Soft Swells. Sure it’s a band name (in fact, it’s this band’s name), but it is also a surfing term. Tiny, easy to ride waves that beginners keep an eye out for to build their aquatic confidence up. But what happens when you outgrow those small waves? Do you stop surfing? Or do you step up and try to tackle the biggest waves the ocean has to offer? Tim Williams, the mastermind behind Soft Swells (the band) has been moving towards this moment for years now. Tim started Soft Swells in an effort to reach new heights, and over the course of a full length and an EP, the music has gotten more sophisticated, and the sound of the band has gotten bigger. So if the band’s previous work could be described as soft swells, than their new album "Floodlights" is like an enormous tidal wave from an action movie. Absolutely everything about the band has gotten bigger. Where once there was just Tim with the help of producer/keyboardist Dave Lynch and a lot of studio magic, there is now a fully formed band.
In a (successful) experiment to capture the fun and excitement of their live shows on record, Tim brought a motley group of wildly talented musicians together in the studio to lay down all the tracks. Most of the record was tracked by producer Dave Lynch (the other Dave Lynch) at The Electric Zoo in Eastbourne UK, with Soft Swells’ touring bass player and multi-instrumentalist Christopher Pappas at Tim’s side, and a guest appearance by resident UK drummer Phil Wilkinson (Jake Bugg, Brian Eno). As if that wasn’t enough, Misty Boyce (Sara Bareilles), Jonathan Visger (Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr) and Soft Swells’ touring guitarist Kyle Frederickson all contributed their talents via satellite. Well, via email.
This impressive roster of personnel leaves Soft Swells sounding invigorated, like a whole new band. A big, stadium sized band to be exact. Drums shake, organs swell, guitars rock and vocals soar. This is no longer a band trying to figure out how to replicate the sound of their albums on stage, because they brought the stage to the studio. Tim’s new air of confidence isn’t just due to the stellar lineup, but also because of his recent marriage to the love of his life, Sabrina, who is a constant encouragement to Tim to take chances, and to do what she knows he is capable of.
"Soft Swells channel the Technicolor guitar-pop of Summerteeth-era Wilco, balancing high-flying synthesizer parts against guitars straight from the garage."--MTV Buzzworthy Artist
Newark is a small city in Delaware, home to a little more than 30,000 people, a university and a burgeoning music scene. Most notably, though, it’s the birthplace of Fiancé, a four-piece experimental pop group who are bringing their local vibe to a grander level. The band’s members have been friends since grade school, always playing in and out of bands together over the years as they grew up. In January of 2013, Andrew, Jeff and Tyler got together and started a new project they dubbed Fiancé. The idea behind the group was vague, with the only goal to make music together that they all enjoyed.
The house also doubles as Fiancé’s recording studio. The musicians wrote the five tracks on their debut, titled "EP 1", over the course of last summer and fall. Produced by Andrew and engineered by friend Ryan Williams, the entire EP was recorded to quarter inch tape on a Tascam 388 tape machine. The tape adds to the gauzy, fuzzed out aesthetic that threads throughout the songs.
“Recording in our house gave us the opportunity to experiment with the ways different rooms can effect the sound of a record,” Tyler says. “We have used the design of our house to hone in on our sounds for years and you can hear it on the EP.”
The EP opens with the group’s first single, “Era,” a layered, shimmering pop song Andrew and Jeff had initially written for a possible solo project before Fiancé started. “It wasn’t quite finished,” Jeff says. “And the other band members just made it so much better. We’re really proud of it.” “Climb The Stairs,” is a moody rocker that showcases the glimmer of darkness and melancholy in the group’s sensibility. “The songs are ultimately about change,” Andrew says, “Those moments when you realize that what seemed like such a strong connection to something, has become so fragmented that it may not be mendable.”
The group is currently translating the aesthetic on their EP into a full-length album. For them, the EP is an apt hint at where Fiancé will go next, but not necessarily a complete indication. “Our goal is to write songs that are meaningful to us,” Jeff says. “If our songs can impact other people in a positive way, then that’s great. But our true goals are more selfish than that. We want to write songs that are more honest then anything we’ve done before, ones that resonate with ourselves.”
"A matrimonial mix of Diiv's billowy shoegaze and Delorean's effervescent dreamwave, FIANCÉ might well be the most exciting band to emerge from Delaware in, well, ever."--NME
Listen: "Era" (radio edit)
When Afternoons burst onto the L.A. scene in 2008, you’d have thought there wasn’t an arena big enough to hold them. An early song, “Say Yes,” hit the radio, and Shepard Fairey designed a poster for it. The seven-piece collective went to work on more music, occasionally gathering to play exhilarating live shows and stoke the fires of anticipation for a proper release.” – Kevin Bronson / LA Weekly
…Then came big name management and publishing, along with the requisite creative meddling and an unnecessary, unheralded name change. And just like that, much of the original mystique and momentum was lost.
Afternoons now returns a six piece, with the songs and shows they had envisioned all along. Sonically expansive yet lyrically concise. Starry-eyed at times, sardonic at others, and ever and always a mass spectacle.
Listen: "Gloria" (Radio Edit)
This Is My Hand
Not many people can front a rock band, sing Górecki’s Third Symphony, lead a marching band processional down the streets of the Sundance film festival and perform in a baroque opera of their own composing all in a month’s time. But Shara Worden can.
Her multi faceted career as My Brightest Diamond, which began with an acclaimed independent rock record, has reflected her journey into the world of performing arts. "This Is My Hand", her fourth album, marks a confident return to rock music, one informed by her mastery of composition and a new exploration into the electronic.
Born in diamond-rich Arkansas and then raised all around the country, Worden came from a musical family of traveling evangelists. She went on to study operatic voice and then classical composition after a move to New York City.
Shara began issuing recordings as My Brightest Diamond in 2006, following a protean period in the band AwRY, and joining Sufjan Stevens’ Illinoisemakers live ensemble. Asthmatic Kitty Records released her debut album, "Bring Me The Workhorse" in 2006, "A Thousand Sharks’ Teeth" in 2008, and 2011’s "All Things Will Unwind", which featured songs written for the chamber ensemble yMusic.
In between My Brightest Diamond, well known fans became collaborators, and collaborative projects amassed. Highlights include singing in Laurie Anderson’s 2008 show “Homeland,” delivering guest vocals on The Decemberists’ 2009 Hazards of Love album and subsequently joining them on tour, performing in Bryce and Aaron Dessner’s multimedia presentation “The Long Count,” singing and recording for Pulitzer Prize winning composer David Lang and singing in Sarah Kirkland Snider’s “Penelope” and “Unremembered.” Shara has also worked with David Byrne (on his concept musical “Here Lies Love”), Fat Boy Slim, Bon Iver and The Blind Boys of Alabama.
"Combining brainy indie-pop with touches of art-rock and classical music, Worden's work radiates brilliance to match her considerable ambition."--NPR
"....extraterrestrial....ethereal, flat-out weird vocal styles more spiritual than human."--Consequence Of Sound
"The arrangements flutter with violins, flutes, winds and horns of all kind and show off Worden's creativiy and remarkable grasp on compositional theory."--PASTE
With four critically-acclaimed albums to date, "Hard Believer" will be Brighton, England trio Fink's debut release on band leader/songwriter Fin Greenall’s newly formed R’COUP’D imprint, via the legendary British independent label Ninja Tune Records.
Globally, Fink’s footprint has reached new heights, with the band bringing their impeccable and evocative live show for the first time to North America, with anticipation of the 2014-2016 campaign to be the strongest of the band’s career.
Listen: "Shakespeare" (clean radio edit)
At Best Cuckold
Embarking upon a sophomore effort can be a daunting task for any young upstart, and there’s no denying Avi Buffalo’s own bar was set quite high with 2010’s celebrated eponymous debut. Fear not, dear fans/family/friends/friends of friends/newcomers, there’s nothing in this tale about The Second Album—a.k.a. "At Best Cuckold", that even remotely resembles a slump; in fact, it would be entirely appropriate to say that this Long Beach, California, enterprise is getting better with age.
Ah, yes, age—much was made of it when Avi Buffalo’s first album hit the ground running, and for good reason: While their Millikan High School classmates were preoccupied with quaint and youthful pursuits, the musicians behind Avi Buffalo were busy making an off-kilter pop gem that eventually bowled over NME, The AV Club,Pitchfork, the BBC, and numerous other outlets on both sides of the Atlantic whose tastes are respected by the general public. Like a lot of kids their age, the Buffaloes celebrated the end of high school in Europe, but instead of visiting the Louvre and Buckingham Palace, their overseas journeys took them to the festival stages of Reading, Leeds, Glastonbury, the Pavement-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties in Minehead, and beyond.
At the ripe old age of 23, Avi Buffalo is ready to take on the world (again), armed with all of the experience he’s compiled over the past few years. And he’s made sure the second time around will be just as memorable as the first.
Listen: "So What"
Last year, Johnny Marr enjoyed a monumental start to his solo career with an abundance of critical acclaim (including the honor of being named NME's 'Godlike Genius') for his Top 10 debut solo album "The Messenger". Meanwhile, the legendary guitarist for The Smiths' shows were celebrated on Both sides of the pond for his ability to combine the best of his new material with select highlights from The Smiths and the rest of the his extensive back catalog with other artists.
Listen: "EASY MONEY" (radio edit)
Owen Pallett's "In Conflict" is full of love songs - more specifically, songs about liminal states and our loved ones locked in battle with them.
"a torrential swirl of strings and percussion that, on first pass, stands among Pallett's finest compositions"--Stereogum (on "The Riverbed")
Listen: "The Riverbed"
Don't bother asking Twin Peaks about the deeper meaning of their band name. They simply thought it sounded cool, which explains why their second album "Wild Onion" (out August 5th) isn't as spooky or surreal as David Lynch's short-lived TV show. It's more like a modern day Nuggets, with Black Lips, Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall curating instead of Lenny Kaye. Not literally, of course. But the spirit of those garage demigods is alive and well alongside subtle nods to everything from the Pixies and Tame Impala to the godfathers of guitar-guided pop music, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Beach Boys.
+ "...a quartet of young Chicago dudes with great taste in band names whose combination of psychedelic jangle and slacker punk grease makes a persuasive argument for the continued relevance of guitar rock." -- Esquire
When I Was Younger
Colony House, a trio from Nashville, TN will release their first full- length album "When I Was Younger" via Descendant Records (The Lone Bellow) on July 22nd. A.V. Club provided a first taste of the album in the single “Silhouettes".
Guitarist and principal songwriter Chapman writes effortlessly infectious tunes that resonate with personal experience and emotional depth. The songs' messages of hope and perseverance are matched by the organic musical rapport of Caleb and his bandmates, brother Will Chapman on drums and Scott Mills on lead guitar and harmony vocals.
Jungle want to take you on an infinite holiday, a place called bliss, a great escape from the grey and the everyday – because, as aesthetes from Oscar Wilde to Pharrell Williams knew, there is nothing so serious as fun and nothing as subversive as happiness.
Listen: "Busy Earnin"
Wonder Where We Land
Interpol will release their first album in four years, "El Pintor," September 9th. Recorded at Electric Lady Studios and Atomic Sound in New York City, the ten tracks on "El Pintor," - taut and epic in equal measure - find the band completely reinvigorated after a two and a half year break from touring.
All songs on "El Pintor"were written and produced by Interpol, with Daniel Kessler playing guitar and piano, Samuel Fogarino on drums, and Paul Banks on vocals, guitars, and taking over bass duties for the first time. The album also features Brandon Curtis (The Secret Machines) playing keyboards on nine songs, Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. (Beck) playing keyboards on “Tidal Wave,” and Rob Moose (Bon Iver) playing violin and viola on "Twice as Hard.”
"El Pintor" was mixed by Alan Moulder, and mastered by Greg Calbi and the band premiered songs from the upcoming album in March while headlining the NME Awards tour in the UK. The Guardian praised their set at London’s Brixton Academy as "lean and powerful.”
Speaking of shows, Interpol are touring all summer on the festival circuit including performances at Lollapalooza, FYF Fest, Austin City Limits as well as Governors Ball, Roskilde and Glastonbury just past, and then will tour coast to coast this Fall with dates to be announced soon!
Listen: "All The Rage (Back Home)"
The Griswolds who hail from Sydney, Australia just put the finishing touches on their highly anticipated debut album with Tony Hoffer (M83, Phoenix, Beck). The band have announced that their first single will be “Beware The Dog.” About the song, singer Christopher Whitehall said, “This is the first song Dan and I ever wrote together. It’s about losing someone we were really close with to heavy drug use. ‘Beware the Dog’ is about that journey - the good and the bad times.”
Last year The Griswolds released their infectious four-song "Heart of a Lion EP" and upon the release of its first single, “Heart of a Lion,” it was immediately added into high rotation in Australia on triple j radio and was one of the station’s most played tracks of the year. The international airwaves were quick to take notice with the song attracting airplay in over 20 countries worldwide and it also reached #3 on the radio airplay charts in The Netherlands via tastemaker station 3FM and was an iTunes single of the week in the region. Stateside, the release had critics and fans buzzing alike not only with the songs themselves but with their creative videos which all had noteworthy premieres via the likes of MTV Buzzworthy, CMJ and Noisey/VICE to name a few.
The Griswolds just wrapped a tour in Australia with St. Lucia which had one of Australia’s leading music blogs, Tone Deaf boasting that they, “…put on an incredible support set that could have easily been redefined as a co-headline spot. The quintet oozed tropical flamboyance and Aussie ambience, and brought with them a euphoric lasso that hooked audiences from the get-go…‘Beware Of The Dog’, showcased the band’s impressive harmonies and raw heavy percussion, giving the song an infectious live presence that, in hindsight, rivaled many of the headliner’s moments.” They also came off some great shows at SXSW to packed houses and rave reviews including making many best of lists such as, The Huffington Post naming them as “30 SXSW Acts About to Break,” The Atlantic “18 Bands to Check Out From South by Southwest 2014,” Buzzfeed “50 Acts You Need To Hear,” AU Review naming the band as “Best Australian Artist at SXSW: The Griswolds” and Reverb naming them in their “The best shows at SXSW 2014” list. The Griswolds will be playing shows throughout the rest of the year including Bonnaroo and Firefly as well as select dates with Gemini Club. More dates will be announced soon.
Listen: "Beware The Dog"