their new relationship with legendary label 4AD, a more fitting home is hard to imagine. Chris Coady (known for his enduring work with Beach House, TV On The Radio, Grizzly Bear) mixed and produced the album, leaving his luminous fingerprint across the album’s radiant collection of pulse-grabbers and slow-burners. Packing an ever harder punch, it makes for a deeply resonant listen; an affectionate hand on the shoulder. Singles, the band’s fourth full length, is a decidedly polished sounding album, it’s glossy like unapologetic pop, silken and lustrous, but check it’s pockets for the stockpile of realism.
“Seasons (Waiting On You)” kicks off the record in a decidedly jubilant yet soulful manner, typical of the band’s most recent 7″s. It’s got all the passionate delivery and exuberance you’ve come to expect from Future Islands, only there’s a new found relaxed distance and maturity at play. “People change, but some people never do” Sam wistfully calls out, fighting the corner for each nagging doubt and irrepressible desire that won’t back down. Whilst the song ebbs into hushed violin flurries and we’re left considering the grave of love, “Spirit” leaps up, tumbling us over before chasing its descant deeper into the album. Future Islands are perfectionists at teaming up some suitably yearning subject matter with an upbeat musical response and “Spirit”, much like “Doves” and “Light House”, is a good case in point.
“Back In The Tall Grass” is a propulsive tour de force of plucky bass and blushing synths, testing the heaviest hearts into a united sway. “We’re a long way from home, how did we get here?” questions Sam languidly, his voice never before sounding so absorbed and lost in thought, really lost, “four steps back and I’m gone” lost. “A Song For Our Grandfathers” parades with a self-assured splendour. “They said that if I stared the abyss would stare back at me and so I did,” confesses Sam with the larynx of a lonesome lion. Meanwhile, William’s bass roots you to the spot, allowing the vivid touches of guitar and Gerrit’s efflorescent keyboard waves to soak you through. It also seems like a particularly poignant lyric for Sam as he confronts personal ghosts and memories of feeling safe alike.
Singles is a bold album of wandering reflections and haunted wonder, Sam’s wounded howl on “Fall From Grace” makes sure that much is clear. It’s an album that keeps running from the off and keeps running from a restlessness that threatens to consume. As the record concludes in cascading delight with “A Dream Of You And Me” your preconceptions of Future Islands being a romantic band fade. Suddenly you realize they’re more enthralled by the notions of romanticism and idealism that never fail to lead all hearts astray. Future Islands have always been there, on the outside looking in. With Singles they step inside us and start looking out and it’s a joy to finally join them.
‚Äî Christopher Tipton
Glass Animals are a band with a very natural sense of mystery. Singer and song-writer Dave Bayley never had any intention whatsoever of forming a group, but around three years ago at medical school, insomnia gave him some precious spare hours. And what better use of spare hours is there than listening to music and messing around with Garage Band on a half-dead relic of a laptop you were gifted by your Dad?
So the bare bones of Glass Animals’ first songs took shape late at night — inspired by South London’s bass music scene – recorded secretly and quietly in a small room near Elephant and Castle. Surprisingly for everyone, the result was a beautiful piece of ambient electronica called Golden Antlers, pitched somewhere between Anthony & the Johnsons and James Blake.
Eventually this was shown only to Dave’s three closest friends, now band mates, who tweaked it and pinched its haunches a little before they put it onto the Internet. Within days of the music going up managers, artists, promoters, agents and lawyers all began to get in touch. These friends had formed a band around themselves without even realising it.
The band signed a publishing deal with Beggars, and then began speaking to various labels, at which point Dave knew he was never going to go back to science. In the late spring of 2012 the band released a single on XL’s Kaya Kaya imprint. A year later, with Black Mambo, they became one of the first signings to Paul Epworth’s Wolf Tone label.
Created in Epworth’s own studio ZABA, produced by Dave under executive production by Epworth, it is undoubtedly among this year’s most striking debuts. The title, lifted from Dave’s favourite childhood story, comes from William Steig’s The Zabajaba Jungle. Steig’s evocation of childhood adventure, exoticism and discovery is brilliantly fresh. In the book a boy called Leonard penetrates this wild, mysterious place and meets squawking birds, raucous insects, carnivorous flowers and petrified monsters. At one point Leonard is kidnapped by a pack of mandrills and taken to three jungle judges who have human bodies and animal heads. He escapes, takes a ride on a butterfly, and finally finds his parents chilling in the middle of the jungle, in a living room that exists within in a massive glass jar.
ZABA is one complete beast and a journey you will get most from if you immerse yourself fully and listen from start to finish – before you is a series of situations describing a wealth of strange characters and the weird, subtropical land in which they exist. “The sound of the record,” Dave says, “is like a backdrop of man-made wilderness…”
What resonates more than ever though are the stories within the songs and the characters used to populate and deliver those stories. Inspired by the exploratory, New World scenarios of Apocalypse Now, The Island of Dr Moreau, Heart of Darkness, The African Queen and Mosquito Coast, Zaba’s songs tackle the humanisation of nature and human interference with nature. “Even now a lot of my favourite books are those books that I grew up with,” he says. “Things like Zabajaba, like Roald Dahl, like Wind in the Willows. I suppose all I’ve been doing is using those little creatures and animals to cover up what I really meant, to disguise who and what I was really talking about.”
The narratives and animals merely mask the real – much darker – subject matter. Each song encapsulates a different emotion, from loneliness and regret to guilt, uncertainty, grief and frustration. “The lyrics still mean something quite specific to me, but I’ve left them slightly vague. Hopefully other people can identify with them in different ways, finding their own meaning…”
Inspired by Kanye West and Charles Darwin, Nina Simone and the Velvet Underground, ZABA is a rich and textured work, a very special record indeed. With Dave producing and Epworth as A&R and mentor, the studio became their home and the band were free to record, improvise and write at their own speed and so their sound has become a bigger, brighter, heavier and more intense experience than ever before.
The album opens with Flip, it’s the sound of you entering another of world. “That sound… It’s like someone’s opening up your head with a can opener,” Dave laughs. Pools is a brilliant pop song, repetitive and swaggering, it’s bright on the surface with something unutterably dark in the lyrics.
Gooey is wobbly and child-like, a hymn to naivety. “There’s a confidence in the way children act,” Dave says. “I was trying to push that confidence into the beat.” Walla-Walla goes back to Dave’s love of Timbaland and Dr Dre, while Intruxx, initially the introduction to the entire record, summarises this entire new world you’re entering.
Toes began as a small sketch of a song, a hip-hop groove that grew and grew, while Wyrd, which the band have been experimenting with live, has become the biggest, loudest heaviest beast on the whole album.
“I used to be really into super-clean, no flaws production,” says Dave, “but now I like the context and soul that mistakes, chopped samples, and swirly white amp-noises give you…. We definitely were a bit self-conscious, we were once afraid to do something bold. Now when we’re together in the studio we don’t worry about those things. In fact, we don’t worry about anything at all…”
When the members of Grouplove met it was like a dream. The setting was a remote artist colony on the exotic, mysterious Greek island of Crete. Drummer/producer Ryan Rabin and his childhood friend and former bandmate, guitarist Andrew Wessen came from California, guitarist Christian Zucconi and keyboarist Hannah Hooper traveled from New York, and bassist Sean Gadd was the lone Brit. Each member went to Greece for their own independent reasons but over time they gravitated towards each other and discovered the sound that unified them: a merging of richly narrated, intricate songs with anthemic classic pop production. It took the band the better part of a year to reunite after they left the island, but as they prepare to release their debut album Never Trust A Happy Song, they’re starting to realize what began as a fantasy has now become very real.
The story begins in the grimy, grey urbanscape of New York City. Hannah was a painter living in a tiny apartment in Chinatown. Christian was living in Brooklyn, realizing the band he’d been in for several years was coming to its natural end. Forty-eight hours after they met the couple decided to abandon the going- nowhere struggle of city life for the idyllic restfulness of Greece. “When we first got there we didn’t know what to make of it,” Christian remembers, laughing. “We were sharing a single bed and there was no real shower. It took a few days to adjust.” They soon settled into a rhythm – Christian wrote songs and Hannah painted, but eventually they started mingling with the other residents. “To begin with, we just sat around on the beach or in caves, playing each other songs,” Sean recalls. “I thought Christian and Hannah were very eccentric and very artistic. I liked their style. And right away we were all very supportive of each other’s music and really enjoyed being together. That was the beginning of Grouplove, we just didn’t know it then.”
The colony, which Andrew’s brother founded, allowed the members of Grouplove to step outside their comfort zones. “We spent our days together at a secluded beach far from the tourist traps, passing around the guitar or ukulele and sharing our songs with each other,” Andrew remembers. “At night, we would spend time in the town or the zen garden, continuing to hang out. The fact that we met as individual artists and songwriters is a dynamic that has remained to this day.”
The individuality factor was huge. “In New York you’re limited to what you’ve defined yourself as,” Hannah laments. For the affirmed visual artist, this was a particularly powerful revelation. “I’d been surrounded by the same people for so long, which at a certain point becomes stifling,” she explains. “Even though I was bright red the first few times I sang, it became an immediate way to be creative with the people around me. We were making something together.”
It wasn’t just the unusual circumstances that set these artists free, it was also each other’s company. “We are all so different,” Hannah explains. “Sean is the traditional rock and roller. He’s got humor and style.” “And he’s the guy you want in your corner,” Christian seconds. “Andrew is the free-spirit, blonde, California surfer boy,” Hannah says fondly. “And the ambassador of the band – he’s very social,” Christian adds. “Ryan seems serious at first but he’s actually really funny and weird and has an exceptional ear,” Hannah says. When it comes to describing each other, the couple keep it short but sweet. “Christian writes the purest songs I’ve ever heard,” Hannah says. “She’s the real rockstar of the band,” Christian responds.
It’s one thing to play around with a new art project from the comfort of a supportive community, and quite another to transport that delicate synergy to the real world. Ryan, who’d come to Greece after attending an exchange program in the Czech Republic, went back to LA, thinking of Crete as nothing more than the cherry on top of an eye-opening year abroad. Sean went back to play with bands he’d been with, but just like with Christian, it became clear those projects had run their course. And Andrew, a surfer, went home to California where he picked up the chirango and ukulele, adding to his repertoire of stringed instruments. “We kept in touch in a summer camp way,” Hannah recalls. “But people started getting back to their lives working their crappy jobs. Christian and I just really didn’t want Greece to become just a memory.” After an impromptu reunion in LA, during which they all stayed at Andrew’s place in Venice and Ryan’s garage recording studio, jamming for a few days, it became clear this was something special. “We just cancelled our flights back to NY,” Christian remembers. “That was it.”
The Jane Shermans
Songwriter/ Producer Angelo Petraglia (Kings of Leon) has an eerie knack for quiet collaboration. This steady-handed muse with a finely tuned ear for melody has an uncanny ability to uncover and call forth the unique, iconic raw material in the emerging talents he finds. It was Angelo who looked at the young Followill brothers and saw Kings of Leon. His presence as their producer and co-writer (he co-wrote all of their breakout debut album, Youth and Young Manhood) drove the boys to plumb the depths of their Southern souls and emerge as one of the decade’s most distinctive rock and roll bands. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Angelo has struck a vein of sultry silver in chanteuse Eulene Sherman. Sherman has the kind of voice that sounds as though it started the race ahead of Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde and never lost its lead—it soars and shi vers, flecked with just enough smoky tarnish to let you know she’s been through the dark nights and neon-wet streets she’s singing about. If rock and roll has always, at its best, been able to kick down a few doors, The Jane Shermans are showing us how it can get done these days. Throwing aside the sentimentalized, Hallmark vision of life being lived that we’ve passively accepted for so long, Eulene Sherman shows us something much tougher, but much closer to the truth. And rock and roll is her megaphone. Don’t miss the call when it comes.
Currently hailing from Brighton, England. kins originally formed in late 2010, around a collection of home-demos by frontman Thomas Savage.
kins spent their first six months playing small shows up and down the coasts of Australia with the city of Melbourne acting as home-base. In May 2011 they released their 7-track debut E.P; ‘Dancing Back And Forth Covered In Whipped Cream’ which established early on, the distinct sound which earned the band a staunch set of followers.
After relocating to England, Thomas and Jacky were faced with the task of finding a new rhythm section, which eventually arrived in the form of Rob and Alex. Refusing to waste a single day, the band restlessly went about writing, recording and rehearsing fresh batches of material.
After linking up with a UK Management company, who signed them immediately after seeing them live, the band decided to self produce an album of songs. Recorded over the winter months of 2012-2013 in a damp basement flat by the sea, ‘kins’ yields 10 tracks which aptly reflect the isolated environment they were created in.
Once spread publicly in July 2013, these new songs, with their themes of confusion, guilt and nihilism, provoked an immediate reaction.
Reviews across the board were very positive and saw the likes of Indie Shuffle declare ‘This album is one of those records you want to share with as many people as possible because it’s seriously that good.’ London blog ThisIsFakeDiy mused ‘Rarely have we heard so much anger and cause in a band sporting sophisticated, guitar-led pop.’ This ‘anger’ is emphasised in their live show, a live review from ARTROCKER reads ‘Songs are so brutal, that at times they feel like the equivalent of shimmering, psychedelic shotgun blasts to the head.’
kins’ momentum is fast building, with strong radio support in the UK and US. Gaining UK plays from BBC Radio 1 (Zane Lowe, Huw Stephens, Phil Taggart & Alice Levine and Jen & Ally), BBC 6music, and joining the XFM Evening Playlist and Amazing Radio A list. They’ve also picked up early support in the US with KCRW, The Current & WXPN quick to play tracks from the bands debut.
Thomas Savage – Vocals, guitar // Queline Cartwright- Keyboards, vocals // Rob Walters – Bass guitar, vocals // Alex Knight – Drums, vocals
Kopecky Family Band
“Family” is a word that encompasses a variety of definitions. With that in mind, let this introduction to Kopecky Family Band be taken with an open mind and with a grain of salt. This family is connected not by blood or by heritage, but by circumstance. This is a family bound by the miles on their odometer and by the songs they have crafted over the years. These six young musicians have created a family through their commitment to each other and to their craft. Crack open your dictionary, if you need to.
The Kopecky Family Band — a non-traditional family, at that — is dynamic, and they wield an equally dynamic slew of instruments. Their thoughtful songwriting is supported by a diverse backdrop of sound. And the musical canvas is covered with broad brushstrokes — ranging from clanging tambourines and guitars, booming percussion, intelligent string arrangements, and triumphant horns. These six bandmates — siblings, if you will — swap their musical tools without a second thought, creating an emotive, adventurous, and energetic environment onstage.
In late 2007, founding members Kelsey Kopecky and Gabriel Simon became united with four friends who shared a mutual vision. They planted seeds that have been nurtured for the past five years through persistent touring and recording — and those seeds are rapidly reaching maturity. With thousands of miles traveled, and surely thousands to come, the Kopecky Family Band is only just beginning their adventure — and they want to bring you along for the ride.
Celebrating their 20th anniversary as modern day rulers of old school funk, the seven-piece Brooklyn-based juggernaut Lettuce drops their third studio album Fly—a decidedly raging slab of relentless groove, hyper-charged syncopation and psychedelicized soul anthems. Having blown up stages from coast to coast last year, ranging from The Fillmore in SF to Terminal 5 in NYC, Bear Creek Music Festival to Camp Bisco and all points in-between, Lettuce entered Brooklyn recording studio The Bunker this winter with a fresh batch of road-tested material and a revitalized sound honed razor sharp by a year spent on the road.
“We’re more together and set to crush than ever before,” says drummer and chief songwriter Adam Deitch of the all-star group that he and his accomplished band-mates cut their teeth with back in their Berklee School of Music days. That much history, along with the A-list crop of projects that each member has taken on away from Lettuce, gives the group a bottomless well of musical ideas and unrivaled chemistry—in fact, referring to themselves as a band of brothers. “I was in a practice room at 16 with Kraz, Zoidis, Shmeeans and Deitch and it all clicked,” says “lead” bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes. “We all felt rhythms in similar ways. We were all about the pocket from day one.”
On Fly, the pocket is deeper than ever. “People tend to look at funk as a one-trick pony, “ says Deitch, but the record smashes those limits by drawing on a range of styles that can be traced from the early ’60s through the early ’80s, incorporating plenty of modern hip-hop sensibilities—heavy bass, kick and snare—along the way.
The album’s one cover song, an all-instrumental version of War’s “Slippin’ into Darkness,” is a reminder of the genre’s vintage origins but from there on up, the track progression emphasizes the band’s ability to steer funk in a new direction. “I sketched out a bunch of ideas for songs that I felt would fit each musician perfectly,” says Deitch, leaving plenty of space for each to add their own style to the mix. As a rhythm section, Coomes and Deitch set the pace with a deep and wide pocket. Guitarists Eric Krasno and Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff weave electrified six-string rhythms that summon the magic of The JBs’ Catfish Collins/Hearlon “Cheese” Martin dual guitar frontline, while Keyboardist Neal “The Hawk” Evans doubles up the low end as he simultaneously floats and stings with jabs of Hammond B3 organ. Riding along in lockstep is saxophonist Ryan “Zwad” Zoidis and trumpeter Rashawn Ross punctuating the Lettuce funk with blasts of big, bold and infectious horn lines, while guest appearances by Brian “BT” Thomas and Cochemea “Cheme” Gastelum further solidify what is already one of the fiercest horn sections of this era. “We try to keep the horn lines simple and melodic, leaving plenty of space for our insanely funky rhythm section to shine,” says Zoidis. “We are always thinking about making people dance.” Soul vocalist Nigel Hall comes in on the Krasno-penned track, “Do It Like You Do” and Charles “Dawg” Haynes provides added percussion on “Let It GOGO.”
Look no further than Fly’s title track, though, for what sets these guys apart. The laid-back vamp, recorded all-analog to two-inch tape, gets full Jamaican studio treatment, dubbed out with vintage reverb and delay. That sort of thing is “only something that Funkadelic might have touched on back in the day,” says Smirnoff. Meanwhile, tracks like “Madison Square” and “Ziggowatt” (Deitch’s ode to legendary Meters’ drummer Zigaboo Modeliste) sound like futuristic cuts from the Stax back catalog. “It’s somewhere between old school and new school,” Zoidis says of the sounds the band was able to achieve with engineer John Davis. Evans’ “Bowler” may be the best evidence of where this supercharged group is headed, with a tasty, stick-in-your-ear melody that continues through the track and begs to be ripped open onstage. “All these experiences as individuals have helped us grow in our own direction, be influenced by more things and have more things to bring to the table as a group,” Smirnoff says. “When you have that many variables, it’s a brand new project every time.”
Having evolved and refocused since 2008’s Rage! without ever dropping the beat, Lettuce is getting ready to take audiences to the cosmos with Fly in the trunk and a high-octane tour on the horizon. “Lettuce is like a Learjet that wasn’t getting clearance from the tower,” says Jesus. “But we’re done just rolling around on the runway.” They’re not asking for permission, so put your tray tables in their full, upright and locked position. This plane’s itching for lift off.
The Shape I’m In
If you were bold, you could say Marc Scibilia’s new record is the realization of an American dream, one that spans multiple generations, numerous cities and multifarious influences.
But let’s start smaller: The Shape I’m In is a strong opening statement from a charismatic singer who’s a little hard to pin down. At heart, Scibilia is a New York-born, American singer-songwriter with a little Nashville flair (that’s East Nashville, mind you. Think the sweatier, grittier side of town).
And one helluva backstory.
It’s a story that dates back before the singer was even born. “My grandfather grew up playing bass in a pit orchestra,” says Scibilia, talking from his home studio in East Nashville. “He grew up with guys like [famed jazz guitarist] Tommy Tedesco. But his mother died when he was 11, so he became a barber at a young age to support his family. He played bass in big bands and jazz combos five nights a week, but he never had the luxury to take his music outside the city.”
Music ran in the Scibilia family. His father also played in a band ‚Äî and his brother is a musician as well. Given that history, it’s easy to understand Scibilia’s early musical aspirations. “Growing up, we always had instruments around the house, never video games or things like that,” he says. “I started with drums, then piano and guitar. I’d just pick them up and play.” But it wasn’t technical thing ‚Äî even though Scibilia studied classical piano for ten years, it was always about the feel of the music.
Scibilia grew up in Buffalo, not necessarily a thriving musical community but one that he credits for developing a tough skin. “It’s very cold there,” he says, laughing. “It gave me this ‘get the job done’ mentality. I’ve got three minutes and fifteen seconds to do it right.”
Outside of his father, Scibilia found little initial support for his musical dreams. “Everyone had more conventional thoughts for me,” he says. “I had a counselor when I was 15 who became really concerned with my grades. Finally, she sarcastically said, ‘What are you going to do, go to Nashville and write songs?’ I thought, ‘That’s not a bad idea!’”
Scibilia moved to Nashville one month out of high school with $300 in his bank account and his mother crying in the driveway as he pulled away from his NY home and family.
Fortunately, he found success, including the #1 iTunes singer-songwriter single “How Bad We Needed Each Other” (from his 2012 self-titled release) and tours with the likes of Dave Barnes, Ben Rector John Oates and Sixpence None the Richer.
For his Sony/ATV debut The Shape I’m In, Scibilia recorded in his home studio (“guitars in the kitchen, vocals in the closet, drums in the main area”), with some additional production at the famed Blackbird Studios and Electric Lady Studios. “I like the mix of two worlds: recording the music in my house, then going up to mix in NYC at Electric Lady. It doesn’t hurt getting a guy like Michael Brauer (Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, John Mayer) to pull all the sounds together,” he says.
While he’s released music before, The Shape I’m In serves as a real introduction to Scibilia, who proves both a huge talent and a tough artist to pigeonhole. “You can hear the mix I’m going for in this EP,” he says. “I love the Beastie Boys’ Hello Nasty. First record I bought; the drum sounds on there are amazing. But I also grew up really loving Lauryn Hill, and songwriters like Tom Petty and Paul Simon. You can add those influences together and see where I’m going. No preconceptions; if something serves the song and the groove, that’s what I do.”
A good example is the album’s rollicking’ title track, “The Shape I’m In,” which was originally recorded a bit slower. “It was 3 a.m., we were doing some acoustic scratch tracks at Electric Lady, and this riff just came to me after we had already finished a version of,” he says. “It felt so good I thought it was worth re-recording.” The later version based off that riff made the current EP.
“I had doubts we had chosen the right version but while we were mixing one of my musical heroes, Dave Grohl, happened to walk in the studio and hung out for a minute ‚Äî it was a sign to me we were going the right direction. It was awesome.”
A more melodic, story-centered side shines on album standout “Shining Like America,” a semi-true “be careful what you wish for” tale. “I had no money when I started out in Nashville. I was just living in a drum closet of a recording studio, and for some reason I was watching this beauty pageant on TV,” he says. “It was dark times. I was like, what would it be like to meet up with a girl like Miss Tennessee?” [The irony: Scibilia did end up dating a beauty contestant later on. He admits: "It wasn't quite what I was expecting."]
With the EP finished and a full-length on its way early next year, Scibilia plans to hit the road soon and often. Along for the ride: multi-instrumentalist Eric Montgomery and Scibilia’s brother Matthew, a well-respected session player in his own right (including touring and recording with the likes of Cory Chisel and Brendon Benson).
“I owe my family a lot,” says the singer. “They’ve been so supportive. My grandfather never made it out of town, but his 70′s Fender P-bass has toured all over the country with me and my brother and I play it on almost all my recordings. In a way, my grandfather did make it out and I hope this is a realization of his dream, too.”
That said, what happens next is Marc’s journey. And he plans to make it a unique one.
Matt & Kim
For many bands, making music is all about the routine of recording an annual album, or being able to tour in progressively bigger venues. Not Matt and Kim. “Our goal is to make music we want to hear,” says Matt Johnson, who co-founded the band with Kim Schifino. “When it comes time to make a new album, I’m just so excited, since I know we have all these ideas and I just want to get them out there.” As for the band’s extra-emphatic live shows, which these days happen in large venues, he explains, “We’ve always just really enjoyed playing music, and things have kept growing.”
Matt and Kim’s enthusiasm comes across loud and clear on the band’s new album, Lightning, its most diverse and developed to date. From the relentless drive of “Now” to the dance-fueled beat of “Let’s Go” to the more contemplative “Ten Dollars I Found,” Lightning is the strongest distillation yet of Matt and Kim’s unique sound: a spunky hybrid of indelible songs, an emphatic beat and almost tangible energy, mixed with the duo’s influence of listening nonstop to Top 40 Hip-Hop and pop-punk.
To make the album, Matt and Kim spent six months working in their home studio in Brooklyn, producing the record themselves. Lightning is a touch more minimal than their earlier work — with layers taken away, instead of added, enabling its intense performances and memorable tunes to really come to the forefront. “What’s made the songs on this album really strong is we’ve been able to pull a lot off — to not have so much going on — and still have a strong song,” Kim explains.
“It’s easier to make a song with a lot going on,” Matt adds. “It feels very safe. It’s like putting on a lot of clothes: you feel all covered up so no one can judge just one aspect of it, but when you try to break it down to be as simple as can be, you’re really baring it all. When you can see clearly what’s going on, those are the times that the songs are easiest to connect to.”
Connecting with their audience is certainly a key focus for Matt and Kim. The indie dance duo’s live shows — which are legendary for constant, in-your-face exuberance — feel more like vibrant, sweaty loft parties than traditional concerts, for both audiences and the band. “I think we’ve managed to continue to make them feel intimate,” says Matt. “When we first started playing venues instead of playing on the floor at parties, we tried hard to keep the vibe of ‘we’re all doing this together and having a wild time’ going. The show is not just the two of us: it’s the 3002 of us, or however big the venue is.” Or, as in the words of Rolling Stone: “Matt and Kim’s reputation as a live act precedes them — and justifiably so. Simply put, they are a two-person dynamo, frantic, tightly wound, and full of good cheer. Their performances are as physical as they are musical. . . . For sheer adrenaline-per-second, no other band comes close.”
The band started in 2004, essentially by accident when Matt and Kim were art students at the prestigious Pratt Institute, where they studied film and illustration, respectively. When Kim wanted to learn to play drums and Matt (who’d been in bands before) was getting his head around a new keyboard, the band was born. Since then, they have earned a Gold Record for the upbeat, stick-in-your-head track “Daylight,” played festivals like Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo, along with international festivals like V (U.K), Pukkelpop (Belgium), Fuji (Japan), Big Day Out (Australia), Primavera (Spain), Oya (Norway), SWU (Brazil), as well as hundreds of shows. They have won 3 MTV awards: a Breakthrough Video Music Award and mtvU Best Video Woodie Award for “Lessons Learned”, as well as a 2011 award for Best Live Band. Lightning is the band’s fourth album, following Sidewalks, Grand, and their self-titled debut.
Matt and Kim have always been inspired by Brooklyn’s general urban din as well as the area’s artists, yet Matt points out, “I don’t think a place can define a person. We simply write songs about us and our life so that’s why where we live comes up.”
Indeed, there’s something universal about a song with a beat that grabs you, with a great melody, played by a band that simply loves to play music. And that, in Williamsburg and way beyond, is the key to the universal appeal of Matt and Kim.
For the members of Moon Taxi, their third album, Mountains Beaches Cities, represents the idea of exploration — searching both the world and themselves for new experiences. The Nashville rock group, who had honed in on a notably compelling aesthetic with their previous album Cabaret, focused on extending the sonic landscape they’d created in earlier recordings, but this time around they amp up the speed and turn up the volume — creating an overall bigger sound. The album was self-produced by Moon Taxi’s own guitarist Spencer Thomson with the help of keyboardist Wes Bailey and was mixed by Vance Powell (Jack White, The Dead Weather) and mastered by Greg Calbi (Talking Heads, Paul Simon, Fleet Foxes).
“One thing we didn’t want to do was stray too far from what we did before,” Wes says. “We really knew that things for the band had shifted in a good direction and we were growing because of our last record. We wanted to continue the energy we created from that record.” “Like Cabaret, this project started with rough demos that slowly evolved into a statement from not just the initial songwriter, but evolved into a representation of what each of us individually have experienced in this band and how we’ve grown over the years as players,” Tyler adds.
The band, which was founded in 2006, toured extensively in support of Cabaret, appearing at Bonnaroo, Forecastle, and Lollapalooza. Additionally, they have opened for such artists as Matisyahu, Dr. John, and Dirty Heads, and ended 2012 selling out multiple theaters on their own. While on the road, the musicians began to stockpile song ideas and demos, inspired by the trials and tribulations of traveling around the country to play shows. In early 2013, the band went into the studio to begin recording Mountains Beaches Cities with these touring experiences in mind. Much of the recording was done in Spencer’s apartment with only a few days of drum and bass riffs laid down in Nashville’s Sony Tree studio. Although Mountains Beaches Cities feels like an extension of Cabaret’s aesthetic, the new album is explorative, and its lyrics recount a new narrative for the musicians.
Each song on the album, and even the album title, generates its own story and imagery, but all come back to that idea of exploration and searching. “Beaches,” a surging, borderline experimental track Spencer calls “risky and ambitious” transports the listener with its haunting, emotive melody while jangling acoustic song “Young Journey” encapsulates the eye-opening experience of travel. “Morocco,” a propulsive, hooky track about a place none of the musicians have ever been, seeks adventure in the idea of going abroad. The album as a whole is grandiose and invigorating, each track revealing a new chapter in the LP’s overall story. This record, in particular, is important for Moon Taxi, who has been known in the past for its boisterous live appearances, but with Mountains Beaches Cities, it highlights the nearly perfected balance between the recorded material and how it translates to a live stage.
“We made a conscious effort with the last record to write meaningful songs and produce them in an exciting way,” Trevor says. “That is still the ultimate goal. We strive to produce something that will outlast us as a band. I can see this record reaching an even broader range of people because the song themes are universal.”
The sound of Moon Taxi pulls from the many different facets and interests of its members. Trevor, who got his start in music playing trumpet in school, is driven by his love for reading, cooking and yoga; while Tyler, who spent his younger years jamming on a drum kit with friends, is driven by an immense appreciation and knowledge of pop culture. Spencer, who used to record himself in his parents garage, has transformed his knowledge of film into producing videos for Moon Taxi’s music. Wes, meanwhile, developed his musical process from classical composers like Mozart and spends his time on tour searching for golf courses while Tommy spends his free time going to concerts and carefully following Nashville’s local music scene. “I think the exploration aspect of the album came from trying to understand and explore ourselves,” Tommy says. “Personally and musically. As we get older we tend to know ourselves better, but there is always more to understand. You try new things, but continue some of the good habits you’ve learned. As we explored our music, we learned more about ourselves and matured as a band. I think it’s a concept that won’t stop at this record, but will carry on to our live shows and other records down the road.”
Old Salt Union
The five young men who make up Old Salt Union grew up in Belleville, Illinois, the flashpoint for the ’90s alternative-country scene, and they’re still growing. You’ve heard of Bluegrass, and some of you may have no affection for it. But before you dismiss this, stop and listen to these guys. It’s not just Bluegrass. This is Newgrass. This is Popgrass. This is what happens when you fuse guys under the age of 30 who have pure and raw talent, each with a voice which can stand on its own.
They have been flown to L.A where they won 2 Indie Music Channel Awards, released an album, played Wakarusa Music Festival, toured to over 11 states this summer, opened for Sam Bush and The Del McCoury Band, and all of this in under a year of being together. Their immediate influences are of their time ‚Äî Old Crow Medicine Show, Trampled by Turtles, Devil Makes Three ‚Äî and their sensibility is lyrical, romantic, and loose. If they’ll win you over with their harmonies and homesick fiddle, they’ll get you dancing with their rhythms. This band has got a bright future and a lot of picking parties yet to crash.
Ingenious and iconic recording artists and performers, Antwan “Big Boi” Patton and André “3000″ Benjamin today announced via Outkast’s newly launched social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and www.Oukast.com that their return to the stage for their 20th anniversary will include festival dates around the world. After headlining Coachella this April, the influential group will be the marquee act at over 40 festivals around the world throughout the Spring/Summer of 2014 (dates to be announced).
“It’s truly an honor to celebrate 20 years and still be free to do music the way we choose,” said Big Boi. “Don’t just think outside the box, know that there is no box. I’m looking forward to rocking the stage with my Bro Ski and to all the fans – stank you smelly much, this is for y’all!”
“And imagine, all we wanted to do was rap,” says Andre 3000. “I am thankful to have been a part of a group that allowed me to explore anything that came to mind and have fun doing it. Returning to the stage together is the most exciting way for us to thank everyone for their 20 years of supporting Outkast.”
It is impossible to quantify the creative impact and influence of Grammy-Award winning rap duo, Outkast, or the work of its members, André “3000″ Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton. Together and individually, these Atlanta natives have set the bar for originality, blasting genre boundaries and combining mediums since their debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik was released in 1994.
The seismic effects of their originality continued to be felt with each subsequent release and, globally, Outkast has sold more than 25 million albums. Their critically lauded, Platinum-Certified sophomore album ATLiens (1996) was one of the rare works of art to be appreciated for being ahead of its time, in its own time. The double-Platinum Aquemini (1998) and quadruple-Platinum Stankonia (2000) received the highest praises from the loftiest critics to the most dedicated of Hip Hop fans. Both albums were ultimately enshrined in Rolling Stone Magazine’s definitive list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2012. The Diamond-certified Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003) was not only a massive commercial success, it also earned six Grammys, including Album of the Year, making Outkast the first rap group ever to win the award in that coveted category. In 2006, the duo pulled off the unexpected by releasing Idlewild, a film both members starred in, and the accompanying soundtrack which debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
In recent years, Big Boi and André 3000 have frequently collaborators with a multitude of artists. Big Boi has released two critically acclaimed solo albums, Luscious Leftfoot: The Son of Chico Dusty (2010) and Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors (2013). André 3000 appeared in Be Cool, Semi-Pro, Four Brothers, and the upcoming Jimi Hendrix biopic, All Is By My Side. Benjamin’s own high-end clothing line, Benjamin Bixby, debuted in 2010, at which time GQ Magazine named him “Best New Designer of the Year.”
In January 2014, to celebrate Outkast’s 20th anniversary, the duo confirmed plans for a headlining festival run that will begin Friday, April 11 at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, then continue with dates throughout the spring and summer.
Portugal. The Man
It was last spring 2012, and John Gourley‚ frontman of Portugal. The Man‚ found himself in New York City about to ring the bell at Danger Mouse’s apartment–a long way from his current home in Portland, and farther still from his real home in Alaska. Six full-length albums in six years, nonstop touring, a stint with The Black Keys and festival stops at Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza‚ up until this moment, Portugal. The Man embodied all dimensions of DIY rock range.
When it came time to begin work on the seventh album, Gourley thought long and hard about the next move and kept coming back to one concept: The most satisfying work is collaborative work. From building houses with his father in Alaska to building a devoted fanbase, he had sought partnerships. So he took a bold step, bold for a proven band, bolder still for its uncertainty of sound, a step up to the apartment of a possible collaborator, Danger Mouse.
“I walked into his place,” Gourley remembers now. “And it wasn’t going to happen. He was like, ‘Hey, man, just so you know, I don’t really want to record a rock band.’ And I was a little relieved. We’d done this by ourselves before, and we knew we could do it by ourselves again.”
But then they got to listening, and to talking about how much Danger Mouse had loved In the Mountain in the Cloud, the 2011 followup to Portugal. The Man’s break out record The Satanic Satanist. “From that very first meeting,” says Danger Mouse, “we were very ambitious about what we could do‚ otherwise there was no point. So we decided: Let’s try and make something really special.”
So Danger Mouse, aka Brian Burton, the five-time Grammy award winning producer behind everything from Gnarls Barkley and Beck to The Black Keys and now U2, and the band agreed that they were game for the challenge and began production on what would become Evil Friends, the undaunted re-awakening for Portugal. The Man. As much as their collaborative imaginations melded, to construct songs that lived up to the ambitious visions they had would take some time. After all, here was a band with an evolving lineup, Kyle O’Quin on keyboards, Noah Gersh on guitar/percussion/keyboards, and Kane Ritchotte on drums joined Zach Carothers on bass and vocals and Gourley on lead vocals and guitar‚ building new songs with a new producer trying to do something neither of them had done before.
They went, together, to Los Angeles and worked through several sessions‚ at Mondo Studios, Eltro Vox Studios, and Kingsize Soundlabs. The band worked months longer than they ever had on one thing. And somehow, maybe it was the collaboration in the air, or maybe sheer will, they finally stopped searching and started realizing: “What really brought our record together was getting past that period of looking for something, and figuring out how to do something really new, really hard, and really satisfying,” said Gourley.
Each track on Evil Friends is as different from the next as Portugal. The Man’s previous records were from each other, which is to say a piece of a growing mindscape, and wholly a part of the group’s tumbling fever dream. Where the 2009 hit “People Say” was a cheery guitar rally, the new title track is a bells-and-balls ballad emerging from darkness into a pipe-whistling punky thump, albeit with Gourley’s trademark falsetto and thundering guitar. And yet here is Evil Friends swirling, like a tornado that sends a napping child toward Oz, into something of a tale of Portugal. The Man’s arousal from when it decided to make something special to when it actually did: The weighted down questions of “Plastic Soldiers” (Could it be we got lost in the summer? / Well I know you know that it’s over) give way to the confident melodies of “Modern Jesus” (The only rule we need is never giving up / The only faith we have is faith in us) and finally, brazenly, to the anthem “Smile” (We watched the sun come up / But took it down to hide it / Seems like the spring has come and gone / It felt like forever).
It took all year, and Portugal. The Man, a group guaranteed for seven years to pump out a record, to tour and tour and tour, to tuck its fans to bed at night with a community of psychedelic rock, had learned to slow down and transform all-day, all-night recording with Danger Mouse into adrenaline, into words that are at once dark and light, into sounds that are overlapping with danger and charm. The whole “evil friends” thing was just a happy writing accident, by the way, a lyrical coincidence belying a collaborative friendship Burton says taught him, too: “I felt like I was watching them do something special and I wanted to let them do it, so sometimes I was more hands-on, but sometimes more hands-off than I had been with anyone,” says Danger Mouse. “They had done enough albums that I thought it would be fun to shake it up a little bit.”
“In the beginning, I asked Brian why he had wanted to talk about making a record,” recalls Gourley. And he admitted that he was surprised when he saw us live. “I didn’t know you guys could sound like that. There had been this perception that we’ve been something else‚ and I’ve noticed it, at festivals, everywhere, that we were something we were not. But then we got in a room with Danger Mouse, to the place where we could just throw that out, wake up and say, Here we are. We’re this band! Let’s just make it, together.”
Pretty Little Empire
Formed in the fall of 2008, St. Louis’ Pretty Little Empire hit the ground running with their first release, Sweet Sweet Hands, on Bellevue Box Records in October 2009.
While touring and playing shows to support their debut album, the band was simultaneously writing and recording their second. This sophomore effort, Reasons and Rooms, was released in 2010 and proved to be PLE’s most successful to date. The release earned the band local accolades, with The Riverfront Times naming Pretty Little Empire their 2011 pick for Best Americana Rock Band, and bestowing the title of Best Songwriter upon Justin Johnson in the same year.
Pretty Little Empire has trimmed the fat and honed their skills even more on their third, self-titled album, which was released this past October on Extension Chord Records. Working together with producer, David Beeman, PLE has crafted a sound that extends beyond the boundaries of predictable Americana or rock n’ roll. A key component of the band’s identity is revealed in their raw and intense live shows, and this third Pretty Little Empire full-length effectively translates their treasured stage performances to record.
From Johnson’s insistent and aggressive vocal delivery on otherwise melodically sweet tracks like “The Way You Say It” and “Master Plan”, to Will Godfred’s haunting and dreamy guitar tones on “Patina”, this 10-track album revels and excels in contradiction throughout. Wade Durbin and Evan O’Neal on bass and drums, respectively, round this record off by maintaining a solid rhythm section; notice the way they shine on one of the record’s particularly hard-hitters, “Out of Control”.
Pretty Little Empire’s latest self-titled release is the result coming through a period of transition and growth which has lead them to create their finest effort yet. If it is possible to breathe fire and smile simultaneously, this is the album that does it.
Acclaimed remixer/artist RAC (aka Andre Allen Anjos) is the mastermind behind some of the most memorable remixes of recent years, giving the world new takes on tracks by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Lana Del Rey, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes, and many more. RAC’s remixes have reached #1 on the Hype Machine charts 31 times and his first solo recording, “Hollywood,” featuring Penguin Prison hit #1 on all four Hype Machine charts at once. His tracks have over 22 million Soundcloud spins, while tracks from RAC’s debut Don’t Talk To EP have been streamed over 5.5 million times with 5 of the songs making it into Hype Machine’s Top 50 Tracks of 2013. Originally born and raised in Portugal, RAC settled in Portland, Oregon, where he began to forge his unique brand of indie-pop culminating with the release of his first full- length original album Strangers out n ow on Cherrytree Records.
Roadkill Ghost Choir
Emerging fully-formed from the desolate heart of Central Florida, Roadkill Ghost Choir make unsettling, powerful American rock, Tom Petty by way of Radiohead and Cormac McCarthy. Set against Kiffy Meyer’s ghostly steel pedal, singer and main songwriter Andrew Shepard triumphantly conjures an allegorical American landscape of drifters, specters and violent saints. Andrew’s brothers Maxx (drums) and Zach (bass) Shepard round out the rhythm section, and Stephen Garza handles lead guitar.
The band released their debut EP ‘Quiet Light’ in 2013 in the midst of a touring run that saw them opening for Band of Horses and 2013 festival slots at New York’s Governor’s Ball, Austin City Limits and Shaky Knees in Atlanta, GA. In January 2014 the band was invited to perform on the David Letterman Show, where they performed standout track “Beggar’s Guild.” Their debut full-length, recorded in Athens, Georgia and in their home studio in Deland, Florida with producer Doug Boehm, will be out later this year. The band will be touring supporting the new album, including stops at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.
San Fermin is the work of Brooklyn composer and songwriter Ellis Ludwig-Leone. His self-titled debut album is strongly influenced by his unique background in classical music, which includes a job assisting composer/arranger Nico Muhly.
After finishing his musical studies at Yale, Ludwig-Leone wrote the album in six weeks while holed up in a studio on the mountainous border between Alberta and British Columbia. He focused on life ºs top-shelf issues — youth, nostalgia, anxiety, unrequited love — and tied these vast themes to different characters through vocal contributions from longtime friend Allen Tate, as well as Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius.
The first track released from the album, “Sonsick,” tackles many of these larger themes head-on. “It’s like a panic attack disguised as a birthday party,” Ludwig-Leone says. “I realized that the most intense moments are the ones in which conflicting emotional worlds exist inside you, equally, at once.”
San Fermin is not an album of singles but rather a sweeping, full-bodied listen with multiple distinct peaks and ambitious thematic connections. Ludwig-Leone composed all of the album’s arrangements and lyrics in full prior to collaborating and recording, noting that “writing for a large group of unknown musicians infused the writing process with a kind of operatic scope.
Since then, the band has coalesced into a core of eight members in addition to Ludwig-Leone: Allen Tate and Charlene Kaye, lead vocals; Rebekah Durham, vocals/violin; John Brandon, trumpet; Stephen Chen, saxophone; Tyler McDiarmid, guitar; and Mike Hanf, drums.
San Fermin is available now on CD, vinyl and digital outlets via Downtown Records. The name is pronounced [SAN fur-MEEN]
SKATERS formed in NYC in 2012. The group’s birth can be traced to a hectic 24 hours in Los Angeles in the summer of 2011, when singer and songwriter Michael Ian Cummings met English guitarist Josh Hubbard at a party at a “really fancy-ass house,” as Cummings recalls.
A few months later, the still band-less Cummings got a call from Hubbard announcing that he’d be arriving in NYC the following day from the U.K. He’d be in town for a month and a half and wanted the group to play a gig. So they hooked up with Drummer Noah Rubin and local bassist Dan Burke, booked three shows, learned some songs Cummings and Rubin had been tinkering with (and a handful of Pixies covers), and SKATERS was formed. Later that year, the band signed to Warner Bros. Records.
Their debut record, MANHATTAN, shares stories of the city where they met. “We were all bartenders, so the songs are tales of experiences we had or saw, and other people who were characters in our life during the first year we were in this band,” Cummings says.
The disc was recorded by John Hill (Santigold, Wavves) in the API room at Greenwich Village’s iconic Electric Lady Studios, named after its one-of-a-kind board, which Laura Nyro had custom-made to match the drapes in her NYC apartment.
“It’s like short stories,” Cummings adds, deadpanning, “It’s Salinger’s Nine Stories but it’s Eleven Stories by SKATERS. “And the writing is much worse.”
Those Darlins are carving this legendary country western town (Nashville) a new legacy.” -NME
Those Darlins are an amazing band, and their songwriting/arranging this masterful elevates Blur The Line to modern-classic status. – BLURT
“Those Darlins come off like the toughest, most dangerous group around. They deliver thrilling song after thrilling song that’ll have you hyping them to all your rock & roll friends as soon the album stops spinning.” – ALL MUSIC GUIDE
“Those Darlins have mouths on them, yes they do. But their mouths are connected to their hearts and minds, and amped by loud guitars” – ROBERT CHRISTGAU A-, NPR’s ALL THING CONSIDERED
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
New Orleans native Trombone Shorty began his career as a bandleader at the young age of six, toured internationally at age 12, and spent his teens playing with various brass bands throughout New Orleans and touring worldwide with Lenny Kravitz. He is currently the front man for his own ensemble Orleans Avenue, a funk/rock/jazz/hip-hop band. Together, Trombone Shorty and the band have toured across the U.S., Europe, Australia, Russia, Japan and Brazil. In 2010, Trombone Shorty released his debut album, the Grammy-nominated “Backatown,” followed by “For True” in 2011, which topped Billboard magazine’s Contemporary Jazz Chart for 12 weeks. His newest album, “Say That to This,” was released in 2013 and features funk/jazz elements of New Orleans. Trombone Shorty appeared in several episodes of HBO’s “Treme,” and has recently appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and “Conan.” In 2012, he performed at the White House in honor of Black History Month with music royalty such as B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck and Booker T. Jones. At this year’s Grammy Awards, he performed alongside Madonna, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Mary Lambert. In 2012, he received the President’s Medal from Tulane University in recognition of his charitable work with the Trombone Shorty Foundation. In collaboration with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, the Trombone Shorty Foundation donates quality instruments to schools across New Orleans.
For Ume, music is the embodiment of contradiction. The Austin band’s powerful rock songs contain a multitude of opposing juxtapositions, balancing elegance with brutality, strength with fragility, ferocious metal and sweet melody. These paradoxes resound through the trio’s new album, Monuments, a collection of songs that reimagine heavy music and is as beautiful as it is massive. When the musicians began writing for the album, after touring over 200 dates in support of their acclaimed debut Phantoms, the emphasis was on translating the impassioned force of Ume’s momentous live show onto a recording. Rarely has the platform for women in rock been updated as authoritatively as it has been with this band and this new album.
“There’s always been a complete lack of inhibition in our live show,” Lauren says. “I don’t know if that’s necessarily been captured the same way on our recordings. So with this record we tried to embrace that sense of abandon and emotional catharsis in the studio as well. We didn’t hold anything back.”
Recorded with Grammy-winning producer Adam Kasper (Queens of the Stone Age, Cat Power, Foo Fighters, Nirvana) at Robert Lang Studios and Studio X in Seattle, WA, Monuments is Ume’s most colossal sounding recording yet. The recording process was about “just playing the songs and letting the sounds unfurl in an honest and true way,” Lauren says. For the band, the process was as much about self-understanding as it was about tangible creation.
“Adam gravitated toward a lot of my demos that I was unsure about and he helped me see myself as a songwriter for the first time,” Lauren says. “I felt we could take more risks, because we could be free from all preconceptions and ultimately focus on the songs. So one moment we’re drawing inspiration from a Dionne Warwick record I found at an estate sale, and on the next track I’m trying to channel my inner-Iommi.”
Monuments emphasizes the intense power for which Ume has earned live acclaim, but also urges stronger variety of sound and greater emotional range. The album equally contains the heaviest riffs the band has written and their most vulnerable sonic moments, connected by an overarching tone of honesty and freedom. From the first blast of the opening track “Black Stone,” there is no doubt this is a record driven by one of today’s most ascendant shredders, and one that is also not afraid to subvert rock conventions. Cohesive but unorthodox, the album deftly balances the propulsive, surging rock of songs like “Too Big World” and “Chase It Down” with the raw, acoustic introspection of “Barophobia” and “Within My Bones.” At the record’s emotional epicenter is “Gleam,” a dedication to Esme Barrera, one of Lauren’s fellow Girl’s Rock Camp volunteers who was murdered during the writing of the record.
“Monuments began as an attempt to deal with loss, yearning, and struggle,” Lauren says. “But it became a process through which I learned to really embrace this life, loved-ones and this chance to make music.”
Lauren and Eric began making music together after meeting at a skatepark in highschool. Shortly after forming Ume, Lauren moved on to attend graduate school in philosophy, but eventually traded in the PhD pursuit to follow her guitar heroine dreams. Driven by a desire to share how they felt as kids the first time they saw Fugazi, Lauren and Eric have logged tens of thousands of miles together on the road, moving from basements and dive bars to major festivals like Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest and Paris’ Rock En Seine.
The band has shared the stage with The Smashing Pumpkins, Warpaint, …And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Franz Ferdinand, Helmet, Wu-Tang, and Foals, and were personally called by Perry Farrell to open for Jane’s Addiction at their Lollapalooza afterparty. Ume appeared on the 2012 Season Premiere of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, who celebrated the band as “a shitload of rawk in a tiny little room” before taking them to dinner during SXSW. The band’s name – pronounced “ooo-may” – was taken from a Japanese plum blossom that they later learned symbolizes perseverance and devotion, a moniker that aptly reflects the musicians’ tenacity and passion.
“I’m a pretty stoic person, but when I heard this new record I actually cried,” Lauren says. “I think it expresses the story of what brought us here, and is in a lot of ways a celebration of not giving up. It sounds like who we really are.”
Vintage Trouble formed in 2010 out of the ashes of a few other bands, and not by chance, Ty Taylor (vocal) and Nalle Colt (guitar) teamed up with drummer Richard Danielson and bassist Rick Barrio Dill. They entered The Bomb Shelter Studio, recorded an album’s worth of material in three days, which was intended to be demos and ended up being pressed into CDs. The Bomb Shelter Sessions became Vintage Trouble’s first album. Selling it at their gigs was easy and not surprisingly so were the calls to feature their music in several commercial media.
With a unified decision to stay in Los Angeles to build their musical foundation as a band, weekly residences in the area lead to a large assembly of fans in a short amount of time. These fans became known as the “TroubleMakers.” It was that underground buzz that lead to legendary manager Doc McGhee taking notice and signing Vintage Trouble to his roster after hearing only a single chorus. Doc’s first order of business became breaking the band in England, right away. Their first venture overseas resulted in a similar groundswell with Music Weekly naming them 2011 Breakout Artist of the Year and HMV hailing them as their “Next Big Thing.”
Their return to the U.S. and Harvelle’s was nothing short of epic, with a line forming down the block before the club even opened. Vintage Trouble felt the homecoming as a true testament to their fans’ dedication at spreading the word and sharing their music. The crowd inside was just as amped; young and old, newbies and old faithful, all anticipating the transference of energy from the band to their soles. Vintage Trouble didn’t disappoint. The next day the band would be on a plane back to London to appear on Later‚Ä¶ with Jools Holland. This performance was one of the most talked about of the year, blowing up Twitter as the 6th most tweeted topic worldwide just hours after the show. The very next day, their self-released debut, The Bomb Shelter Sessions entered the charts, becoming the No. 1 “R&B Album” and No. 2 “Rock Album” on Amazon UK‚ÄîNo. 6 on Amazon overall and No. 13 on iTunes, charting in the “UK Top 40″ by the time it was officially released in July.
The band went on to play 80 shows in 100 days in front of an estimated 400,000 people throughout the UK and Germany. The next three months brought them an opportunity playing theaters, opening for Brian May’s Anthems Tour, and then as the support for Bon Jovi in stadiums and arenas on the UK, Ireland and German legs of the tour, playing to over 200,000 people in just under two weeks‚Äîall the while headlining smaller venues, after-hours clubs, and pubs. Guitarist Magazine ran a feature about Nalle, and The Bomb Shelter Sessions was named one of the “Top 25 Guitar Albums of the Year” by Total Guitar Magazine. They won the Classic Rock Award for “Best New Band of 2011″‚Äîan honor that German Music Magazine would also bestow upon them.
Things exploded around their penultimate show in Glasgow. The demand for tickets was so great that they were bumped up from a 500 seat venue to play for over 800 freshly converted “TroubleMakers.” Ty was invited to front Queen for Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday celebration in London, setting the stage for Vintage Trouble to embark on their third overseas tour, with destinations including Italy, Germany, Paris, Belgium, and the Netherlands. They played Hyde Park Main Stage twice in eight days (The Wireless Festival and Hard Rock Calling). They were featured on Sky News, recorded an MTV The Studio Sessions with Tony Visconti, in addition to 17 live radio sessions throughout the tour, including Radio 2- Janice Long, 6 Music With Craig Charles, Q Radio, BBC Radio London and BBC Radio Scotland.
2012 proved to be just as busy. The band sold out The Troubadour in Los Angeles and took up residencies at both The Cosmopolitan and Hard Rock Hotels in Las Vegas. Their first video “Nancy Lee,” filmed entirely with an iPhone, won at the Original iPhone Film Fest, not just taking the Music Video category, but the festival’s grand prize as well. In February, Google Music selected Vintage Trouble as the featured artist at Sundance where their live performance rocked the film community and they made their first appearance in Rolling Stone. Their too-brief Australian tour included the Sydney Festival and the Australian Film Awards and was met with such an overwhelming response that a return trip is guaranteed sooner rather than later. Vintage Trouble’s SXSW showcase in Austin was named “the fourth best live performance of the festival” by Paste Magazine (only behind The Jesus and Mary Chain, Jack White and Bruce Springsteen). In celebration of the official U.S. release of The Bomb Shelter Sessions, Best Buy also featured Vintage Trouble on their TV screens in stores nationwide.
The release of The Bomb Shelter Sessions, combined with their electric live show has catapulted Vintage Trouble into the US limelight, earning them a sponsorship by Supercuts, an iTunes rock download of the week for new song “Pelvis Pusher,” along with praise from NPR, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal and Billboard for what The New York Times raves, “Like Otis Redding, Vintage Trouble makes music that is a little bit of everything … You can slow dance, groove, rock and let it all go.”
Following unforgettable TV performances on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Conan and Jimmy Kimmel Live, Vintage Trouble recently wowed audiences at this year’s SXSW festival, capturing the attention of Yahoo Music who raves, “Imagine James Brown singing lead for Led Zeppelin, and you’ll get an idea of Vintage Trouble’s muscular, in-the-pocket sound.”
Vintage Trouble is currently on a world tour that has already seen them open for Lenny Kravitz, The Cranberries, Joss Stone and recently, The Who. Their world tour continues in 2013 with performances at Coachella, Glastonbury and Rock In Rio, a Japanese headlining run and The Who’s European Tour. The band will open for The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park in London this July, and will return to the US for a headlining tour in August.
Vintage Trouble’s Ty Taylor, Nalle Colt, Richard Danielson and Rick Barrio Dill together form a quartet of sincere musicians whose combination of hard work, talent, and luck are undoubtedly going to take them right where they deserve to be: on our radios, in our cars, our headphones, our televisions, at the venues where we go to see our favorite bands and on the soundtrack of our favorite moments in life.
By Nick Faigen
The music recorded by Ernest Greene as Washed Out has been nothing if not dreamy, but for his second full-length, he’s taken the idea of letting your mind wander to another state a huge leap further. On Paracosm, due out Aug. 13 on Sub Pop, the Georgia-based musician explores the album’s namesake phenomenon, where people create detailed imaginary worlds. The concept has been used to describe fantasy lands like Tolkien’s Middle Earth and C.S. Lewis’ Narnia, and it’s at the heart of the 2004 documentary In The Realms Of The Unreal about outsider artist Henry Darger.
The idea of escaping is all over Paracosm’s lyrics, and it’s also the main thrust behind the music, which finds Greene distancing himself from the modes and methods that informed Washed Out’s previous recordings. No, he hasn’t thrown away his computer or synths, but Greene made a conscious decision to expand his sonic palette, which resulted in the employment of more than 50 different instruments, the most significant of which turned out to be old keyboards like the Mellotron, Chamberlin, Novatron, and Optigan. Designed during the middle of last century and made up of prerecorded sounds with individual notes sampled for each key of the chromatic scale (the flute sound in The Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Forever” is a well-known example of the Mellotron in action), these relics allowed Greene to use his sampling expertise while also offering the flexibility to explore new creative avenues.
“I’ve grown as a songwriter to the point where I want to have more involved arrangements, and that’s really hard to do with sampling,” says Greene. “These machines were kind of a happy medium: The sounds have a very worn, distressed quality about them, much like an old sample. But they also offer much more flexibility because they’re playable. Pretty much all the keyboard sounds, and strings and harps and vibraphones‚Äîall of that comes from these old machines.”
Following two years on the road in support of the critically acclaimed Within And Without‚Äîwhich itself followed the lauded Life Of Leisure EP, led by the otherworldly magic of “Feel It All Around,” which can still be heard during Portlandia’s opening credits‚Äîhe and his wife, Blair (who plays in the Washed Out live band), decided to relocate from the big-city hubbub of Atlanta to a house on the outskirts of Athens. Working daily for nearly six months, it was easy for Greene to begin shutting out the real world in favor of an alternate universe of his own making, with the rural setting acting as a prime catalyst.
“Subconsciously that’s a big inspiration for some of the sounds,” says Greene, who completed about two-thirds of the record in Athens before finishing up in Atlanta with Ben H. Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter, Gnarls Barkley), who also worked on Within And Without. “While the last record was very minimal, very monochromatic in a way, I knew from the beginning I wanted this record to be optimistic, very much a daytime-sounding album. I think the last record felt more nocturnal in some ways. This one I just imagined being outside, surrounded by a beautiful, natural environment.”
Listeners will be immediately struck by Paracosm’s seamless melding of organic and synthetic sounds, which are related to Washed Out’s past but also find Greene redefining his trademark dreaminess. (The songs themselves are also seamless, connected in such a way that they tell a linear sonic story.) The live drums, bass, and guitar recorded at Allen’s Maze Studios help take the new material to another level‚Äîspecifically a place where, despite the vintage instruments and Greene’s throwback tendencies, everything feels like it was made right here and now. It also has a more human quality to it than most people are probably used to hearing on an electronic album. Take, for instance, the sunny, laid-back groove of the appropriately titled “Great Escape” (“All I need is the simple life / make believe the world has vanished around us”) and first single “It All Feels Right,” which is as wonderfully hypnotic as anything in Washed Out’s discography yet uses an almost tropical feel to get there.
“‘It All Feels Right’ was one of the first songs that I started for Paracosm,” says Greene. “It’s my favorite song on the album because it’s the closest to the vision I had when I started. Paracosm is the first work I’ve done where I knew from the beginning what I wanted it to sound like.”
Elsewhere, amidst the sound of kids playing and birds chirping, Paracosm offers plenty of opportunities to sing along, including with the beautifully bent “Don’t Give Up,” the jangle-squiggle jam “All I Know” (which sounds like Smiths-era Johnny Marr collaborating with Passion Pit), and the romantic-pop tune “Falling Back.” Regardless of where you turn, the album is packed with beautiful moments, the most moving of which can be heard while Greene gets his shoegaze on during the Cocteau Twins-esque “Weightless” and album closer “All Over Now.”
With its gorgeous execution and uplifting attitude, Paracosm is primed to be this year’s summer record that gets you through the winter. And it promises to do what its name suggests: Take listeners to another, better, world.
Yo La Tengo
Fade is the most direct, personal and cohesive album of Yo La Tengo’s career. Recorded with John McEntire at Soma Studios in Chicago, it recalls the sonic innovation and lush cohesion of career high points like 1997‘s I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One and 2000’s …And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out. The album is a tapestry of fine melody and elegant noise, rhythmic shadowplay and shy-eyed orchestral beauty, songfulness and experimentation.
But Fade attains a lyrical universality and hard-won sense of grandeur that’s rare even for this band. It weaves themes of aging, personal tragedy and emotional bonds into a fully-realized whole that recalls career-defining statements like Blood on the Tracks, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, or Al Green’s Call Me.
“Nothing ever stays the same / Nothing’s explained,” the band sing in unison on the reflective opening track “Ohm”. “We try not to lose our hearts / Not to lose our minds.” It’s a straightforward sentiment for a band who prefer private intimation to forceful expression. It makes the song’s resistance to resignation feel that much more earned.
This is the first time Yo La Tengo has collaborated with producer John McEntire, best known for his work in Tortoise as well as for recording such artists as Bright Eyes, Stereolab and Teenage Fanclub. He has helped the band hone a set of songs as multifaceted as they are seamless — flowing from the low-key shimmy of “Well You Better” to the muted motorik kick of “Stupid Things” to the cozy distortion of “Paddle Forward,” and right through to the cagey groove, horns and strings of the gorgeous album closer, “Before We Run,” in which Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan sing “Take me to your distant lonely place / Take me out beyond mistrust.”
Fade’s emotional core sits at its very center with two songs, one sung by Kaplan and one by Hubley. The tender, raw, Kaplan-sung ballad “I’ll Be Around” pivots around a circular guitar figure set against James McNew’s pulsating bassline. The song’s simplicity and starkness stand like a beacon against the emptiness. The following track, “Cornelia and Jane,” features Hubley gently singing, “I hear them whispering, they analyze / But no one knows what’s lost in your eyes / Sending the message that doesn’t get to you / How can we care for you?” supported by whispering cushions of horns and delicate vocal harmonies. The effect is both heartbreaking and reassuring.
Yo La Tengo is one of the most beloved and respected bands in America. For nearly thirty years, Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew have enjoyed success entirely on their own terms – playing the world’s best concert halls, museums, and dives, dominating critics’ lists, doing a Simpsons theme, playing the Velvet Underground in “I Shot Andy Warhol,” sharing stages with some of the most important musicians of our time, and even creating a holiday tradition onto themselves with their yearly series of Hanukkah shows at Hoboken, New Jersey’s legendary club Maxwells, from which they’ve donated hundreds of thousands to charity.
Young & Sick
Young & Sick released the first single “House of Spirits” in October 2012.
In November 2012, a collaboration between Young & Sick and Irish electronic artist MMOTHS was featured in The Fader in their exclusive mixes.
In March of 2013 Young & Sick turned down six-figure recording contracts from major music labels to release their second single “Continuum” via Tor “The Underweb.” The song and method of release was featured by outlets such as Forbes, Business Insider, and Pitchfork.
The project has been featured in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Vice Magazine, The Fader, Amoeba Music, Blare Magazine and others.