The Growlers – “Good Advice” (Everloving)
Listen Now: “Good Advice”
GOING FOR AAA ADDS
The music of The Growlers is unmistakable.
Sure, you can hone in on some influences baked into the work of this California-bred band. Heck, even they’d cop to a few, like Ricky Nelson and The Clash. But once those same RIYL tags have been filtered through the minds and hands and voices of this five-piece, there’s simply nothing else like it.
The Growlers took the phrase “Beach Goth” as an apt descriptor of their music. Sunburned and salty, that term perfectly describes their distinctive melding of reverb heavy surf guitar and Bakersfield-style honky tonk with ‘80s post-punk.
This is especially true of Chinese Fountain, The Growlers’ fifth full-length set to be released on September 23rd via Everloving Records. The 11 songs found on it are some of the strongest that they’ve committed to tape yet; a byproduct not only of eight years in the trenches together, but finely honing their gypsy folk dirges and psychedelic sea shanties to fans at close to 150 shows each year. The connection between vocalist Brooks Nielsen and guitarist Matt Taylor (the principal songwriters of the group) has only grown deeper.
“The band played better than they’ve ever played,” says Nielsen. “We’ve got the process down now. There’s less screwing around to get the songs laid out and we weren’t waiting around for take after take. We knew it and we played without much time to spare.”
That confidence bleeds through every track on Chinese Fountain, with the band assured enough to layer in shades of many new influences: the loping ska beat of “Dull Boy” and “Going Gets Tuff,” the playful disco beat behind the title track, or the Teardrop Explodes-like agitation of “Good Advice.”
Not that the band left themselves much room to second-guess anything. The five spent about three weeks writing the tracks, and about half that time in the studio recording them. That may sound rushed, but it’s not as if you can hear any strain on the finished product; Chinese Fountain is as rock solid and watertight as anything in their still-growing discography.
There’s evolution to be heard in Chinese Fountain as well, courtesy of some of Nielsen’s most pointed and poignant lyrics to date. He takes our obsession with the online world to task on the funky title track. When he drops the bomb that obliterates that most famous of Beatles’ claims with “The internet is bigger than Jesus or John Lennon” he re-contextualizes Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” in the same breath. He urges positivity no matter the obstacles (“Going Gets Tuff”). Too, he reveals a tattered heart to the world on tracks like “Rare Hearts” and “Love Test.”
“This is my chance to let it all out,” Nielsen says of these songs. “I kind of bottle things up and don’t really get emotional. But I think if I don’t open up, I’d be a really stale person.”
Focus Tracks: 1
Hippie Sabotage – The Sunny Album (Deluxe Edition) (iH2D)
Listen Now: “In Your Eyes”
GOING FOR TOP 200 AND RPM ADDS
Acclaimed production duo Hippie Sabotage continues to shine on their highly-anticipated new album, The Sunny Album (Deluxe Edition). After taking the world by storm with the international hit single “Habits (Stay High)” alongside Swedish pop star Tove Lo (a Top 10 single in 8 countries), and a slew of official remixes for Lana Del Rey and Charli XCX, among others, Hippie Sabotage returns to provide fans with a set of phenomenal new music. In addition to 12 previously unreleased tracks, the album features the song “Ridin Solo” which has already garnered the praise of Hippie Sabotage’s rapidly growing following. The Sunny Album (Deluxe Edition) debuts worldwide on September 16, 2014 via iH2D.
Top 200 Focus Tracks: 1, 10, 4, 2, 19 // RPM Focus Tracks: 10, 4, 19
Holy Ghost Tent Revival – Right State of Mind (Self-Released)
Listen Now: “Right State of Mind”
GOING FOR AAA AND TOP 200 ADDS
“Holy Ghost Tent Revival has been crafting a sound rooted in its members’ Southern upbringing … a soul-rock horn band that recalls ’60s and ’70s classic-rock influences such as The Band and The Flying Burrito Brothers, contemporary indie-rock acts like Dr. Dog, and New Orleans brass-band jazz.” – NPR
“Soul-inspired rock, that maintains a rootsy sound, brightened by warm swells of horns and rich harmonies.” – Paste
“If you’re a fan of Dr. Dog, The Band and the Flying Burrito Brothers, then you’re going to want to dig in to Holy Ghost Tent Revival’s soulful sounds.” – WXPN’s The Key
“Like a ragtag New Orleans street corner horn band gone south into the land of indie rock dragging a little ragtime tempo with them.” – AllMusic.com
“The album is executed with a woozy sensibility, spot-on harmonies and the inclusion of horns that imbue a lively kick or a whimsical sense of longing. Sweat Like the Old Days is a tightly-knit, expertly crafted collection that proves that the band’s relentless touring schedule has paid off in a big way.” – Paste
“With these 11 new tracks, Holy Ghost moves away from the more traditional bluegrass song structures of their earlier recordings, building solid arrangements that conjure another classic era. You’ll hear more Byrds than Old Crow and more Band than Avetts… Genre-shifting aside, Sweat Like The Old Days displays the band’s growth since their last studio stint… signature horns and banjo are kept intact for aficionados while song structures are reshaped and tightened. Production quality’s increased and highlights both instrumental and lyrical nuances. Sweat Like The Old Days showcases the outfit’s evolution in all the right ways.” – Shuffle Magazine (on HGTR’s 2012 release Sweat Like The Old Days)
Holy Ghost Tent Revival is a six-piece rock & roll band from North Carolina, driven by an exhilarating live show that has uplifted audiences since the band formed in 2007. For the past seven years, they have been honing their unique sound, which NPR describes as that of a “soul-rock horn band that recalls ’60s and ’70s classic-rock influences such as The Band and The Flying Burrito Brothers, contemporary indie-rock acts like Dr. Dog, and New Orleans brass-band jazz.”
Their third full-length studio album, Right State of Mind, is set for release on September 16th, 2014. The record was conceived in Philadelphia under the creative wing of Bill Moriarity (Man Man, The Sheepdogs) and sees the band putting many of the conventions of their earlier work to bed to explore burgeoning soul-rock leanings. It nimbly dances between genres while touching on themes of alienation, moving on after death, the joy of staying up all night in the city, the interconnected nature and beauty of life, and longing for a home that is no more.
What many listeners will hail as a deeply personal and evocative group of recordings, the band has turned into a thrilling live incarnation that will continue to grow across the country from radio dial to lit stage. It’s this same powerful performance that has earned them the honor of sharing stages with Shovels and Rope, Dr. Dog, Lake Street Dive, Pokey LaFarge, and Langhorne Slim & The Law. And it is this same urgency that will keep Holy Ghost Tent Revival ever-thirsty, ever-ready to chase the music.
Focus Tracks: 2, 5, 1, 7, 9 10
Les Sins – “Bother” (Carpark)
Listen Now: “Bother”
GOING FOR TOP 200, RPM AND MODERN ROCK SPECIALTY ADDS
Michael is the debut full length from Les Sins, the dance project of Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick. Inspired by cartoon and movie soundtracks, the largely instrumental album explores classic dance and pop music traditions. Catchy, repetitive vocal hooks gel with beats and synth work influenced by house, techno, French electronic, and ’90s hip-hop production. Bundick made the album over two years and recorded everything in his home studio.
“Bother” establishes a steady groove with a chopped vocal hook and a smattering of percussive elements. It’s dynamic and unrelenting, even when Chaz Bundick radically chops away at all he so cleverly constructs; ambitiously reducing his meticulously crafted arrangement to its foundation.
Focus Track: 1
Moreno Veloso – Coisa Boa (Luaka Bop)
Listen Now: “Em Todo Lugar Voz Boa”
GOING FOR WORLD ADDS
On September 9, Luaka Bop will release Coisa Boa, Brazilian songwriter, singer, guitarist and producer Moreno Veloso’s first album in 13 years. Three songs from the new recording can be heard in Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age epic Boyhood (IFC Films), already one of the most widely acclaimed and groundbreaking films of 2014. The film, shot over the course of 12 years, makes its New York premiere June 18 in the sixth annual BAMcinemaFest. Veloso, along with Linklater and the cast, will attend the premiere.
Over the past decade, Veloso has honed his craft as a producer, helming, with Pedro Sá (co-producer of Coisa Boa), his father Caetano Veloso’s most recent albums Abraçaço (2012), Zii e Zie (2010) and Cê (2006), and Gilberto Gil’s forthcoming album, in addition to working with several other artists in France and Brazil. Coisa Boa is the first album he has made since the completion of the +2 trilogy he made with his friends Domenico Lancelotti and Alexandre Kassin—with each member leading the group for an album: Moreno Veloso +2’s Music Typewriter (2001), Domenico +2’s Sincerely Hot (2003) and Kassin +2’s Futurismo (2007).
Veloso approached Coisa Boa differently. “We’re not thinking of that as much now. We’re just trying to make something we like and that’s a new way of doing things for us. Before, we wanted to make it sound very new, but now we’re not trying to do that, just trying to do music.” Veloso co-wrote a number of the songs on Coisa Boa with Domenico, who, along with Kassin, also plays on numerous tracks. They are among a large group of friends—some 30 musicians—recorded in nine different studios: in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Japan and New York. The album features contributions from guitarists including Pedro Sá and Arto Lindsay, bassist Melvin Gibbs, pianist Daniel Jobim, keyboardist Rodrigo Bartolo and multi-instrumentalist Takako Minekawa.
Veloso explains that having friends around during the making of an album isn’t just important. “Without my friends I could not make anything. I’m very shy, I’m very lazy…My friends are like fuel, they just make me work.” He adds, “I’ve had a lot of fun with this album. Of course it’s very emotional sometimes, but I still like it when I listen to it so I think, ‘Well that’s ok, let’s put it out.’”
Focus Tracks: 3, 5, 6, 9
Somebody’s Darling – Adult Roommates (Self-Released)
Listen Now: “Generator”
GOING FOR AAA AND TOP 200 ADDS
Dallas’ own Somebody’s Darling have played relentlessly over the last five years, clocking in over 500 shows through multiple headlining tours, numerous festival stops and supporting great artists like Shovels & Rope, Lucero and Divine Fits. Spearheaded by lead singer Amber Farris, whose unrefined yet tender vocals belt out blistering songs that command the attention of anyone in earshot, is oft-likened to great singers such as Bonnie Raitt, Susan Tedeschi and Erika Wennerstrom (Heartless Bastards).
Nearly two years after the release of the band’s last album, Somebody’s Darling is set to release their third LP in September, titled Adult Roommates. The new album was recorded earlier this year at the Echo Lab in Denton, TX, all on 2″ analog tape. Their sound has its roots in live expression rather than that studio-perfected sort of vibe, drawing on a range of vintage influences. But just as their contemporary heroes, bands like My Morning Jacket, Wilco, Dawes, and the Black Keys, these five friends strive to create and perform exceptional songs that are at the spearhead of modern rock ‘n’ roll.
Focus Tracks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 9
ADDS for 8.26.2014
Marco Benevento – Swift (Royal Potato Family)
Listen Now: “At The Show” (Radio Edit)
GOING FOR AAA, TOP 200 AND MODERN ROCK SPECIALTY ADDS
Marco Benevento is used to doing things for himself. Since launching his solo career six years ago, Benevento has co-founded the label that releases his music, The Royal Potato Family, and built the studio, Fred Short Sound, where he works whenever he’s not on the road. He’s written, arranged and played his largely instrumental anthems, leading a band from behind his customized piano and a tiny armada of drum-machines and sequencers, keyboards and pedals. But until Benevento set out to complete his fifth solo album, he’d never sung his own songs, a strange omission for music that’s so often been lyrical. That changes—decisively, assuredly, triumphantly—on Swift, the boldest and most bracing album of Benevento’s career.
Abetted by producer Richard Swift (Shins, Damien Jurado, Foxygen) and featuring Benevento’s core touring band: Dave Drewitz on bass (Ween) and Andy Borger on drums (Tom Waits, Norah Jones), an ease and energy radiate throughout Swift, its nine tracks every bit as delightful and kinetic as the title suggests. Opener “At the Show” is a handclap invocation, the big-bottomed drums and fleet keyboard line motioning toward the dance floor. “Eye to Eye” moves with an indomitable swagger, while closer “Free Us All” prompts eyes-closed, mouths-open bliss. Even “No One is to Blame,” the album’s ostensible down-tempo drift, can’t suppress the excitement of the new setting, the new singer or the new approach. Its climax offers arching catharsis, Benevento’s multi-tracked harmonies curving like a rainbow. On “If I Get to See You At All,” Dreiwitz’s bass dances atop the track, his rich fuzz-tone affording the melody the feeling of a sinister carousel. And on “The Saint,” he and Borger emerge as powerhouse, the viscous bass line rumbling over drums that slow and spring, stutter and stomp. A minute into the track, Benevento has to wait for just the perfect moment in which to slide his silvery piano.
An album of crisp, intriguing pop songs, sliced through with a wholly original approach to piano, electronics and songwriting, Swift is the singular artistic statement Benevento was destined to create at this point in his continually evolving body of work.
Focus Tracks: 1, 9, 3, 4
Cold Specks – Neuroplasticity (Mute)
Listen Now: “Bodies At Bay”
GOING FOR AAA AND TOP 200 ADDS
Like an off-label industrial process or cult ritual conducted in the dead of night, an artery flowing open in spurts or a complex society on the verge of collapse, Neuroplasticity is both terrifying and morbidly enthralling to witness. Cold Specks has returned, two years and a world map of tours after 2012’s I Predict a Graceful Expulsion. Hailed as a masterful and wholly original debut, the follow-up is radically expanded, like an announcer realizing they hadn’t turned on their microphone.
The 26 year-old Canadian singer, under the sobriquet Al Spx, began work on Neuroplasticity while holed-up in a cottage in Wick, Somerset, UK during the winter of 2012. “The record was mapped out in the cottage. I was there for about three months,” she says, “’A Formal Invitation’, ‘Old Knives’ and ‘Absisto’ were essentially written there. They are the more unusual songs on the record. I may have been reflecting on my surroundings. Have you ever been to Glastonbury? It’s a pretty fucked up place.”
When Cold Specks wasn’t writing or touring, she was pinballing between asks from an enviable roll call of collaborators and award panels. Shortlisted for the Juno Award and Polaris Prize, Spx also worked on Moby’s album and was invited to play with Joni Mitchell at the singer’s 70th birthday last year, alongside the likes of Herbie Hancock. She contributed to Ambrose Akinmusire’s new record for Blue Note and the latest Swans album, To Be Kind. These last two partnerships have left a significant impression on Neuroplasticity. The indomitable Swans founder Michael Gira appears midway through on “Exit Plan,” and Akinmusire joins him on the intense closer “A Season of Doubt” as well as permeating most of the record with trumpet lines of an anguished, cracking frailty.
On Neuroplasticity Spx’s words and delivery capture whatever could be said to exist and be perceptible of something beyond ourselves: as a record of the briefest flicker of consciousness counterbalanced against a roaring urge to return to the darkness. It is bleaker than before perhaps but the wintry feel of Cold Specks material, self-described last time as “doom soul,” has the quiet power of seeds cracking through ice. The thematic fixation with blood, animals and earth that spills in from the previous LP ensures that the notion of obliteration remains cradled by some intractable cosmic order, however torrid. Neuroplasticity will be released via Mute on August 25 2014.
Focus Tracks: 2, 7, 1, 4, 5, 8
Elephant Stone – The Three Poisons (Hidden Pony)
Listen Now: “Knock You From Your Mountain” (Radio Edit)
GOING FOR TOP 200 ADDS
Elephant Stone and Hidden Pony Records are thrilled to announce a new album titled Three Poisons. NPR’s All Songs Considered shared the title track to Three Poisons earlier this year, and connected the dots between “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Three Poisons.”
Elephant Stone’s Rishi Dhir tells the story of Three Poisons…”
“…the band is in deep, working on the follow-up to our self-titled 2013 release. I don’t think it was just me, but things felt different this time around. The grooves were groovier, the sonics rumbled heavier, and the songs were connecting to something bigger. It wasn’t until Malika Tirolien came in to record her inspired backing vocals for “Knock You From Your Mountain” and “All Is Burning” that I reflected on that abandoned record collection I inherited and the trip it took me on. In that moment I heard the groove of the Mondays, the darkness of Echo, the jangle of Ride… but what I truly heard and felt coming together in these new batch of songs was—and is—unequivocally the sound of Elephant Stone.”
Focus Tracks: 2, 1, 5, 7, 9
Field Report – “Home (Leave The Lights On)” (Partisan)
Listen Now: “Home (Leave The Lights On)”
GOING FOR AAA AND TOP 200 ADDS
“Meticulous… gorgeous” – NPR
“Marigolden is the sort of step forward every band hopes to achieve on their second record.” – Stereogum
“[Field Report’s] sophomore release more than satisfies the longing we had for more music after being so thoroughly blown away by their 2012 self-titled debut… the musical maturity is stunning.” – Bruce Warren, WXPN
“The body remembers what the mind forgets,” Chris Porterfield reminisces on his acclaimed band Field Report sophomore record, Marigolden. The record is strewn with references to the inevitable tolls taken by the passage of time, and prolonged distance from home and loved ones.
The past couple of years have flashed by for Porterfield, who was thrust into the spotlight after years of musical reclusion. His Milwaukee-based band, Field Report (an anagram of his surname), was culled together in the studio while recording their 2012 self-titled debut. They suddenly found themselves championed by their former idols: offered support tours by Counting Crows and Aimee Mann, lauded by the likes of Mark Eitzel and Richard Thompson, and covered by Blind Boys Of Alabama.
The band honed itself from a septet to a quartet in the year that followed, focusing its sound and tightening the screws. With a heavy batch of songs under their arms, they retreated to snowy Ontario in December 2013 to record their sophomore album, Marigolden, with the help of producer Robbie Lackritz (Feist).
Spending two years roaming around the country playing tiny venues and sold-out amphitheaters alike, Porterfield was uncertain whether he was leading the charge toward an artistic epiphany or headed down a misguided path of self-destruction. Marigolden reflects this, as he ruminates across homesick tension and an un-grounded anxiety. But rather than wallow in melancholy, Porterfield finds solace and inspiration through his songs, which reveal themselves as uplifting and celebratory. The album is brighter than their 2012 debut, but somehow remains just as elegantly ominous.
Marigolden’s second track, the surprisingly catchy radio single “Home,” finds Porterfield on the road, hoping the home, wife, dog, and life he left behind in Milwaukee will still be there upon his return. “Leave the lights on,” he asks, “it might be nighttime when I get there, but I’m on my way home.” While the song contemplates lonesomeness, there is an undeniable sense of hope driving it. In “Summons,” the penultimate track, he recalls this thought, repeating, “I’ll be coming home to you” like a mantra. This sense of balance and symmetry across the album helps provide stability to the otherwise volatile themes. Case in point: the album starts with a sunrise in “Decision Day” and ends full circle with another in “Enchantment.”
Whether reconsidering sobriety in “Pale Rider,” sticking to tonic water in the bars of “Summons,” or cashing in a 30-day chip for a kiss in “Enchantment,” Porterfield’s relationship with alcohol runs through the current of nearly every song. Most notably in “Ambrosia,” where he find himself face to face with the reality of where his drinking is destined to lead.
The album runs the musical gamut, from the Traveling Wilburys-esque pop of “Home,” to the Neil Young-inspired piano ballad “Ambrosia,” to the electronic sonic landscape of “Wings.” While the compositions express a wide range in terms of genre, they find unity in themselves within the limits of self-imposed minimalism. In the studio, the songs were stripped down to the bones and built back up using only their essential elements.
Sequestered in a seemingly never-ending Ontario blizzard, the band only broke from this musical process to add logs to the stove, with the snow and the fire providing a proper background for music so rooted in the elemental. The effect that this fundamentals-based approach achieves is universal: the sparse arrangements and common themes speak to everyone, but somehow feel tailored to each listener. The title itself reflects this, a portmanteau of two common images (marigold and golden) to create something that feels both idiosyncratic and familiar: Marigolden.
Focus Track: 1
Hand Job Academy – #IKEAMONKEY (Self-Released)
Listen Now: “Lena Dunham” (Clean)
GOING FOR TOP 200 AND HIP HOP ADDS
Hand Job Academy (or “HJA” for the squeamish) is a Brooklyn-based rap collective formed in 2012, comprising three emcees: Ash Wednesday, Clara Bizna$$, and Uncle Meg. Controversial, outspoken, nasty-but-charming, HJA raps about periods, pop culture, and queerness as well as traditional hip-hop themes of fucking bitches, getting money, and superiority over enemies.
In 2013 they released two singles on legendary hip-hop label Tommy Boy Entertainment and received major media attention for their “Shark Week” video, an anthem dedicated to that special time of the month. “Shark Week” was featured on The Cut, Jezebel, Bust, Bullett, and achieved “Lowbrow Brilliant” status on the New York Magazine Approval Matrix. On August 26, Hand Job Academy is proud to present their debut album, #IKEAMONKEY!
#IKEAMONKEY features beats by producer Good Goose, the EDM/Trap enigma behind production for artists such as Riff Raff, Snow Tha Product, Mike Doughty, and Big Dipper, to name a few. UUL, SamWise & AK, and C-Los contribute additional beats. Featured guest verses include NYC-based acts such as crunk party rockers Ratchet By Nature and Lil Freckles, of HBO’s Girls fame.
From the sassy breakup song “Pu$$y Chicken” to the day-in-the-hustle, Riot Grrrl flirtation of “Britney’s Umbrella,” #IKEAMONKEY showcases the Academy’s range and ability. “Raw Meat,” an ode to the group’s various country and Southern roots, follows “Pu$$y Chicken” as the second video from the record. “Raw Meat” was directed by Uncle Meg, and was shot on a farm in upstate New York. HJA shows emotion and self-deprecation on “Life’s Good” and “I’m So Wack.” The raucous, sporty, “Bench Team” is a banger worthy of the Space Jam soundtrack. Opening track “Intricate” is moody, lyrically nimble, and intimidating.
HJA will tour on and off through the fall to support the album. Their live show is a high-energy, wild event that is not to be missed! For more information please contact your Distiller rep.
Focus Tracks: 16, 13, 17, 14
Robyn Hitchcock – The Man Upstairs (Yep Rock)
Listen Now: “Somebody To Break Your Heart”
GOING FOR TOP 200 ADDS
The Man Upstairs sees psychedelic troubadour Robyn Hitchcock uniting with legendary producer Joe Boyd (Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, R.E.M.) for one of the most unique outings of his already quite distinctive career. The album – which arrives just one short year after 2013’s acclaimed Love From London – sees the British singer/songwriter musing on mortality, masculinity, and the impossibility of forever via an unexpected intermingling of self-penned originals and “songs I wished I’d written.” Modern standards like The Doors’ “The Crystal Ship” and The Psychedelic Furs’ “The Ghost In You” are reimagined as stark and melancholy folk ballads, and then set to powerful effect alongside haunting new songs like the plaintive “Recalling The Truth.” Hitchcock’s 20th solo studio recording – give or take a few outtake, demo, and rarities compilations – The Man Upstairs is a remarkable portrait of an artist raging quietly against the dying of the proverbial light, even though that light may well be the 9:35 to Winchester coming directly at him.
“Yet another autumnal record,” says he. “Yet another elegiac record. It’s reminiscent of I Often Dream Of Trains – there’s a lot of autumn on that record as well. It was me, half the age I am now, already kind of nostalgic, already anticipating middle age. “
From plugging in Bob Dylan’s electric guitar at his infamous 1965 performance at the Newport Folk Festival to his stewardship of an array of folk heroes – including Hitchcock’s beloved Incredible String Band – Joe Boyd has been intimately involved in some of music’s milestone moments. Young Robyn first encountered Boyd almost five decades back, the words “Produced by Joe Boyd” emblazoned on album after album in his post-adolescent canon and beyond. The two artists eventually made a more human – though no less personal – acquaintance in 1985, their few professional collaborations including 2012’s “Robyn Hitchcock & Joe Boyd – Live & Direct From 1967” tour, coupling musical performances of songs by Nick Drake, Mike Heron, et al. with Boyd’s reminiscences of a time when giants walked among us.
“This album started with Joe and me in a car,” Hitchcock says, “and therefore in a very confined space. Joe said, ‘What you want to do is make an album like Judy Collins did in 1967.’ I thought, wow, so that’s what I want to do. He said the solution to a problem of which I was not aware was that I could make an album with half originals and half covers.”
Boyd proposed Hitchcock – who had indeed often considered “the dreaded covers album” – instead make a record comprising equal part well-known favorites, personal discoveries, and original songs. The multi-tiered method offered the rare opportunity for Hitchcock to record as a performer, not “just another singer/songwriter laying their freshest eggs.”
“I am, after all this time, a guitarist and a singer as much as I am a songwriter,” he says. “I always saw myself as a songwriter and my voice and my guitar were a means to an end. I thought my records were just blueprints that show how the songs would go.”
The Man Upstairs was recorded last October at London’s Snap Studio with backing from longtime collaborators Jenny Adejayan (cello) and Charlie Francis (piano), as well as harmony vocals from Anne Lise Frøkedal of Norwegian indiepop combo I Was a King. The project moved rapidly, with most tracks recorded in just one or two complete takes.
“You don’t do the song and then say to the audience, do you mind if we do that again?” Hitchcock says. “You do one take and generally that works. The same should apply to making a record – if you’re professional enough to play a song all the way through onstage without making a mistake, you should be able to do the same in the studio.”
Boyd’s traditionalist methodology freed Hitchcock up to worry less about how the new songs were going to turn out and simply sing. The producer was keen to avoid any double tracking of vocals – a technique Hitchcock has used to great effect since his very beginnings as a recording artist.
“They’re probably the most unselfconscious vocals I’ve done,” he says. “I was allowed some reverb and delay, but no doubling. I don’t have my usual disguises so even though I’m doing other people’s songs half the time, it’s probably much more me.”
The same tack was taken with the choice of material, much of which was determined by Hitchcock’s long held belief that a good song will work out of its original context. Thus, baroque staples of the “early alternative era” like “To Turn You On” and “The Ghost In You” are stripped bare, the literal bells and whistles of their initial incarnations eliminated to reveal the expressive essence within.
“It’s basically just liberating the songs from how they were originally presented,” he says. “The Psychedelic Furs song or the Roxy Music song, they were very state of the art pieces of 80s production – that snare drum you can land a plane on and all the rest of it. They were digital wonders of their time. It’s great to be able to perform them with acoustic instruments, live, with little or no overdubs.”
Hitchcock further chose to feature a pair of lesser-known songs penned by his pals and occasional collaborators Grant-Lee Phillips (“Don’t Look Down”) and I Was A King (“Ferries”), the latter featuring additional guitar from the band’s own aforementioned Frøkedal.
“Sometimes you find other people’s songs that you wished you’d written,” Hitchcock says. “And if you didn’t write them, at least you can sing them.”
Hitchcock has of course performed a diverse range of covers throughout his long career, spanning “Kung Fu Fighting,” “Calvary Cross,” and countless Bob Dylan songs to benefit concert performances of monoliths like Revolver, Hunky Dory, and The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn. He suggests that “standards” allow for an alternative glimpse into an artist’s creative crevices and recesses, revealing hitherto untapped wells of mood and articulation.
“Often other people’s songs capture emotion in a way that one’s own songs can’t,” Hitchcock says. “I feel like my emotional palette is limited – every songwriter’s is in a way. We talk with our own emotional spectrum and it only goes across so many degrees.”
Of his own contributions, Hitchcock chose songs written over decades and across the planet itself. “Trouble In Your Blood” was born in Norway, matured in Nashville, and then finally came together – as did the snappy “Somebody To Break Your Heart” – whilst housesitting Boyd’s Paddington flat in the summer of 2013. Penned in its namesake city, “San Francisco Patrol” marks the third released installment of Hitchcock’s projected Magnum Force suite, a long-in-the-works eight-song cycle based on the 1973 Clint Eastwood classic, but really “about me.”
Begun in 1980 and then finished almost 30 years later upon finding the lyrics in an old notebook, “Comme Toujours” carries The Man Upstairs’ longest pedigree. First recorded for a 2010 b-side, the song also inspired Brooklyn-based performance ensemble Big Dance Theater’s critically praised production, Comme Toujours, Here I Stand. Small wonder, really – fragile, desolate and almost unbearably poignant, “Comme Toujours” stands comfortably with Hitchcock’s finest.
“It had a long time to mature,” Hitchcock says. “I’m really glad, because that one had gotten away. I’d written it with Bryan Ferry in mind – I’ve written lots of Bryan Ferry songs, dozens over the years, though Bryan is blissfully unaware of this. I pictured myself as Bryan Ferry in his Humphrey Bogart incarnation, the white Mac with the collar up and the cigarette, standing disconsolately under a window or on a beach.”
The Man Upstairs finds Our Hero in a not dissimilar state – reflective and somewhat forlorn, but also wiser, more astute, and as capable of surprise as ever before. Forced by nature to confront his impending expiration date, Robyn Hitchcock is most decidedly not quite ready to cash in his chips just yet.
“The longer you live, the less time you can spend looking back,” he says. “You have to spend the time that remains to you looking forward. That’s why I’m not writing my memoirs – I’d rather concentrate on recording and writing and drawing, doing what I’ve always done, and doing it in various parts of the world. Rather than trying to remember and write down what’s happened. In a way, that’s what the songs are anyway. My songs have always been bottled time.”
Focus Tracks: 5, 1, 3, 4, 9, 10
Sondre Lerche – “Bad Law” (Mona)
Listen Now: “Bad Law”
GOING FOR MODERN ROCK SPECIALTY ADDS
“… Despite the mounds of grief he’s processing through the LP, the emotional trauma has helped sharpen Lerche’s instincts as a songwriter and performer.” – Consequence of Sound
“… A bouncy reverie on broken love which, in his trademark style, occasionally combusts into neat stretches of total disarray.” – SPIN on “Bad Law”
“Bad Law” establishes Lerche’s vocal vulnerability and struggle with control, but also establishes another theme that runs throughout the record: the darkness that rises when love and law collide, building to the musing, “When crimes are passionate, can love be separate?” Sondre says of “Bad Law”: “Bad Law came charged with this urge to play a simple song that would allow people (and myself, I suppose) to ventilate anger and frustration, to get happy, dance like idiots and ultimately feel a little better, despite everything going to shit. I hope people lose it to this song.”
An artist’s capability to transform suffering into great work is one of humanity’s great phenomena. When considering the “divorce” subcategory of suffering and the “music” subcategory of art, the manifestation has traditionally tended toward the dirge (e.g. Dylan’s “Blood On The Tracks,” Mitchell’s “Blue). Please, Sondre Lerche’s stunning new album, however, is a different animal: despite aligning with a recent divorce from his wife of eight years, it is brimming with crisp electronic flourishes, bold, economic production, and an infectious new energy and sense of purpose.
The juxtaposition of romantic idealism and the chaotic struggle to live up to said ideals is meticulously explored: for the first time in his career, Lerche is presented unraveled. The moans and wails are unedited, and the cutting room floor is clean. Lerche has always written about love, but never in such a primal, sexual way. His well-proven melodic instincts are sharper than ever, but he’s moved from the brain to the body, from the soulful to the physical.
Lerche has been incredibly busy since the release of his 2011 self-titled LP and his 2012 live album, Bootlegs. Aside from touring internationally and releasing his 2013 Scott Walker-cover “The Plague” and “Public Hi-Fi Sessions”, a collaboration with Spoon’s Jim Eno, Lerche spent 2013 creating the celebrated score for his then-wife’s (Mona Fastvold) directorial debut and Sundance hit The Sleepwalker.
Focus Track: 1
ADDS for 8.19.2014
Abstrakto – Abstrakto (PurpleHaus)
Listen Now: “Marcando Paso”
GOING FOR WORLD ADDS
Abstrakto is the exciting answer to the question of what happens when you mix the vocalist and multi-instrumentalist of the Latin Grammy-winning group Ozomatli and Ringside member and music producer Balthazar Getty. Asdru and Balt met at their kids’ school, leading to Asdru laying down some vocals on the critically acclaimed album Balt was producing at the time, Solardrive. Their creative collaboration sparked a friendship and late in 2013, Abstrakto was added to the PurpleHaus Records roster.
Focus Tracks: 3, 2, 6, 7
El May – The Other Person Is You (Rose Quartz Records)
Listen Now: “Thrills”
GOING FOR AAA, TOP 200 AND MODERN ROCK SPECIALTY ADDS
With The Other Person is You songwriter El May – also known as Lara Meyerratken – has created an album full of love, loss, desire, and strength. Get to know the layered and orchestral The Other Person is You – with it’s striking images and auditory delights – and it will come as no surprise that before building a career as a freelance musician and composer, Meyerratken was a painter and printmaker, and still makes time for visual experiments.
The Other Person is You came to be when, after a string of romantic disappointments, Meyerratken embarked on a period of quiet self-evaluation. How does one love without transferring unfair expectations onto another person? What does it mean to take care of oneself? These inquiries led to an inspiring realization: all the people we encounter in our lives, whether they are foes or friends, are only aspects of ourselves.
Lyrically, the songs on The Other Person is You show a psychological interest in noticing and questioning our patterns in relationships, our habits and tendencies, and the search for their origins. Meyerratken elaborates: “In time it becomes clear that our difficult experiences in relationships help birth us into a new phase. The hurt and frustration that another person can cause us throws into relief exactly what we need to look at within ourselves. People play a role, as if they were under a divine contract to bring us to a certain place.”
This realization was the key to unlocking a journey toward personal responsibility and spiritual liberation, and the driving force behind a record that takes listeners on an auditory journey through a young woman’s interior landscape. We meet her demons, her lovers, her friends, her authority figures. Regarding the sunny, harmony-driven ‘Science’ Meyerratken calls it “a bit of a battle between two animals, this best self – the best intentioned self – and our addicted, hypnotized selves.” While in the slow-jam, disco-pop duet “Diamonds, Girl,” she suggests that we turn the longing for another back toward ourselves. “The energy we output towards romantic relationships is the same stuff we can use for creativity, and we sometimes find ourselves hemorrhaging precious life force, our libido, on relationships going nowhere.”
The wishes, hopes, and discoveries contained in these songs paint a portrait of a woman determined to transmute her capacity for love into understanding and compassion for herself. The final two songs on the record, the spare and vulnerable “Atlantic, Pacific” and orchestral, heroic “Oh, Get Carried,” are homages to self-care and trust in the divine embrace. “It doesn’t matter how winding, strange and lonely our paths can be, we are carried….We can be hurt, alone and tumbled around, but our faith, our quiet work is what carries us. Our quiet faith is what carries us. Our quiet faith in something that carries us.”
Meyerratken wrote The Other Person is You at seldom-used picnic tables in secluded parts of the Griffith Park trails, in her cosy Los Feliz apartment and late into the night at her parents’ dining table when visiting family in England.
When it came time to put the self-produced The Other Person is You to tape Meyerratken spent many solitary early mornings at the commercial music house where she worked. “The huge amount of time I had to spend alone and focused, writing and then recording….it’s satisfying, but after all that time, you still come out with something invisible – music…invisible vibrations.” In response, she resurrected a fervor for painting, dance and ceramics as a way to remember “how to be in my body, relate to people, be in the visual world and work with physical things.”
For all the solitary time Meyerratken spent writing and producing, there’s a celebratory excitement in the album, owing to her recruitment of a “bunch of friends that live around me in LA.” (calling them special guests would be too formal) including Allison Pierce (The Pierces), Koool G Murder (The Eels), Chris Cheney (The Living End), Sean Eden (Luna*), members of The Silver Lake Chorus, Sara Lov (Devics), Blake Hazard (The Submarines), Eugene Kelly (The Vaselines*) and Britta Phillips and Dean Wareham (Luna, Dean & Britta).
The result is a record as a love-letter to the fully-lived life, written by a woman who dedicates her days to searching for answers to her big questions through making music and art. “The record itself became the resolution to all this searching,” says Lara. ”There’s an alchemy in turning experiences into music that brings about so much of the repair. The discipline, the right to make a noise, being invisible verses existing, intangible hurt into something I can begin to understand, something people might be able to dance to.”
This is the second full-length album written, produced and performed by El May. Her self-titled debut LP was released in 2010, and received radio support from KCRW and KEXP, and was licensed for television (Pretty Little Liars, The Lying Game, Melrose Place) and film (Our Idiot Brother). Prior to recording under the moniker El May, Meyerratken’s impressive capabilities as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist were harnessed by a remarkable variety of artists such as Nada Surf, Luna, Crooked Fingers, and Luscious Jackson. In addition to her work as a performer and recording artist, she composes music for film and advertising, and is a visual artist. Lara scored original music for Hank and Asha – a darling of the 2013-2014 independent film festival circuit. In 2010 Meyerratken won the lauded Cannes “Gold Lion” award as Musical Director for the Match.com “Duet” campaign, and in 2005 won an ARIA Award (often referred to as the Australian Grammy) for her album cover art for Ben Lee’s Awake is the New Sleep.
* Sean Eden lives in NY and Eugene Kelly lives in Glasgow, Scotland but they both still count.
Focus Tracks: 6, 3
Lili Haydn – LiliLand (MRI/RED)
Listen Now: “Sea Of Gold”
GOING FOR AAA AND TOP 200 ADDS
“Unique, creative, moving, bold, sonically beautiful and really fucking clever…. I love this record for its passion, craftsmanship, & honesty. I would go on this ride again & again & again…”–Linda Perry
“Lili manages to mix Kate Bush with modern influences to make a beautifully unique sound based around her amazing violin skills and soulful voice.”–Steve Lillywhite
“I really like the spareness of it, and the content…the strong thread of mid-60′s Haight-Ashbury aggression and looseness to it all, informed by beat making grooves (with some classical influence). [Haydn’s] voice sounds really great…dark and rich. –David Kahne
Lili Haydn has announced Tuesday, September 16 as the release date for her full- length album LiliLand (via MRI/RED). “LiliLand is the jungle of my mind,” says the distinguished singer, songwriter, composer and violinist of her first album in six years and fourth overall. “Fun, fragile, and ferocious songs about losing everything and getting it back.”
Produced by the Los Angeles-based artist herself and mixed by Darrell Thorp (Radiohead and Beck) with drum work spearheaded by Matt Chamberlain (Pearl Jam, Lana Del Rey and Tori Amos), the 12-track album is a blend of quirky pop hooks, soulful melody, and raw grooves. It’s all unified by her unique brand of violin virtuosity, nakedly honest vocals, and poignant lyrics that reflect her passion for social justice and personal soul-searching.
LiliLand—which will come on the heels of her recent (April) EP release How I Got My Brains Back—features a uniquely arranged rendition of the Led Zeppelin classic “Kashmir” as tribute to the legendary band. Haydn performed the song live in 1995 with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant at The Forum in Los Angeles and subsequently opened for them on their last U.S. tour.
“LiliHaydn was written and recorded in the four years following a freak chemical accident in my home, in which the pesticides in the foundation used to prevent termites made me sick, caused brain damage, and forced me to get rid of everything I owned,” says Haydn. “After trying every therapy around, I finally recovered by way of practicing my violin.” She adds: “My song ‘How I Got My Brains Back’ starts with a classical melody that helped me get well, and unleashes the healing mayhem of a rock violin concerto.”
“This tune was inspired by Joseph Campbell’s Power of Myth, in which he describes a woman who dreamt of herself laying on a bed of rocks. Inside these rocks was locked all her treasure. Campbell said that as she opened up her heart, her dream changed, and this time, the treasure in the rocks began to pour out. I was really moved by this image, wanting so much to connect and share my gifts with the world, and I started to imagine the gold inside me pouring out into a Sea of Gold, a kind of primordial soup, where all life and creativity is born, where we all connect.’ – Lili Haydn
Focus Tracks: 3, 2, 6
The Hush Now – “Arthur Come On, Really You Can’t Be Serious” (Sparkle Drive)
Listen Now: “Arthur Come On, Really You Can’t Be Serious”
GOING FOR TOP 200 AND MODERN ROCK SPECIALTY ADDS
Gearing up for the release of a new full-length Sparkle Drive in September 2014, Boston’s The Hush Now, are releasing their first single “Arthur Come On, Really You Can’t Be Serious,” to radio. Sparkle Drive was produced and recorded by Benny Grotto at Mad Oak Studio’s and mastered by Jeff Lipton of Peerless Mastering. The Sparkle Drive sessions yielded ten new tracks featuring all band members taking turns on lead vocals, expanding the unique approach of THN beyond their 2012 effort, Memos, which climbed into the CMJ Top 25.
Consisting of Noel Kelly, Adam Quane, Barry Marino and Pat MacDonald, Sparkle Drive showcases THN’s signature indie-dream pop. The first single, “Arthur Come On, Really You Can’t Be Serious,” features Adam Quane on lead vocals, floating above a dirge of tremolo distortion and sparkling guitar.
The Hush Now’s self-titled debut (2008), sophomore release Constellations (2010), and Memos (2012), quickly climbed independent radio charts and drew comparisons to Guided By Voices, The Cure, and Kitchens of Distinction, among others. After successful national tours, performances at CMJ and SXSW, Sparkle Drive was recorded over the last 2 years and looks to grow THN’s sound once again while staying true to the band’s original foundation.
“Arthur Come On, Really You Can’t Be Serious,” is available for Free Download from THN sites including Facebook, Bandcamp and Soundcloud.
Focus Track: 1
Roadkill Ghost Choir – In Tongues (Greatest Hiss)
Listen Now: “Slow Knife”
GOING FOR AAA, TOP 200 AND MODERN ROCK SPECIALTY ADDS
Already receiving airplay at WXPN, KCSN, WXRT, WMLB, WRNR, WFIT, KBAC, KDHX, KDBB, WMNF, WBJB and more!
“Combining the experimental edge of Radiohead and the dusty roots-rock of Tom Petty, the five-piece make music that sounds tailor-made for arena-sized, prog-rock festivals and grassy, pastoral stages alike.” – Consequence of Sound
“…an exciting build from what we heard on Quiet Light.” – Paste Magazine
Emerging fully-formed from the desolate heart of Central Florida, Roadkill Ghost Choir make unsettling, powerful American rock, Tom Petty by way of Radiohead and Cormac McCarthy. Set against Kiffy Meyer’s ghostly steel pedal, singer and main songwriter Andrew Shepard triumphantly conjures an allegorical American landscape of drifters, specters and violent saints. Andrew’s brothers Maxx (drums) and Zach (bass) Shepard round out the rhythm section, and Stephen Garza handles lead guitar.
The band released their debut EP Quiet Light in 2013 in the midst of a touring run that saw them opening for Band of Horses and 2013 festival slots at New York’s Governor’s Ball, Austin City Limits and Shaky Knees in Atlanta, GA. In January 2014 the band was invited to perform on the David Letterman Show, where they performed standout track “Beggar’s Guild.” Their debut full-length, In Tongues, recorded in Athens, Georgia and in their home studio in Deland, Florida with producer Doug Boehm, is out August 19. The band will be touring supporting the new album, including stops at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza.
Focus Tracks: 1, 2, 3, 6
Soja – Amid The Noise And Haste (ATO)
Listen Now: “Shadow” (Feat. Trevor Young of SOJA) (
GOING FOR AAA, TOP 200 AND WORLD ADDS
“The transcendental appeal of the Washington, D.C.- based SOJA has as much to do with their simply and traditionally constructed reggae tunes as it does with their universally appealing messages of hope and peace…” –Relix
“Reggae, infused with strains of rock, folk and dub, provides a complementary framework for lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Jacob Hemphill’s sinewy vocals and poignantly drawn lyrics of social resistance, environmental consciousness and personal reflection…” – Billboard
“The latest clip fits perfectly with the breezy and tropical vibe of the tune… We don’t want to jinx it, but we’re predicting another smash!” – VH1
Jacob Hemphill, lead singer / guitarist, says “The point of the album is reconnecting people to the power inside themselves, getting them to fall back in love with life again. Look around, take a deep breath. All the answers are there.”
Amid The Noise And Haste was produced by multiple GRAMMY award winning Jamaican producer Supa Dups (Bruno Mars, Eminem, Rihanna, John Legend) and is the first full-length album he has chosen to take on in his career. The new album is the follow up to critically acclaimed Strength To Survive which debuted in the Billboard Top 40. Amid The Noise And Haste features special guests including Michael Franti, Damian Marley, and Collie Buddz. “I want to speak for people who don’t have microphones,” Jacob Hemphill says. “Our goal as a band is to stick up for the human race. We see the world and we try to make it better in the limited time we have here.”
SOJA originally formed by a group of friends while still in middle school and has built a massive, dedicated fan base around the world since. In the years following, SOJA has sold more than 250,000 albums, headlined shows in over 20 countries around the world, generated over 3.4 million Facebook fans, and 200+ million YouTube views. The band has toured with Dave Matthews Band, Incubus, 311 and appeared at major festivals including Bonnaroo where they attract an almost Grateful Dead-like international fan base along the way, with caravans of diehards following them from city to city.
Focus Tracks: 5, 3, 2