The Dominican Republic-born, Florida-bred George Lewis Jr. adopted the Twin Shadow moniker in 2006, and has released two previous albums via Terrible and 4AD--2010's "Forget" and 2012's "Confess"--the latter an internationally acclaimed release that Pitchfork hailed for it's "brash lyrics [and] laser-focused songwriting."
Stunning performances everywhere from Fallon and Conan to Coachella and Bonnaroo have cemented Twin Shadow as one of the most charismatic and compelling frontmen in music today.
The upcoming "Eclipse" (out 3/17), has been earning outstanding praise from press. Dazed & Confused calls it "stunning [and] sultry," The FADER lauds it's "burly rock swagger" and Stereogum says it's "possibly the biggest, grandest thing that Lewis has ever recorded."
Listen: "I'm Ready"
Will Butler has been a core member of the band Arcade Fire for over 10 years. The upcoming "Policy" (out 3/10) is his first release under his own name and is American music—in the tradition of the Violent Femmes, The Breeders, The Modern Lovers, Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson, The Magnetic Fields, Ghostface Killah. And John Lennon (I know, but it counts). Music where the holy fool runs afoul of the casual world.
"Policy" was recorded in one week in Jimi Hendrix's old living room (upstairs at Electric Lady Studios). Jeremy Gara played drums; other musicians contributed woodwinds and backing vocals. Most everything else was played by Will.
The song structures are traditional; the arrangements are clean. The music is experimental only in that it attacks consistency as a requirement for sincerity. The songs are angry, loving, joking, tired, honest, idiotic. They clash against each other but also fit and work to- gether—as if a blind watchmaker made a Frankenstein watch that came alive and told extremely accurate time while having conflicting feelings about its creator. No, about creation itself. But then the watch makes friends with a talking rat, and they go on hilarious adventures until it turns out that the rat was dead the whole time. With a really good credits song—I mean, the whole soundtrack is excellent. You should check it out.
"A golden despondency" is how Kevin Barnes translates the meaning behind "Aureate Gloom", the title he gave of Montreal's thirteenth full-length album.
The oxymoron is one Barnes says best describes the overall state of his life and mental outlook while working on the record: first on a writing retreat in New York City, then while demoing tracks in Athens, before finally recording at Sonic Ranch, just across the border from Juarez, Mexico in the Texan desert.
While many bands rely on vague platitudes as an attempt to make their songs universally applicable, Barnes chooses to take the opposite tact — penning lyrics so personal they sound like entries ripped from a journal that should be permanently kept under lock and key.
"I was going through a very stormy period in my life and felt like I was just completely trashed," reveals Barnes. "I might be guilty of sharing or exposing too much of my private life, but to me the best albums are those that help people connect with an artist on a deep, human level and that do so without too much artifice or evasiveness."
For inspiration — and to put a bit of distance between himself and the events and people he writes so unequivocally about — Barnes spent two weeks in New York City this past spring.
While there, he wandered around Chelsea, Greenwich Village, SoHo, and Chinatown, imagining what it was like 40 years ago, picturing himself as Tom Verlaine or Patti Smith, or James Chance.
"Bassem Sabry" (named for the Egyptian journalist who died tragically in the spring of 2014), is perhaps of Montreal's most political song to date, with Barnes proclaiming "Every leader is a cellophane punk," while handclaps and danceable drums incite the listener to follow his command: "If you hear me, say 'Yeah!' 'Yeah!' 'Yeah!'"
The energy remains high for "Last Rites At The Jane Hotel," which channels Barnes innermost T. Rex while staying true to of Montreal's signature kaleidoscopic song structure.
"Empyrean Abattoir" begins dark and brooding before unfurling into a revved up Television-inspired outro, as all the while Barnes lays bare his most gut-wrenching lyrics.
Closing track "Like Ashoka's Inferno Of Memory" ends the record on an appropriately epic note, reveling in its seemingly effortless shifting of tempos and tones — a microcosm, really, of the overall album's auditory audaciousness.
Like 2013's "Lousy with Sylvianbriar", "Aureate Gloom" was recorded directly to tape with musicians Kevin Barnes (guitar, vocals), Clayton Rychlik (drums), Bob Parins (bass), Bennett Lewis (guitar), and JoJo Glidewell (keys), plus the help of engineer Drew Vandenberg.
Having already spent many of the previous months touring together, the strength of the members' musical rapport was instantly apparent. The group completed nearly a song a day during their stay in the desert and even wrote a brand new track on the spot, "Apollyon Of Blue Room," whose title references a supposedly haunted bedroom in a hacienda on the studio grounds.
Working at such a breakneck pace, there was no time to nitpick, to dissect, to overanalyze. Only later, upon arriving back home, was Barnes able to take a step back and fully appreciate what he and his band had accomplished.
With "Aureate Gloom", of Montreal have created one of the most unflinching, confessional and starkly emotional albums in their oeuvre.
Listen: "Empyrean Abattoir"
Rocketing to the forefront of the music world in 1992, Scott Weiland has become one of music's most highly respected and prolific artists. As the front man for Stone Temple Pilots, Weiland has remained a dominant force in rock music since the group's inception.
The forthcoming "Blaster" (out 3/31) was produced by Rick Parker [Black Rebel Motorcycle Club] and recorded throughout 2014 at Lavish Studios in Burbank and at The Sandbox in Beachwood Canyon. "Blaster" features twelve tracks, all but one were written by Weiland. Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts hit the road in February in support of the new project and Additional shows will be added, but the 2x Grammy winning, multi-platinum selling songwriter/vocalist and his band already have a busy spring, with previously announced shows at SXSW, the Sundance Film Festival and additional festival dates soon TBA!
Listen: "Way She Moves " (radio edit)
The five gentlemen who bring Fort Lean to life met a decade ago at the famously freewheeling site of institutional discovery called Wesleyan University. Jake, Sam and Zach formed a band on the first day of class and were joined a few years later by Keenan and Will. The "P.C.U." school's hyper-social climate and bevy of battling bands set the tone for the real world beyond its progressive quad. After graduating, the group's members relocated to New York to start fresh, playing music in other outfits and holding down jobs. A few years later the quintet reconvened as Fort Lean.
Fort Lean projects itself into the vague physical space suggested by its name. Here they have forged an identity and established roles that sidestep the hierarchy of traditional bands. Jake, on bass, is the visionary technician; Zach, on guitar, is the big-picture conceptualizer; Sam is that rare drummer with compositional knack; Keenan, the singer, is the guiding soul of the group; Will, on keys, is the finisher, the closer, the icing. But while these roles do exist, it's never quite clear who is doing what
"It's a warped normalcy," says Keenan. "There are elements in our music that you might think you've heard before but they translate to something different when the parts come together." Layers of sound interweave, blending the familiar and unfamiliar. In their words, it's like a bootleg vacation, the idea of an escape that is compromised or somehow undercut; a kid on holiday with his parents, free but for the hotel walls.
Fort Lean released two early EPs, earning glowing reviews in The New York Times and shows with HAIM, Future Islands, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Now comes "Quiet Day", the debut LP on Ooh La La Records. The album is a collision of moods and tones, approachable and ambitious but delivered with a sideways subtlety. The collective songwriting is cohesive yet contains the disparate perspectives of its five writers. This is versatile stuff, appropriate for a crowd at a party or for the introspective headphoner.
"What we're trying to explore sonically is something true to life, where there are moments of pleasure and peace that coexist with moments of surprise and chaos, " says Zach.
"It's aspirational," says Keenan. "We're trying to build a world."
Welcome to Fort Lean.
"Let It Reign" was recorded in LA and features guest musicians, such as Beastie Boys percussionist Alfredo Ortiz. "I actually started making this record solo, but the long and short of it is I just didn't like my own company," says Carl, adding that he soon realized that he wanted to get a new band together.
Rather than call up some old mates to recruit for The Jackals, Carl decided to post a few ads online asking if there were any likeminded souls out there who wanted to try their luck at playing with him. The response was overwhelming, with thousands of people replying. Carl adds "I was lucky, because I found a bunch of people who genuinely fit together as a gang."
"The most electric and exuberant record he's made since 'Up The Bracket'"--NME (8/10)
"35 minutes of punky swagger...it's a stormer."--The Guardian (4 Stars)
"It's uplifting stuff. Barât is certainly on tasty form."--Q (4 Stars)
Rolling Stone (4 Stars)
"Barât has brought a lot of what made The Libertines so effective in this new project, mostly the endless attitude and slightly ramshackle approach and song structures."--Consequence Of Sound
Listen: "A Storm is Coming"
Before she died, Matt Sheehy's mother used to tell him about a dream she had about Lost Land Lake—a place she spent part of her mid-western childhood. That dream inspired the name of the Juneau-born, Portland-based songwriter's band, and her memory is imbued in Lost Lander's "Medallion". If "DRRT", the group's first independently released album, was about the confluence of nature and technology, "Medallion", its latest, concerns dualities - experiences of love and loss, impermanence and longevity, death and rebirth.
The confrontation of these dualities resulted in a set of songs that explore "more human territory," according to Sheehy, a professional forester who spend his days in Oregon's immense wooded expanse - where he collects data while occasionally dodging 1,000-pound bull elks and the stray hunter's bullet.
The coming-apart of Sheehy's marriage engagement and nearly concurrent loss of his mother, followed closely by the blooming of a relationship with longtime friend and bandmate Sarah Fennell, heavily influenced the lyrics on "Medallion".
Lost Lander's "Medallion" was recorded with producer Brent Knopf (Ramona Falls, Menomena), but also owes its current form to Sheehy's bandmates; keyboardist Fennell, drummer Patrick Hughes and ex-bassist Dave Lowensohn. "Medallion" also features Beirut trumpet player Kelly Pratt, Akron/Family's Dana Jenssen, and new bass and guitar player, William Seiji Marsh.
"It's a tightrope act with the band Lost Lander, a tension created by catchy loops, and layered lyrics, either of which are all too easy to get lost in."--KEXP
Listen: "Gemini" (radio edit)
A stalwart of Austin indie rock and one of the city's most highly regarded songwriters, Aaron Sinclair has teamed up with Dangerbird Records for the national release of the new album "Pretty Girls" under the moniker A. Sinclair. 12 songs are available digitally now and a 6-song 10" vinyl EP arrives October 28. A. Sinclair’s recent releases have drawn the attention of press around the country, intrigued by a sound that the Austin Chronicle described as "tension-driven" with "tight, rough riffs and sharp post-punk lines." SPIN remarked on the underlying feeling of "twitchy paranoia" that permeates Sinclair's songwriting, which Baeble Music described as having a "strung- out urgency."
A. Sinclair’s rock passport has a number of notable stamps: First Houston, his hometown, where he initially picked up a guitar with friends and considered it to be a reasonable enough vehicle by which to leave. Then it was on to Boston, where Sinclair established himself in the mid-aughts first as the drummer for Drexel and then as a member of The Lot Six, the widely-beloved band that grew out of that city’s fertile Tarantulas punk scene, and with whom Sinclair crisscrossed the country for 4 years, steadiy building a loyal following on the East Coast until it was over in 2006.
Meanwhile, Sinclair made a name for himself with his own band Frank Smith, the band through which he explored a rootsier sound while touring, recording, and collaborating with friends like Juliana Hatfield, who released two of the band's albums on her own label.
Later that year, Sinclair made the decision to relocate to Austin in his home state of Texas and rebuild first his band and ultimately, himself. With a fresh start, a new band name and a collection of songs that more than validate the impressive display of resolve, A. Sinclair's 'Pretty Girls' is the sound of an artist crashing ahead, unafraid to dig in even harder on being great, even if it means blowing it all up first.
Paste praised A. Sinclair's ability “let the music speak for itself” with a sound that can only be described as “full-on rock," while the critics at the UK site The Line of Best Fit were drawn to the combination of "massive guitars" and "boozy vocals," with "swagger, melody and timeless drive.”
Listen: "Suit Up"
The Singularity's first single and video, "Wetter", off the upcoming self-produced/released album, is a modern day blast of a good time glam stomper and we're very excited deliver it to you first!
Frontman and multi-instrumentalist Julian Shah Tayler's childlike fascination with science, space and the big questions that trouble the human condition has fueled the creative output of The Singularity's electronic rock and roll since the band's inception in 2012.
"Everything burst out of the center of a supermassive black hole," remarks Julian, "and we are going back there one day, so let's just enjoy it." This sentiment pretty much sums up The Singularity's manifesto and echoes the hedonistic attitude of the band.
A Londoner relocated to LA, Julian's catalog of music prolifically exceeds 300 songs, many of which have been featured in films and hit TV shows including Breaking Bad, The Sopranos and The Newsroom, while also turning up on broadcasts ranging from UK television's Popstar to NBC Sports.
In 2014, The Singularity (aka singer/producer/writer Julian Shah-Tayler) won a Golden Trailer award for his work with Lana Del Ray on Disney's "Maleficent" trailer. He also performed one of his songs in front of Bill Clinton, Robert DeNiro and Martin Scorsese for the Unite For Humanity charity at the Oscars. Three of his songs were the "hits" for the focus band in the music movie "Plush", directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Lords Of Dogtown). He did all this while co-founding an LA charity called Art Angeles, teaching music to underprivileged kids in Watts.
"'Wetter' is Massive. It will make Julian a star, like a great version of Prince."--Alan McGee (Creation Records)
"Very Impressed!"--David J (Love & Rockets, Bauhaus)
Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
Mixing witty, often hilarious, occasionally even heartbreaking observations with devastating self-assessment, Courtney Barnett's debut album, "Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit", cements her standing as one of the most distinctive and compelling voices in indie rock. These songs reveal not only an assured songwriter and guitar player, but also an artist who in just a few years has already proved highly influential.
Fuelled by the nimble crunch of her guitar and the loose groove of the rhythm section, Courtney Barnett's songs are wild and shaggy and wordy, her lyrics plainspoken and delivered like she's making them up on the spot. The music is rooted in the slack jangle of the late 1980s and the early 1990s, which has prompted the adjective "slacker" from journalists and critics around the world. That word is fitting for tunes that sound like they only just roused themselves out of bed. As a description of Barnett's work ethic and musical influence, however, "slacker" is all wrong.
Even just a few years into a solo career, she has already proved herself an idiosyncratic and boundary-smashing artist and a passionate advocate for the arts who is changing the face of indie rock in her native Australia and around the world. After leaving art-school in Hobart, Tasmania, Barnett moved to Melbourne and became a mainstay of the local scene. She paid her dues and honed her chops in short-lived garage outfits before playing lead guitar in the twang-psych band Immigrant Union (which featured Bob Harrow and the Dandy Warhols' Brent DeBoer).
When she went solo, Barnett launched her own label, which she dubbed Milk! Records, to release her own material as well as music by some of Melbourne's finest singers and songwriters. With the 2013 release of "The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas" (which combined her first two self-released EPs), she embarked on an almost never-ending tour that took her to North America and Europe, barely stopping long enough to record her first true album.
Her songs may not sound tightly coiled, but they are carefully and exactingly structured. Her lyrics may ramble, but each word is carefully chosen. She is, however, no perfectionist. In fact, she may be an imperfectionist: Barnett strives to fine-tune her songs as much as possible, but she knows that their flaws—a missed note here, a flubbed line there—can make the music sound more human, more relatable, more sympathetic. "My songs follow me as a normal human with normal emotions," she explains, "so there are great highs and great lows. They span everything in my life."
Barnett and her band—which includes Dan Luscombe on guitar and the surprisingly nimble rhythm section of Bones Sloane on bass and Dave Mudie on drums—recorded the album at Head Gap Studio in Melbourne during the fall of 2014. "We'd start midday and work until quite early in the morning," she says. "Of course, half the time is sitting around waiting for the engineer to get a mic into place or something like that." The band used the downtime to take these songs apart and put them back together again. Nothing was taken on faith; every note and every word was parsed.
"We didn't just go in and bang it out. We mucked around with it. There was the panic of not having the songs prepared, but I think that energy works for the album. And we were drinking a lot of coffee." (The process was documented by photographer Tajette O'Halloran, whose images are included in the liner notes.)
Writing these songs can be a drawn-out and nerve-wracking process, especially when she finds herself recording a song that she hasn't written yet, but it pays off beautifully on "Sometimes I Sit and Think...". It's a beguiling collection of songs that reveals her as an ambitious songwriter with an ear for clever turns of phrase and an eye for story-song details that are literate without being pretentious. Barnett even did the artwork and hand lettering for the liner notes, showcasing a whimsical style similar to indie comics or the sketches of Eric Chase Anderson (who does most of the sketches for his brother Wes' films).
Now that these songs are on record, she will not stop tweaking and perfecting them. The more she lives with them—the more she plays them out, the more fans react to them—the more alive they sound to her, often disclosing new meanings and direr implications. "They keep revealing themselves," she says. "They change from touring and recording. They morph and change form and can end up sounding completely different. I hope it's like that forever."
Listen: "Pedestrian At Best"
We Are Undone
On February 3rd, San Francisco guitar-drum duo Two Gallants are set to release their 5th studio album, "We Are Undone".
While singer and guitarist Adam Stephens and drummer Tyson Vogel have stayed true to the two-person format since their acclaimed 2004 debut, "The Throes", their sound has evolved considerably over the intervening years. Following 2012's "The Bloom and the Blight", "We Are Undone" is the band's second release for ATO.
Thematically, the album ranges from songs that attempt to make sense of the dramatically shifting social landscape of their home town, to the illusion of authenticity, impending environmental collapse, and romantic estrangement.
"pulls from enough strains of rock 'n' roll to defy attempts to pin a modifier on it. It's just, you know, rock 'n' roll, in the same sort of timeless way that the best Replacements records are."--Entertainment Weekly
"Singer-guitarist Adam Haworth Stephens and drummer Tyson Vogel write white-knuckle songs of intensity and passion, then perform them intensely and passionately."--NPR
For The Dodos "the best time to make a record is right after you've finished one" says vocalist and guitarist Meric Long.
Having just wrapped up the sessions for their previous record "Carrier", and fired up on the level of comfort achieved with brothers Jay and Ian Pellicci at Tiny Telephone studio, the duo immediately began laying to tape the batch of songs that would result in their latest and sixth record, entitled "Individ".
"There were things I didn't want to forget, sounds that we had just scratched the surface of making that record that I wanted to capitalize on. Songs came together easily, there was not a lot of questioning, just moving ahead with the feeling that we were on the right track. We were freed up to do whatever came naturally" says Long.
And for The Dodos, their natural inclination is to create music that sounds positively epic.
"In a lot of ways making this record brought us back to making "Visiter"," their 2008 critical and commercial breakthrough, "relying heavily on the movement that occurs between just two instruments, guitar and drums. From the first take of the first song we tracked, things sounded huge and that set the tone for the entire thing."
"Individ"'s first single "Competition" is a shining example of this proclivity, built on dueling guitar lines that overlap above and below a persistent drum beat as Long's assured vocals soar above it all.
At other points, "Goodbyes and Endings" infuses a similar up-tempo feel while changing time signatures every few bars. "Retriever" chugs along on one of the dirtiest guitar riffs The Dodos have ever set to tape, all the while accompanied by drums that are more akin to gunshots.
As the album closes with "Pattern/Shadow" (a track that features vocals from Thee Oh Sees' Brigid Dawson), Long sings "Your shadow remains / I cannot resist / The mirrored escape / Of your pattern."
It's a moment that lyrically reinforces the record's guiding force of acceptance, imparting a lesson to a band whose name inherently calls into question its future: resilience isn't always about changing or adapting to a new environment, sometimes it's about staying true to your instincts and asserting yourself in this ever changing atmosphere.
Explains Long, "Carrier was about breaking habits, recognizing and imagining yourself away from the washing machine that has you trapped. That's why the cover image was of someone watching a tornado go away from him. This record is about accepting what is natural for you or maybe even a part of you. 'Individ' is what it sounds like inside the tornado."
A Flourish and a Spoil
The Districts deliver raw, rollicking power on the upcoming "A Flourish And A Spoil" (out 2/10) and the band has already been buzzing on Both sides of the pond!
The four-piece formed in 2009 while the members were still in high school in Lancaster County, PA. "A Flourish And A Spoil" was produced/engineered/mixed by John Congleton (St. Vincent) and features singer/guitarist Rob Grote's vocals front and center, combining equal parts ferocity and yearning. "A Flourish And A Spoil"'s resulting 10 tracks capture the boisterous liver performances from the quartet, who are all between 19 and 20 years old.
The Districts have toured with bands including Temples, White Denim, Dr. Dog and Deer Tick and won over fans on both sides of the pond with 2014 sets at Lollapalooza, ACL and Reading Festival among others. The band will tour extensively throughout 2015 and are a Must See!
"The Districts will be your new favourite band."--The Guardian UK
"As performers, they're naturals, having the confidence and stage presence of bands twice as old and twice as popular"--Consequence Of Sound
"just try not to bob your head"--Interview
Listen: "4th & Roebling" (radio edit)
No Cities To Love
Sleater-Kinney surprised fans by including the new song "Bury Our Friends" as a one-sided 7" with the October 21 release of "Start Together", a limited-edition vinyl boxed set comprising remastered versions of their seven previous acclaimed albums.
The trio - Corin Tucker (vocals/guitar), Carrie Brownstein (guitar/vocals) and Janet Weiss (drums) - recorded "No Cities To Love" in secret at Tiny Telephone Recordings in San Francisco in early 2014, with additional sessions at Kung Fu Bakery Recording Studios in Portland, and Electrokitty Recording in Seattle. John Goodmanson, who helmed four previous Sleater-Kinney albums, produced "No Cities To Love".
"We sound possessed on these songs," says Brownstein, "willing it all - the entire weight of the band and what it means to us - back into existence."
Sleater-Kinney formed in Olympia, WA in 1994, and set a new bar for punk's political insight and emotional impact, earning the mantle of "America's best rock band" (Greil Marcus/Time Magazine) along the way. Since the 2005 release of "The Woods", which Entertainment Weekly called "a masterpiece," Tucker has released two albums with the Corin Tucker Band, while Brownstein and Weiss released one album with Wild Flag. Brownstein also co-created and co-stars in the IFC series 'Portlandia,' and Weiss has recorded and toured with Quasi and Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, among others.
"Kicks a whole lot of ass."--Stereogum
"'Bury Our Friends' suggests Sleater-Kinney remains vividly multidimensional. A distorted declaration that opens with dueling guitar lines and a booming beat, the song arrives with angular urgency."--LA Times
"Incredibly catchy"--NPR Music
Listen: "A New Wave"
With fresh experimentalism and confident craftsmanship, the Austin-based SPEAK split the difference between dreamy electronica, hip hop production tricks, rock instrumentation and traditional song structure on their new album "Pedals", channeling their multiple interests into a sound, style and attitude that are wholly their own.
The edgy blend of accessibility and inventiveness that drives "Pedals" has already established SPEAK as a formidable, self-contained creative force, developing its own distinctive body of work and building a rabidly loyal fan base, while winning the respect of several notable artists who've sought the band out as collaborators.
SPEAK have already been out on the road with Cage The Elephant, Jukebox The Ghost, Chain Gang Of 1974, Ra Ra Riot, Tegan & Sara, and The Griswolds and have played SXSW, Voodoo Fest, Austin City Limits and Fun Fun festivals.
"...'Pedals' further proves their penchant for the grandiose, delivering a sonic blowout as large as it is entrancing.....Speak is dreaming--and delivering--big."--Austin Chronicle
"....synth-pop sound of Passion Pit with lofty Muse-like arrangements, 'Pedals' is a particularly impressive effort."--Austin Monthly
" (SPEAK) is playing right now and they are a fine musical act."--Weezer (from their Twitter)
+ "Best New Band"--Austin Music Awards winner
Listen: "Gates" (radio edit)