Since self-releasing their first two albums, The Lighthouse And The Whaler has made a name for itself internationally, moving from coffee shop tours to renowned venues. In the process, the band has grown from a folk-leaning group into a fully-realized band that blurs genres and continues to reinvent. The results of this tireless pavement-pounding and soul-searching speak for themselves: millions of streams for the then-unsigned band's songs "Pioneers" and "Venice," and tours with artists like Jukebox The Ghost, Ra Ra Riot and Matt Pond PA.
Recording the upcoming "Mont Royal" only reinforced this sense that TLATW were on the verge of something big. The band spent six weeks in Montreal fleshing out these songs with producer and engineer Marcus Paquin (Arcade Fire, Stars, Local Natives).
"It's in our spirit, as people in this band, to push the boundaries of who we are," says the band's Michael LoPresti. "We had played a lot in the U.S. over the past five years and when an opportunity came to go abroad to record this new record, it felt natural to take that step. There is a whole new level of inspiration that comes from being outside where you're comfortable, it was the turning of a page for us."
"the climactic moment when the strings and distorted guitars crash toward the end feels exceptionally vibrant and full of life."--Consequence Of Sound (on first single "I Want To Feel Alive")
Listen: "I Want To Feel Alive"
The Story Of Sunny Boy Slim
"The Story of Sonny Boy Slim" (out 9/11) is the uncanny evolution of Gary Clark Jr. embracing his roots with a rarified grace, style, and an inextinguishable passion which reflects his vision as a songwriter, groove master, and the vocal force of nature he has become, while his guitar virtuosity already speaks (quite voluminously) for itself.
"The Story of Sonny Boy Slim" was written, produced, arranged by Clark, who also plays most of the instruments, with assistance from his long-time live soundman, Bharath "Cheex" Ramanat and Jason Sciba. Backing vocals are provided by his sisters Shawn and Savannah Clark. The album was recorded by Ramanath and Sciba.
Listen: "The Healing" (radio edit)
Return To The Moon
EL VY (rhymes with 'hell pie') is the musical collaboration between Matt Berninger, vocalist and lyricist of The National, and Brent Knopf, the Portland musician and producer best known for his work in Menomena and his more recent band, Ramona Falls. Their debut album "Return To The Moon" will be released on October 30th.
The album is a project Berninger and Knopf have been thinking about for years. Their friendship spans nearly a decade, starting back when The National and Menomena played small half-empty clubs along America's west coast. Feeling an immediate musical kinship, the pair kept in touch, Brent sending Matt occasional rough sketches of music and Matt responding with melodies and lyrics. Finally, in the winter and spring of 2014-15, they actually got together to make an album.
"Return To The Moon" sounds exactly like you'd hope a collaboration between these artists would: Berninger's darkly funny, lyrical storytelling and his immediately identifiable sense of melody, offset by Knopf's playful, architectural arrangements and inventive production. Knopf explains, "I never worried about sending Matt something unfinished. He's able to imagine where it can go. He can grab the four bars that will become the core of the track and develop them into something amazing."
The National and Ramona Falls are both currently preparing upcoming releases, so EL VY is not a replacement or side project, but a glimpse into an alternate musical universe: a universe in which Berninger never left Cincinnati, and Midwestern punk Mecca the Jockey Club never closed. A universe in which Mike Watt and the late D. Boon on the punk band Minutemen are every bit as iconic as Mick and Keith, and a teenager's sense of rebellion is fed by the dark social politics of middle America.
Listen: "Return To The Moon" (radio edit)
Potty Mouth EP
Originating from the hometown of guitar rock predecessors Dinosaur Jr., Western, MA-based trio Potty Mouth release their new self-titled EP on August 21st and under their own imprint, Planet Whatever Records.
Produced by John Goodmanson (Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill) at London Bridge Studios in Seattle, the new Potty Mouth EP is a refreshingly candid one, as singer-guitarist Abby Weems weaves sarcasm and melancholia into a passionate performance held together by drummer Victoria Mandanas and bassist Ally Einbinder's solid foundation.
The crisper direction emphasizes the work Potty Mouth has put in since 2013's acclaimed "Hell Bent" (Old Flame), with more vocal harmonies and bigger production and is recommended if you dig The Breeders, Sleater-Kinney and Veruca Salt.
"At times the guitars weave like early ramshackle post-punk, but Potty Mouth's upbeat surf fuzz could be likened to any number of fast, barebones 70s and 90s punk bands who were learning as they went. You could imagine them covering Buzzcocks, Jawbreaker, or maybe Excuse 17."--Pitchfork
"bent strings, loose grooves, and sour vocals--alt-rock excellence, in other words."--SPIN
"revels in the sheer volume and eager, youthful enthusiasm of punk."--NPR
"Band To Watch"--Stereogum
"gum-chewing drawls, sticky grunge guitars and lyrics about people being sh*theads."--CMJ
Listen: "Cherry Picking"
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: "Nobody Really Cares If
Ratatat has released it's fifth album, "Magnifique". Following up on the experimental sounds of LP3 and LP4, Ratatat return to their core guitar-driven sound on "Magnifique". "I feel like it's our strongest record," Evan says. "We did it in spurts. We made a few trips to different locations where we'd set up a studio and work." Mike and Evan spent time in Port Antonio, Jamaica, upstate New York (at the same studio where LP3 and LP4 were recorded), Long Island, New York and at their own studio in Brooklyn.
The secret weapon on "Magnifique"'s slower tracks is the pedal steel guitar, an instrument most commonly heard in country music, "but it's a really futuristic sounding instrument," Evan explains. While Mike and Evan have long been fans of mid-century instrumental duo Santo & Johnny who famously employed the pedal steel on their timeless hit, "Sleepwalking," they dove much deeper into the world of pedal steel on slower songs like, "Drift", "Supreme" and their first ever cover tune, "I Will Return," originally recorded in 1972 by a one-man-band called Springwater. "We were watching clips from the Lawrence Welk show because he used to have these slide guitar players doing instrumentals live on the show," Evan says. "And some of the guys he had on were just unbelievable, their level of skill is unreal."
"The precise beauty of their production work, specifically the refusal to dump gratuitous instruments into the mix, places Magnifique at the top of Ratatat's catalogue. Stroud and Mast let guitars beat at the album's heart, and their balance of bubbly and peaceful elements ushers a return too fluid to ignore."--Consequence Of Sound
"sleek, propulsive instrumentals using a spare palette of guitars, synthesizers and simple percussion in such a way that the music sounds both triumphant and understated."--NPR
"stuffed with highlights, from the anything-but 'Abrasive' to 'Nightclub Amnesia'"--SPIN
"'Nightclub Amnesia' works itself into a nice groove, complete with one of the album's most memorable riffs"--Pitchfork
Listen: "Nightclub Amnesia"
7th Direction EP
Anthemic New York City trio theSHIFT rock with vibrant depth and a forceful punch on their newly released "7th Direction" EP.
While the members of theSHIFT are sought-after studio and touring musicians (from Ben Harper and Lauren Hill to Big Daddy Kane and Slick Rick), Many will have actually perhaps already heard guitarist/vocalist John Shannon on the hit Louis C.K. series "Louie", which he writes the music for. Now in it's 5th season, Shannon was brought in during the early days of the TV show by pal Reggie Watts.
Despite being in demand for session work, the trio has made theSHIFT their primary focus, determined to inject rock with the rebellious boldness they believe to be lacking in today's climate.
"When you just play a song perfectly from start to finish, there's no danger there," explains Shannon. "When you choose to open it up in a way that's in touch with the moment and the audience, then you can get into some real danger, real transcendence. Our lyrics don't question the government, they question the nature of your reality."
theSHIFT's "7th Direction" was recorded at Brooklyn's Mission Sound and Manhattan's JRock Studios and co-produced by Jamie Siegel (Taking Back Sunday, Smashing Pumpkins).
Chicago's AyOH (pronounced "A-O") is the sound of traveling the length of the Windy City--by cab, by train or by foot, on a drizzly, desperate evening. With shining guitars, hovering keys, propulsive rhythms and impassioned vocals, "Dangerous Questions" is the new self-released EP (produced by Steven Gillis of Filter).
AyOH have been crafting their unique brand of sweaty, blue-eyed soul since 2011 and are one of the most currently buzzed about (and rightly so!) bands in Chicago!
"'Lion To The Lamb' is about the choices people face everyday," frontman Avi Dell says. "Within each of us is a character to be played in the narrative of life. Every morning we choose which role to embody: winner or loser, aggressor or victor, actor or bystander, Lion or Lamb. What starts out as a song seemingly about relationships blossoms into a tale of self discovery."
Listen: "Lion To The Lamb" (radio edit)
FIDLAR are Back and Just In Time to save our ears and eyes from boredom! The upcoming "Too" (out 9/4) showcases a band that's on the forefront of modern punk!
Since forming in 2009, FIDLAR quickly became one of the LA music scene's most celebrated live acts thanks to their raucous live shows, which often concluded with the majority of audience members joint the band on stage.
Since formation, the band has toured the world and played with The Pixies, The Orwells, The Hives, Black Lips, OFF!, Jeff The Brotherhood, Wavves and more.
FIDLAR's self-titled debut album was released January 2013 and debuted #5 Billboard Heatseekers Chart, #2 Alt New Artist Chart, was the #1 Most Added release at CMJ and spent multiple Top 5 weeks in a row on the national new music specialty show charts.
FIDLAR's Zac Carper on the accompanying video: "In the late 90s and early 2000s, music videos were such a huge deal. We decided that instead of making one overly slick music video, we would nod to 15 of our favorite music videos that we grew up with. Everyone in the band threw in their ideas."
"the '40oz On Repeat' video is an easy contender for one of the best videos of the year."--Consequence Of Sound
"FIDLAR is back with a badass new song and video to go along with it."--Stereogum
"FIDLAR unleash every goofball trick in the book in '40oz On Repeat' video"--SPIN
"LA skate punks FIDLAR are out with a new video, and it will scratch your nostalgia itch so hard and good you won't need that tattoo choker anymore."--MTV News
Listen: "40 oz On Repeat" (radio edit)
DMA'S ("dee-em-ayes") new self-titled EP is landing on your radio desks this week if not there already....so get ready (the buzz you've been hearing is Fully Warranted and they do Not disappoint)! You can also CLICK HERE for download of first single "Laced" (track #1 on the disc)!
A couple of years ago, three friends started writing and recording music together above a hairdresser on a busy street in Newton, Australia. They'd known each other casually for awhile and had all been in other bands previously, but hadn't found their own individual voices or the proper outlet for the songs percolating in their heads.
The product of three distinct musical personalities, DMA'S songs crackle with classic melodies and a sweet, youthful energy. You'll hear elements of 90s Britpop and shoegaze and American alternative guitar rock woven through arena-ready fist pumpers.
"'Laced' combines that with some of The Verve's stoned ambience and Britpop godfathers XTC's fizzy bubblegum edge."--Entertainment Weekly
"the kind of jangly sonic cadences that recall the Stone Roses or Oasis, right down to the give-a-f*ck jut of singer Tommy O'Dell's jaw."--NOISEY
"Delivering Glastonbury worthy hooks powered by a three-guitar assault"--Rolling Stone
"Truly thrilling, and at the center of it all is Tommy and his voice"--NME
"Artist You Should Know"--KCRW
I Become A Shade
Seoul have never been in a rush. Despite the overwhelming praise of their first online releases and industry chatter that surrounded their first live performance back in 2013 at Pop Montreal, kindergarten classmates Nigel Ward and Julian Flavin, and art school transplant Dexter Garcia remained resolute in fine tuning the dozen songs that would become their official debut: "I Become A Shade"
NOISEY gives a nice reference for Seoul's sonics suggesting one imagine if "Phoenix were really high on some primo pot and went bike riding with Washed Out and you're somewhere close."
Seoul--blue, breathless, gentle, absolute.
"...their music inhabits a groggy, wispy headspace--a dreamland that you can imagine even its creators getting lost in. Evocative at times of the swooning emotions and side-chain compression exercises of of similarly wilting electronic acts like Toro y Moi"--SPIN
"it's a woozy-wonderful melange of pulsing synths and nimble guitars"--NOISEY
"Seoul make featherlight pop that is laid-back but engaging"--Brooklyn Vegan
Listen: "Stay With Us"
Running With The Wolves EP
Growing up in the small Norwegian town of Os, Aurora was first drawn to music as a young child and influenced by her sister's piano playing. Coming into her own at but 17 years old, Aurora started performing publicly, first for her schoolmates and then at major Norwegian music festivals and radio stations. Now at 18, Aurora has become one of the country's most talked about new artists with sites now firmly set on the States!
A full length album is coming in September following up the newly released "Running With The Wolves" EP!
"One of the festival's most memorable arrivals...Her voice was vivid and clear in pop arrangements pulsating with synthesizers and kicking in with harder drumbeats on choruses."--New York Times (Jon Pareles at CMJ)
"Aurora's gorgeous vocals and unexpected instrumental harmonies shine..."--NPR
"...her so-called 'dark pop' was explosive, and (Aurora) Aksnes has an x-factor that one can't quite look away from."--PASTE (Best Of CMJ)
"beat-based songs and nature-centric imagery so lush you could almost reach out and touch it"--MTV Iggy
"The soundtrack to your wilderness fantasy"--New York Magazine
Listen: "Running With The Wolves"
Elliot Moss is a 21 year old multi-instrumentalist songwriter and producer from New York who has drawn comparisons as diverse as Alt-J, James Blake, Washed Out and Radiohead, with his soulful vocals, strong songwriting and embrace of electronic, jazz and ambient sounds.
The third generation in a family of musicians and artists, Moss will release his debut album "Highspeeds" April 28th. Recorded at his home studio, Moss performed, produced and mixed the entire album with the exception of a few friends.
"spacious and diverse, Elliot Moss' style is a combination of minimalist, echoed beats layered with acoustic delicacies, veering into grunge and electro-pop."--(Five Artists To Watch In April) SPIN
"Foggy, melancholy fuzzed-out folk with traces of brass and wobly electronics fraying the edges outward."--Stereogum
"All shaded rhythms and soulful vocals."--FADER
Listen: "Big Bad Wolf"