Edward David Anderson – Lies & Wishes (Royal Potato Family)

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Listen Now: “Nothing Lasts Forever”

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Edward David Anderson is an artist as ancient as he is modern. In a time when the music business desperately flails about, grasping at any new trend that will save its sinking ship, he exists far outside its confines. Best known for his work with the revered Midwestern rock band Backyard Tire Fire who released a string of acclaimed albums in the previous decade, Anderson returns to the national stage with his highly anticipated solo debut, Lies & Wishes. Produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin, it finds Anderson creating his own mythology through a collection of songs that embrace vulnerability, while remaining grounded in his working class roots. Anderson sings, “I’m the son of a plumber, from a God fearing mother.” The lyric says much about where his story begins as an artist. He was born and raised just west of Chicago and lives a simple life, spending winters in an RV alongside the Gulf of Mexico in lower Alabama. Anderson’s an American songwriter on an existential quest who seeks and who searches through song.

“I feel like every experience, every mile, every interaction, every tune, sort of got me to where I am at this moment,” Anderson recounts while shedding light on the over-arching theme that ties together the 10-track collection. “The songs on the record are confessional by nature. They are songs about loss and love and living and hope. Halfway through my life, it’s an honest look in the mirror.”

Anderson’s journey over the last five years and his response to the challenges he faced is what sets the lifers apart from those that concede the artistic pursuit. The dissolution of Backyard Tire in 2011 was the first obstacle to overcome. The band had built a devout cult following around the U.S., counting Cracker, Reverend Horton Heat and Clutch among their fans, all of whom took BTF on the road exposing them to a wider audience. It was around this time that Steve Berlin of Los Lobos was first drawn to Anderson’s songwriting.

“Backyard Tire Fire opened a show for us and I remember being backstage and listening to their music and I was like, ‘Wow, that song sounds really familiar. Whose cover is that? It’s a classic tune,’” says Berlin. “It turns out that they were all Ed’s originals. They just had that instantly memorable quality to them. So, I introduced myself at the show and we became buddies and then collaborators. Ed’s music is so evocative, so well written. I honestly think he is as talented as anyone in the songwriting world and it is important that he be heard.”

Anderson adds: “I was just starting to get back on the road again after Tire Fire split, touring with my friend Johnny Hickman and I got inspired to get back in the studio. I had these songs and had something pretty interesting to say based on the experiences I just went through. I knew if I could get Steve Berlin involved, who is an old friend that I’ve worked with in the past, it could be something special.”

It was shortly before this that Anderson’s mother passed away, while the previous winter his wife lost her mother, both to extended illnesses. These were defining moments for the 40-year old artist and culminated in a torrent of songwriting. Indeed, songs like “Lies & Wishes” “Lost & Found” and “Chain Reaction” delve deep into the human condition, asking difficult questions of both himself and his loved ones.

“A lot of the subject matter on this record came from reflecting on these painful experiences” says Anderson. “After losing my mom, I decided I’ve got to make a record and dedicate it to her and make a statement here on my own.”

Musically speaking, the core of Lies & Wishes is built around refined melodies, acoustic guitars and sparse arrangements, yet Berlin’s production colors the tracks with squalls of electric guitar, affected vocals, drum loops and assorted analog keyboard flourishes. It should also be noted that fans of Anderson’s vintage rock and roll songwriting from his Backyard Tire Fire days will find plenty to love on tunes like “Nothing Lasts Forever,” “Taking It Out On You” and “The Next Melody,” which deliver the big hooks and classic refrains on which he so effortlessly hangs his hat.

This is where we find Edward David Anderson today. His heart’s on his sleeve and it’s that of an artist. Nobody ever said it was going to be easy, but as the songs on Lies & Wishes bare out, when the muse calls, he will be there to answer.

“I needed to make this album,” he concludes. “I feel like it’s undoubtedly my finest work to date, the beginning of the next chapter for me.”

Focus Track: 7
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Black Lips – “Funny” from Underneath The Rainbow (Vice)

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Listen Now: “Funny” (Radio Edit)

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“The song’s anthemic chorus should prove a clap-happy respite from the inevitable mosh pit overload afflicting any Black Lips concertgoer.” – CONSEQUENCE OF SOUND ON “FUNNY”

“Here, the band find their old fire.” – PITCHFORK ON “FUNNY”

“’Funny’ is a psychedelic stomper of a song with a massive chorus and a perfect old school organ to back up the rumbling low end. Doesn’t hurt that the instruments drop out towards the end leaving only the sing-along chorus and a backing clap that demands a crowd to join in.“ – POPMATTERS ON “FUNNY”

“… the melody is big and immediate and ambitious, raising the stakes for the first time in many albums.”
– PASTE ON “FUNNY”

“Their most polished work yet” – NME

“The band’s songwriting skills are as plain as day “ – SPIN

“Does what all great psych rock ought to: It freaks you out, but in the best possible way” – ROLLING STONE

Atlanta’s favorite sons Black Lips have released their first full length in three years, Underneath the Rainbow, on March 18th via longtime label Vice Records. Recorded at a variety of locations over the course of 2013, the twelve songs boast a stable of studio collaborators whose pedigree speaks to how much the band has grown and sonically matured over the course of their 15 year long career. After letters to incarcerated studio legend Phil Spector to produce went unanswered, the band convened at Dunham Studios in New York to record initial tracks with Dap-Kings music director Tommy Brenneck (Cee Lo, Charles Bradley). The group then decamped to Nashville to record several songs with Patrick Carney of The Black Keys producing, finally rounding out the album with a couple of songs co-produced with lifetime Lips recording collaborator, Ed Rawls. The resultant collection was mixed by Grammy winner Jimmy Douglass (Justin Timberlake, Snoop Dogg, Björk) and features artwork shot by legendary photographer Mick Rock (David Bowie, Queen, Lou Reed).

Focus Track: 1
FCC: 2

Old 97′s – Most Messed Up (ATO)

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Listen Now: “Let’s Get Drunk & Get It On”

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The Old 97′s have confirmed the April 29 release of their new album and ATO debut, Most Messed Up – a revealing, 12-track meditation on 20 years in music that finds them at their raucous, boozy best. It’s “a rock opera, a way-off Broadway musical about a musician’s life, loves and lubrication,” says music critic Bill Flanagan. Recorded in Austin and produced by Salim Nourallah, Most Messed Up also features guest appearances by Tommy Stinson (The Replacements, Guns N’ Roses) and Jon Rauhouse (Neko Case) on lap-steel.

Titles like “Wasted,” “Intervention,” “Wheels Off,” “Let’s Get Drunk & Get It On,” and “Most Messed Up” hint at the kind of narrators frontman Rhett Miller likes to inhabit – men who possess an appetite for indulgence and won’t let a few bad decisions get in the way of a good story. The magic in Miller’s songwriting lies in the depth that he lends his characters. Upon closer inspection, the hard partying and endless pursuit of a good time often reveals itself to be a Band-Aid covering up deeper wounds and emotional scars. “There’s a lot of darkness hidden in this record,” Miller explains.

The Old 97′s emerged from Dallas twenty years ago at the forefront of a musical movement blending rootsy, country-influenced songwriting with punk rock energy. Most Messed Up follows their recent two-volume set, The Grand Theatre, which found the band as “lifers writing for keeps,” according to Rolling Stone, and their 2013 EP featuring Waylon Jennings, Old 97′s & Waylon Jennings.

Focus Tracks: 3, 1, 2, 6, 7
CD FCC: 1, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12 // Digital FCC: Clean

Pacifika – Amor Planeta (Six Degrees)

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Listen Now: “Panamericana”

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Timing is everything. When you’re in no hurry, with no expectations or outside pressure, the process of creation seems natural. This was the case in the making of global fusion outfit Pacifika’s third album, Amor Planeta. The Vancouver-based trio of vocalist Silvana Kane, guitarist Adam Popowitz and bassist Toby Peter has never sounded more at home with the world.

Entering the studio with a new frame of mind following the success of 2008’s Asuncion and 2010’s Supermagique, as well as Kane’s 2012 solo album, La Jardinera, Pacifika tried out a new process of songwriting and recording. “In the past the three of us would sit together and jam ideas,” says Peter. “This time Adam and I built a track, then Silvana would come in and vibe off of it.”

The addition of trumpet player Malcolm Aiken as well as a more organic approach to recording—less electronica, more live performance—kept things fresh for the band. Whereas before the songs would often be built around Kane’s poetic lyricism, Amor Planeta offers lush textures and guitar-driven ambient soundscapes, not to mention a harder edge on tracks like ‘Panamericana’ and ‘Las Bellezas.’

“I wanted to bring in heavier guitar sounds,” says Canadian native Popowitz. “There’s more lead guitar work, more crunchy guitar tones. ‘Panamericana’ features a Jimmy Page-esque riff running through the song. Because we had the luxury and freedom of having no time constraints, it gave us the chance to develop songs in a new direction.”

From the airy acrobatics of South American beach music to the British New Wave edge of Popowitz’s upbringing, ‘Las Bellezas’ begins minimally, with crawling percussion and spacious guitar tones, before exploding into a powerful electronic funk tribute. Having grown up a fan of the Smiths and the Police, he turned to Johnny Marr and Andy Summers when learning six-string at age 12.

As Popowitz explains, “I turn the guitar into a synthesizer and create more ambient sounds, which suits the band better. We’re not terribly traditional with anything.” The guitarist is equally at home on the sparsely beautiful ‘Sueños,’ which translates, fittingly, as ‘Dreams.’
“That song is a rural dreamscape about a woman on her wedding day,” Kane says. “She is asking the moon to watch over her in her dreams. It goes on to talk about a shepherd with twisted hands who lives in the sky who uses the stars to guide him; then to a sad memory of a woman who once was loved and lost in a man’s life. In his pockets he carries peace and energy; he also asks the moon to watch over him in his dreams.”

Perhaps that is the key to understanding Pacifika’s music: three friends living out their dreams on one stage. In a society that seems to be getting speedier by the day, the relaxed environment created by this trio’s songs offers a robust antidote to the hectic nature of daily life. Charming and charmed, we’d all be better suited on a planet as full of love as this one.

Focus Tracks: 5, 3, 4, 9
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Penicillin Baby – “Not Getting Any Younger” b/w “Thought It Couldn’t Be This Way” (Jeffery Drag)

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Listen Now: “Not Getting Any Younger”

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Penicillin Baby is Jon Conant’s beast of burden. Raised in middle-of-nowhere, Oklahoma, the urge to make noise drove him at a young age to learn and become self-proficient at almost every instrument within reach. After toying around with recording for a bit, he decided to relocate to Nashville and put his own band together. Hijacking their name from a David Cross sketch on Mr. Show, word of mouth traveled quickly as more and more people learned of the band’s energetic vibes. From this, their cult has gained a sizable following that keeps growing as more people become converted to their rich psychedelic pop melodies, their pounding bass and drum beats that make it impossible not to dance, and a layer of fuzz that jumps in at just the right moment. There’s no telling where this trip known as Penicillin Baby will go, but one thing’s for damn sure: it won’t be boring.

“Their jams fall somewhere between Ty Segall and Tame Impala on the psych scale, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.” – Nashville Scene

“It has been said that East Nashville is the Brooklyn of Nashville and Penicillin Baby is the epitome of that statement.” – KCRW

“We have been in love with the lo-fi psychadelics of Penicilin Baby since the first time we heard ‘Jams: Volume 1’ and they just keep giving us reasons to fall deeper.” –No Country For New Nashville

Focus Tracks: 1, 2
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Rodrigo Y Gabriela – 9 Dead Alive (ATO)

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Listen Now: “The Soundmaker”

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ATO Records is excited to announce the April 29 release of acoustic rock maestros Rodrigo y Gabriela’s new studio album. Titled 9 Dead Alive, it is the band’s first record of new material in five years. It was recorded and produced by Rod and Gab at their studio in Ixtapa, Mexico. Mixing was handled by Andrew Scheps (Black Sabbath, Adele, Metallica, Lana Del Rey) in Los Angeles. 
 
9 Dead Alive sees Rodrigo y Gabriela playing face to face, guitar versus guitar, bursting with melodic energy and rhythmic invention. Recorded at their Pacific Coast hideaway in late summer, the album captures the warmth and spontaneity of two great musicians locked in together; perfectly distilled into nine new songs teeming with desire, elegance and gusto.
 
Each of the songs on the album is a personal celebration of individuals who have passed on, but through their deeds and words still resonate in the 21st century. Going as far back as Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122 – 1204) all the way through history to include Viktor Frankl (1905 – 1997), this diverse and fascinating list will strike a chord with anyone familiar with the duo’s passion for human rights, literature, history and philosophy. The complete tracklisting and list of influences is below.
 
Rodrigo y Gabriela’s last album of all new music was 2009′s 11:11. Since then they have collaborated on the soundtracks to both Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Shores and Puss N’ Boots and visited Havana to record 2011′s Area 52 album with a Cuban orchestra. They have continued to tour the world, playing sold-out shows last year at the Hollywood Bowl and Red Rocks in Colorado.

Focus Tracks: 1, 6, 4
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Sonny Knight and the Lakers – I’m Still Here (Secret Stash)

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Listen Now: “Hey Girl”

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On April 29th, 2014, the debut album from Sonny Knight & The Lakers, I’m Still Here, will be released in the US by Secret Stash Records on LP, CD, and digitally. For Sonny Knight, the making of his debut album nearly 50 years after recording his first single has effectively pushed the reset button on a long and interrupted career, bringing it around full circle musically and geographically. He and his new backing band, the Lakers, recorded I’m Still Here in a subterranean Minneapolis studio a scant seven blocks away from the basement studio beneath a long shuttered record store where he recorded his first 45 (as Little Sonny Knight & The Cymbols) in 1965 at age 17.

Shortly thereafter, music took a back seat to a three-year stint in the army. A few more years in the Bay Area followed, before he returned to Minnesota in the mid-1970s and joined the now-cult favorite funk group Haze. By the early ‘80s, Haze had broken up and Sonny walked away from music for a full time job as a truck driver.

Unbeknownst to Sonny, not only had that lone 7” record he cut as a teenager (“Tears On My Pillow” B/W “Rain Dance”) become a prized item in R&B collector circles in the ensuing decades, his powerful voice had not been forgotten. In the 1990s, vocalists Monroe Wright and Maurice Young (formerly of Minneapolis soul legends the Valdons) extended him an invitation to join their new group, The Bachelors. When the Valdons were revived in 2012 in celebration of Secret Stash Records’ Twin Cities Funk & Soul compilation, Wright and Young tapped Knight as a new member.

After six months of working together on shows promoting Twin Cities Funk & Soul, Sonny and Secret Stash founder / in-house funky drummer Eric Foss formed Sonny Knight and The Lakers. In the spring of 2013, Sonny and the Lakers hit the ground running – playing gigs a few short weeks after their first rehearsal. Within months they had grown into their own as a band. In the fall, Sonny and the guys spent a long weekend at a cabin in Northern Minnesota and it became a defining moment. Staying up late, listening to old 45s, learning gospel songs, and wood shedding tunes was a way for the band to develop a similar vocabulary and refine their direction. It transformed them from a group of good players into a band. When they returned home, they set up a string of performances and residencies in Minneapolis and St. Paul. By the end of their residency at the Eagles club in South Minneapolis, virtually no breaks interrupted or slowed down their live sets. Non-stop rehearsals and live performances helped The Lakers tighten up their sound. That, coupled with the inspiration found during the cabin trip, laid the ground work for recording an album.

Nearly fifty years have passed since Knight’s first recording, but for the first time he feels like the center of attention. He says, “Sometimes I wonder, why me? Why are all these great things happening now? All I can say is thanks. These are dreams that I had forgotten. Only now that they are starting to come true do I remember that I had them at all.”

Focus Tracks: 7, 2, 1
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Sorceress – “Teacups” (Wonderwheel)

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Listen Now: “Teacups”

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Sorceress is a 5 piece band from New Zealand formerly known as Funkommunity. Their debut album Chequered Thoughts was widely acclaimed around the world and saw them tour Europe and Japan in 2012. The creative duo at the core of Sorceress is vocalist Rachel Fraser and producer/band leader Isaac Aesili.

“Teacups” is the first single from the forthcoming album Dose by Sorceress due to drop in May 2014. Instrumentation interweaves with stratospheric synth textures creating a soulful space for the heavy vocals of Rachel Fraser. Both dancefloor orientated and contemplative, “Teacups” takes the listener to an unknown destination, strange but familiar, somewhere between the future and the past.

Focus Track: 1
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Yann Tiersen – “A Midsummer Evening” (MUTE)

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Listen Now: “A Midsummer Evening” (Radio Edit)

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“A sunny, baroque pop track featuring Tiersen’s characteristic subjection of acoustic instruments such as bells and strings to digital processing, indicative of his approach to the whole album” – The Quietus

“Orchestral pop that feels both capable of being stripped down to an acoustic format while being eerily bombastic.” – Prefix Mag

“A Midsummer Evening,” dense with manipulated textures, strings and choral chanting, began, as the album did, as little more than noise from toys. The initial recordings took place in Iceland and are explained here by Tiersen: “The idea was to start with toy instruments as a reference to my early works, then manipulate the sounds electronically. Then I added a new layer of acoustic instrumentation, and repeated the same process. Finally I repeated the process once more with strings, so the whole album was a constant back and forth from acoustic to electronic to digital, and then back to analogue.”

This layering of textures formed thematic threads that bind the album: the stones, the minerals, their infinite nature… Language too is integral to this album. “Ar Maen Bihan”, a story written by Emilie Quinquis in the Breton language, was translated by Amiina to Icelandic (‘Steinn’). Elsewhere on the album Aidan Moffat (Arab Strap) and Ólavur Jákupsson (a member of Tiersen’s live band) both contributed tracks on the same theme – stones – Moffat’s in English and Jákupsson’s in Faroese.

∞ (Infinity) is the follow up to 2011’s Skyline (which was described by MOJO as “life affirming”, by Clash as a “…remarkable musical talent” and in Drowned In Sound’s 8* review as “euphoric”), and will be premiered at an exclusive live performance at the ICA, London, on May 14th- which sold out in less than 5 hours. The ICA is followed by a tour of North America in May and June, including dates in Mexico City, Toronto, New York City, Los Angeles, Montreal, and Chicago to name a few.

∞ (Infinity) was conceived in Iceland, where work began on the album, and in Ushant Island, Brittany. The album was produced by Yann Tiersen and mixed by Gareth Jones with Yann Tiersen and Daniel Miller.

Hailing from Brittany, Yann Tiersen is one of the most revered artists of his generation with a reputation first established by his studio albums (which included 1997’s Cascade Street 1998’s The Lighthouse and to 2005’s Les Retrouvailles). The early albums were combined and used for the Amelie soundtrack (2001), earning him global recognition. Recent albums on Mute, Dust Lane (2010) and Skyline (2011) have seen his prominence build, along with projects such as the recent live score to the Fantômas series which he curated at the Théâtre de Châtelet with guests Tim Hecker, James Blackshaw, Loney Dear and Amiina.

Focus Track: 1
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Y LUV – I Don’t Get Infinity (Self Released)

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Listen Now: “Driftin”

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Y LUV is made up of Freddy Janney, Sam Nardella, and Luke Hanna. Janney and Nardella’s roots go back to Boston where the duo attended elementary school together. After moving to the West Coast to study at the University of Southern California, they met up with Hanna, solidifying the band’s line-up. Since forming, Y LUV has racked up some impressive tour stats playing alongside Capital Cities, Tokyo Police Club, Penguin Prison, The Knocks, The Crystal Method and Robert DeLong among others. In 2012, the band was hand-selected by fellow Voodoo performer AWOLNATION to perform live on the main stage at the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans which led to playing non-stop in 2013 with highlights including Glastonbury, Bonnaroo, and VooDoo Music Festival.

Bringing a unique sound that’s been compared to U2 and Kings of Leon with a psychedelic touch, the unsigned indie outfit has accumulated over 440,000 Spotify plays on their latest single, “Driftin”.

Y LUV will continue to play out this spring and summer — check iluvyluv.com for the most up-to-date information.

Focus Tracks: 1, 2
FCC: 3

ADDS for 4.22.2014

Christos DC – Long Road (Honest Music)

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Listen Now: “Just Talk To Me” (Feat. Kenyatta Hill)

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The artist Christos DC aka Christopher Vrenios, was born and raised in Washington, D.C. by parents who sang opera and taught voice professionally. He takes his name from his Greek heritage using a nickname given to him by his grandmother & also to represent his birthplace that set the tone of his musical journey. His sound is best described as a blend of Downtempo, Reggae with overtones of jazz.

His career began in the early 90′s producing hip hop & r&b tracks w/ indie artists from DC & New York, but it was his deep appreciation for the sounds coming out of Kingston, Jamaica that led him to record with legendary reggae artists Sly and Robbie as well as the Firehouse Crew. He was later recruited by Don Carlos of Black Uhuru and The Itals to tour. He spent several years on the road as a guitarist and backup vocalist performing in the United States and a few places abroad. During this time, he also produced and recorded an album entitled Offering, which featured various artists from Jamaica singing over his tracks as well as his solo debut. The album included artists such as the Sugar Minott, Meditations and Don Carlos. The majority of the album was recorded in Jamaica with the late great Augustus Pablo and other well known session players from the island. He then went on to do session work, playing guitar, bass, and even co-writing with the world famous Thievery Corporation, as well as other groups. In 2008 he released his first full album Time to Rise which lead him to creating an independent record label Honest Music, that his recording Under The Sun was released on.

“Music is a gift,” Christos says. “When we share it we should consider the effect it will have on others. This is why I make honest music.”

Focus Tracks: 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 14
FCC: Clean

Fantasmes – Thralls To Strange Witchcraft (Last Bummer-LOOSE)

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Listen Now: “They Will”

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Puerto Rican psych rockers, Fantasmes, Last Bummer Records and LOOSE Recordings announce the release of Fantasmes’ new EP, Thralls to Strange Witchcraft. Recorded at their own studio, Casa Fantasmes, in Santurce, Puerto Rico, this new album captures the band’s constant expansion of their concept of the psychedelic, deepening their exploration into multitudes of soundscapes. The band firmly stands out in a scene used to recycled sounds. Thralls to Strange Witchcraft reiterates Fantasmes’ practice of going beyond simply emulating their influences whilst creating an odd yet albeit somewhat familiar sonic world.

The first single, “The Shadow Self,” is a ballad that entrances the listener into an obscure David Lynch-esque scene with a soundtrack created by The Beatles’ disjointed children. “They Will” evokes Suicide’s pulsating drone and is reminiscent of Spacemen 3 or The Velvet Underground, the listener can’t ever be sure.

Fantasmes begun in 2005, initially as an extension of Mario Negrón González’s interest in home recording techniques. The original line-up also included current members Darío Morales Collazo and Juan Antonio Arroyo. After two self-released albums, Negrón and Morales wrote and recorded Redness Moon, which was released in the fall of 2012 by Last Bummer Records, and was followed by a tour of the Northeast that same year, with the line- up integrating Daniel Sierra, Jose E. Rodriguez, and Eduardo Martinez. In March 2013, the band was also an official featured act at South by Southwest, along with fellow Puerto Rican bands Los Vigilantes and Las Ardillas. This year, they will be playing at Austin Psych Fest.

Thralls to Strange Witchcraft is be released digitally on April 15, and on vinyl on April 23. US/Worldwide: Last Bummer Records / Canada: LOOSE Recordings.

Focus Tracks: 2, 3
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Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger – Midnight Sun (Chimera)

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Listen Now: “Midnight Sun”

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On April 29th, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (The GOASTT) will release Midnight Sun, a guided tour of bold, shape-shifting sonic murals and evocative lyrical panoramas. Plucking musical ingredients from all over the map, the album has a highly imaginative and distinct feel. It celebrates the unusual and the grandiose but fundamentally just rocks hard and feels good.

Like the hero in the album’s melancholy “Don’t Look Back Orpheus” who takes a journey into a dreamlike underworld, the listener embarks on an auditory voyage of soaring whimsical keyboards and crunching space-age guitars that blends original melodies with kaleidoscopic freakouts. Midnight Sun injects a surreal landscape with colorful, classic hooks.

With an infectious sense of adventure akin to Beck and Flaming Lips, and several years of touring and recording under their belt, the GOASTT takes their creative and savvy approach to psychedelia to new extremes. The ambitious songs flow cleverly together with unexpected ease to tell a vivid and provocative story.

Familiar yet compelling, visceral and vital, Midnight Sun is at once a response to the bizarre world we’ve inherited and helped to create, and a refreshing escapist daydream that, if not hopeful, is keenly insightful. The GOASTT has given us a record that is poised to be a postmodern-psychedelic classic.

The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger has been busy since their debut. The band toured with The Flaming Lips and Tame Impala, performed at the Hollywood Bowl with Jean-Claude Vannier and released a Record Store Day vinyl EP entitled La Carotte Bleue. Muhl released an EP with her teenage folk duo Kemp & Eden, who also performed in the film Greetings From Tim Buckley. Lennon, meanwhile, released a record by his experimental duo Mystical Weapons with Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier, a film score to the indie comedy Alter Egos and produced the new album by Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band.

Focus Tracks: 13, 11, 12, 3, 6
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Jessica Lea Mayfield – Make My Head Sing (ATO)

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Listen Now: “I Wanna Love You”

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Jessica Lea Mayfield’s new album Make My Head Sing is available on vinyl, CD, and digitally on April 15th, 2014.

The new album was co-produced by Mayfield and her collaborator, bassist and husband Jesse Newport and was recorded at Nashville’s Club Roar studio. Of the new music Mayfield comments, “The whole record is just me and Jesse and my drummer Matt Martin. I think a lot of my favorite bands are guitar, bass and drums. I wanted to simplify things. Bands are so big these days, I wanted to get in the studio and make a rock record and hear real guitar tones and something heavy.”

Make My Head Sing follows Mayfield’s 2011 release, Tell Me, which was produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and was described by Rolling Stone, which named her an Artist to Watch, as “a disarming collision of stark country balladry, dynamic alternative rock and arty electronic pop.” Additionally, the Associated Press asserted, “Tell Me is the portrait of a precocious girl growing into self-assured womanhood and a producer reaching the peak of his powers. It is a dark and moody album, full of delights throughout, and if it doesn’t make Mayfield a star, that too will be heartbreaking,” while Spin Magazine included Mayfield in their “The Next Big Things: 11 Artists You Must Hear in 2011” feature, calling her a “smart-ass country-rock ingénue.” She also made her network television debut on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” performing the album’s first single, “Our Hearts Are Wrong,” which NPR Music praised as “…genuinely moving.”

Focus Tracks: 2, 8, 5, 4, 9
FCC: 1, 6

PHOX – “Slow Motion” (Partisan)

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Listen Now: “Slow Motion” (Radio Edit)

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“Not only does this septet have abundant energy and a batch of strong songs, but it’s also got Monica Martin, as charismatic a lead singer as I’ve seen in a while. The band lives, writes and arranges together in a small town outside Madison, Wisc. But whatever the band writes, Martin puts the lyrics to and sings, and that’s what takes PHOX out of the ordinary. ” – David Dye, World Cafe

PHOX is a bunch of friends from the Midwestern circus hamlet, Baraboo, WI, a place where kids often drink poisoned groundwater and become endowed mutants. They make music that straddles Feist and Monty Python.

It was in Baraboo that the six unlikely musicians attended high school together, some playing on the soccer field, others on video production sets. But in a town with a drive-your-tractor-to-school day, they didn’t last.

They did the thing that most people do when they are 18: they fled the coop, each going their separate ways (to film school, cosmetology school, a job with Homeland Security…). But promises were made that couldn’t be kept, and as they fell in unrequited love and lost their respective jobs, in spite of themselves, each simultaneously pulled the ripcord and came home.

The sextet promptly (-ish) got a house together in the Portland of the heartland, Madison, WI. As prolifically documented in their online video series, PHOX rekindled their onetime A/V production house while discovering how to live as a family (i.e. how not to berate each other about the hair in the sink).

After two years of cohabiting, PHOX beheld a demo reel of bedroom-recorded music (and home movies) that made Bon Iver and The Fray recording engineer Brian Joseph blush. Donning his producer’s cape (and occasional lab coat), Joseph cheer-led the band through its debut album at April Base Studios in Eau Claire, WI.

Joseph’s enthusiasm propelled the band through the production of more than a dozen songs that have been swimming in the think tank for two years.

Mixed by Michael Brauer at Electric Lady in NYC, their debut album is a school of simple folk-pop songs swimming amidst a chaotic eddy of rock, psychedelia, and soul.

If the goal here is friendship, PHOX is doing quite well. If the chosen path is blue collar pixel-pushing and church camp trust falls, they’re on the way. And if their only coping mechanism is to lay down their arms and, for 30 or 45 minutes a day, shut up and listen to each other, you can’t be too upset.

Focus Track: 1
FCC: Clean

The Safes – Record Heat (Wee Rock)

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Listen Now: “Hopes Up, Guard Down”

GOING FOR TOP 200 AND MODERN ROCK SPECIALTY ADDS

So what do we have here? It’s The SAFES’ brand new LP Record Heat and it is dynamite! A fresh blast of pop rock n roll magic at its very best; this album hits the spot again and again. Recorded by Jim Diamond (White Stripes, The Sonics), Jason Ward (Arcade Fire) and Patrick O’Malley (The SAFES), Record Heat explodes with a supersonic crunch and stellar sharp songwriting. The SAFES give you 10 hit singles that make one killer record packed with clever lyrics, electric energy, and hooks that hurt. One listen and you’ll agree that this album stands out from the crowd and shines bright and proud! The first video, “Hopes Up, Guard Down,” was directed by Mike Hindert of The Bravery and a global video for “I Would Love To” is being filmed currently for release in the next few weeks.

Brothers Frankie, Patrick, and Michael O’Malley are The SAFES. Their father, a working musician, record collector and all around music lover filled the house with live sounds, great records (Little Richard, Magic Sam, & Buck Owens…) and an array of musical instruments. This environment ultimately led to the development of this very special band. The SAFES have that unique chemistry that comes when talented siblings form a band (think Kinks, AC/DC, Everly Brothers, Beach Boys). This chemistry fuels The SAFES’ records as well as their live shows.

Touring coast-to-coast for the past few years, performing in over 100 cities in 35 states, The SAFES have established large, loyal fan bases across the country on the strength of their live show, which is a sweaty explosion of energy and melody. They’ve also shared the stage with artists such as Andrew Bird, The Smoking Popes, members of Wilco and The Raconteurs, to name a few, as well as having worked with some top producers, such as Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, The Shins), Keith Cleversley (Flaming Lips), Jim Diamond (White Stripes), and Jason Ward (Arcade Fire). The quality of their past releases have also brought them national recognition – “Sight of all Light”, “Well, Well, Well”, “Boogie Woogie Rumble” and “Family Jewels” all received favorable press across the country, extensive airplay and live sessions on college and community radio stations across the US such as WFMU, WLUW, KHDX, WMBR, among hundreds of others and along with WXRT, KROQ, WFNX, and WLUP, as well as having their songs licensed by NIKE, ESPN, Dr. Pepper, MTV amongst others), and local TV. Record Heat promises to lift The SAFES into the national recognition they deserve as they embark on a full US tour beginning April 28th. Check distillerpromo.com for dates.

Focus Tracks: 1, 6, 8, 2, 3
FCC: Clean

ADDS for 4.15.2014

The Faint – Doom Abuse (SQE)

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Listen Now: “Mental Radio”

GOING FOR TOP 200 AND MODERN ROCK SPECIALTY ADDS

THE FAINT will return this spring with their sixth album, DOOM ABUSE out April 8 via SQE Music. NPR premiered the album’s lead track “Help In The Head” on All Songs Considered and Pitchfork premiered the video for the track, which was directed by Tim Nackashi. DOOM ABUSE is available for pre-order now on iTunes. Fans that pre-order the album through iTunes will receive a downloadable track every week leading up to the album’s release. A download of “Help In The Head” is available now with all iTunes pre-orders. THE FAINT will be embarking on a national tour in the late spring.

To understand DOOM ABUSE and its raw, visceral aesthetic you have to understand its birth story. You have to understand that after touring for a year on their 2008 self-released album Fasciinatiion, an album that took several years to write and produce, THE FAINT ceased to exist. The musicians were burned out, uninspired and could no longer find the most important element of any musical creation: fun. They went their separate ways, pursued other sorts of music in other projects, sometimes together and sometimes separately, and learned new ways of channeling sound.They remembered what drove their songwriting in the first place.

Then, in the spring of 2013, THE FAINT existed again. Anxious to make new music the band recorded a 4-song white label 12″ they referred to as “Preversions.” That music, primal and punk rock in its approach became the unplanned blueprint for DOOM ABUSE.

The band booked time with longtime collaborator Mike Mogis to mix the album before even really having songs written. There was no specific concept, just a sense of wanting to capture moments of real passion and invigorated glee. Whatever came out while writing in the band’s Omaha studio and rehearsal space would become their next album. Since much of Fasciinatiion was made sitting behind computers, the musicians wanted to embrace a live sensibility and collective rawness. A lot of the record was created live in the room, with first takes and first ideas taking precedent.

The entire album took only about three months to create. It reflects specific experiences from a specific time and sounds unlike anything else. And in its final iteration, you can see the patterns in DOOM ABUSE’s songs. The ideas and themes become clear. For Todd Fink, many of the album’s lyrics were created automatically in a stream of consciousness. In the moment he didn’t know that he was centered on certain lyrical obsessions, mostly connected to the human brain and its functions.

The music, too, connects. From boisterous, static-laced opener “Help In The Head” to propulsive aggressor “Evil Voices” to ambient and layered closer “Damage Control,” the album explores different variations of THE FAINT as a live rock band. Their history as an innovative dance act lingers, years of obsession with crafting a new style for the dance floor seeping into each song, but here and now, the band wanted to make songs that capture the sheer power and collaborative nature of their onstage performances. The songs differ and balance each other out but all share the same space and overarching tone, another pattern seen after the fact.

The birth of DOOM ABUSE in many ways, is in parallel with a rebirth of the band itself. THE FAINT, started in Omaha in the mid-’90s, have always created against the grain, disinterested in making anything except what their own inspiration drives them to make. Each album since their 1998 debut Media has shifted and evolved that desire. Some albums, like 1999′s Blank-Wave Arcade, came from urgent, short recording processes while others, like 2004′s Wet From Birth, were more carefully constructed. The musicians themselves are the constant, together embracing a style that is truly unlike every other band out there. While DOOM ABUSE harkens back to Blank-Wave Arcade’s immediacy in some ways, it opens a new door. Inside is exactly where THE FAINT want to be now.

Focus Tracks: 2, 12, 5, 13
FCC: 1

Ziggy Marley – Fly Rasta (Tuff Gong)

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Listen Now: “I Don’t Wanna Live On Mars”

GOING FOR TOP 200, AAA AND WORLD ADDS

For Ziggy Marley, his latest vehicle of expression the album Fly Rasta, represented a galactic sonic journey .

The trip began in early 2013 with a handwritten note by the six-time Grammy Award winner (with his most recent being the 2014 Best Reggae Album Grammy for Ziggy Marley In Concert). He sat in his home recording studio, took out a scrap of paper, and began to think about what would become his fifth solo studio album.

The concept was simple: make a record that was true to himself, and expanded the territories of the traditional reggae sound by exploring new musical spaces. He had brought strands of other genres into his previous albums, but now he was looking further into the musical universe, like the deep-space eye of the Hubble telescope.

Ziggy began work in Spring 2013 and enlisted producer Dave Cooley to join him on the adventure. Recording began shortly thereafter with the help of friends old and new, including The Melody Makers (sisters Cedella Marley and Sharon Marley, and singer Rica Newell); drummers Stephen Ferrone (Tom Petty), Brian MacLeod (Sheryl Crow), Rock Deadrick (Ben Harper) and Motown’s legendary James Gadson; guitarists Lyle Workman (Sara Bareilles), Takeshi Akimoto (Taj Mahal) and Ian “Beezy” Coleman (Burning Spear); bassists Dave Wilder (Norah Jones), Guy Erez (Karmina), Abraham Laboriel (Paul Simon) and Pablo Stennett (Willie Nelson); and keyboardists Zac Rae (Lana Del Ray), David Palmer (Goo Goo Dolls), George Hughes (Sarah Vaughan), Mike Hyde (Burning Spear) and Brian LeBarton (Beck).

Fly Rasta, scheduled for release April 15, fulfills Ziggy’s mission by marrying his own distinctive reggae sound with elements of psychedelica, rock, funk, soul and pop, exploring further musical zones with the addition of sitar, tabla and taiko drums. “I’m looking to push the envelope, to challenge myself,” Ziggy explains. “ I have always wanted to travel far beyond the realms of expectations.”

Marley will support Fly Rasta with a multiple television appearances and a three month summer tour spanning North America.

Focus Tracks: 1, 2, 5, 3
FCC: Clean

William Onyeabor – What?! (Luaka Bop)

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Listen Now: Hot Chip “Atomic Bomb”

GOING FOR RPM ADDS

Luaka Bop will release William Onyeabor – What?!, for which the label partnered with Moog to commission remixes and covers of the remarkably elusive African electronic artist William Onyeabor, on Record Store Day, April 19. The collection features reworkings of World Psychedelic Classics 5: Who Is William Onyeabor?, one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2013 and Luaka Bop’s most successful reissue since Shuggie Otis in 2002. In the absence of participation from Onyeabor, who long ago turned his back on music, Luaka Bop continues to engage other artists to create work, inspired by Onyeabor, in various mediums.

William Onyeabor – What?! opens with Hot Chip’s cover of the Onyeabor landmark “Atomic Bomb.” The collection includes remixes of “Body and Soul” by Justin Strauss & Bryan Mette, David Terranova, and Scientist; a remix of “Good Name” by Joakim ft. Akwetey (Dragons of Zynth); a JD Twitch cover of “Why Go to War?”; a remix of “Heaven & Hell” by Javelin; and a remix of “Something You Will Never Forget” by Policy. The album also includes a remix by John Hill & Rich Costey of The Vaccines’ “Do You Want a Man,” which reworked Onyeabor’s “Heaven & Hell”; and Daphni’s “Ye Ye,” which reworked Onyeabor’s “When the Going Is Smooth & Good.” For many of these tracks, artists used the limited-edition custom-designed Onyeabor synthesizers that Moog made last year.

In the small town of Enugu, Nigeria in the 1970s and 80s, William Onyeabor made synth-heavy electronic tracks that still sound futuristic in 2013. He is beloved by die-hard record collectors and artists including Damon Albarn, Devendra Banhart, Four Tet, Gilles Peterson and Carl Craig, to name just a few. When Luaka Bop contacted Onyeabor a few years ago, they found that he had become Born-Again Christian, had turned his back on music, and now refused to speak about his work. Luaka Bop kept asking, and Onyeabor finally relented and agreed to license his music to the label.

Luaka Bop released World Psychedelic Classics 5: Who Is William Onyeabor? last fall. The album made TIME’s “Top 10 Albums of 2013” and NPR’s “Top 50 Albums of the Year,” was awarded “Best New Re- Issue” by Pitchfork and was featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Times UK and Rolling Stone and on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and Public Radio International’s “The World,” among many others.

Luaka Bop began collaborating with Moog in spring 2013, motivated, in part, by lore that Onyeabor himself had been a Moog retailer in Nigeria, and with the hope of learning more about the elusive artist. Moog came onboard instantly and began conducting in-depth research about Onyeabor, his music and his equipment. Trying to understand how Onyeabor made his singular recordings, they spoke with producer and Moog archivist Brian Kehew in Los Angeles and searched Moog’s vast North Carolina archive—to no avail. Concurrently, Luaka Bop tracked down Onyeabor fans around the world, and, with Moog, asked these artists to explore and rework Onyeabor’s music.

In addition to those featured on the forthcoming album, participating artists in the remix project include John Talabot, Peaking Lights, Man Tear, Psychemagik, Pilooski, Prince Language, Lovefingers feat. Secret Circuit, Illum Sphere & Jon K, Japanese artist Oorutaichi, and Nigerian hiphop producers SDC.

Emmy Parker of Moog, says, “We are delighted to support Luaka Bop’s William Onyeabor adventure, which is one of the most exciting projects we’ve been part of in the past few years. As one of the first portable and easily usable synthesizers, Moog has always been about being more human, more musical, more interesting then other synthesizers made. Our sound is recognizable from London to Lagos and we are proud that creative musicians like William Onyeabor have incorporated our instruments into the great music they are making. ”

Eric Welles-Nystrom of Luaka Bop said, “Seeing that Mr. Onyeabor was such an extraordinary pioneer of the Moog, we can’t imagine a more perfect partner for this project. When we visited Mr. Onyeabor in Nigeria this summer, it was amazing to see that he still has many of his old Moogs, and, mind-blowing to hear him pronounce their name “Mogghh”, like everyone at the Moog factory in North Carolina. Though Mr. Onyeabor doesn’t say much, he used the word ‘delighted’ when we explained the partnership to him, while all the artists involved who received custom made Moogs, have been ecstatic.”

Also upcoming are the first-ever live performances of Onyeabor’s music. Entitled ATOMIC BOMB! The Music of William Onyeabor, the series of concerts will feature all-star lineups including artists such as David Byrne, Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip), Kele Okereke (Bloc Party), Damon Albarn, Pat Mahoney (LCD Soundsystem), Sinkane, Money Mark, Luke Jenner (The Rapture), Joshua Redman and the first live appearances in 30 years by the legendary Lijadou Sisters. The events will take place April 1 at the Barbican in London, April 2 at Colston Hall in Bristol, May 2 & 3 at BAM in Brooklyn (U.S. premiere, co-presented by BAM, Luaka Bop and Red Bull Music Academy), May 6 at the Warfield in San Francisco, and May 8 at the Greek in Los Angeles, sponsored by KCRW.

Focus Tracks: 1, 5, 10
FCC: Clean

Wye Oak – Shriek (ATO)

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Listen Now: “Glory” (Radio Edit)

GOING FOR TOP 200, AAA AND MODERN ROCK SPECIALTY ADDS

“The band, featuring Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, has built its reputation on massive walls of guitar noise. But on Wye Oak’s new record, Shriek, the band trades its guitars in for synths.” – NPR

“Billed as the group’s most personal album yet … Shriek boasts intensely layered sounds, as well as a whole new direction for the group.” – AV Club

“Sounding a tad like Strange Mercy-era St. Vincent and a frightening alternative of The Eurthymics, it’s certainly a new Wye Oak, but one we’re willing to drive around with for awhile. “Sexy” feels too easy of a descriptor, but hey, I haven’t had my green tea yet… so, there you go.” – Consequence of Sound

Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack of Wye Oak have spent most of their lives in Baltimore, Maryland. But after two years of constant touring with Civilian, their highly lauded 2011 album, they landed on opposite sides of the country with an unforeseeable future ahead. Despite this newfound uncertainty, the two bandmates embraced their physical distance, passing ideas back and forth, allowing new work to evolve in their respective solitudes. Shriek is Wye Oak’s fourth full-length and the culmination of their intent to express the emotional and intuitive self by acting out animalistic exclamations through cathartic release. It is their most personal and confident declaration yet.

Newly inspired by playing bass, Jenn took up songwriting in a setting where the guitar did not dictate harmonic boundaries or require a call-and-response relationship with her voice, a hallmark of previous Wye Oak records. With her phrasing freed, now it is often Andy who interacts with Jenn’s vocals, playing syncopated and meditative keyboard parts, and the duo’s collaborative arrangements provide a backdrop in which both the arcs of melodies and the new rhythmic elements flourish.

To engineer, mix, and co-produce, they brought in Nicolas Vernhes of the Rare Book Room in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, whose inventive and forward-thinking approaches to production complemented their new direction. The result is a record of indisputable humanity. Shriek is a complete narrative of disorientation, loss, renewal, and empowerment.

Download a radio edit of “Glory” (for time, not content) here!

Focus Tracks: 5, 2, 3, 6, 10
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