Drug For The Modern Age
The second album from six-piece Kopecky, "Drug for the Modern Age" takes the many shake-ups the band's endured over the past few years and turns them into inspiration for groove-driven, melody-heavy alt-pop that's intensely emotional and strangely exhilarating. "The album was written in this weird time of so much pain but also happiness, and that really informed the writing and recording," says vocalist/guitarist Gabe Simon, who co-founded the group with vocalist/keyboardist Kelsey Kopecky in 2007. "Our goal was to talk about all these very serious things we were dealing with, but in a way that felt nothing like wallowing and more like standing triumphantly, or even dancing our way through it."
In achieving that dynamic, Nashville-based Kopecky (whose lineup also includes guitarist Steven Holmes, bassist Corey Oxendine, cellist Markus Midkiff, and drummer David Krohn) offer moments of symphonic grandeur alongside edgy, electronic-leaning innovation. Meanwhile, their daringly intimate lyrics both unsettle and engage, asking questions and encouraging reflection on the part of the listener. "The idea behind the title 'Drug for the Modern Age' is that we're all trying to find the drug that helps us get through life and deal with the pressures and challenges that almost everyone in our generation faces," says Gabe. "Whether it's love or real connection or even an actual drug, we're all looking for something that makes us feel like we're a part of something good and meaningful."
Formerly known as the Kopecky Family Band, their 2012 debut "Kids Raising Kids", had them teaming up with producer/engineer Konrad Snyder. This time around they worked with Konrad again, but took a more slowed-down and deliberate approach that allowed them to bring a new level of sophistication and soulfulness to their songcraft. When it came time to record, the band divided up their sessions between several different locations, including EastSide Manor Studios (an East Nashville facility complete with an old indoor pool converted into a reverb chamber).
"Drug for the Modern Age" serves up its share of intricately layered love songs, revealing Kopecky's endless grace in merging sweetness and melancholy. Throughout the album, they also consider the more shadowy dimensions of the human heart. "One of the main things we wanted to address on this album is the fact that, in a time when we're all so wired in and constantly staring at our phones, we're not engaging and hearing each other's stories the way we should be," says Gabe. Not only essential in helping certain band members cope with major life changes, that telling and hearing of stories went a long way in elevating the band's songwriting. "We made a point of taking a step back and being real with each other and opening up, rather than just trying to hash our way through songs," says Gabe. "It really helped us to voice our feelings in our lyrics in a more candid way than we ever had before."
When you arm two wild frontwomen with Detroit-laced hooks, you get Motobunny: Iggy-Pop-meets-Icona-Pop. In short--American rock n' roll.
Led by dual singers Christa Collins and Nicole Laurrene, Motobunny's aesthetic has as much to do with Laurrene's Michigan rock roots as the surf sounds and pounding percussion of LA's punk and garage scenes. Rarely does a rock band present with two such well-matched, intense vocalists, but the rest of Motobunny keep up easily, ripping through songs straight out of a Tarantino film.
Motobunny formed after members of two acclaimed rock bands, The Love Me Nots and The Woolly Bandits got on stage together in 2013. After years of sharing green rooms, tour vans, and seedy motel rooms, it was the first time they had performed as one band and the electricity was undeniable. Together they dashed off songs for a dual-frontwomen rock collaboration, enlisted the help of Love Me Nots drummer Jay Lien, and headed to Detroit to record a full-length album with Jim Diamond (White Stripes, Electric Six, Dirtbombs). Mixed by Bob Hoag (The Format, Deer in The Headlights, Ataris), and mastered by Jason Livermore (Rise Against), the result is 12 tracks of tough rock n' roll topped off with a girls-just-wanna-have-fun attitude.
The band's anthem "Motobunny", released by Rusty Knuckles Music as a teaser single and music video, was featured in Blackheart films' 2015 release Jack and Cocaine, produced by Blackheart Records' Cyn Posner. The band performed its debut concerts in their hometowns of Phoenix and Los Angeles in Spring 2015, along with performing a live-streamed worldwide concert from Six01 Studios.
Listen: "Let's Go Out"
The Chase/Haunted By You
After returning to The Late Show With David Letterman recently to perform their hypnotic New Single "The Chase", Future Islands are Back and have now officially released the song as a double A-Side Single.
Last March the Baltimore-based trio Future Islands made their groundbreaking network television debut on Letterman, and last week after being personally invited back to mark one of the final broadcasts before Letterman's retirement, debuted their new single "The Chase" live on the show.
The track is out now as a double A-side with another unheard song "Haunted By You," which the band first performed at their recent sold out UK shows. Both tracks are available to buy on iTunes and Amazon and streaming on Spotify. "The Chase" Physical 7" will be available at retailers and through the 4AD store on June 30.
A live version of "The Chase" was recently recorded straight to vinyl at Abbey Road Studios, as part of Record Store Day 2015. BBC 6Music premiered the recording, along with interviews with the band and Abbey Road studio engineers. The one-off pressing was raffled off at Leamington Spa's Seismic Records, with proceeds going to the Myton Hospices charity.
"hypnotic…once again impressing the late night legend with their idiosyncratic style."--Rolling Stone
"Their live performance of 'Seasons(Waiting On You)' was probably the most important live performance by a band in 2014"--USA Today
"Herring's moves are a treat to behold"--Entertainment Weekly
"an epic return"--Consequence Of Sound
"they absolutely seized their moment; its just a wonderful performance"--Stereogum
Listen: "The Chase"
Danger In The Club
Two years after their debut "180", named one of 2013's best debuts by Rolling Stone ("full of garageland guitars...and psych-nuggets organ, all in the service of songs unafraid of a good yell-along chorus"), anointed "2013's most necessary debut" by PopMatters, called "raggedly charming" by the New York Times, and praised by SPIN for its "rapturous hooks", Palma Violets are back!
"Danger In The Club" was produced by John Leckie (Stone Roses, Radiohead, The Fall) and recorded at The Doghouse Studios in Wales. While it certainly trades on the primal and joyous hook-laden rock of their debut, "Danger In The Club" finds the Palma Violets with a new sonic looseness, revealing far more expansive influences than the still-quite-young quartet had on their debut.
This is the sound of a preternaturally talented group of musicians and songwriters continuing to develop, while keeping their focus squarely on the type of well-crafted, singalong anthems that have earned them the adoration of fans and critics.
Speaking about the new album, bassist and singer Chilli Jesson explains: "We wanted to make a young-sounding record. We listened to a lot of pre-punk while we were making the album. We like its rawness and simplicity. A lot of bands want to over-complicate their second album, we know that we didn't."
The rambunctious British four-some not only impressed droves of music fans at SXSW last trip across the pond to see us, but even found themselves physically carried off the stage by security for playing past curfew and in true rock and roll style! Don't miss the band live back on our shores this summer!
"maintains the earnest rockers' boisterous guitars and frayed shouts but also twines in eerie post-punk keys, poppish call-and-response interplay and even downcast balladry....a slyly intricate effort with a fresh sheen of sophistication."--Rolling Stone
"a song built for a good ol' fashioned pub sing-along."--Consequence Of Sound
"it's definitely a comfortable sound to sink into."--THE FADER (on "English Tongue")
"British garage-rock band with a remarkable sheen of earnestness..."--New York Times
Listen: "English Tongue" (radio edit)
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"
What happens when a seemingly irresistible force meets an immovable object is a serviceable metaphor for the music METZ creates, both live and on record. Now behold II, the concussive new full-length from what is arguably North America's finest touring rock band. Written and recorded in 2014, after two years of constant touring behind their rightly adored self-titled debut, II is METZ at their most true to form—as pure an expression of what they do as can currently be committed to tape. The guitars are titanic, the drums ill-tempered, the vocals chilling, and the volume worrisome. Though they incorporated new instruments, (baritone guitar, tape loops, piano, synth, found sounds) and stretched out the arrangements, they still managed to "stay true to what made us tick in the first place: that immediacy," Edkins calls it. "If it punches you in the gut."
And does it ever. From the exhilarating grind of "Spit You Out" to the blunt-force thrills of "Landfill," herein reside 10 songs as uncompromising in their ferocity and abrasiveness as any collection this record label has had the pleasure of releasing to date. To accomplish such a sound, the band forced itself to stay home and write for the better part of six months. Tracking was done in three different studios, in Toronto and elsewhere in Ontario, including the same barn where much of METZ had been painstakingly assembled. While said predecessor was often "clean and clinical," II is what Edkins describes as a "much heavier, darker, and sloppier" affair, with many of its roughest edges and ugliest tones kept intact. Its lyrical matter, Edkins notes, stems from a year of loss and doubt, of contemplating our relationships with death and the planet. "I consider myself a pretty massive pessimist, but a pessimist who knows how lucky he is," he says. "A lot of things in everyday life drive me crazy: how we relate to each other; how politics, media, technology, money and medication influence our lives. This band, in a lot of ways, is an outlet."
What we're left with is the sound of an already monstrous band improving in both subtle and terrifying ways. "We take our noise and our feedback very seriously," Edkins says. "The more we do this, the more we realize there's no such thing as right or wrong in music. It comes down to feel. And if it feels good, it works. This time we sorta said, 'This is who we are. We are not going to clean up our sound, we are not going to hire a big producer, we are not going to try to write a radio song. We are going to be honest and leave the warts for all to see. We are really happy with how it turned out."
The Air Conditioned Nightmare
"The Air Conditioned Nightmare" (out 4/7) is the anticipated second album by Doldrums, the band lead by 25 year old musician Airick Woodhead. On the follow-up to the 2013 debut "Lesser Evil" (which yielded tours with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Crystal Castles, Grimes and Purity Ring, and remixes for Portishead and Grimes) the DJ, producer and performer makes a sizeable leap from being darling of the same fertile Montreal warehouse creative explosion that gave the world the likes of Grimes, Majical Cloudz, Blue Hawaii to simply being a stand-alone artist and composer on the cusp of something quite special.
Doldrums apply a punk rock ethos to electronic music, creating songs using samplers and DJ gear in place of guitars. Bold, anxious, dream-like, uplifting, glacial, hypnotic, constricting, expansive, alien - this is an album that is ever-changing. "Conflict is at the heart of this album," explains Airick.
"There's a lot of paranoid sentiment and Dystopian imagery in there. The threat of a mundane reality ties it together, as does an obsession with plasticity. Songs come from specific feelings or images. Anxiety is my default state."
"a corresponding leap in fidelity"--Stereogum
"cold-blooded, freaky pop strangeness"--FADER
Listen: "Loops" (radio edit)
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)
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"
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.
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"
Higher Love EP
In August 2014 alone, Glasgow trio Prides played the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony to 7.5 million people on BBC1, supported Blink-182 at Brixton Academy, headlined the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading And Leeds Festival and announced their first headline tour in October at traditional indie circuit venues they've already outgrown.
More concerned with hotwiring their songs into the listener's brain than with hipster cool, Prides carry an undertow of emotional resonance within their instantly appealing future classics. Despite the songs epic scope, Prides achieve their sound thanks to drummer Lewis Gardiner producing the band at his home studio (ie, kitchen). Lewis and frontman Stewart Brock have been in bands together since their University days, with keyboardist/guitarist Callum Wiseman a longtime friend from Glasgow's thriving music scene.
It's given Prides the gang mentality of all classic bands, overcoming musical hardships before developing into an unstoppable force. Drawing on classic artists such as The Cure and with a line-up that's helping to redefine what a band is alongside peers like Chvrches, as Stewart says: "We pride ourselves in being able to win a crowd over."
Listen: "Higher Love"