Christos DC – Long Road (Honest Music)

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


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”


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
FCC: Clean

Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger – Midnight Sun (Chimera)

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Listen Now: “Midnight Sun”


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
FCC: Clean

Jessica Lea Mayfield – Make My Head Sing (ATO)

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Listen Now: “I Wanna Love You”


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)


“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”


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 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”


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”


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”


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)


“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
FCC: Clean

ADDS for 4.8.2014

L.A. WITCH – L.A. WITCH (Manimal)

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Listen Now: “Get Lost”


“Dirty distorted country” — Dark Party

“Imagine Kim Deal influenced by Nirvana (rather than the other way around)” — Los Angeles Magazine

“[L.A. Witch] stir up images of Gun Club ‘Fire Of Love’ era and early X” — Buddyhead

“[A] dark amalgam of psych-rock, garage and Americana… L.A. Witch recalls the early ragged glory of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club or the Black Angels” — Buzzbands LA

“Haunted surf rock, road trip blues and 60′s-sounding psychedelia” — L.A. Weekly

“A dirty country-blues sound… like a darker, scuzzier, more psychedelic Holly Golightly” — Kalamitat

“The all-girl trio’s sludgy haze now seems to bleed through with a steady mid-tempo grind that sounds like scuzzy dark country minimalism, layered over haunted chain-gang blues… loaded with ghostly lo-fi vocals and Black Angels-sounding psychedelia.” — Tom Tom Magazine

L.A. WITCH released their debut self-titled EP on March 25 via Manimal Vinyl.

Focus Tracks: 1, 3
FCC: Clean

The Nels Cline Singers – Macroscope (Mack Avenue)

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Listen Now: “Respira”


Taking in the full breadth of guitarist Nels Cline’s sonic sphere of influence has always required a particularly wide lens. Zoom out from his fret board-blistering mash-ups of abrasive rock and bleeding-edge jazz to encompass his decade-long role with inventive rock superstars Wilco, then pull back further to find space for his ventures into Brazilian rhythms, electronic drones, and all manner of madcap musical fusion.

MACROSCOPE, the fifth album and Mack Avenue debut by his adventurous trio The Nels Cline Singers, provides a measure of the long-running group’s staggering range. Captivating and continually surprising, the album finds the instrumental trio with the slyly deceptive name veering in one off-kilter direction only to suddenly be overwhelmed by another drastic stylistic shift, often within the space of a single tune. Serrated psychedelia becomes consumed by soulful Brasiliana, blissed-out electronica overwhelmed by garage-rock skronk. Then there’s the wholly unexpected “Red Before Orange,” where a howling Hendrix-inspired solo suddenly erupts in the middle of a slick lounge-jazz number, Cline unleashing the inner George Benson that few of us expected he even had.

“The title MACROSCOPE speaks to the idea of the mutt within,” Cline says, “the fact that I’m not in any one genre, and never have been. I was a rock and roll kid, but after hearing Coltrane and Miles and Weather Report, then Indian music and Nigerian pop and that sort of thing, there was no turning back. From that point on, the idea of purism just was not possible.”

The trio also expands its already substantial palette with the addition of several special guests: keyboardist Yuka C. Honda, co-founder of the eccentric Japanese pop band Cibo Matto; percussionists Cyro Baptista and Josh Jones; and harpist Zeena Parkins. Cline also removes tongue from cheek to actually add his voice to the mix on two tracks, slightly undermining the irony of the band’s name while drawing inspiration from Brazilian singer-songwriters on “Respira” and “Macroscopic.”

“Macroscopic” was penned in tribute to Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The variation on the title of the album reflects the artist’s similarly expansive worldview, which in Kusama’s case stems from an experience early in life that could be termed a breakdown or an epiphany. “I think she sees the world in its atomic, microscopic make-up,” Cline says” She became overwhelmed by that and it informs her work, where the macrocosm and the microcosm really are one.”

One of the most inventive and original guitarists across a wide range of genres, Nels Cline has worked with members of Sonic Youth and Deerhoof as well as artists including Tim Berne, Charlie Haden, Julius Hemphill, Carla Bozulich, Mike Watt and The Geraldine Fibbers, and is the lead guitarist of Wilco. Cline has recently recorded an album of duets with guitarist Julian Lage and has been touring in a free-improv meeting with Medeski Martin & Wood.

Focus Tracks: 2, 3, 5, 7
FCC: Clean

Sylvan Esso – “Coffee” (Partisan)

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Listen Now: “Coffee”


“[Sylvan Esso] could sound like deliberately primitive 1970s electro in one song and glitchy, abstract techno in another behind Amelia Meath’s teasing voice” – The New York Times

“Sleek, experimental and infectious” -NPR (one of their favorite discoveries of SXSW)

“Sure to woo lovers of folk and electronic music alike through calming, compelling vocals and spellbinding loops and beats.” – SPIN

“Dance music’s take on a folk ballad, merging drafty vocal interludes with a groovy pulse and manic jolts of sound” – Pitchfork

“An ambitious duo not content to stay in one genre or even one time period, Sylvan Esso sound distinctly contemporary and strangely timeless at the same time.” – SPIN

“Sanborn’s bass-heavy productions give Meath a chilly counterpoint even while she’s grounding him with her voice’s warm earthiness.” -Stereogum

Watch the video for “Coffee” here!

Sylvan Esso was not meant to be a band. Rather, Amelia Meath had written a song called “Play It Right” and sung it with her trio Mountain Man. She’d met Nick Sanborn (Megafaun), an electronic producer working under the name Made of Oak, in passing on a shared bill in a small club somewhere. She asked him to scramble it, to render her work his way. He did the obligatory remix, but he sensed that there was something more important here than a one-time handoff: Of all the songs Sanborn had ever recast, this was the first time he felt he’d added to the raw material without subtracting from it, as though, across the unseen wires of online file exchange, he’d found his new collaborator without even looking.

Meath felt it, too. Schedules aligned. Moves were made. And as 2012 slipped into 2013, Sanborn and Meath reconvened in the unlikely artistic hub of Durham, N.C., a former manufacturing town with cheap rent and good food. Sylvan Esso became a band. A year later, their self-titled debut—a collection of vivid addictions concerning suffering and love, darkness and deliverance—arrives as a necessary pop balm, an album stuffed with songs that don’t suffer the longstanding complications of that term.

The ten tunes that make up Sylvan Esso were realized and recorded in Sanborn’s Durham bedroom during the last year, an impressive feat considering the layers of activity and effects that populate them—the dizzyingly crisscrossed harmonies of “Play it Right,” the gorgeously incongruous elements of “Wolf,” the surreptitiously minimalist momentum of “HSKT.” Sanborn’s production is fully modern and wonderfully active. He enlists obliterating dubstep stutters and crisp electropop pulses, hazy electrostatic breezes and epinephrine dancefloor turnarounds.

But this isn’t a workout in production skills or a demonstration of electronic erudition. Instead, his music syncs seamlessly with Meath’s melodies, so that the respective words and beats become a string of ready-to-play singles. The irrepressible “Hey Mami” webs handclaps and harmonies around a flood of bass, a strangely perfect canvas for a tale of dudes hollering at neighborhood tail (and, finally, finding the chivalry not to do so).

“Coffee” sparkles and quakes, patiently rising from a muted spell of seasonal affective disorder to a sweet rupture of schoolyard glee. These pop cuts condescend neither to their audience nor their makers. They are sophisticated, but with none of the arrogance that can imply; they are addictive, but with none of the banality that can entail. There is sensuality and sexual depravity, homesickness and wanderlust, nostalgia and immediacy. Sylvan Esso acknowledges that the world is a tumult of complications by giving you a way to sing and dance with those troubles, if not to will them away altogether.

When Meath and Sanborn talk about Sylvan Esso, they come back to context—to how, before this project, they felt that their solo endeavors often felt short of it, as if they were lacking a crucial component. That is no longer a concern. When Meath sings to Sanborn a melody that she’s conjured and captured, he almost instinctively knows how to respond. And when he delivers to her the backbone of a wordless beat, she adds lyrical bait where he’d only seen white space. Sylvan Esso represents the fulfillment of their fortuitous encounter by, once again, linking parts that too often come stripped of their counterparts. Here, motion comes with melody. Words come with ideas. And above all, pop comes back with candor.

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Villagers – “Occupy Your Mind” (Domino)

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Listen Now: “Occupy Your Mind”


Having won Ireland’s prestigious Meteor Choice Music Prize for their album {Awayland} last month, Villagers are set to release their new, James-Ford produced single ‘Occupy Your Mind’ on limited edition clear vinyl on Record Store Day. The 7” release will be backed by new track ‘Beatitudes’ exclusively for the occasion.

Watch the video for ‘Occupy Your Mind’ here!

Praise for {Awayland}:

“A captivating work that gets better with each listen. Highly recommend”.” – Rolling Stone

“It’s that rare commodity: An album to immerse yourself in and spend time with, bothy things no one does any more” – The Independent

“One of the more interesting, literate and imaginative storytellers of recent years” – BBC Music

“Truth be told, Villagers’ new recording, {Awayland}, is so good that it was practically impossible to pick just one song. Irish Songwrtier Conor J. O’Brian is the force behind the band and he has a special touch.” – KCRW (Today’s Top Tune)

“O’Brien, or Villagers rather, succeeded in creating an album rife with adventure and tragedy, made even more addictive with each listen.” – Consequence of Sound

“Far from falling under the weight of either expectation or ambition, {Awayland} is a far more magnificent progression from Jackal than any of us could have hoped for.” – Drowned In Sound

“There’s a balanced mix of wistful folk, and rockier, more radio-friendly offerings which lure in the casual listener, ensuring an enduring record that warms the cockles in these frosty fledgling weeks of 2013.” – The Line of Best Fit

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